Never stop growing and learning, focus on what you’re good at, and always strive to be better. The rest will simply follow.
British-Greek entrepreneur and business executive Daniel Couts speaks to us –in both a personal and professional setting– about his outlook on success, business operations, being a motivating force, and escaping the comfort zone.
“I’ve always been a people person,” says Couts. “Since I was very young, I was somehow able to completely adapt to the people around me. I like people and they seem to like me. People love good listeners, and, although it came naturally to me –I’m genuinely interested in stories and backgrounds– I’ve learnt so much from listening to people.”
It wasn’t until 2015 that his now business partner, Michael Charles Rockefeller, helped Couts nurture this valuable asset. “Finding out about people’s successes and failures,” Couts continues, “what makes them tick, what motivates them… This knowledge can prove invaluable for someone who wants to run a business. Operating a successful business is not simply being financially literate and good with numbers. For me, it’s not just about skill, but largely a matter of personality too.”
Couts tells us that he likes to marry exterior company relations with interior relations. “For me it’s like a mirror. I don’t like façades. I believe it’s important that outside investors and associates reflect the satisfaction and attitude of our company’s members and vice versa.”
With a strong belief that a company can only move forward if everyone is on board and focused, Couts says that attitude and skillset go hand in hand. “You can always teach someone a craft, but to truly be successful, they need a certain attitude and personality to go with that, and that’s just something you can’t teach.”
As part of his role within the company he co-owns with Rockefeller, Couts ensures that all departments are running smoothly, policies are in place with regards to the promotion of the company’s vision and culture, daily deadlines and targets are being met, and that all staff members remain inspired and motivated.
“Motivation is paramount,” he says. “Times have changed. Gone are the days where a COO had no time or interest in motivating the rest of the team and there was no emphasis given on the psyche of the staff. I make it a priority. Motivation needs to flow down to all company members so that everyone feels happy to go to work. That way, there’s more chance of everyone being focused on meeting the company’s short, medium and long-term targets. The energy you give out is the energy you get back. If a workplace lacks positivity, it could be a very depressing place to be. That couldn’t be further from what we strive to achieve.
We asked Couts about the decisions he had to make to get to where he is today. “If you asked me ten years ago where I think I’d be now, I wouldn’t ever be able to guess my current reality. Due to my personality, creativity and adaptability, I was drawn to the entertainment industry and made a few feeble steps towards establishing a career down that road. But I felt I needed to do something more. I decided to invest all I had in real estate –which thankfully paid off– and I made many contacts in the industry which eventually led me to the people I now work with.”
For Couts to be effective in his role, he had to go a long way out of his comfort zone. “Stepping out of your comfort zone literally means doing things that you’re just not comfortable with. It can get ugly. I had to learn to do a lot of new things which I wouldn’t have even considered before, but this allowed me to come very far. Everything you pick up along the way, outside of your comfort zone, can prove invaluable. If you’re not willing to take certain risks, there’s not much chance you’ll be able to move forward as a company, or even as a person. Many of the decisions the board has had to make have been a ‘risk’, as it were, but thankfully, we manage to see our decisions through –even when we’ve been a little scared–, and so far that’s been the golden ticket to take us from strength to strength. We have a good team of professionals who head their own departments and carry out their individual duties with their teams. It’s definitely a team effort.”
So what is the secret formula to success for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners in today’s day and age? “There’s no magic formula to becoming successful, despite what many people on the internet will state. Opportunities will arise for many of us to become successful but they’re not always easy to notice. You have to keep your eyes peeled, but more importantly, you have to know what you want.
Focusing on what you’re good at and what you want to do and giving all your energy to that is definitely the first step. Be careful how you spend your energy. Instead of tackling 10 projects and only managing to give 10% to each of them, choose the one thing you want –the thing that most inspires you and moves you, the thing that you were born to do– and give it 100%. When you get to 100%, aim for 110%, and then more and more. Just as technology upgrades, so do we. We should never stop learning and growing. I focus on doing what I’m good at, and I strive to become even better. I keep myself in the know, and I look after the people who work with me and for me. The rest simply follows.”