Why the best entrepreneurs are ‘Charlie Sticks’?

Learning from a simple roof build.

We go through life trying to show everyone how indispensable we are. Then something happens to show us that we are not. And, it’s a tough lesson to have to learn. But, as painful as it is, it’s an important life lesson. Because once you have learnt it, everything is different after that point.

Instead of building businesses around you, you start to build them around the central thing you want to change. The job of the charismatic entrepreneur is to build a team around the mission.

This is the real job of the entrepreneur. They have to find the right people. And, then go and get them on board. The future team have to be inspired to leave what they are doing. They have to feel that they are about to do their ‘life’s work’.

The whole success of the mission will depend on who joins the team, and just as crucially, why they are joining it. Because a team built around a strong desire to change something is a hard one to stop.

The best entrepreneurs build teams. They build them around the thing they want to change. And the team knows how to stay true because everyone on the team knows what true is. And ultimately, the best entrepreneurs build teams so strong that the business won’t fall down when they leave.

Indeed, The best entrepreneurs are ‘Charlie Sticks’.


An example from the building industry.

A reciprocal roof is a beautiful and simple self-supporting structure that can be composed of as few as three rafters, and up to any imaginable quantity. Reciprocal roofs require no center support, and they are quick to construct. They are extremely strong. So they are perfect for round buildings and for living roofs too.

To start building a reciprocal roof, you will have to first install a temporary central support that holds the first rafter at the correct height. The first rafter is called ‘The Charlie Stick”.

The ‘Charlie Stick’ supports the entire structure. Each new pole rests on the last for support. Then, once the last pole is in, the ‘Charlie Stick’ can be very gently taken away. Your roof will now bear its own weight.

The ‘Charlie Stick’ did its job.

Some learning along the way.

1, Don’t follow.

2, Don’t seek consensus.

3, Trust your instinct.

4, Look for what isn’t there. But should be.

5, Ideas make you stand out. Great ideas make you standalone.

6, Ask dumb questions. They may not be that dumb.

7, Most great ideas have difficult births. Who would have bet on the caterpillar turning out so well?

8, Inform your ideas from what you see, what you hear, what you feel. Output needs input.

9, You already know your co-founder.

10, Remember, ideas are plentiful. People who make them happen are not.

11, Don’t let your idea down: Execute well.

12, Find the very best people you can and work with them.

13,Timing is more important than you think.

14, Love what you do. Or don’t do it.

15, Answer common problems. But do it uncommonly well.

16, Build something that you wouldn’t sell.

17, Some ideas look good on paper and suck in real life. And some suck on paper but work in real life.

Don’t be quick to judge your ideas.

18, Change something that bugs you. Chances are it bugs lots of people.

19, Failure is temporary. Get back on that darn horse.

20, Hire optimism as well as talent.

21, There are no short cuts. Do the work.

22, Enjoy the ride. It may be the best bit anyhow.

23, If you are going to try, go all the way.

A gobstopper has layers. So does the best selvedge.

As you suck a gobstopper, it reveals the next layer underneath. And as odd as it sounds, so does the very best Selvedge denim. That’s because the best selvedge is hand dipped many, many times. Alas, not all Selvedge is born the same.Some are dyed with a chemical dye. It’s quick, efficient and cost effective. There’s nothing wrong with it.

But one rule we have at Hiut Denim Co is work with the best. So we persuaded the iconic Japanese mill ‘Kuroki’ to supply us. They are world renowned for their ‘Genuine indigo dyed’ Selvedge. Our Kuroki Selvedge is dyed no less than 10 times.

Natural indigo dying is an extremely laborious and costly process. The cotton is dipped in the indigo prior to being shuttle woven. And it is dipped repeatedly. The more dips it has, the darker the cotton will be.

And after all that painstaking hard work, when you compare a natural dyed jean and a synthetic one, there would be very little to tell them apart. But under the surface, the story is different.

A machine dyed indigo dye only “clings” to the surface of the cotton yarn (leaving a white core). But a bona-fide indigo hand-dyed denim cotton deeply penetrates right down to the center of the yarn. As a result, hand-dyed denim will not only fade more slowly, but more beautifully.

Its layers will be revealed over time. Like, you know what…

Pirates in The Sky

Sometimes having no budget can really help you.

It stops you going down a familiar path: Throw money at the problem; and expect it to go away. It rarely does. But that doesn’t stop smart people and smart companies trying it everyday.

For us at Hiut Denim Co, very few of the creative people on the planet know we exist. This is not our problem. This is our opportunity.

And the other advantage we have going for us is we have no budget to tell those good creative folk that we do indeed exist. It is an advantage because we have to think, and we have to be creative.

When you have a big budget, you can afford for half of it to go to waste. But when you have nothing, you need to make it feel like something. Otherwise your budget next time will be less than nothing. And that’s much harder.

So after a run today, it came to me that the only way David will beat Goliath is go and get some help. To gather a small army to fight the good fight.

So instead of a PR agency, we are going to build a virtual agency. We will have ‘Pirates in the Sky’. We will replace spending with thinking, we will replace big budgets with brave ideas, we will replace the tired and the conventional ways of doing this stuff with a bunch of renegades who will rewrite the rules of the game under the cover of dark.

Yup, we will get our crowd to help us tell the world we are here. And do you know what, it’s going to be fun.

The pirates have told us who they are. But we will never tell you who they are.

First mission, next week.

Don’t rely on just being the best.

I was doing a presentation to a famous department recently. I told them all about our town, and how it used to make jeans. They got it. They took a look at the jeans, and they turned around to me and said ‘these are the best made jeans they had seen in years’.

Given they sold pretty much every denim brand you can think of, it was a nice compliment. But, a few months after that meeting, they still hadn’t bought any jeans from us. But I wasn’t surprised.

Our rivals may make an inferior quality jean compared to ours in terms of quality and craftsmanship, but they have other things going for them: They are more well-known than us, they have more history than us, they have a bigger marketing budget than us.

So for us, just being the best is not going to be enough for us to win. Yes, we have over 150 years of experience of making jeans, and we make one of the highest quality handmade jeans on the planet. And yes, our natural indigo dyed selvedge is made by Kuroki who hand dip it 10 times until the dye gets to the very core of the cotton, so they age as beautifully as a jean possibly can.

All this puts us up there with the very best. But the harsh reality is that it isn’t enough for us to win. And winning means: To get 400 people their jobs back.

That is why right from the start we knew it would come down to our ideas. We would have to come up with ideas that challenge the Status Quo of an industry that had its most innovative day back in 1886.

Our ideas will be how we build our company. Our ideas will be how we get people their jobs back.

The good news is we are based down here on the far western edge of Britain.

There are few, if any, distractions.

Coming Soon.

Denim Breaker Club

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If you like ideas, it will inspire you.