Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Ben Brabyn, CEO of ‎Level39

By Kitty Knowles 22 June 2017
Ben Brabyn, CEO at Level39 Image: Level39

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world.

From The Pool’Jo Morrell, to Starling’s Anne Boden and co-founder Brent Hoberman, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

Meet Ben Brabyn

A chief executive, investor and adviser, you can bet Ben Brabyn has his hands full leading London’s premier tech community for finance, Level39.

Prior to this, the entrepreneur founded, built and sold his own online fundraising business for charities, and guided the British government on how to improving access to finance for new UK businesses.

It’s fair to say the ex-Royal Marine has never shied away from hard graft.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked him how he gets it all done…

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

Every morning I get up at 6am and head round the corner to my local gym in Fulham to swim, usually between 1,500m and 3,000m.

A mile in the water sets me up for the day.

Once I’m home I track Twitter, Facebook and the BBC News website to get up to date on news, with doses of the FT and The Economist.

During my commute I listen to a mix of comedy, news and technology podcasts.

What smartphone do you have?

I own a black Sony Experia Z5 Premium with 32GB of storage.

I am not a smartphone fanatic, and typically change handset whenever my contract dictates.

However, I do like variation in operating systems with regularly change OS when upgrading my mobile and laptop devices.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

I am a devotee of Google so their apps govern my communications and schedule – Evernote is my second brain with a steadily increasing deposit of notes and ideas.

At Level39 we recently adopted Slack and we use it constantly, not just for talking to each other, but to keep plugged in to our 200 member companies.

I am a Twitter and LinkedIn super-user.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

Level39 is one of the most connected communities on Earth.

Last year 43,401 people visited our facilities to speak to members, attend events or network, and our members benefit from the connectedness that comes from being at the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities.

In my position, I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to interact with many of these that come through our doors, and to build relationships around the world.

Due to the rapid scale of financial technologies and cyber security services in every industry, I get to meet the entire digital ecosystem, from heads of IT to VCs, university professors to international ambassadors.

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is very thought-provoking.

It encourages the reader to head to interesting extremes, and among other things has prompted me to fast for 36 hours each week.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

Whether young people are looking to found their own company, fulfil their dreams in business or manage the complexities of a co-working space, I would say the two characteristics that contribute most to success are ambition and connectedness.

Ambition involves keeping at it, aiming high and not being put off by failure.

Connectedness means building social capital – relationships based on mutual value and contribution.

During my time in the Marines, we were taught the four elements of the Commando spirit: courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness in adversity.

I’ve always thought that was a pretty good lesson for any situation.

Do you have a wind down routine?

One thing I am thinking about at the moment is the blurring of the boundary between work and family life.

I attend work-related events roughly four evenings a week and have got to know many people within London’s technology community very well.

As a result, the weekend is often a buffer for work which I haven’t been able to fit into the week – but it’s also family time.

I’m interesting my children in tech with a series of increasingly reckless scientific experiments.

If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?

Why one idol when you can have thousands!

I have the luxury of working alongside 1,000 people in Level39 who are pursuing billion-dollar opportunities to change the world.

In every case, I’m curious how people balance their ambition with their sense of responsibility to others.

To be sustainable, ambition must also be inclusive.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.