How does it feel to achieve the success you’ve always dreamed of?
We posed this question to Steven Bartlettin our podcast, entrepreneurial prodigy and founder of Social Chain, a global social media agency.
On the day we spoke to him, Social Chain became a public listed company on Dusseldorf stock exchange, with consolidated revenues forecast to exceed €170m this year.
Steven shared his fascinating business story with us. We recap on his biggest achievements, how Steven’s vision of success has evolved and what’s in store for the future of Social Chain.
Rising to fame and fortune
When Steven was 18, he dreamed of success. At that time, success meant luxury. He wanted to be able to buy the finest bottles of champagne and own Lamborghinis. Coming from a place where his family had little, he believed it would bring him happiness and fulfilment.
Fuelled by his desire to rise to the top, Steven launched Social Chain alongside Dominic McGregor in 2014. He put everything into his work. Thanks to his raw talent and the teams’ outstanding skills, Social Chain grew exponentially.
Today, the business employs over 700 individuals with offices in five countries and is a multimillion-pound agency.
Lamborghinis off the menu
We asked Steven what it feels like to be so successful.
“Most of the time I feel jetlagged,” he joked. “But to tell you the truth, it feels significant and irrelevant. Significant because it’s another rung on the ladder. Irrelevant because my mentality has changed. My motivations aren’t attached to materialistic milestones anymore.”
This shift in thinking occurred four years ago when Steven realised he was stuck on a hedonist treadmill. So he asked himself: Why are you doing this? Turns out, he didn’t know the answer.
For the following six months, Steven worked on reconnecting himself to the real reason why he’s pursuing success. He discovered that his happiness is intrinsically linked to a work-life balance. He wants to be able to spend more time with his friends and family.
This also ignited change for Social Chain. Now the agency’s goal isn't to be the best in the world. It’s to be more sustainable and more impactful on the lives it touches.
Becoming a secret teacher
An exciting opportunity allowed Steven to strengthen his social impact earlier this year.
He was invited to take part in Channel 4’s The Secret Teacher. The show features entrepreneurs going undercover in schools, experiencing what it’s like to be a teacher and offering life-changing opportunities to students.
Steven has a turbulent relationship with the school system. He rebelled as a pupil, choosing to run his own micro businesses (from organising school parties to selling sweets) over studying. This resulted in his expulsion.
Becoming a secret teacher changed his outlook. He realised that the heads of schools and teachers aren’t at fault, they’re just trying to do their best.
Rather, students are failing because schools are tracking the wrong things: “It shouldn’t be just about grades. We need to track metrics that are more aligned with the happiness of a human being.
There’s more chance of a young person becoming a valuable member of society if their mental health and passions are supported.”
Since the show, Steven has helped three students pursue their passions. You can hear more about their achievements in our podcast.
Predictions for the future of marketing
In our podcast, we also picked Steven’s brain on the future of marketing. His insights were fascinating.
Turns out Adam may already be ahead of the game. Steven predicts that podcasts will explode. Jumping on this train early and consistently pushing out content is how to seize this opportunity and put your business in the spotlight.
Further ahead, Steve predicts a wearable world where TVs and phones are no longer needed. People will be able to access the internet, communicate with others and consume media through contact lenses or glasses. He imagines this will change the face of marketing astronomically.
What’s next for Steven?
We were excited to hear that Steven has signed a book deal with a big publisher. It’s expected to release mid-2020. But he didn’t give much away. “It’s probably not going to be what you expect,” says Steven.
There have also been rumours about Steven going into politics. But he told us that, right now, he doesn’t have any plans to do so. But if he did, it would be to: “increase his impact on other people’s lives.”
He shared how he’s sick of the lack of humanity in politics: “These days it’s so hard to relate to the current politicians as real people. I’d love to show the world how you don’t have to go to a specific school or have a certain skin colour to be a successful politician.”
The future of Social Chain
In terms of existential goals, Steven wants to concentrate on improving the welfare of his team. For example, he wants to give his employees the freedom to go travelling, knowing there will be a job waiting for them when they return.
Alongside The Secret Teacher, Social Chain have also pledged to give a million in resources and money to the things “that matter to us.” What a commitment!
When it comes to business goals, it’s all about giving clients more value. Steven wants to spend the next few years focusing on improving everything Social Chain does.
Final words of wisdom
The secret to his success? Effective storytelling: “As a marketing business, it’s so easy to forget to do campaigns for yourself. But it can be a gamechanger.”
“We have six people working on my personal brand, and 70% of our revenue comes from my speaking events. When you’re obsessed with storytelling, it much easier for people to buy into your brand.”
Our podcast with Steven was packed with other valuable business insights. You can discover them here.