Meet The Team: Dean Thorpe, Director of Decode Studios (part 2)


Dean Thorpe is the Director and the first investor in Decode Studios. He is the main person behind our business strategy as well as the one who manages the whole team. Right before the Christmas holidays we published the first part of his interview in which we discussed his personal goals and the achievements of Decode Studios for the first 10 year. Now in 2019 it is time to look at the future and get ready for the challenges and opportunities the new year has to offer. Enjoy the reading!

Hi Dean! It’s 2019 already. It will be an exciting year, no one doubts it. Tech companies are advancing faster and faster, digitalising bigger parts of our lives. What do you think will happen in 2019 technology-wise and how can we get ready for the changes?

Dean: We live in interesting times and as many people have already said: “The future is here.“ In 2019 we will keep on seeing the accelerated growth of many tech companies and we will certainly see many new inventions that will change certain parts of our lives. Many non-tech companies on the other hand will start embracing the digital changes and will adopt new software solutions to achieve higher results. It is surprising that only 4% of the manufacturing companies in the UK have embraced the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I expect more manufacturers to do the same. Another thing to keep our eyes on is artificial intelligence (AI). I expect to see people using it in order to predict more kinds of business behaviour. Our clients for example are now using it to predict their stock needs, I expect them to start predicting their employees’ and customers’ behaviour soon. Innovation will keep on disrupting our lives and the best way to prepare for the future is to be open and ready to embrace the changes faster than your competitors.

DS: How will technology impact the way we manage businesses nowadays?

Dean: Technology is being embraced, but I do think there is a danger that particularly around social media, we’ve become too reliant on that and it’s about making sure you do not take people out of the business. Use technology in a way you can become more efficient, to save time, to reduce travel, etc. There will always be occasions when you need to be present as an individual or as a group and we must keep hold of that. Business and particularly sales it’s about buying from people. In an operational environment you need to develop the relationships with people, not just with a machine.

DS: Looking at the UK-business perspective in 2019 and keeping in mind the political changes expected to happen here, what in your opinion will help British businesses keep their leading global role after Brexit?

Dean: “Britishness”, when it comes to the British businesses focused on exporting, has always been about the quality, the quality of the product, the quality of the service, the quality of the experience to the end customer. If they keep their sights on that and keep focusing on the quality, people will ultimately pay for quality. There might be a period of time where people look at price, which will inevitably lead to losing customers either initially or for a period of time but then ultimately, the quality question comes back into play. If a business maintains that focus on quality the final result will be a lot better.

There’s a number of companies that I have been following. They have always focused on quality irrespective of what their overseas competitors might be doing and delivering. When someone challenges you on price you can say: “you can pay less, but will you get the same quality of the product?”.

DS: There are many businesses that are interested not only in what is going on global scale, but also on local; which makes them support local initiatives and charities. Why is that important and in which areas do you think businessmen should support financially non for profit organizations?

Dean: I think it’s important to support them, because you are not only supporting a small business, you are also supporting the local economy. Non-profit organizations are usually trying to do something positive for the world and for the environment. I personally am involved in a number of initiatives. I support a food bank and there is an initiative through the local chamber of commerce that aims to get people back to work. We have supported that for the last 20 years or so.

DS: You collaborated with Shaun Murphy in 2007 for “Breaking the Frame”. Which ones are the most important features of the sports psychology that a businessman should try to master in order to achieve their goals?

Dean: The No 1 rule again is “Expect the unexpected”. One of the challenges that Shaun and other snooker players have in snooker particularly in recent times is something called “the kick”. This is where the cue ball (the white ball) that you hit has a negative or strange contact with the ball you are attempting to hit. It might be a bounce, a slip, but it’s something that means what they were attempting to do with the ball does not come off and it was causing real challenges to the players. What we decided when we sat down and discussed this phenomenon was within a snooker frame expect there to be a kick, you do not know when, where it’s going to happen, you could be well on your way to a break, or it could ruin your entire frame so it could put you in a situation where you actually lose that frame. The important thing was to ‘reframe’ as a result of that. Instead of it costing you the frame and then ultimately the match because you are constantly focused on that frame, unless it’s the last frame, in which case there’s nothing you can do about it. If it’s part way through a match and losing that frame means you lost the match because you kept focusing on the frame. The best thing you can do it is to accept the fact that it has happened. Reframe yourself, reframe your mind. There are a number of things people can do to do that. One of the things Shaun decided to do (and still does now) was to leave the auditorium, reframe himself and come back in and start again. Forget about the kick and move on. The other thing you can do is – make sure you are focused on the right things. You tend to get what you are focused on. Rather than focusing on the negative stuff that was happening like the kick, focus on the positives and ultimately you do get what you focus on.

Similar things happen in business. There are lots of analogies between sport and business that you can use interchangeably. The same psychology and the same principles can apply to both.

The thing to bear in mind is that your mind is a muscle. So just like your mind wants to exercise your body, there are things you have to do in order to exercise your mind. You go to the gym and you are doing weights on your legs, you will do 10-15 reps, you have a break and you do 10-15 reps again. The same principle needs to be applied to your mind. If there are things you want to do like looking through your goals, don’t just look through them once. You need a system that helps you to exercise that mind-muscle. There are a number of things you need to do in order to exercise in the same way.

DS: How often should you look at you goals?

Dean: Every day. Definitely.

DS: Have you ever done anything crazy that you will be telling stories about to your grandchildren?

Dean: Yeah, there are a couple of things… one would be around goal-setting where I might set a big awesome or ridiculous goal that some people consider crazy because it is either too challenging or it’s just way out there. It might be something that I will be telling the grandchildren about. The other one that I can share with you has to do with the charity that I am involved with called “Football Aid” that came about in the early 2000s and this was around playing football at your local professional football stadium. Initially we just played at the local stadium. Then we suddenly realized well, actually this charity is now nation-wide, in fact it’s now in Europe, so why not expand this and see how many football stadiums across the UK we can actually play it. I have done this with my father and brother, we have played at many stadiums, so many that it is actually easier to count the number of stadiums that we haven’t played at! If you name a premier league stadium, we’ve probably played there already. There are stories of scoring goals and the ultimate climax would be playing football at Wembley stadium, but in this particular game I played with my brother, my father, my uncle and I scored what can only be described as an absolutely cracking goal! It is important when you are successful to enjoy success and find ways to celebrate success. And in this particular time we were able to do that at the same time as raising money for a charity, which raises money aiming to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. Positives all around.

DS: What is your personal definition of success?

Dean: Success is a template and what I discovered and what I’ve always told people is work out what success is for you, not for me so again I am not able to disclose what my definition of success is, because it’s my primary aim, but what I can suggest is that success is a template and when you look at it as a template, everybody is striving for the same things in terms of the principles of success, what we actually want though is the thing that is different. When you view success as a template or as a set of principles everyone is aiming for the same. That is why in my opinion you can take something like my book and someone who is trying to pass the exams at school could use the principles in the book in the same way that someone running a multinational business could. You can say: the next 60 days, this is where I want to get to or what I want by then. They can move forward with their business just as the 16-year old student can move forward with their exam planning. My definition of success is that the approach is a template, use the tips and tools and the techniques that are out there not just mine and apply it to those principles and you will get success.

DS: So if you want to become a very good football player, the rest of the decisions you could take should be in line with that final goal. For example: if you have 5 beers tonight, will that help your football career?

Dean: Yes, that is a good example of the decision-making process people go through on a daily basis. Make decisions on the back of information and knowledge, make informed decisions. Having decided what the goal is, you are making decisions, you are dealing with all the bad stuff that will happen, the interference, the reacting to that and you decide keeping the end goal in mind. As a result you either move forward or not.

DS: Did I forget to ask you a question that you really want to answer?

Dean: Yes, you forgot to ask me about my family :). I’ve got two amazing boys and they are constantly growing and learning and developing and while I would love for them to soak this up (the way I think and the tools I use), I am careful not to throw it all at them because whilst my wife and I are happy to take these tools on board, every child is a little bit rebellious to their parents. It’s about finding the opportunity to use those tools and techniques at the right time. For instance, my youngest son recently was having some challenges over TV images he had seen and of course he was making them worse than they were. It wasn’t giving him nightmares, but it was putting him in a place where at the start of his bedtime he was getting upset. So there are tools and techniques that you can use when you’ve got bad images. Without him realizing I was teaching him those tools and techniques. Of course, he was able to sleep better and go to bed earlier. So the thing about family is to try to find the ways to share the positive stuff with them.

DS: How do you find the balance between what you want to teach your kids and what they want to learn? A lot of parents are trying to influence their kids and make them go their way, but their kids want to do it their own way.

Dean: Our principle, (my wife and I), has always been about morals and ethics, not about what we want them to do. We always want to influence them in the way that they think, the way that they speak or act, but in terms of what they might want to do as individuals when they grow up and develop I’ve given them the freedom to decide on their own. We will do whatever we can to help them get there, rather than influencing, or telling them what we think they should do. It has worked very well so far. It has inadvertent influence because as a family we are heavily involved in sports, particularly in football, although I have not told them “I think you should be a footballer”; there’s always going to be an aspect of them wanting to be one, because that is an environment that they’ve grown up in. I’ve never said to them, “you must be a footballer when you grow up”, so that is the difference. It is about understanding that and accepting it, appreciating the knock on effect and impact on them. And I can see the results already, my oldest son is already formulating ideas around sports in terms of where he wants to be in the future. Things he might want to do with a career based around sports and so I can then help feed that desire and those goals ultimately.

DS: How about your wife? Is she actively involved in the business and all of your activities?

Dean: Jodie is Company Secretary of Charles James Financial Planning and actively involved in a number of strategic and practical ways. We are also working together on a couple of projects. Jodie is heavily involved in schools and families and work with children. As you might expect there is a longer term aim there too nationally, regionally in Yorkshire and locally in Dronfield – all exciting and positive.

DS: Your final words to our readers?

Dean: Decide what you want to be, do, have first. Then go out and strife to achieve it!

You can check the first part of Dean’s interview here: 

Dan Brennan