Advice for life and work: Jack Maddalena - Founder of tech start up, Naurt
In the second episode of Favourite Positions, we speak to the founder of the top tech start up in the UK, Jack Maddalena. Jack is 25 year old and his location optimisation software, Naurt, will soon become a household name as they begin to work with brands everyone has heard of. In the 18 months since the start-up was founded, Jack has grown the company by 400%, secured over half a million pounds worth of investment and won multiple awards.
He talks openly in this episode about how he learnt to view his dyslexia as a positive (despite how the diagnosis was handled by his school), what he looks for when hiring his team members and how to prevent burn out with shit TV and well timed nights out.
This episode highlights how important it is to find the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing and remind yourself of it every day.
Find Jack's life and career advice below.
Jack's life advice
01. Keep decision making light when it comes to your day to day routine
Having a few staple elements in your regular routine can ease you into a more relaxed state and help you save your best decision making for bigger things
Try prepping breakfast the night before so you don't need to think about what to eat when you wake up, or create a schedule for when you're going to do your work outs in the week so you don't get to the end of the week feeling slightly panicked that you haven't been able to hit the gym as often as you wanted, purely because you didn't plan that part into your week, perhaps you could even try simplifying the ways in which you decide what to wear, such as switching up your tops for the week but keeping certain elements of your outfits the same
Whatever works for you, whilst still bringing you joy in your day to day routines, will work. Simplification, so long as it isn't at the expense of self expression and freedom, is powerful and can help you feel less stressed
02. Allow yourself to switch off at the end of the day, in whichever way works best for you
This advice is given out in support sessions for people experiencing anxiety: if there is a way that you are able to relax that isn't harming you, lean in to it. It is nothing to feel guilty about, in fact, quite the opposite. Does reality TV help you change your thinking from 'work, work, work' to 'ahhhh, home, rest'? If so, great. Does making yourself a cup of tea when you get home and drinking it in the garden whilst you have a scroll on Insta assist you in stopping thinking about emails? If so, cool. Maybe for you, it's a long walk or a chat to your family member that creates the mindset shift you want when you finish work. Whatever that first step is, at the end of your working day, work with it. If it works, it works. We're not advising all you ever do is work and watch crappy TV, of course, but you knowing your own personal button to press to take you from your stimulated work brain to a more relaxed, home focused state, is powerful. Working out what it is and using it whenever you need to is actually something to be proud of
03. Don't wait until you're ill to rest
If you can avoid becoming ill in the first place then you're going to recover from not feeling 100% way faster. We're not taught this kind of approach in schools (not in the UK anyway) and so have been brought up needing to convince people we're really sick before we're allowed time to rest - it's stupid. Not only are we making ourselves more ill by doing this but also potentially super spreading whatever we've got in the process
Take note of how your body is feeling each day. Are you tired? Can you get a longer sleep that night? Are your glands up? Can you reach for more nutritionally dense foods that might help calm inflammations. Are you feeling stressed? Can you practice more self care today
Nothing is more important than our health. If you can check in with yourself each day and give your body what it needs before you feel super rough, you'll be able to ensure you're doing all you can to prioritise your health and ultimately, you will feel better!
Jack's career advice
01. Start by asking people you want to work with what their biggest problem is
The most successful companies start with a very clear 'why' behind what they're doing and they solve a problem. If you're looking to build your own company or project or perhaps you're simply interested in finding out what opportunities there might be for you to do something entrepreneurial in the future then ask people you want to work with (in person or via LinkedIn) what their biggest problem in their work life is
Jack did just that and his award winning tech start up was created to solve the problem he heard about. It's a simple but fool proof approach
02. Don't let anyone's opinion of you capabilities get to you, only you know what you're capable of
No matter what you may have been diagnosed with or feel that you maybe should be diagnosed with, you are capable of whatever you set your mind to
Gustavo Razzetti, CEO of Fearless Culture, wrote an excellent piece on the subject of labels on Medium. In it, he says:
'Labels make people invisible — we reduce them to a single adjective. Labeling is a cognitive distortion — it’s a biased perspective of ourselves and the world around us'
A diagnosis of any form is a label, put simply: it is a short-hand way of helping describe a general concern or condition — but it is not the end-all, be-all of that condition. Because each diagnosis manifests itself in different ways in different people. To say that one person’s dyslexia or ADHD looks exactly like another person’s is to make a leap of faith that would be wildly contradicted by both
Other people's opinions can make you feel as if you need to take up a diagnostic label as a new definition of your 'self' but this is so one-dimensional and totally unnecessary. While it may feel like your whole life is wrapped up in the disorder or disease, it usually reduces the complexity of your experience to something that really isn’t you. Or does much justice to the real you
So whilst it can be helpful to use a label to help describe your experiences and work out the best way of doing things for yourself, don't allow it to become how you view yourself completely. After all, we all have said, 'I have a cold today, so I can’t come into work' but few of us have ever considered saying, 'I am a cold'
03. Learn about any career path that interests you, don't pigeon hole yourself
Life is to be enjoyed and work makes up a huge part of what we do on a regular basis. Explore your options, talk to people about what they do and if it sounds like something you want to know more about, why not ask to shadow them or read up on their profession. If you're employed and don't have a lot of time to spend elsewhere, listen to podcasts about whatever it is that interests you and seek out opportunities to learn more about it
You might be a teacher now or perhaps you studied hairdressing, have you been working in a bank or are you in the process of working out where to go career-wise? It is never a bad time to learn and experience new things. Your future is not dictated by your past and any decision you make about where you'd like to go is yours - feel the freedom of that statement
Big love, thank you for your support