Intrro FM: Scaling Stories

Ben Newsome
Portfolio Partner
Octopus Ventures

Ben Newsome, Portfolio Partner at Octopus Ventures

In our latest Scaling Stories podcast, we were delighted to catch up with Ben Newsome, a portfolio partner at Octopus Ventures, a very active multi-stage European VC. Ben previously helped build some of Europe’s leading tech companies – from Monzo to Improbable – so who better to talk to about how VCs perceive the importance of talent within an organisation.

Octopus supports and invests in approximately 180 companies, covering everything from unicorn companies to more traditional ‘safer bets’ in industries as varied as health tech, fintech and ‘deep tech’. One of the things that differentiates Octopus is its close working relationships with founders, or what Ben calls a “robust end-to-end process” covering everything from an induction, a holistic look at the business and how capital is deployed.

“It’s very novel for VCs to be looking at driving performance through talent and people,” Ben observes.

When it comes to hiring talent, Octopus is there to support its portfolio in an advisory position, rather than taking a backseat and advising on the odd hire. The Octopus talent team are positioned as ‘coaches’, and they take a holistic approach to advising companies on their talent and people.

A good VC, says Ben, should have capacity to service and support their portfolio, as “there’s only an amount of companies that you can service at one time”, and essentially they should “operate as an extension of that team”.

But what’s not always appreciated about VCs is that when it comes to getting the right talent, they’re not just tasked with advising founders and senior staff – but the investors too.

“The interesting part about the ‘deal flow’ in VC is that there’s a ton of research and due diligence and naturally, when you look at the success of businesses or the businesses that have achieved great things, it’s [because] they get the right people and scale the business efficiently.”

Ben explains that part of his role is to understand “red flags” and “potential areas of weaknesses” so he can have transparent conversations with investors and make sure they understand the importance of recruiting well – a “precursor to success”.

Regular readers of this hallowed digital scroll may recall the words of Jim Collins, business management guru and author of Good to Great, who wrote that successful executives know how to “get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus)”, and Ben’s keen understanding of why recruitment matters is a testament to this.

Transcript

Ben Newsome  

Part of the culture here at octopus is that, you know, we're not afraid to fail, you know? You have to take risks in investing to, to have a chance of success, but the reality is, you know, you can't put too much of a too much pressure on failure and too, because it just it basically prescribes failure in itself doing that. So that's where it helps a lot having the experience of potentially failing a startup but learning along the way.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Hello and welcome to our series of scaling stories, a discussion with talent leaders about their lessons building teams at some of the world's fastest growing companies. I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Ben Newsome, portfolio partner Octopus ventures. For those of you who are not familiar, Octopus is one of Europe's most active venture capital funds. Ben a huge welcome and thank you for joining us.

Ben Newsome  

Thanks, Nasser . Thanks for having me.

Nasser Oudjidane  

So, perhaps to get started, could you give us a brief introduction about you and your background?

Ben Newsome  

Of course, so I have roughly about a decade of experience recruiting now that followed a stint playing professional sport where I played golf in the US and here in Europe and and sort of found a passion in and really being able to get curious about new sort of areas of technology and, and sort of work with people at the same time. So recruitment was a nice match up. And so a lot of my early experience was was working with startups to scale ups in London around sort of specific technologies and gave me a lot of exposure to you know, really sort of bleeding edge companies like PayPal Deliveroo, eBay, Google, places like that, where, you know, I was working with some really, really smart people and you know, during that that period, it's it's kind of led me into some entrepreneurial inquisitiveness in many ways, and so started my own tech company where it's a flat sharing marketplace, kind of crossed with a dating app type thing. Where we used algorithms to basically matchmake and and so I've got a really good insights and exposure into you know, what the entrepreneurial lifestyle and experience is like and then worked my way up into businesses, most recently Monzo bank and prior to that Improbable, both pretty prominent European unicorns and really help scale those businesses out dramatically seeing kind of operations done in very effective ways and, and then have ended up here at octopus ventures where I've been here six months, and it's a great kind of accumulation of all the experience that I've had and allows me to sort of apply the empathy in into supporting founders and everything across their their sort of talent people growth needs.

Nasser Oudjidane  

And could you explain a little bit more about who octopus ventures are and what the mission and vision is? Because it's particularly unique?

Ben Newsome

Yeah, sure. So octopus is an investor that is really sort of focusing on people and ideas that will change the world and we span across Europe and US. And yeah, a big focus for us now is really sort of moving heavily into into Europe across five main pillars, which is b2b, b2c, deep tech, health tech, and fintech. And, yeah, the overarching mission is really to, you know, think about how we can help the world and impact the world through investing in sort of really bright people. We are a B Corp, which effectively means we're held accountable not only to our shareholders but to to the planet and and customers and employees as well. So that's really kind of, you know, validates our mission of impacting the world and and being held accountable to it.

Nasser Oudjidane  

And to go into your role in in more detail. How has it been so far moving in from essentially one customer go as an in house recruiter to perhaps several as a portfolio partner? What has been the biggest surprise?

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, there's, it's a really, really good question and one that one I'm still sort of getting to grips with, I think naturally, the biggest challenge is that going from yeah, as you say, you know, one sort of main problem and working with multiple stakeholders to solve that problem to having six circa 60 companies in a portfolio and trying to balance time and priorities in that is very, very tricky. So for us and well me specifically in this area is really about scalability of of the solutions that we're thinking about. And not only working with founders to help them and you know, for any given case that they're faced with, it's really thinking about, well, how do we scale our capacity and how do we scale our kind of resources to make sure that businesses can take advantage of the experience that we have as a team and the knowledge that we have of, you know, the hundreds of companies that we've we've worked with over the years so that's the biggest challenge is really scaling out that that resource and that support because the reality of this, especially given the current market conditions is that, you know, it'd be nice to have 100 of me to be able to work with the companies individually and be there as an extension of them, but that's not the reality. So it's, it's very much about balancing the supports across the portfolio.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah. Here's another layer of complexity, though, within your role, which I'm intrigued about, which is that you're tasked with advising not only founders and companies with people processes talent, but also your investors. What are the biggest challenges with that dynamic.

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, so I guess this is a challenge that VCs will naturally take upon themselves. And it's it's mainly down to the fact that talent and People Operations at maybe the level of complexity to which we go to is is very novel, and because of that, investors are still getting to grips with how this relationship and this collaboration works. So the The interesting part about the deal flow in VC is that there is a there's a ton of research and do due to due diligence and naturally when you look at the success of businesses or the businesses that have achieved great things is when they get the people right you know, hiring people and scaling the business efficiently. It is so so important that if you can understand some red flags or potential areas of weaknesses, or big plus points in businesses, then, you know, it's really important to, you know, have transparency about that with the investors and so, changing the way that they look at due diligence changing the way they make decisions on founders is is a big, you know, precursor to success and it's something that we've really started to bake into the end to end process here at Octopus.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Right, And how is the team structured? Within octopus people in Talent Team, Are you splitting functions? What are you doing? From perhaps an org design perspective? To help octopus achieve its mission and vision?,

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, there's I think the way I the way I look at it is that there's a certain level of service that you give both Octopus and the portfolio and if that level of service is comprehensive enough so that you know, there's only an amount of companies that you can service at one time, then we naturally have to grow the talent team to kind of keep up with that capacity needed to deliver that. And so the way that we've done it is split talent across each four of the five business areas. And so, then that person will take ownership of that portfolio building the relationships internally, getting an understanding of the complexities and the specificity needed for that particular sector or domain. And, and but the reality is that we are a very tight team and so we're doing a two fold job is that we're both supporting the portfolio that were we're owning, and we're also building out the knowledge base as a as a team to be able to scale out the kind of what good looks like for growth in our business. And so that's where we've kind of, if we look at the the sort of, I guess, the amount of people we have in talent versus the amount of investors it's pretty high. And that's because we are really focused on going above and beyond in the amount of offering that we look for in support with the portfolio.

Nasser Oudjidane  

And perhaps just to double click on that. There are other venture capital furmesthat offer some sort of platform support in a wide ranging area, you know, wide ranging area of services. What do you think, differentiates octopus ventures, specifically people and talent function to other models that you've seen other large funds?

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, I mean, it's in many ways, there might be similarities, right. I think the good thing about this is that we're all trying to solve the problem in helping founders make the right decisions at the right time. I think one of the one of the things that we really do focus on is getting, you know, a robust end-to-end process in place going from, you know, doing an induction and an a qualification on the business holistically, thinking about sort of the founders, relationships all the way through to you know, how they deploy their capital, and, and kind of baking in processes along the way to make sure that we gain success and so this is something that we've kind of accumulated over the last however many years to be able to sort of roll out as a almost a kind of a step by step process and curriculum in getting to those milestones needed to be successful. The I think the capacity is certainly something that that that we offer quite heavily here to do talent, right as you know, it's it's, it's a hard kind of position. If you don't have the capacity to be able to spend enough time with each founder, you just become a more of a surface level, sort of mediator or kind of relationship builder to be able to provide services, but the reality is to really operate as as an extension of that team. You have to have the capacity to spend enough time with them. And so that's really where we've built it out and, and started to sort of work on ways to to really kind of get in there and make changes quickly and impactful.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah, I loved hearing about your background earlier and your startup experience. It seemed like a mix between Tinder and Airbnb, although that's they're not your words to describe it. They're mine and you said something that that I recall, which is that that empathy, how do you bring that experience for you to be an effective advisor and coach to early stage companies?

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, it's a really, really good point. The the main thing that I've experienced working with early stage founders and sort of green founders, a lot of them first time founders is that they, they have to have an answer for everything. And the reality is that they, most people don't have the answers for most things. And so the empathy that I can bring is the fact that that is the reality. And so the more that you can bring with that empathy, the more they are receptive to our influence and the change that we know from experience that they need to have. And so it does help a lot to be able to kind of have that sort of mutual understanding there and and and work together, you know, through times where, you know, decisions have have to be sort of made that frankly, they don't, you know, want to take a risk on but they have to and so yeah, empathy does play a big part. I think it's part of the culture here at octopus is that, you know, we're not afraid to fail, you know? You have to take risks in investing to, to have a chance of success, but the reality is, you know, you can't put too much of a too much pressure on failure and too, because it just it basically prescribes failure in itself doing that. So that's where it helps a lot having the experience of potentially failing a startup but learning along the way.

Nasser Oudjidane  

And from from the experience that you've gathered so far, what are some of the key focus points or problem areas that you've seen and are diagnosing and working on at each of the stages that you're involved in seed series? A, B, and C?

Ben Newsome  

Yes, it's a very kind of topical discussion here at octopus at the moment and you know, I've mentioned a few times around determining what good looks like and creating a framework where founders and startups at each stage can hit milestones and know that they're kind of in the right area. And without any guidance like that. It's very hard for people to do it and connecting the community and alumni is one way to be able to kind of shine a light on what those milestones look like, but where they change so dramatically. It's really hard to pinpoint it, but some of the key indicators are, and one thing that I've seen a lot recently and that I've been working on quite heavily with Ed Keelin our principal and our B2B pod here is around is headcount planning and redundancies. And so when you look at redundancies at the moment where they're happening all over the place, it's it's because typically a business hasn't thought in more of a lean methodology or as have over hired are over leveraged themselves in a particular vertical inside of the business and for I mean, for example, if you look at a business without product market fit at precede, and they go and invest very heavily into sales that the likely outcome is that they aren't going to get the results they need. And they have to pull back on, on that headcount in sales. And that's something that a CEO never likes to do. And it can be damaging to the culture. And so if you set a business up with the ratios that align with where that business is at right now, and the goal was for, let's say the next two years, or however long their runway is going for, then you can improve cash burn, you can improve collaboration, and you get to a position where if you do need to kind of increase cash burn, you can do it lightly across the organization rather than having to strip back heavily uncertain teams and damage the culture. There. So that ratio calculator is something that I'm putting out in a blog fairly soon. And I can share with you Nasser to to kind of go out to your network, but really, this should be a kind of a guideline for how businesses should think about structuring their headcount. So that it's responsible.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah, yeah, looking forward to receiving that blog and we can share it in the show notes as well. If if it's released in time, and yeah, I like the way that you're thinking about its pre PMS post PMS and looking at the evidence first, and then deciding to either double down on the resources, which makes sense. I've got a question regarding that actual process from I mean, in terms of your involvement, pre deal, you're involved in the diagnosis and then the execution and one of the exciting things that you've mentioned to me in the past has been that not just you, but that the octopus talent and people team are building a talent  product. Could you speak a little bit about that, please?

Ben Newsome  

Definitely. So the talent product is really an end-to-end product, right? It's an offering where, right now there's a lot of competition for deploying capital. And you know, there's a lot of investors to choose from for the best, best founders. And so for us to stand out to these founders, we've got to, you know, show that we can support them through their growth stages, support them through their whole journey, frankly. And so we get involved heavily in the pre deal to talk about the service that we offer, as upon coming into the portfolio and so it's very much a sell and you see VCs do this with Venture Partners and a lot of investors you know, talking about what they can bring to the board for example, but from a from a talent and people perspective, where we've got a pretty detailed sort of process or formula, let's say to, to getting businesses set up for certain stages of growth. This is something that's very kind of enticing for founders, because it's one thing that they don't have to think about, and we do operate as an extension to them. So that is the sort of the start of the product. Following that we basically break down our time into what we can manage for the portfolio. And in many ways, we sort of split this into phases. And so see it as as the first year as as part of our talent product. You know, they would get a certain amount of time dedicated to them in the first six months of which we call phase one. And then phase two is how however much time they need and we can be that can be determined in sort of collaboration with them. And we set ourselves deliverables to that. And so it's it's basically especially for early stage, tech businesses that aren't in a position to hire ahead of people in and stretch them thinly across the board. You know, we can very quickly build and deploy some some processes and resources for them to be able to do these things much earlier than they would typically have to. And so that's part of our products is is is the kind of the deliverables that we put in place and the support that we're going for.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah, and it sounds like almost like a fractional type of head of people or at least going in and being able to implement some of the fundamental things and giving insights and advice about that.

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, definitely. I mean, in some regards, it's it's a sort of, yeah, the the kind of proxy head of talent or fractal head of talent, but in some regards, it's actually, you know, sitting on the shoulder of the CEO to, to help them sort of think about the sequencing of building the business, you know, at the right time, or doing the things at the right time. So, yeah, definitely. I think that that sort of fractal approach is how we like to see it.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah. And something that you've mentioned in the past, to me has been capacity planning, and why this is the hardest part of talent in VC. Why is that?

Ben Newsome  

Definitely, I mean any any VC or investor will will tell you that doubling down on the companies that are performing is one way to get success or supporting those that are kind of there or there abouts and, you know, potentially leaving the ones that aren't performing. And I think the culture that we have at octopus is is is to support the whole portfolio, you know, we we've given an opportunity to these founders to really make an impact on the planet and and so it's in our kind of best interest to get them set up for success as and where we can. The reality of that is that it takes a lot of capacity to be able to do that. I mean, each of us. I mean, myself, I'm sort of looking at somewhere in the region of 60 companies, if I was to do that with every company, it would be completely unmanageable. So what I do is have to work with the investment teams, or the two funds that I work with to manage from priority one to priority three. And the way that we determine a priority one is the stage that they're at, and this can relate to how close to a new fundraise they are and what they need in place for that to be able to happen. It could also relate to a big event that they're going through where they just can't manage it themselves or don't have the knowledge to be able to do it and that that could be a redundancy event. It could be moving in to a new country or sort of spinning up a whole new product in itself, of which quite a lot of companies are doing and pivoting at the moment. So we look at this or review this priority on a sort of bi weekly cadence and really try and stay on top of one what is important to the portfolio success and to how we, you know, have integrity to the service that we offer during the pre deal phases. And so yeah, it's a balancing act and still something that we're trying to master but, you know, every every sort of quarter that goes by we're getting better at it.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah. And you said yourself, I think 60 companies that you're overseeing and it appears I think it's correct to say it's 165 Octopus portfolio companies. Can you elaborate on the benefits of aggregating data, helping founders see corners? And are you yourself pattern matching? Are you finding yourself seeing that okay, this has happened in an example before or something similar and are you applying some best practices there?

Ben Newsome  

Definitely. I think one of the benefits of having a heavyweight sort of talent or sort of portfolio team is, is that we can share insights really quickly between each pod or each other vertical in the business. And so that's one way that we're looking at pattern matching. Another way is that, you know, that community is so, so important in venture capital, you know, leveraging the experience that founders have across all of the areas of our portfolio and allowing people to gain insight to that is just a one way to or the best way in some regards to improve the performance as a whole. So we're looking at sort of community products. We're looking at ways in which we can drive knowledge towards our idea of what good looks like and in some regards, this might be things like go to market academies, it might be the way in which we deploy Nets, the way in which we observe boards, the way our venture partners sort of collaborate with founders and then sort of centralize that information and, and we can we can assess that over the coming year and see what works and what doesn't. And so this is all about part of the capacity that we're building in talent and people to gain these understanding. So, you know, again, we can apply it to due diligence going forwards in the investments that we're looking at, but also how we support the portfolio as a whole as well. So yeah, very, very pertinent that that subject for sure.

Nasser Oudjidane  

And you've mentioned what good looks like what in your opinion, does good look like at you know, a seed and series a stage of the business specific to talent and people.

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, so it's a it's a good question. I think the the, I think the most important thing at let's say, precede is to have a really solid mission statement and a team in which you know, we can get faith and and belief that that they can deliver on it. There's so many things to be done at that stage that you know, as long as there is a clear problem and sort of differentiator that they can bring a sort of clear problem in the market and the differentiator that they can bring and that they they have clarity around where that that sort of differentiation can happen. Then, you know, we're in a good position but as as you sort of move up through seed, you start looking at sort of product market fit and, and sort of understanding of that customer base and so we seek to understand in a little bit more detail, you know, where, where they're looking at in the market and how they're thinking about scaling their business. So again, sort of coming back to this responsibility of understanding cash burn and and runway and you know, putting those key members in place and key key infrastructure to gain success. As you go up through through series A there's there's more complex things we look at, in things like OKR setting, values, feedback, culture, management, structure, and, and things that can scale more autonomously when a founder steps away from these duties. And, you know, that's really one thing that's that's hard to, to maintain is is is really solid employer brand and value proposition and a founder has to set that fairly early and give us faith that, you know, as they step away, managers can can sort of lead by example and sort of regurgitate the passion and mission drive that the founder has. So these are just a kind of few examples of things we look at but naturally kind of go more granular in some of the things depending on what the business model is, be it you know, someone that's selling a lot or still building a product, they're drastically different and so the what good looks like as you probably tell us something that we're still carving out, but getting an idea for all of the nuances for each pod and each business that we look after.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah, excellent. You said it nuanced that you're very succinct and I'd love to hear about what is your opinion on how technology should be implemented to achieve octopuses goals, but also Pod Goals as well?

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, we're trying to leverage as much technology as possible. I mean, it would kind of go against our beliefs if we if we didn't. So the some of the examples that we use, I mean, Intrro as you know, as you know, is a great kind of example of leveraging technology to do something that gets really impactful results like referrals, right? The some of the other examples are how we utilize a CRM platform that communicates with us in the sort of the people selling growth side, venture partners, our alumni and the investors themselves to kind of share that data and insight. Then, you know, how we how we leverage the CRMs that we use is really, really important. Outside of that we're looking at things like community so matchmaking tools to drive discussion between new founders and you know, some of our kind of unicon alumni that have that have spent the journey working with with octopus ventures and can basically solve a lot of the problems that they typically think they have to go out to an advisor for or non exec, but really, it could just be a one hour call with with some of our alumni. So we're looking at ways to sort of diagnose the problems or sort of create trends around the problems that are coming up. regularly, and matchmaking people to be able to kind of do that. And, you know, when you look at the investment side of things, there's various research tools, that it's much more sort of qualitative and quantitative and those those are being utilized and it's such a competitive landscape now in venture capital that those things coupled with the the offering as a product, let's say that we have here at Ovi is, is really important. So, as a talent and people team, we basically accumulate a sort of a managed service provider, or a kind of recommended vendor list in many, many ways. And we we constantly iterate on it, constantly discuss it, so that we can deploy it as and when we're, we're doing an intake or an onboarding for for new portfolio companies.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Are there any shoutouts that you want to give to companies that are giving you value?

Ben Newsome  

Yeah, so I mean, one one thing that we really like is is supporting new sort of technology areas. And there's there's a tool called Ashby that we're speaking to at the moment, which is really kind of solving you know, fairly kind of big problems in the kind of ATS space that really does match perfectly for for early stage businesses. Billy Obra Orbit is, is a great example. fantastic tool for for matchmaking. founders and sort of setting up meetings based around questions that are arising in the portfolio, be it for an advisor to a founder or sort of founder to founder in our portfolio is is something that can really, you know, offer founders a lot of kind of engagement in the community, which is something that they really look for and it's it's something that they that they're kind of owed in coming into the portfolio. You know, if you go into a VC with decades of experience and hundreds of companies some successful some not, you know, you want to be able to leverage that that experience and again, it comes down to how much time you have to be able to do that and tools like Obit can really can really solve that quite quickly so they're just a couple that spring to mind, but there's plenty plenty more.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah, shout out to Ashby, the all in one ATS and Orbit, I'll put them in the in the show notes as well. This one's off topic, and this is our last one before the closing questions. What advice do you have for talent and people folks that want to get into Vc and perhaps want to emulate your career path?

Ben Newsome  

I think the biggest thing is get get exposure to a wide range of things, I find a lot of, you know, I've kind of fallen, fallen victim to this in the past is that the best talent and people teams kind of keep roles, you know, fairly verticalized, and focused on specific areas to make sure that those people become subject matter experts and deliver a great, great results, right. But the reality is you need exposure across the board. And this is where it kind of having startup experience kind of gave me the exposure of you know, having to sort of scrape the barrel for certain things, but I think we have every opportunity shadow, you know, be a fly on the wall in, in meetings around things like headcount planning people, people planning, you know, even even things like redundancy events, don't shy away from them, you know, try and understand how you could help and better those, those sorts of scenarios. And that that will really kind of build empathy and experience to be able to face or kind of pass on any issue that comes up from from founders, because the diversity of challenges that companies face in a portfolio is crazy. So try and get exposure and meet as many people see as many things as possible. So that you can kind of become a specialist, a specialist of all of it. And in some regards,

Nasser Oudjidane  

yeah, yeah, build your toolbox. That’s awesome.

Ben Newsome  

Exactly.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Moving on to closing questions. What's one piece of advice you wish you had when you started?

Ben Newsome  

So I guess, started recruitment or started in VC,

Nasser Oudjidane  

I'd say started in talent in VC.

Ben Newsome  

Okay, so I think one of the one of the biggest things is, it's imposter syndrome is something that I've been talking a lot about recently with people, and it's crazy, just how much you know, people get it. And I think coming into a talent role, where you're working directly with founders, and you're, you know, you're given them that this offering of, I have all of the answers for you, or at least that many regards, is what they hear. The reality is that a lot of the small things that you pick up, and along the way in recruitment roles and and people roles, are massive to founders that haven't seen these things before. So you really don't have to over impress, it's really just about listening and absorbing, you know, what, what it is that they're trying to solve, and where you can lend your advice, or support to as to be able to do it. So the small answers will be massive for these founders. That's the kind of the, the kind of ethos that I'm looking at now. And, and that really does come down to being able to ask, you know, good, broad open questions to to really get a holistic understanding of, you know, where they see the problems faces, and then you can just very quickly lend advice, and most of them being sort of small pieces of advice that you've picked up along the way.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah. Is there anything that you're listening to reading or watching for inspiration? Or perhaps you may think our audience might find might find inspirational? Yeah,

Ben Newsome  

I mean, there's, so I'm very into Neuro Linguistic Programming, I studied it over the over the years. So I'm reading a book called NLP at work by Sue Knight at the moment, which is, which is really interesting, it's something that, you know, can I guess, kind of filter down neuro linguistic programming and give you practical ways in which you can apply it at work. And language is something that is massive, you know, especially with the sort of level of intellect in speaking to founders these days, it blows my mind. And so you've got to be able to communicate to to get your point across. So that's, that's something that's, that's really interesting. Outside of that, there's I've gotten a little bit spiritual on a book that I was recommended called the monk who sold his Ferrari it's a it's a very popular book, but it's, it's something that kind of brings you back down into the into a bit a bit of meaning behind what you do and the reality of sort of recruitment and working with people is that, you know, we we have to have a decent basis and so this book really kind of shines a light on that and I'm sure being out in Mexico right now. And that's So it's probably a good book to, to have a have a look at, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. 

Nasser Oudjidane  

Oh, definitely check that out. That's also what is one thought value or phrase that you live by

Ben Newsome  

I think two ears one mouth, always come back to it. It's, it's something that I learned from Laura whelming, my boss, the head of portfolio talent here at Octopus. She's an absolute master at listening and asking really clean open questions. And it's, it's amazing how you it's very easy to jump to having a solution or an answer. It's something that I've I've always sort of caught myself doing and I see a lot of people do it. But the reality is, if you ask more questions and good open questions, you'll get the answers that you're looking for. And you can say less and do less in many regards and have more impact. So it's something that always resonates with me. Yeah,

Nasser Oudjidane  

I really like that one. What are some of your goals for the future?

Ben Newsome  

It's still it's still early in the journey in defining what talent and people is in venture capital. I know there's, there's a lot of people Charlotte over index, and I've spoken today, and different people have different views. But the reality is, it's very novel for for VCs to be looking at driving performance through talent and people or be it's so important that this is uh, this is something that we're, we're we're sort of learning about and trying to build. And so it's become a bit of a passion project in getting this now down. So as we go through, I think, you know, we discussed it before the corner so that there's a lot of really successful partners and VCs that have had backgrounds in recruitment. And so it speaks a lot to just how impactful recruitment and people is in investing. And so my goal is to sort of work my way through the sort of operations and into the investment side gaining an understanding on you know, how we better predict the founders and better support them and drive success. So still early in the journey.

Nasser Oudjidane  

Yeah, absolutely. as well. I wish you the best of success, then this has been a pleasure. Thank you for your time.

Ben Newsome  

Likewise, Nasser. Thanks, buddy. See you soon.

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