Inspired Business podcast with Jon Eno video transcript
Just a quick note before we start: this entire first season of Inspired Business was recorded before the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, hence there being no mention of it in the interviews. Thanks, enjoy the podcast.
Toby Bradford: Hello and welcome to Inspired Business, the business podcast from the University of Derby.
Toby: During this series we are bringing you inspiring stories from across the business landscape in Derby, Derbyshire and beyond. We discuss the issues affecting your business and provide key insights from our guests for you to take away. I'm Toby Bradford, your host for the series. I'm joined by my co-host, business expert Angela Tooley, who will offer you valuable analysis on the topics we cover.
Toby: In this episode we’re going to talk to Jon Eno about how he’s been able to make his passion and his hobby his business. I’m here with Angela Tooley our resident business expert. Now Angela you know Jon.
Angela: Yes, I do Jon’s a great support for the university comes in and works for with a number of our students and as well as that supports the number of our business events. We had an event last year and he brought along his band and and entertained all of our businesspeople as they networked together. So, yes I know him very well he's got a great business he's increasingly successful, he's had a great couple of years, but not just his music business which is what he's known for locally but also he's farmed, and he's now beekeeping in France I understand. So, he's he's taken a lot of his passions and converting them into commercially sustainable enterprises.
Toby: Yes, and we talk in great detail about some of his passions anyway without further ado let's go and hear what Jon has to say.
Toby: And so, I'd like to welcome Jonathan Eno to our Inspired Business podcast. Hello Jonathan, would you like to introduce yourself.
Jon: Hello! And what a pleasure to be here yes, my name is Jon Eno and I'm the CEO of Hot House music schools.
Toby: So, what does that mean? What do you do? What is Hot House?
Jon: So, I have a mission in my life, I exist to enrich and empower young people through the the joys of music. And I'm trying to make sure that we change lives, and we really would like everybody to value what music education can bring to them regardless of whether they want to be a musician.
Toby: So, in this Hot House music school, so, what do you do? Do you bring kids into school classrooms or do you go out to them?
Jon: Well good question actually, so, what is the Hot House music school so, if you've come across stagecoach. Stagecoach is like a drama school where children will attend, and they'll learn acting and lessons within another school building. So, that's essentially what we do we offer music lessons, music ensembles, recording and international touring for young people across the UK.
Toby: That's something that stands out to me, touring.
Jon: International touring as well not just touring around the UK. So, we've got a CSR which means that we're dedicated to enshrining our delivery around these four guiding principles of access, nurture employability, and legacy. And so, we hire a school, in our local area and then we offer these activities to young people, always making sure that we're delivering on our CSR. And so, we're hoping that the children will come to us because they're interested in music, but what we would like them to learn is the other skills that they get from music so, the ability to get on with friends, the ability to be aware of everybody else in your environment, the ability to be aware of how to perform and communicate in a space, be aware of the wider world and their context and their responsibilities within it. So, that's what we would like them to get out of a Hot House education.
Toby: Cool. And when you tour with them, you create bands for them, what what are they?
Jon: So, the general sort of customer story liners they come in when the 5 or 6 years old they would learn a piano, or a clarinet, after a year or so, they'll be invited to join an ensemble and we've got lots of different ensembles right the way through up to 18 years old. And each of these ensembles are then given an opportunity to go on tour so, the younger ensembles are invited to go to Disneyland Paris, and perform at Disneyland in front of the castle and as the kids get older, and they get better then they get invited to go on more adventurous tours. So, whether that's coast to coast of America or a European tour, or like next year's tour we're going to be doing the Asian Peninsula, we're doing Tokyo Olympics, and Hong Kong and Singapore for the the High Commissioner over in Singapore. So, the benefit of going on tour is that kids learn to look after themselves, they get a bit more with it with life, they know about culture and society, they know what the problems are that affect the whole world. And that's key really, because we want them to be able to think; what do I want to change in life? What do I want to be able to deliver? Not, what do I want to do as a job? But what do I want to change? And by giving them those experiences, they can make their own mind up about what's important to them.
Toby: Cool. I'm slightly jealous I'm thinking of joining one of your ensembles.
Jon: Well we do have a gospel choir for adults based right here in Derby, and I do believe right here in Derby, and I do believe who attend already. And that ensemble we really put that together, because we felt that adults within our community needed a place for support within each other. Life's difficult enough being a grown up so, we put this together and they sing all sorts of songs, and then they get to go on tour they've sung in Venice, and next year they're doing Tuscany and with a bit of luck we might ever do Cleethorpes. [Laughter]
Toby: Got to love a bit of Cleethorpes. So, is Hot House the only thing you do? Have you got any other irons in the fire or is it?
Jon: Well we do a lot, I personally do a lot of things I'm one of those people who can't say no, who always says yes and is generally really interested in everything about life. So, whether it comes to sales, we've got an internet sales company which is doing very well, where we sell sheet music and, you know, jazz specific sheet music around the world.
Toby: So, what's that called?
Jon: That's Big Bang music and rather a nice back story to that one, I found that if you're quite kind to people then life has a certain sense of karma and all the treat you the right way. And a few years treat you the right way. And a few years ago I got a phone call from a friend of mine down in Colchester, who’d been running a company called American Stage Band music service and it was at the time the biggest company in the country for selling our type of sheet music. And he said to me; “Jon, it was New Year’s Day my wife’s not very well she’s in hospital, I really can’t cope with running a company. Are you interested in having it?” And it was a case of yep. I’ll get a lorry, I’ll come down I’ll pick up half a million pounds worth of sheet music. I’ll take it off your hands how much do you want for it? Nothing whatsoever just keep doing what we’re doing we love the fact that you like the music.
Jon: Great times, you know, we believe the same thing if we treat people well, they should, you know, they'll treat you back. And we talk to the kids like that as well, if you treat an audience like a mirror, they'll reflect what you give them. And that's one of those guiding principles that we have.
Toby: Brilliant, but Big Band music, jazz music this is your thing, this is just style of music.
Jon: Yeah, it's supposed to be. So, I started off as a little trumpet player back in Ripley just up the A38 and I used to play the last post for all of the church ceremonies when I was only 8 years old. And I really wanted to be a classical musician which meant that I fancied going over to the Birmingham Conservatory of Music and becoming a proper soloist. Unfortunately, as I was going through my university years, I realised that I would get paid more for doing a commercial show with the BBC doing a commercial show with the BBC show with the Halley. So, I kind of went to the dark side and did the light entertainment stuff and did a gig with Michael Burke the news presenter, and that was it never took my eyes back on the classical road. But from that point onwards, I kind of fell in love with commercial music everything from Strictly Come Dancing, right the way through to your classic Big Band and that's my my favorite era of music.
Toby: And is that the area that you teach the kids? Cause I'm, and I've- I have seen your saxophone ensemble play in Derby, and that's, is that the kind of thing they're all doing?
Jon: And I would probably say that we're going through a generation of kids now that don't label things so, whereas when we were growing up and we were little you were into punk, or you into Mars, or you were a rocker, or you know everybody wanted to be something because it was part of their identity. Nowadays we strive really hard not to label things both business-wise and education-wise because as soon as you label something people get stuck to that and that's one of our issues with labeling kids if, you you know, if they say I've got autism or I'm on the SEND spectrum, I've got- I'm a vegetarian, everybody wants you know if you give them a label they get stuck to that label there's a certain sense of gravity that drags you back to that all the time. And we've found that people have a perception, if you say you're vegan, or if you say you ride a bike, or- the people have got a concept of that and we don't want that for our young people. So, whereas the kids will learn a bit of Big Band music and a bit of rock, and a bit of pop, and a bit of folk, a bit of Latin we don't classify it. We want them to think of they value music and that's one of those big differences we don't say we're a brass band, we're not an orchestra, we're not a sax, we are just musicians and we want them to value the music.
Toby: Now one thing we haven't talked about yet, but will need mentioning is you now have some letters after your name.
Jon: Yes, where do I start with that one? So, I'm assuming that we're talking about the British Empire medal, which is very cool. [In an excited tone] And I'm super, super buzzed about it actually, you know, when I was little I used to be a trumpet player at school and I'd look at all my music teachers and they'd all have lots of letters after than owning names that be gsmd, ltcl, as a musician as you pass your grade 8 you then go onto your diplomas and you could start getting letters after your name. And it was always something that I really wanted to do, my mum and dad never had that you know from working-class background they went to university did a teaching certificate, or a Bachelor of Education I always wanted lots of letters. So, I went did a degree, I went and did a postgraduate at Leeds College of Music, and then did a masters down at Anglia Ruskin, and then I did the gtp at Derby. And literally two years ago I decided I wanted to do something with my dad, My dad's a great piano player so, I said dad let's go and do a diploma on our piano and saxophone, just for fun for no other reason and just to get a few more letters after my name, and just been a joke in the family that we try and get more letters. So, there's more letters after my name than there's actually in my name. And then to my absolute amazement I got a letter through the post that said, “Mr. Eno we would like to award you a British Empire medal for services to education.” And to be absolutely honest it’s blown everything else out of the water, I can’t tell you how much this means to me, and not because I’m big into the Royal family, not because I’m big into MBA’s and all of that but because actually I’m so aware that I’ve had a positive impact on a number of people’s lives that they’ve cared, with- without me knowing anything about it to write a letter to put together a pack to say please can you let Jon know that we value him. And that is an absolute validation of what I believe about doing something for the right reason, and then getting something in reward because it’s the right thing to do and I will use the British Empire medal to help me keep delivering what I care about, you know, I really will go away and I’ll use it to get a meeting with the Secretary of Education, I will use it to get through the door at the Musicians Union, because I’m passionate about our message of making sure that we can get kids a balanced education, So, you know, blown out of the water by it and I can’t tell those people enough how grateful I am that they cared enough to do that for me.
Toby: I think we've kind of touched on it a little bit already but, why do you think Hot House has been so successful? Obviously, the way people feel about you to nominate you for a British Empire medal says something about that, but why do you think it's been so successful?
Jon: I would like to relinquish to sort of like my personal development really so, when I grew up in Ripley Mill Hill I grew up in an ex-mining type community, there wasn't a lot going on, the aspiration was very low you were ever only going to go and work in the Brickyard, there wasn't really the opportunity for everybody else around me to go and do more than that it was quite limiting. So, I was fortunate enough to have my parents who think you're gonna go to university, it didn't matter which university you were going to, go to university. But as a result of it I found that as I grew up, I was quite an arrogant young man. And I didn't like the way that I'd grown up I didn't like the way that I was behaving with friends, I didn't like the way that I was to my peers, and my and my staff. So, I remember when I was 18 making a mental choice to change my life, and say I can be a better person, I can be a kinder person, I can make a difference to those people around me. And I was, I think, I used it the music to cover the fact that I was extremely shy, and I decided I wasn't going to be shy anymore I was going to go to university and try and be a different person. So, I took that the whole sense of being able to be in charge of your own destiny, and and went off to university, and from that point onwards I've always thought of life as a series of learning things for when things go wrong there's always something good in everything. So, at the end of my first year when I crashed out of my finisher exams through anxiety, and I had to go and talk to the doctors about beta blockers and depression was a really good moment of learning, because I was able to be aware of what everybody else might be going through. And you know at the end of the day, somebody said, you know, it's not third world debt it's not famine in Africa, and it is only music, you're only playing a trumpet for somebody and these things make a difference. So, I gradually picked up a few of these life skills, and got a gig playing on a cruise ship over in America I used to do the Caribbean routes. So, I played in Jamaica twice used to play on Dr.Nose Pier, you know that pier where James Bond is so, we used to do a show there every Tuesday and Thursday. And as part of my time when I was in America, I used to go and do some outreach at high schools over there, and it came quite clear that the Americans have this perspective on life that you should try and do what you enjoy rather than try and fix what you can't do do what you enjoy, because they are assuming that if you know not everybody's going to become a world-class American footballer but if you can throw a ball a long way you might as well go and be the quarterback and enjoy the time that you're doing that, you know, that activity. Whereas, that's completely different to the UK system, when you're growing up when I was growing up back in Ripley the kids were, wow you can't do this you're not very good at math’s, so you need to go and have extra math lessons, you're not very good at English you're going to get a D for your GCSE so, you need to go and practice extra homework, and by learning in America what what was important, you know, doing the things that you enjoy when we came back to the UK, from my touring days, I was able to try to set up a music school which focused on saying to the kids you know if you're really happy having a go at playing really fast in your solos, you have a go at that and if you're really happy at playing high you have a go at doing that one, don't worry about the fact that you can't play really quickly, don't worry about the fact that you can't sigh read, we will find a way around those things. And it was that kind of you can do this you can be positive, that meant that we grew really, really quickly and it's taken a good 17, 18 years for me to refine the I- methodology but now when kids arrive to us, we right away from day 1 making sure that they are happy, day 2, you know, it's making sure that are being kind to themselves, and the people them around them, and then day three it's making sure that they continue to do that all the way through their journey and hopefully that's what some of our parents and our you know other stakeholders see. They don't see education, they see an approach to life which their kids might be able to take with them and, you know, we'd like to think that that's paying benefits now, because some of our alumni going on not only to be amazing musicians, obviously the drummer for Noel Gallagher's one of ours the clapping the trumpet player for Michael Buble he's one of our alumni, the guy does x-factor he's one of ours. We've got some phenomenal musicians but actually, the lady who is the legal counsel for the Paralympic Committee she's one of ours, you know, the the list is endless you know the, partner of bird and bird they're one of ours, the guy who's set in public health spending for the NHS he's one of ours, you know, went to Oxford we're super proud of those. And we're hoping that they've taken something from our approach about making making their lives count.
Toby: Because it's not just about the music, it's the whole thing.
Jon: It's absolutely not just about the music.
Toby: Having that state of mind where I know I'm good at this I'm gonna try and be as good as I can possibly be at this so, the things I'm not so good at they won't matter so much because I'm gonna be so good at that!
Jon: Absolutely and the Americans are all about that, you know, they're about what can I make a dollar on, what cannot- what am I good at, have I got, you know, have I got the gift of the gab, am I great at selling or have I got a great product, and with something like that the UK, we need to do more of, you know, we need to look at our kids and say what are their natural talents not what are the bits that they can't do, and what we need to make sure that they are really good at what they- what are their natural talents, what do they naturally want to be able to do and achieve and then invest that time and making that part of their life happy. And then hopefully we'll go back up those OECD tables for 15, 16-year-old happiness and having a purpose in life that's our mission. It's weird isn't it, it seems to me that we want everybody to look the same, we want everybody to have 3 A's at A-level, we want everybody to have all 9's at GCSE, but that's not natural is it in any sense of the world we've got people the students, who are going through who want to be welders and we got students to go through that want to be farmers, you know, we, we can't possibly have everybody having the same skill set and we know they need to be functional, but you know, the people who go on to make a difference in society and community and business, are those that have got something different about them those that have got a passion or a belief in something other than just being good at everything, and that's the problem isn't it because you know we've got a great relationship with Derby Uni at the moment we have a lot of apprentices coming to the uni and also a lot of interns. And when we get the piece of paper through when you read in the application for an internship, everybody looks the same everybody's done Duke of Edinburgh up to gold everybody's got the GCSE english and math’s and, you know, Sciences, how are we supposed to possibly tell what the difference is until you meet them, you know, it's really difficult now. So, actually the best people that we've had recently from the Uni have been the ones that are your foreign students and, you know, Derby Uni's got an incredible tradition, I think you're number one in the country for your care for international students and that's something that wasn't aware of but since we've had international students work for us we've been blown away by their the caliber of their workload there and that work ethic and what they deliver is sensational. So, we've had a lady from Poland, and one from Spain they were part of the Twitter takeover campaign and were sensational were really strong year 1 candidate in social media digital marketing did a fabulous job. Living in another country learning in a foreign language, you know, only being 18,19 years old making those mental choices to go out into the world, and make the world a smaller place meant that they've obviously got something about them. And then we've got currently we've got an intern, driven intern from the University doing marketing for us and she's called Veronica Pally and she's from Moldova, and in her interview she said, "Can you repeat that again please, because I'm currently juggling 5 languages in my head and I'm not sure I understood what you said" I'm trying to think of all of the students that we've got in our schools around the country thinking, which one of our students could go to another country have a conversation with an employer about a creative industries post like what we've got, and then have the gumption to say can you repeat that again because I'm juggling 5 languages in my head that says something about the quality of students at Derby University, that we're attracting in Derby but it also says something about, you know, the fact that they're desperate to make a difference to the world. And, you know, that's what I would like to think that we're trying to do with our students, is to empower them to think, you know, how do I make a difference, how do I make a change, our international tours about making the world a smaller place music's the universal language. So, we really want them to be able to communicate with different cultures and different societies so, that they can then say I'm going to do this. They're not just going to go through university, they're not just going to go through an apprenticeship and say alright I'm gonna have a job now for the next 4 to 5 years at Rolls-Royce, kids aren't like that, and we we've got to play our part.
Toby: Now then we're gonna go back again.
Jon: Great Stuff.
Toby: So, we talked about this a little bit, about where you've come from because I understand you you have some musical heritage sort of it's in the blood.
Jon: It is.
Toby: Going back quite a long way.
Jon: It does well, you know, a few hundred years ago I come from a family of von Schveckels who are Bavarian sausage minstrels so... [Laughter] yes, absolutely so, they would travel around Bavaria with their sausage grinder, their organ grinder, and once they were making sausages they would sing to the general public. And then they would try and getpeople to buy their sausages, and like I don't know whether there's any truth in that story, but that's one that's been passed down at family for years. And that's all of my father's side have been big musicians so, we're related to Brian Eno who's U2 and Roxy Music, and then there's another guy called Roger Eno who does a lot of work for the BBC, my great-great-grandfather was principal clarinetist for Kaiser Wilhelm's Orchestra in World War one and our family was interned apparently. So, we are music through and through my great-uncle Kolb he used to live in a terraced house down in East Anglia, and he took a saw to the upstairs and cut out the first floor so, that he could build a church organ in a row of terraced houses and [Laughter] the neighbors didn't really know what to make of him especially as it used to wear a suit of armor I think to go to work, he was one of those odd sighs. Yes, but yeah definitely musical heritage and all of our family are now musical based, my father ex-head of music my brother is a deputy vice-chair of music down at Dulwich College, and my uncle was a head of music so, there's a pretty big tradition really.
Toby: And well, can you remember what your first musical experience was?
Jon: I- absolutely and like most kids that- I've come to realise the very first time that I played a musical instrument I would have been 5 years old, I burst into tears I can remember it to the day, and I kid you not it still happens children are so emotionally moved for good and for bad, you know, by their first experience on a musical instrument they were burst into tears, they were burst into laughter, they'll run around the room. There is something intrinsically earth-based about making a sound on a musical instrument which is just awesome, and the power of that is it can't be completely overwhelming. So, that was my first experience and quite quickly we went into orchestras and bands over at Tina in Derby music, South Derbyshire Music Centre. And actually my favorite memories would be Ronnie Scott's jazz club when I was 19 years old and I just driven our family Lada Samara car down the M1, you know, it fell apart halfway down and me and my younger brother went to watch The Count Basie Orchestra for the first time, and it was led by a chap called Mr. Frank Foster and we had our first cigar in an actual jazz club watching the best big band in the world. And that was one of those moments where we thought yeah, we are really living now so, that was cool.
Toby: So, was that one of those things wait so, yeah that's what I want to do, I want to be that guy over there.
Jon: Now it was exactly one of those things, you know, then it happens to lots of different people at different times, and whereas my brother said I want to be that guy who's playing the tenor saxophone, I said I wanted to be the guy who's standing at the front conducting making sure that everybody else is doing their job properly. And I ran my own ensembles, and my own groups from that point on, right the way through till today so, yeah it's been a good time.
Toby: Now we talked about sausages [Laughter], we talking about how you got to be where you are. You had an interest in farming and meat at one point.
Jon: I really did, I credit this to my well, I think I credit this to my wife really, because she's one of those people who inspires me to do what I do with kids, and she said that she's never had any pets in her life and she- mum and dad wouldn't allow family pets. So, on a whim, we went and got a sheepdog and it was an absolute joy to have this other reason in our lives to get up to go and look after the dog. And within the space of a week of getting the sheepdog by some pure miracle we ended up going round to a farm and buying 12 piglets [Laughter], and we we'd never, we'd never had farms, and we'd never done this before we'd never registered with death-row we didn't get all of our EAL numbers for looking after the animals and we've just gone and done this. And within I think a year, that to our farm had snowballed into pigs, sheep, donkeys, goats and cows and we could quickly realised that and we wanted to do real farming. So, that was holistic farming so, we weren't injecting them with antibiotics, we were doing this the slow way and we wanted to do it organically, and we wanted to see whether we would be emotionally involved with looking after the animals and whether we would have an issue with eating the animals at the end of it. And as it turned out we found that if you looked after the animals and cared for them there wasn't a problem with taking them to the abattoir, there wasn't a problem with going to the butchers afterwards, and we would do the butchering ourselves and there wasn't a problem with eating it. What there was a problem was going to Tesco's and seeing 10,000 chicken breasts in plastic wrappers, and kind of this whole movement of environmentalism and eating less meat comes from the fact that, people don't know where the meat comes from and they don't know how long it takes to get there. One cow would last a family over a year, and so, we eat far too much meat and not because we need me but just because of the accessibility of it, it is there. And by running our own farm and making sure that we knew where it came from, it's kind of rebalanced what we think is important in life being outdoors, breathing, walking, talking getting the movement going, looking after something that needs care is a a real privilege. And actually, for all the farmers that I know, and I know some of my best friends are farmers, they do have the best job in the world because you will never find an animal that gives you any grief or gives you any back chat or gives you any negativity, an animal is absolutely honest all of the time. So, whereas we might go to work and there'll be some customer who turns up who's had a terrible day, and they take it out on you the animals will not do that, they will only give you trouble if there's something wrong as long as they've got, know you, water, place to stay they're being looked after, and you treat them kindly they will give it you back and they're very very much like children, you know, if you treat them well they will treat you well backwards. And the lessons that we've learned they're farming, we we adopt in our life to the day.
Toby: Do you still farm?
Jon: So, unfortunately the government decided that in its great wisdom to do a compulsory purchase order on our farm because they wanted to build a big new road down the A50 so, we were forced to sell all of our animals and they were going to knock our house down. So, they kicked us out of our house not sore about it at all, yeah he says, and then we found out a week after they kicked us out that they've decided to shelve the project and they're not knocking down our house now or our old farm and it's just there empty up on the A50 in Uttoxeter to this day. So, we don't farm now but we have decided to move to a place in France where we've got some land and we exported our bees, because we do bees as well, very careful for the environment we took our bees over and we now have English bees with passports that live in France and we make English honey.
Toby: They actually had to have passports?
Jon: We actually had to have bee passports!
Toby: Individual for every single bee?
Jon: The group passport, a lot of people don't know but there's an inspectorate or a minister and ministry of bees in the UK, sounds like something out of Harry Potter but we had to have this inspector come around in his full bee suit and he inspected all the bees, all the hives, gave them a little check, took a little photo for their passports and gave them a piece of paper, and we exported these bees to to our farm in France now. And our long-term dream is that we will go back to farming once we've finished our journey with with Hot House, but we did take the bees under the channel tunnel in the back of a minibus. And if anybody wants to know what fear is really like driving a minibus full of 4,000 bees is terrifying. So, we had to let Defra know we had to let all of the Channel Tunnel know, we have to let the French animal authorities know that we're all coming.
Toby: Did they put you in a carriage on your own? [laughter]
Jon: We had to put the beehives in muslin so, you wrap your beehives up in quite a lot of muslin and then you tie it at the top, and then you put it in there and you've only have a certain amount of time because the bees would they warm up quite a lot. And then all the way around the minibus we have to put big stickers saying, you know, transporting live bees so, if there was a crash or an accident and all of them escaped the fire engines would know to come with a special type of foam so, they could stop the bees escaping and then we drove down from Derby all the way down to our farm in Brittany. And about an hour and a half before we arrived to our farm, a bee landed on my shoulder in the in the driver's seat and we realized that we had an escapee / bum bum, more than one escapee, we had quite a few bees that started to escape from one of the hives that we were transporting. So, it was quick on with the the bee suit and do the last hour driving with a few bees flying around the minibus just to get them down to our farm in France.
Toby: So, you've got pictures of you driving in a bee suit surely.
Jon: In a bee suit and, you know, I like to think actually, it was one of those best moments of life because now all of my friends over at Marketing Derby, John forking the whole team they all get regular French honey and that that wouldn't be happening if I had made that that fateful journey under the tunnel. I think we must be the only family in the UK that's got bees that's gone under the channel tunnel so very cool good stories.
Toby: Pretty amazing, pretty amazing stuff. Now Talking of France, moving on it's and it's one of those strange segues that I'm gonna make now. You - you're living in France now but going back to Hot House, Hot House isn't just in the UK, it's in various other countries.
Jon: It is yeah.
Toby: It's in Paris.
Jon: Well, we're looking at launching our first school in Paris, it's actually in Lyon. So, we think Lyon is our going to be our European headquarters so, part of our vision for Hot House, because we really believe in what we do for children, we want to take Hot House across the globe. And we want to bring our approach of Education and and what life is all about to children all over the world so, we've got a headquarters in Singapore which is being run by my best friend from France, a guy called Benoit Trouwaert, and I've known him for 38 years and he's a trumpet player like me. And so, he's running that and so, we've got students learning in Singapore, and he's in charge of our Asian Peninsula development. And then we've got a school in Lyon which is being run by Anastasia Masset and she's going to be in charge of developing the European arm of our company. And the next bit will be Germany, and Bavaria, funnily enough going back to home roots. And then we've got plans to launch our headquarters in Texas for North America, we've got 100 schools lined up for North America in phase A of the international expansion. So, we really do, we've got a very ambitious vision for the company we know it works we know the model works we've tried it we've duplicated it we've got an incredible non-executive team. And, you know, this and all people that I know are successful have surrounded themselves with people who have succeeded in their field, and have not succeeded straightaway in their field. We've tried lots of different things, and there's the old adage that you have to fail before you can succeed and that's the truth for every single thing that I can possibly think of, and we've- one of our non-execs is the ex-Business Group Director for Dolby over in San Francisco, used to work in big corporate structures, big corporate functions, and we deliberately thought, you know, if we want to be a big, you know, billion dollar company, you know, in whatever many years we need somebody who's ran one of those so, that they can combine with that, we need somebody who's been a specialist in startups and growing SMEs to being large companies. So, we've got the chief technical officer for machine max down in London, they're a Shell subsidiary company he's one of our non-execs, and then we've also got an employment solicitor who's focused on SME legalities and making sure that we're doing all the things the correct way from the ground up. So, we've got a phenomenal team and we work out business plans on 3, 5 and 7 year cycles, and it's working we are ahead of where we should be on our projections and forecasts at the moment so, with a bit of luck the European School will be rocking and rolling soon. And we- I'll get to spend more time back in my native France which would be super cool.
Toby: Brilliant, Brilliant. So, thinking about where you are now and we're you're looking to get to so, when you started out when was it that you started out? And was it just you when you started out?
Jon: So, it was just me when I started out, because I was desperate to work out whether this approach of just saying to the kids, you know, if you enjoyed that let's do that let's really focus on that and enjoy that works. And it grew 200% in the first year, and within 2 years we had 5 staff. And so, now my team that I've got around me are all on message about what we're trying to deliver and, you know, we are growing at a rate of this year's 170% on last year. So, the the rate of growth is huge, and I think, you know, within 3 years there'll be 60, 70 schools across the UK, Hot House schools and, you know, we've got this target of reaching 1.6 % of the school population in the UK and it seems very real and we want to be the musical version of stagecoach and the musical version of all of these swimming schools. We want to be doing this, we want to be reaching kids and giving them the opportunity of a Hot House education.
Toby: So, in terms of your story, you know where you've come from you've got a long history of music and you know where you're going. So, do you think that that helps you knowing your personal story helps your business story?
Jon: Hey, you know what, I really do and this is- I wasn't aware of this until rather recently when I started delivering talks and speeches, but when we go to music college or when you go to university you do a lot of talking about the history of music it's called musicology, and if you're going to become a famous composer, a film composer you're not allowed to start composing music that you would like to or that film until you've studied the music from 1950 the music from 1920 and then the silent movies, you have to know the journey of where you've come from to be able to deliver the next development, the next level and we have that drilled into us in generations as musicians and they only only recently twigged that actually know where we've come from, you know your your your history as a family, your- the way you've grown up, is the way that you lead your life actually that translates perfectly into your business world. So, if you're leading a life that's making a positive contribution, you're thinking of decisions you're actively choosing kindness and positivity and to look at the hard questions in your own personal world, and that's natural and you're happy with that, you know, 99 times out of 100 you're gonna choose exactly the same methodology for your business. And the way we've experienced that is if you do do that there's nothing that can go wrong with your business, the worst thing that can happen your business you'll be taking that and turning it on its head and it will become a positive. So, actually knowing where you've come from, from a business knowing where we started as a business is absolutely fundamental in knowing that we want to get to be the world's biggest music education provider. And, you know, the whole point of where we are today knowing our story, all of my staff know in their story, all of the students knowing their story, now is going to be fundamental for them saying; "I know where I've come from, I know where I want to go to and I know the difference I want to make." And I quite like that.
Toby: But that's being true to yourself in a sense so, you won't be successful in business unless you are true to yourself.
Jon: I think that's true, I don't I mean the people that I get on the best with are the ones that live business the way that they live their lives, the ones that care about what they do in their business are the ones that care about things in life if you look at the guy who runs Cosy Fund, Peter Ellse, stunning chap. You know, not only is he doing a great business he's actually making a difference to people's lives. And those are the people that are running super successful businesses, but enjoying the process at the same time the ones that are chasing the dollar, just trying to chase the sales they're not the sort of people that I interact with on that daily basis. The ones that I do interact with, they're the ones that are actually you know making difference for generations to come ripples in a pond it's all about ripples in the pond for generations we're going to be making a difference.
Toby: Well that comes back to doing what you enjoy doesn't it?
Jon: Do what you enjoy, and I guess that all comes back to being that young trumpet player who goes into the high school in America and seeing this teacher saying; "Oh you're great at throwing that ball really far let's go and do that and put you as quarterback." And that kid was happy for the rest of his life still know him now 25 years on, very cool.
Toby: We're gonna come back something we may have talked about already, but I just want to focus on it, why is music and creativity, and creative expression in general so important?
Jon: We want people who were coming towards that can be problem solvers, and creativity is one of those key parts key tenets of problem solving. And so, you've got to be able to be creative to be able to solve the world's problems. And so, I think the ability to play in an ensemble the ability to respect the people that are around you whilst bringing something that you are caring about to the table is key so, that teamwork all comes from creativity the ability to listen and share and coach all comes from creativity. So, if we're not giving our young people the space to be creative or the space to try and the space to fail perhaps even more importantly, then we're not creating a workforce that are going to be able to adapt to portfolio careers. I mean how many people do we know that are are working multiple types of jobs now so, I not only do I do education but I do coaching, not only do I do coaching I've got a company that sells sheet music around the world I've got an instrument rental business, I do farming I care about bees and environment, we have portfolio lives it's not one-dimensional and I think that comes from creativity. And the kids today who are going through the school of digital Arts in Manchester for example, are learning how to be, how to adapt and to how to monetize their their skillset, they're coming from this where do I want to change something in the world? What do I need to do? I need to be creative so, I need to be able to adapt. So, we were looking at creating courses and content which makes a difference to young people, I think.
Toby: Now you live in France now, but you still see Derby very much as you're home coming from Ripley, Derby is still the base.
Jon: It's my special homeland absolutely.
Toby: Base of Hot House as well.
Jon: Derby is the, you know, from my point of view Derby is the birthplace of innovation and everything good in the world has come out of Derby and Derbyshire, and everything that's good that's happened in my life is come out of Derby. I'm immensely proud of what we do in our small little city, you know, it's like a village everybody knows each other yet everybody's outward thinking, boar thinking and our greatest asset it's got to be its human resource, you know, the people that live here and what grow up. In a relatively small geographic area, we have a world-leading industry from Patent Air through to Bombardier, through to Rolls-Royce to Toyota. They are sensational people and actually, from a musical perspective we struggle a bit by losing some of the talent and the brain drain through to the music conservatories in Leeds and Manchester, and Cardiff and London. And I think what Derby Uni is doing, is its addressing that and actually, we are super keen to be involved with the university to try and make sure that the the quality that we've got in Derby and the quality of people that we attract to Derby, this sensational workforce that we've got, are given the very best education and opportunity to to follow their paths, to lead a life which makes a difference to them, you know, to be able to make that choice. And so, there's people at the university like Chris Bustle, who's the Pro Vice-Chancellor for life, who was making a real difference to the way that this city is looking outwards, you know, once we are caring about our heritage and where we've come from, you need to know where you've come from to where you're going to go on. And our city is all about innovation and making a difference to the world, and I think, you know, Derby is on the cusp of doing something extremely special, and that's all focused around the university and the longer that we can be involved with the university the more that we can be an outlet for their students, the more that we can help them with their research, the better it will be for our business, you know, this relation this b2b relationship that we've got thanks to people like Bev Crichton and Julie Stone, that is intrinsic to our success but it's also intrinsic to the success of the Uni, and it's vital to the health of our city. We will be a modern, you know, Zero Carbon city with great environmental credentials, we will be making a difference in the world and we, you know, as a population of our city we need to get behind initiatives that being led by the University, to actually make a difference because we want our next generation to be the ones that own what we create for them, we want them to take it on to the next level. And our company Hot House, a lot of people think we just teach music, well we're not just doing that, we're actually teaching kids to be the next generation of parents. We want the ones that teach now to understand that we're teaching them to be the best that they can be so, that their children, their next generation have got a chance to make this world into a better place. And so, if we all adopt that strategy that thought process of making a difference, and making sure that our people of today are outward-looking, engaging, thoughtful, we're going to be in a good place in a few years’ time, that's what I want it to be.
Toby: Excellent. Now we're moving towards the end of our podcast. I want to ask you quite a difficult question, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement, what's giving you the most satisfaction?
Jon: Actually, my greatest achievement is on a personal development level, learning to appreciate a hard question so, I've tried to grow Hot House twice in its lifetime, to be a national company. Unfortunately, on both occasions a family member suffered from cancer and was terminally ill, and we ended up having to look after them for the end of their life, which meant that we couldn't go through with the process. And actually I appreciate the fact that that might be life telling me that I wasn't ready to do what I needed to do, and if I would have tried I would have perhaps come up short in certain areas. And recently well since 2018, I feel that thanks to my friends and my family, the people around me, that everybody in my business community the people like Bob Betts who runs Smyth of Derby, who's been a business mentor people like Norman Curve from Advanced Consultancy in Uttoxeter, Alved Howles from Dolby. All of these people have contributed to this place where having grown up through education, and being nurse mated into how we receive and deliver information, I'm now of the ability to be able to go and be challenged, I want to be challenged, I want to be asked the difficult question, I want to be ask the hard question so, that to be the best that I can be to do the right thing both within the business and towards other people, I have to be able to accept that the hard questions are not a personal criticism. And when you grow and you might know this having grown up a little bit in education, but when you're in education everything feels like a personal attack if you're not careful, they say; "Oh I need to do this differently." because we've gone from school, to university to teaching, we've not had the real life experience to knock those corners off and that's really I know that a lot, I would experience that a lot in education. And so, now I'm finally after whatever it is 25 years of trying to do this, people have knocked some of those corners off and I'm ready to accept those tough questions so, when somebody says; "Why did you employ somebody for 2 months longer than you need to?" I have to come back with a reason, and you know accept that I was in the wrong or vice versa, why didn't I give this person a longer a longer probationary period. The HR and employment is the most challenging part of what we do, and the questions that I get directed around that are the most challenging, and and those are the ones that I appreciate so, hopefully I will be a better person and be able to answer and help more people by having gone through that process.
Toby: Okay, that's a very interesting, interesting reaction to that question.
Jon: Yeah, it's not you know, I can imagine I could have said actually the time that I played Darley Abbey Park for the first time, or the time I went on stage with Jamiroquai, or the time that I did a performance with Gary Puckett and the Union Gap Band, those are all nice moments but actually the ones that are going to make the difference at the ones that I'm not comfortable with so, the ones that I am having to learn from the ones where things go wrong those are the bits that are the most valuable to me. So, that's the bit that I would recommend other people to be open towards is to accept that those negatives are actually you know a really good lesson in disguise.
Toby: Something you can learn from.
Jon: Every minute of every day.
Toby: Now, really almost really almost there now.
Toby: So, this is the question we asked all our podcastees, what's the single most important piece of business advice you can give to our podcast listeners?
Jon: Keep moving absolutely keep moving, there's one thing that I've learnt in every single bit of my life is that don't be still, do not be static and that means both as a business and both physically, both verbally, if as long as you're not moving things are not going to happen, procrastination starts when you don't move and your thought processes become static when you don't move. If you need to get some headspace and you need to make some decisions go for a walk, go for a walk move, I think movement is the key to everything so, when we perform in music we're always moving, it's never still, you know, whether we're in a recording studio, or on a stage we're always moving. When we're talking to our partners and our friends, and our business partners we're always animated we're always moving so, I think the the best bit of advice that I can give to anybody is to move.
Toby: Excellent. Just move.
Toby: Well thank you Jon.
Jon: Thank you.
Toby: Now, where can people find you?
Jon: So, normally you can find me at 9 Langonan in Pleugriffet in Brittany, and if anybody's out there in France and they would like to come for a swim in the pool, and a glass of champagne the door is always open.
Toby: Heated pool?
Jon: Heated pool, always a heated pool and I'll be there from Saturday onwards, so, if anybody's knocking about just come and knock on the door there's always a warm welcome for you. But if you want to find me digitally, you can certainly find me on our social media platforms, you know, if you have a quick google for 'HH music school', you'll find lots of us there, and obviously you can follow me on twitter if you'd like to which is just JonEno and I'd love to hear from more and more people.
Toby: Excellent. Well thank you very much for joining us today.
Jon: Thank you Sir.
Toby: I'm back here again with Angela Tooley, our business expert. So, Angela that was a very wide-ranging interview, we touched on quite a lot of things what's the thing that struck you most from that?
Angela: I think his story's really interesting, because he's a great example how hard work and persistence actually pays off. And you recognised very early on that having a plan is really important, but also sometimes things don't always go to plan and actually you need to adapt, life happens around you particularly when you're an entrepreneur, you're very much at the center in the heart of the business and sometimes that it's circumstances don't always mean that you can do things in your business that perhaps you set out to do, at that time.
Toby: But Jon has shown that, you know, you need to be flexible all the time to react when circumstances change.
Angela: Yeah exactly, and thats it, and he's shown and I'm so pleased for Jon that you know the last 2 or 3 years actually, all the hard work that he's put in he's now reaping the benefits from it, and he's in a position personally and professionally that is great.
Toby: Expanding internationally setting up in France, Singapore...
Angela: But that didn't happen by chance, a lot of small businesses don't think that having a plan for their business is important for them, they think it's something that only large businesses do. And we're not talking about you know 50 page formal business plan or anything like that, but even just having you know an A4 sheet of paper or a flipchart paper stuck on the wall, that kind of sort of lays out your sort of short-term and medium-term goals, and some clear actions as to what you need to do to achieve those, is more than enough for for a smaller business. Because it keeps you focused, it stops you being, from quite like to talk about busy fools, but actually you know sometimes you need that challenge you say well actually, am I doing the right things? Are things that I am doing gonna help me achieve what I am setting out to achieve. And that's really important not just personally, but professionally. And I think Jon's a great example, we see so many business owners who are disillusioned with where their business is, and sometimes these are hugely successful businesses but actually, they've kind of become a bit of a chain round people neck and actually, they can no longer achieve some of their personal objectives because they've they've been tied down by the business because, they're they're caught up in the business they don't have anyone who can support them, who can help take some of the strain. And so, I think it's really important that that alongside having a plan for your business as an entrepreneur, or a business owner, you set aside some personal goals. And that may be that in 5 years’ time you want to partially step away from the business and do other things, or as Jon's doing spending more time in France doing other things and things like that. But actually by having that, you can then start identifying what the gaps are to help you achieve that and it may be that if you want to partially and exit the business in five years you need to start thinking now about what what put in place do I have the team around me who can take that business over when I'm not in, if not then how do I find those people. You may decide that actually you want to sell the business that that isn't a quick process, but actually having those personal goals is so it is just so important.
Toby: The point that Jon made about being able to be yourself within your business, because because it's his passion who he is personally helps mold his business, and as his personality changes, as his own personal goals changed then the business will change with him.
Angela: Yeah, well I think he used the phrase so, remember your beginnings and your story and be true to yourself and that really resonated with yourself and that really resonated with me actually, I think not only from a personal perspective actually I think when you start looking at people and talking to people about how happy they are in their business, in their careers, in their life and things like that, quite often it's because it doesn't fit with who they are and that sort of causes some of that. And actually, Jon's really lucky that he's found something that molds his personal life and his passions, and his business together but actually a lot of people don't quite fit.
Toby: The interesting thing for me was, he took me by surprise when I asked him about what was his greatest achievement. And he said the challenges and he said being uncomfortable and he said being put in a difficult position because how you respond to that is what makes you who you are in a sense.
Angela: Absolutely, and if you don't put yourself in those uncomfortable situations if you don't challenge yourself then in a respect, your- you learn by the mistakes you made and those challenges and that's how you improve and you learn and you grow your business. Because that forces you into a position where you actually you take a step back, and you reassess and move in a different direction if need be or adjust your plans, but you do need that to almost force you to sort of step away from the detail look more strategically at what's happening and make those assessments and have those honest conversations with yourself and your team.
Toby: And again, it's thinking creatively and Jon was very much an advocate of giving children, the pupils who come through with schools just a creative idea and the idea that you need to be flexible, you to be able to respond to different situations.
Angela: Yes, they are soft skills, so important nowadays, that sort of creativity the problem-solving and things like that. It doesn't matter whether you're in a creative business or a manufacturing company, or services focused business actually they're transferable skills, and they are the skills that are going to ensure that a business survives because in an ever-changing world and we spent a lot of time in these podcasts talking about the challenges in terms of how you adapt and adjust to the external factors that are happening around us, they're the skills that the best businesses have that make them survive and grow in what have been quite challenging circumstances over recent years.
Toby: So, whether that's a small business a one-man operation, which Jon was when he first started out, or a larger business.
Angela: Yeah, and actually small businesses are better at this, because they're not caught up in lots of process and policy and governance so, actually they can make decisions very quickly and change very quickly compared with a large businesses, which is a bit like sometimes steering an oil tanker.
Toby: Finding value in what you're doing being true to yourself as far as running a business as Jon's doing is important, but do you think people are being more aware of that when they're taking jobs, they're thinking I'm not just thinking about it's a job for money I'm trying to earn as much money as I can, they want some more fulfillment from their roles.
Angela: I think that's increasingly important particularly to young people to the the Millennials and things like that is actually, I think there's a recognition that a company's values and culture, and are they aligned to to me are really important. I think we're seeing more so that potential employees are looking, they're asking a lot more of a company not just in terms of how much am I going to earn and what are my- want the opportunities for promotion, and things like that. But they need that fit they need to feel like they're part of a community of like-minded people, I mean let's face it we spend a lot of time at work so, actually you need to get some job satisfaction from that and from the people that you work with.
Toby: Motivation increases productivity and what motivates you are the people you work; with the ethos of the company you're working for...
Angela: No that's it exactly. I think we are in an age and now the research has been turning around this, how the amount of days for example sets we lose through mental health issues which obviously affects productivity and things like that. So, actually companies are recognising that the more they can do to support the well-being of their employees and be more empathetic to their personal and social needs is even more important not just in terms of recruiting people but also retaining people, very few people leave work because they're not paid enough actually when you ask people as to why they've left an employer, it's because they don't feel they have a great relationship with their team, they have issues with the line manager, the co-chair doesn't feel right that just. I've had a friend who's left work recently just because she just she felt like she was on her own and she felt that everyone else around her was just you know just working different, in a different place so, she's just she just didn't feel actually that she fitted. And if you're spending 8 hours a day in that environment that's very challenging on your own well-being. So, I think it is important, I think it's just the recognition on both sides that actually these things are more important. 30 years ago, people just used to... they went to work they did what they were told, they did their time they came home and actually, people want more enriched lives they want something more.
Toby: Which will help them, will help the company if they feel fulfilled.
Angela: It's been proven those sorts of things do contribute hugely to productivity and to business growth.
Toby: Businesses want to be welcoming, businesses want to bring in people who are motivated to work there so, it's it's how they approach that. Jon talked about bringing in a diverse range of people helps to bring in different ideas to bring in variety of cultures can change the way a business operates.
Angela: Yes, Jon's been really proactive in encouraging diversity in his business I know he spent a lot of time with the university, and has taken on student internships and placements and he's been really enriched his business and his teaching, and obviously those of his students who he's working with and things like that.
Toby: So, that's all about valuing people and employer understanding who they are and what they can bring to the company.
Angela: And there has been recognition that businesses are live vibrant communities. And actually, the best ideas come from people within that business so actually if you create that right environment to allow people to be innovative and creative, and not be afraid to make suggestions, and come up with ideas and explore those ideas then an ultimately that's a win-win because the business will continue to be agile and innovative, and embrace those ideas and perhaps someone comes up with a great way of developing a new product or process, or taking a cast or developing a new customer relationship or things like that, but also the individual employee feels valued they feel they're using their skills and their abilities in different ways and they're being challenged. And so, it enriches their role as well and that's really important because it's so hard to recruit people and to the amount of employers I talk to and they're saying it's so difficult to find the right people but then it's once we get them we've trained them up and they go somewhere else because they are really good. So, actually understanding what you need to do to retain those key skills and those key staff is really important and the lesson is it's not just about money, and I think you were quite surprised when I mentioned when we talked about when you talked about his challenges and, you know, he said one of his biggest challenges is around is around HR and employment and actually I agree I think I think if you ask 9 out of 10 managers I think they would all tell you that actually, the people aspects of their role is very challenging because you have a duty of care to those people as well as the business. And actually, you have this dichotomy or actually you you have very clear business goals and objectives that you need to achieve or that you're being asked to deliver on and things like that, but at the same time you have this team of individuals who you need to support and nurture, and develop and who all have their own individual characteristics and wants and needs, and you have to manage that and support that.
Toby: Support is important which Jon was very positive about the network of support that he has mentors and people are that who helped him within his business.
Angela: And that's so important and you don't have to do everything yourself and I think Jon, we go back to the start of the conversation about having a good plan, the fact is Jon had a very clear plan of what he wanted to achieve personally, and from his business he was able to identify the gaps that- where were the holes that he needed some help or support, because he didn't have the resource the knowledge to help him progress some of those goals and achieve some of those girls himself. And actually he was then able to go out and identify people who could support him within his within his broader network and one of his, you know, one of his biggest supporting mechanisms is that non-exec board, where he's been very smart in terms of identifying the right people who can support him and fulfill, first of all fulfill some of the gaps in his knowledge who are from some of them are from the sector but know how this works in terms of a big business and things like that so, they they understand where he wants to go and can and can help him get there. And some of them as well also provided some of that technical support some of that HR support and things like that but having that trusted board of experts or most who bring their own skills just helps challenge him a little bit. So, actually we sometimes need that challenge and Jon said that himself that challenge and actually puts you in an uncaught transition but it validates your thinking and actually it reassures you that you're going in the right direction or helps you realise perhaps a lot quicker that you're not, before you start spending too much time or money going in the wrong direction.
Toby: Thank You Angela. I'd like to thank again Jon Eno for joining us today and of course I'd like to thank Angela Tooley, our business expert for helping me understand some of the business concepts we've talked about.
Angela: Been a pleasure as always.
Toby: You've been listening to Inspired Business a podcast from the University of Derby telling amazing and inspirational stories from businesses in Derby, Derbyshire and beyond please subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Leave us a rating or review and tell a friend who might also like to listen. Also, if you'd like to be a guest on a future episode of the show please get in touch you can find contact details and more information about the series at www.derby.ac.uk/inspiredbusiness. Thanks so much for listening.