In this episode of Lessons I Learned in Law Scott Brown speaks to Richard Flint, founder and Deputy CEO at broadband provider Swish Fibre.
Richard’s career began in private practice where he specialised in oil and gas and energy from waste. In 2017 Richard moved to an in-house role as Head of Legal at Ingenious. Here Richard focussed primarily on renewable energy, but remained at the forefront of deals; working closely with the commercial team and, where necessary, external lawyers.
Richard shares some of the lessons he learned in law including:
· The transferrable skills you have as a lawyer are super valuable – more valuable even than you realise!
· To deliver value for the client, try to remove the noise. Keep it simple. Remove any low-level decisions so your client can focus on the big questions that matter.
· Be in the moment. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by workloads, but giving people time and not being distracted in meetings is so important.
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Scott Brown (0:02)
Hi, I'm Scott Brown, and this is Lessons I Learned in Law, the podcast brought to you by Heriot Brown In-House Legal Recruitment. For those of you that don't know, we are specialists in placing lawyers in-house in fulfilling careers. On each episode of the podcast, I'm in a fortunate position to be joined by a leading mind from the legal profession. And you'll get to hear their top three lessons that they've learned in their career or legal career to date. As an ex lawyer who spent five years bumbling his way through private practice, I know that there's a lot of people out there that would benefit from hearing the insights that people have to share on the podcast and I'm delighted to be joined today by Richard Flint. Hi, Richard. Welcome to the show. To give our listeners a brief overview and background on Richard Richard started his career in private practice at Allen and Overy before spending some time at Herbert Smith Freehills. He specialised in project finance and reserve based lending before seeing the light and moving in house to ingenious group where he was head of legal focusing primarily on renewable energy deals. In 2019, Richard became one of the six founders of Swish Fibre, which is a leading well funded alternative network. I'm excited to hear more about Swish Fibre later on. Since that time, Richard has been a member of Swish Fibre's board, initially as general counsel, chief legal officer, and then most recently as Deputy CEO. They've been on a massive growth journey, growing the business from seven people in January 2020 to over 400 today. So really excited to hear more about that, and the journey that you've been on it Swish Fibre. But if you don't mind, if we could, we could jump into Lesson number one if that's okay.
Richard Flint (1:48)
Yeah, of course. So, thanks for having me on. I can confirm this is my first ever podcast. So helpful for me. So thank you.
Scott Brown (1:57)
Excellent, glad to have you.
Richard Flint (2:00)
Okay, so I think the first lesson that I wanted to go jumping straight in, the first lesson I really wanted to see is something that I learned early after kind of moving in-house, and at Swish Fibre, and that is the transferable skills that we have in law, that we kind of create by being a lawyer and working in the way that lawyers do, are super valuable and more valuable than you realise. And sometimes you don't realise it, and more in private practice, but you don't realise it because everyone or a lot of people you work with, also have those transferable skills. So I think if you look at it, like, lawyers, for me, we're elite doers, we get stuff done, you know, I'm looking at my time as a project finance for a banking lawyer, when you know, we've got 40 Page CP list, as a trainee or junior associate or a drafting 200 page documents into the night, that stuff that everyone's doing, you don't realise how valuable it is to drive a transaction forward as we used to, as I used to do when you bring that into the kind of non legal world or when you can, when, as I now do it kind of take a car commercial role that people want to see us get things done. And if you're doing whether you're drafting a legal document, or doing some kind of change transformation programme, or whatever it is you're doing, whatever your role is, ultimately, we all want to get things done and move. And it's an huge is a huge asset. All those long hours a lot of people are doing and I promise it's worth it in the end.
Scott Brown (3:28)
When did the penny drop on this for you then? I guess, where did you first reflect that those that are bringing you had in private practice had other plus sides?
Richard Flint (3:37)
I think you gradually realise right. So you kind of don't realise when you're going to speaking of people and you kind of you're looking at a project plan, you're seeing how your mind works. And you're kind of saying, well, we need to do this. And we need to order things in a certain way. And we need to kind of drive a process drive something to get something done. And then all of a sudden, you're in a room and there's kind of four or five or six of you, and everyone's just listening to you. Because they're interested in how your mind is working and missing. Yeah, that is right. And and yes, we should do that. And we should move forward and almost to us, and to lawyers who've been doing this driving these processes for so long. It feels second nature, but it really isn't not everyone else. Now lots of other people bring lots of other skills that we don't have as lawyers, I'm not gonna say it's all or fantastic in every way. But that that drive in that process, people really value it because ultimately, whatever your company, whatever your industry, whatever your sector, people people really want to get, get things done.
Scott Brown (4:33)
Yeah. Excellent. In the commercial role that you've touched on there, Swish Fibre dealing with lawyers now what you're looking for from from them, and how do you bring those transferable skills out with from people in your team?
Richard Flint (4:47)
Yeah, again, that's really interesting. So I think there's two elements to it. So in terms of the transversal verbal skills are doing, it's almost a bit more than that as well, right? So it's, it's, it's Problem Solving. Yeah. So so it's not just saying I can follow x or y or z, it's seeing a process seeing a problem and saying how we're going to get to a solution. And it's that drive that so many fantastic lawyers I've worked with over the years have this kind of innate to them, right. And, and it will not need this kind of learned over time through doing really complex, fantastic transactions, you know, that drive and that desire to problem solve and get things done and approach things in a logical way. It's just a fantastic thing. So but I guess the question is, is that when you when you have those problem solving skills, you know, how can you deliver, if you have this kind of ability to do process, you have problems on these skills, you also have to just on those transferable skills, when we one more thing I wanted to touch on is you we have a huge level of objectivity. And I think that he's learned as well for delivering for a client for clients over a long period of time where we give impart the best advice for giving partial advice to trying to drive a solution to drive a, what we think is the best solution for the client. And I think those three things together are amazing transferable skills, that when you bring them into a, when you bring those three things I've just touched on into a company, you all of a sudden find yourself adding huge, huge value. And I talked about that, as an in house role as a lawyer, if you've got problem solving skills, you've delete, do it and objectivity. Those, those three other things that you'll have learned as a lawyer, are so valuable. And I guess, the one probably the one difficulty that sometimes hold Lloyd back and I really wanted to bring this out is, you know, we then we sometimes don't do as well, and uncertainty because of that, because of all those things I've just talked about, you know, we are a client, we're a client, as opposed to sort of just making the decisions, we have to then go and try new things. And I think that was maybe my biggest challenge with all those skills I've done and learned and had the value over the last few years, go and try something new, you know, so I can get a real a real example of this. Right. So one of the things I'm responsible for a switch, as we've kind of grown is our location strategy. Okay. Our location strategy, I think we've mentioned, we now have just over 400 employees. As you can imagine, the location strategy that is really quite complex, because there's not just office, there's probably 150 office workers of those 400 of those. Now, we're all dealing with a post COVID world, we have people coming back two to three days a week, we then have on top of that saved workers who are maybe in the office half an hour week, one day a week. On top of that we have a huge amount of equipment to store. Yeah, so we have to have an internal they are an external yard for for stuff, because cheaper. So we do restore things externally as well. So you've got this challenge. And then we actually have regional offices, as well as our HQ to HQ in London. And we have regional offices in all our different areas where we're building across the country. Yeah, so so to get to delve into the detail, but it's a really practical example where I go, Well, everything I've just talked about made me the ideal person to take this on. Other than I've never been responsible for location stress before. Immediately I seem to go well, I think we should hire a location strategy expert. Find out there really are many of them kicking around. But actually, but once you kind of get into it, though, the skills that you've all we've all learned as being a lawyer made it great. And we delivered it so me and somebody else can be running into what else kind of helping me kind of kind of agreed that our location strategy is and we're rolling out across the UK. And it's a very hard thing for a lawyer to say, let's go and do this. It's very different. But it's those transferable skills and sorry to labour the point, but I really wanted to show it because lawyers don't know how much they know, in a non in a non legal sense.
Scott Brown (9:04)
Ya know, it's a good it's a very good lesson, I think, just for people to be out yeah, just aware and not thinking that you can't do something or you're limited in the legal knowledge that you have interested to hear more about Swish Fibre and how that came around. So give us a bit of an overview of the last I'm sure it's been a whirlwind and felt like a lot more than three years since 2019. But how did that come around and give us a little insight into the journey so far?
Richard Flint (9:31)
Yeah, happy to say, yeah, really, really good fun. So while it was ingenious, I got permission from my employer to do a job a couple of evenings a week and maybe a couple of hours on the weekend and I I went to a winter block with some friends. We didn't even have a name at that stage for you know, two quarter analysis or next door neighbours who wanted to get into it and Connors married to my wife's cousin. So it's See, I was I was I was third in on that basis. And then we got Alice's brother. So our CFO is proper of this chief strategy officer to kind of start from there. So they were the, we were the first for him. And then we built out. And we kind of got a CEO and a technology officer. So he understood how how to connect to an internet network across the country, which is quite important is six, enter that, and that was the six of us. Quite a funny story for the lawyers out there, I was brought on as a, I was brought on as a general counsel. At this stage, we were kind of just preparing our investor deck. So we didn't have, you know, we didn't have an in house function by any stretch of the imagination. And I was trying to work out how I gave legal advice to this company. And, you know, I managed to get myself in, you know, most of us after looking at it go, Well, I've got two options. Either, I've got to still not become an employee of the company. And there were no employees and wasn't even a company, it was just an idea at this stage. I've got become an employee of the company, I've got to set up my own law firm. So we decided the easier one was to set up to become an employee. So I was employee number one, it switch, we set up and we gave our name, and we set it up. And I earned 110 pounds a week as an employee. So I give legal advices in house lawyer, so it feels like time ago, but that was how I set it up. So I was employable.
Scott Brown (11:26)
All the junior lawyers that we have complaining about the drop, they have to take from private practice salaries.
Richard Flint (11:35)
£110 a month. And then yeah, we did the service run of first half of 2019. And then took the plunge kind of middle of 2019. And said, Ray, if we're going to do this, it can kind of be evenings and weekends, we've really got to kind of get serious, go on a road show. So So for those that don't know, Roadshow is kind of view and go meet lots of investors and kind of speak to them go with a very impressive deck be available. Morning, noon, and night if people want to speak to you all that kind of good stuff, which we did. We did a financial advisor for Cameron Barney, which I didn't realise, but it was very much like a job interview. Because they they only take you if you're kind of credible. So I kind of went thinking, you know, I'll be fine. You know, we're paying them didn't weren't like that, you know, I thought I was interviewing them. But it became very clear 10 minutes in that they're interviewing me. Which is good fun. And then yeah, and then by getting them we just adds to the credibility all the time. Then there's a six managers, we've got the financial advisor, the financial advisors, the contacts, so we get to go and speak to all the investors. And then we you know, we're in discussions with a number of investors kind of over autumn of 2019 or 2019. And then kind of into kind of exclusivity with octopus or Fern sorry, which is a fund a large fund managed by octopus investments. Oh, yes. Then Jeremy Corbyn came out of his manifesto in December, and said he was going to nationalise broadband for those who remember in 2019, so that all our documents went into a box. And they said, obviously, we can't do the deal. If we're nationalising broadband. For me, and politically cite for me, thankfully, he didn't win on that occasion. And, and then on a couple of days after the Tory, the Tories won, we were able to sign our deal and and we kind of became a majority in the buy box. So that was kind of December 19, and took Christmas off and came back and started in earnest in in June 2020. And that was really the birth of Swish Fibre in earnest.
Scott Brown (13:39)
Amazing. And then the rest is the rest is history. from seven to 400.
Richard Flint (13:47)
Yeah, so that's been an incredible journey. I mean, you know, we kind of started and we've made huge amounts of mistakes. And it goes back to that thing of kind of being a comfort zone and trying stuff, you know, the mistakes we've made the things we'd have done differently, there are a few, but ultimately, we always get going in the right direction, you make the best decision, you can my boss, the CEO, the company says you made the best decision you can with the information you have at the time. If you spent too long kind of always deciding you never decide you have to try things, some things will go wrong, some things will go right, make the best decisions you can with the information, you have some kind of good advice I've kind of really tried, I don't always get it right. That's what I try to do in all the decisions I make. And then we've yet we've gone through the pain of a startup to scale up to I would almost call as a medium sized enterprise at 400. So it's very, very good fun, but it comes with a huge challenges as well, because even now, you know, we're two and a half years old, and there'll be over that now nearly three years old. So we don't have those kinds of processes. You know, the company has been around a long time. There's kind of innate processes. So do we have a process for that and you go, Well, if we didn't draft it, we don't guys draft our own. So So we still have a lot of because the growth has been so fast, but then it's always catching up. So it still makes for a bumpy ride. But it's been a really fun one. So I'm enjoying it.
Scott Brown (15:07)
Awesome, as always been something that was on your to do list or your your radar to be looking for that type of opportunity because it's obviously left field, I guess from the traditional legal career. Was it something you had you had thought you were going to do?
Richard Flint (15:22)
Never I must say, yeah, I, I always thought I'd be a partner in a law firm, did 10 years, or 10 years in 11 years of private practice, nine or 10 of them? Allen and overy, and I thought I'd do it and then but it kind of, I think comes to kind of taking the plunge when opportunities come up. So I was very lucky to get my head of legal job, most people don't get out of legal job as their first job, you know, when they've been really in private practice your firm usually. And number two, I was quite lucky there in that my former trainee was number two there, and her boss left, and she kind of said, you know, kind of put me forward for it. So I wasn't looking. But when I looked at that, and saw that opportunity was, you know, it just was the right thing, kind of keep going private practice, see what that decision gets me or, or take a really interesting job in house where you can be head of legal and again, as part of the senior leadership team there from day one, the renewables team, and that was fantastic. And that was a job. You know, when these opportunities come along, you've got to learn my opinion to take them you know, the hardest professional decision I ever made, was leaving a no, that was such a hard decision after so long to do our first job, but it gets easier and easier. And you know, when you know, I love swish and you know, one of the founders of it, but if the if the right circumstances came up, and I need English to move, it wouldn't feel as daunting as when I left there, you know, even have a Smith it just became easier because you for doing these different things. You've kind of made me believe in yourself a bit more. And you'd have these transferable skills I talked about and I know I add value in a different number of different scenarios. So not saying it's easy to move, got a mortgage to pay like everyone else, but but it does become easier. So I don't see original question. You're definitely not a plan. It was opportunities that came up, like I say, I went to in house legal, which is the right thing for me at the time. And then yeah, this thing came up it kind of interested me and just like my cousin in law and his neighbour, and it just kind of happened right time.
Scott Brown (17:31)
Excellent. So we'll we'll move on to your second lesson. If you could share that with us, please, Richard. Yeah.
Richard Flint (17:36)
So this is how to deliver value for the for the client. So more kind of, I guess a more traditional thing you'd expect to be talking about a legal forecast. So when I talk about client, I mean, lawyers, first of all, there's some talking about private practice lawyer delivering value, to me says my former role as kind of a general counsel of Swish, or any kind of traditional traditional kind of legal relationship like that, but overall, broadly, any client, so when so is anyone who you work for? So you know, we all have internal clients, and then our businesses, ultimately, your boss, anyone's boss is a client. Yeah. And that's kind of what I mean. So you can take it as a legal lesson, or more broadly, I think, without kind of sweeping generalisations, every boss is different, every client is different. But in the May, you know, I think, what people want, what I certainly want, and what a number of managers, I know, one is all the noise removed. And it's really hard because we do very complicated things. You know, I think private practice lawyers again, and I'm thinking about my loan agreements, or my hedging, and my integrators, all those horrible things that banking lawyers on there, and it's all so complicated. But ultimately, the client or a lot of the clients sometimes won't understand them at all. And even the very best clients will only understand 60% of what you understand, because you've been doing integrators in this silly example, for the last 10 years, by the time I left, so no one's gonna have the understanding of that deep legal debt, debt finance documents, like we do so in a way, and we can't take the commercial decisions for people, but we can take a number of lower level decisions I'd call know, is, you know, and let them focus on the big things. Now, that's harder and harder. I know that's hard in private practice. You know, sometimes, you know, the professional indemnity insurance is on the line. And you know, so I'm not I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm talking about those kind of lower levels decisions. There's theoretical risks that don't really matter, you know, and I was terrible at this. This isn't me saying, you know, I did this my whole career. You know, I've got a fun story. I, I wouldn't say his name but a guy to me too. That took me out for a drink on a deal. I was doing a Coke, big deal. And he sent me to one of these about a pipe. I had a drink and he said, rich used to buy everything you know you spoke with tonight. Thank you. That's great. Thank you, I'm not confident, please stop lying. We're never going to close this deal. And I love telling you that kind of seven, eight years later, it really stuck with me. And I say, How can I help them more because the more if we bring up lots of things, then there's a lot of people want to get to the bottom of them, discuss them. But really, I think our job is to take away the noise, tell them to focus on the things that matter and show the things that matter and really allow them to make the best decisions on those things. And, and while I think that is can be held in private practice, although I've got a number of private practice lawyers that do it, I think is absolutely imperative for an in house. And I think that is probably why I enjoy in house zoom the pros and cons to in house as a private practice that debate, I'm certainly not going to settle that today. But if you could, if you want to have a think about the benefit of in house, everyone, you know, any interview will come and say, you know, why are you covering your house? And the answer, we always get, you know, always guys want to be close to the business and understand it yet, the best answer should be, I want to help, I want to help the business make decisions, you know, they're Swish, every single employee is offered shares in the company. And it is to try and get everyone in the same direction. Ultimately, the lawyer on a deal and house deal. And the commercial person, if we've explained the risks, right, they should want the same thing, because they ultimately want the deal to happen for the betterment of the company. And so that will make a service which will make more money. If you don't want to take any risk. don't execute any contracts. That easy, right. But if you can align everybody, you know, and the more you can do it, the more volume that you're the if you can align everybody, and you can take on a journey with you give really good advice as an in house lawyer, you'll become that trusted adviser, you know, your people start agreeing with you, you won't have that sometimes typical tension where people don't want to bring things to legal. And you'll have that commercial legal tension, you can kind of you won't always be that tension to an extent. But you can minimise that because people want to come to you, because that you'll solve their problem. And if you can get that relationship, whether it be a private practice lawyer, that's the holy grail for me if I can find practical and solve my problems, or an in house lawyer, you'll be the you know, your best lawyer in your company.
Scott Brown (22:20)
Yeah. Great interview advice to be fair, the response to that question as to why you want to move in house? I would, I would definitely take take note of that. Anyone? Anyone out there listening? What are you looking for, from your private practice lawyers? That is it? How can they best present that way of delivering advice?
Richard Flint (22:37)
Yeah, yeah, it's kind of practically what people need to do is is, is interesting, that isn't the easiest thing to do. Right. But it is, it is trying to pick up the phone, talk through the big ones, you know, save, give, give advice, where you give an opinion, you know, you know, again, it's difficult to how far you can take it. But you know, on one risk, this is a theoretical risk, I've never seen it happen in my 20 years of being a private practice for about five years of being in practice, private practice, where rather than kind of going into a theoretical debate around it, so if you can go into my guiding the witness, you know, you can guide the witness. So they still make the decision, if that's where you want, but you kind of take them that way, they can always drill down if they want to. And most people will want you to kind of kind of guide them as best they can, especially on the really complicated stuff and say, right, give me the top five, you know, and well, I hate it, but give me your top 10 issues for this document or top five, or even better, if you can, a top three, every lawyer will be going might need a top 50 Because you know, there's loads of things. But if you get the top 10 re, you're probably doing alright, so it's how you kind of take that noise away but and maybe respond to the clients as well. Like if clients want some clients will want more detail. If they want it, I'm sure you can give it to them.
Scott Brown (23:51)
Richard Flint (23:54)
try and maybe take their lead, they've got one more thing on actually, which I think is really interesting is, and this is for an in house kind of lawyer rather than private private practice. If you don't take the approach that I've just explained, the funny thing about it, is you actually end up increasing legal risk in the business. So if you don't take a, I'm going to work with a business owner. And I'm really only going to focus on the big things, I'm going to take all the small decisions away. If you don't do that you increase legal risk, because what happens and I've seen it in a number of different situations, people start coming to stop coming to legal the gar we weren't saying our legal is smaller or whatever. And they'll kind of be a nervousness. So actually, what you'll find is by kind of not kind of taking the bigger risks on the bigger content and taking a view, some things don't get reviewed, because people will kind of subvert the legal team, or, or the alternative is you just become an impostor. It becomes so hard for the lawyers in the team and they become working really late or become bottlenecks because they can't get through the conference in time. So it's just a an extra nuance to that point. And I wanted to make
Scott Brown (25:00)
great thanks for sharing that. How much free time have you got outside of Swish Fibre? Then what does that look like life as a Deputy CEO?
Richard Flint (25:08)
Good question. So I definitely work less hours I worked out in every home, I think that is safe to say. And I have a lot more free time. So yeah, I see a lot more of my kids, which is, which is great three kids, eight, six, and three. And so that's really nice. I think there probably is a different, there's a kind of a different level of stress that goes with it. Because you know, when you kind of indirectly have 399 reports, there's always more work that can that can be done, there's always more things in your business. Unless your business is functioning absolutely perfectly at all times, which no business has ever there's always more that can be done. So I'm not gonna sit here and say it's really easy all the time, there's maybe an undercurrent of stress at all times where I think I could be doing X, Y and Zed. Like, I'm sure a lot of us feel but in the main, you know, I get good work life balance, and I can honestly say, I really enjoy my job. That sounds
Scott Brown (26:05)
good. I think that's half the battle, right? Even if it doesn't have it doesn't feel like work. Although I'm sure Yeah, I'm sure you'll be working long hours, but the stuff outside or having to be involved in ingrained in the business. If it doesn't, if it doesn't feel that work, and you're enjoying it, then then it's just as part of the process and part of your life. So great. And you
Richard Flint (26:26)
make decisions that have immediate impacts are and you can see in the business, and that's something I love, right? So we've been I can't say where we're going next. But our next location was decided, you know, this morning, you know, and we've kind of five or six people and we're deciding what what county, we're going to what kind of five or six next market towns, we're going to go to next and building. And you know, and then off the back of that decision, you know, in three, six months time, now watch this space and three, six months time you'll you'll find swish vans popping up there and people building really, really kind of see the consequences of your decisions, which is really nice and scary at the same.
Scott Brown (27:07)
Time. We'll move on to lesson three.
Richard Flint (27:14)
So lesson three is a lesson is called the being in the moment. Okay. And it's an it's probably the hardest one, right? When you've got this kind of undercurrent of stress, right? I've just talked about, there's always 100 Things you can be doing at any given time, how do you know you're doing the right one, right. So there's a bit you can do, you know, you can plan it, you know, you can make your plans, you can be in, you know, list out the 200 things on your to do list and write the one to 200 and make sure you're in the right one at all times. That will not make for a very good life, I wouldn't recommend that. But you know, you can't use so again, it is bad removing that noise. If it's not on the top 10 You can't do more than 10 Anyway, so you move is on the top 10 Then you know you have to trust the people you work with, you know, you trust the people and delegate appropriately. And it's not easy, especially not for the next private practice lawyer, you know, is not easy to delegate, be trusted you work with and you and you and you you're convinced the you in that right place. The reason I wanted to mention in picked out one of the things kind of three things I wanted to talk about is it's so important to be in the moment when you're in those meetings. And when you're talking to people, people that you know, want to take, you know, spend time and prepare some good work and they kind of need your opinion. And if you're there, if you're there and you're kind of able to kind of be in that moment, give their full attention, you know, not be distracted. It's it's so important. And it kind of what makes a for me, those good senior leaders, and, you know, I'm going to mention my co Breece he's fantastic at it, you know, when he's in when he's in the moment when he's kind of doing stuff. He's so engaged, he's asking questions, he's in the detail, he's got a huge level of curiosity. So he's in the detail. He's asking really clever questions really kind of engaged with the subject matter sometimes too, sometimes too much for him but you know, but it really means that people then respond to that and you're even alternative you've got a motivated team people know they care. People know you care, I just think is it's so important because as you get more senior, there's always more things you can be doing more things you could get distracted with. And my worst I'm I can often remember if it wavered down. I'm gonna say remember, it's something I still do now, right? I am working on one piece of work. And I'm thinking about a different piece of work. And it's not a good place to be. You either the ever happens if you're ever doing this, why do now I stop? And I go right, should I change to another piece of work? And do that one. Should I keep doing it? Or should I keep doing the one doing good? If I'm nice, I'm doing I'm doing it?
Scott Brown (29:54)
Yeah, that's good advice. Do you have any do you have any sort of practical I guess daily management and how to how to structure structure things to ensure that you're in that moment. And yeah, to give you that ability to plan.
Richard Flint (30:10)
Yeah, so practically I do I live by my to do list, I do a, you know, a, you know, probably, at the end of the night, if I have the energy or the first thing in the morning, it is always what am I doing now, right. So there is planning that goes into it, you know, doesn't make the list, if it's pie in the top five, or 10, or even less, you know, there's only so much things of substance you can do, you know, and really make a difference. And, you know, make sure it's on the list stick to list as best you can, things always come up. But if you can look at your list and make sure you're getting through it, make sure you're getting through stuff, you know, the important things and that I think that's probably the number one is be really honest in what's going to be the most value on the business, right? So we coach come in recently, in a good piece of advice to carve out for our senior leadership team, which is really interesting. One of the things you said is, how much time do you spend doing the right thing for the business, and how much it is, is kind of noise. So if you're not spending 80% of your time, doing the thing that is most crucial things for your business, then you need to look at it. And I don't know if I say 80%. But but that that rule is something that I would kind of encourage everyone to think about, you know, day to day, I use many 80% of your time that didn't ask where especially where you can easily get distracted by noise less so private practice where you kind of you're on a trip or transaction based private practice where you're driven by the client and the deals everything. But in house, are you picking? You know, are you focusing on the high value contracts? You know, there might be 100 contracts? Have you looked at very specific now, but you know, have you looked at Have you gone to your finance team said right by value? What are my top 10 Most Valuable contracts? Yeah. And I have have they will be looked at recently? Are they all looking good? Yeah, it has the right person to them? Are you picking the stuff that's going to make the difference? Not a low level lease agreement or licence agreement 50 grand a year, where which isn't gonna be a problem. It's that 2 million a year master supply agreement, you know, are you focusing on the stuff that's going to add the most value? And I think that that isn't easy to do. But if you're kind of continuing to reappraise it, it's not an easy thing. You do it day in day out, and I still get it wrong. I still get to the end of it. I spent an hour on that, and I shouldn't have done. But if you keep doing you keep trying to get better at it. And you go from 50% to 60%. I would take that as a win.
Scott Brown (32:35)
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for sharing all those. Richard it's great to hear the insights into the mindset of someone that's been in the legal rule but into into know the commercial rules as Deputy CEO there it's thank you for sharing those. I've been asking everyone this series, what lesson of the learned that they wish they hadn't learned? So if you could a men in black pen to unsee something that you've seen, or heard? Is there a lesson that you wish you hadn't learned?
Richard Flint (33:03)
I can think of a fun one from many years ago which I remember always man it always remember to get signatures on documents because I remember flying back to Greece to go and get one document one doc one document signed the need to be signed in many years ago. And it in wetting. So I remember flying the one document and going back to a integer mistake and going back and asking this man to sign it. And the gentleman the gentleman, have you come all the way here for this?
Scott Brown (33:41)
That's a good example of a bit that error junior at a junior level that being forced or being made to rewrite it is is good. Awesome. Well, well, thank you. Thanks, Richard. Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule glad we were able to organise thank you for thank you for joining us now I really enjoyed it. Thank you for having me. That was Richard Flint, Deputy CEO at Swish Fibre which is an alternative network and fibre optics provider, fibre network provider that has been on our massive growth trajectory since had been founded in 2019. Great to hear all the lessons and insights and stuff that Richard learned in his time, both in private practice and as an in house lawyer, and how he's applying them to his commercial role as Deputy CEO and really great to see a lawyer that's got that had an appetite for risk and seen an opportunity in joining that company and really getting behind the founders and great to see that as paying off. If you enjoyed that conversation with Richard then why not check out some of the earlier episodes from CDs gone by in CDs too. I was really fortunate a bit starstruck when I was joined by Judge Jules or Jews or Reardon, better known as Judge Jules, who, I'm sure you're all familiar with the name. He's a superstar DJ from The 90s and NT today, obviously an amazing, fascinating career, I could have listened to him all day when we were chatting. But it was great to hear his passion for both music and law and to get some insights into how he transitions for home to seemingly polar opposite worlds of DJ by the weekend, and getting the suit on and being a lawyer at sound advice LLP during the week, you can search for that episode on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and all those great listening platforms, or head over to heriotbrown.com/podcast to get your fill. Please remember to give us a subscribe so you don't miss out on the episodes to come. And while you're at it, why not leave us a star rating and a review which really helps us be seen by others and to share the podcast and gives us real motivation for getting some more some fantastic guests. If you have any feedback, or you'd like to appear on the podcast, or if you could suggest someone who you'd like me to chat to then please drop me a line to Scott@heriotbrown.com or come and connect with me or Heriot Brown over on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening today. See you next time.