Lessons in entrepreneurship: Alain de Botton in conversation with Katie Price

Written by
Sarah Clark

22 Nov 2016

22 Nov 2016 • by Sarah Clark

Imagine these two people in a room together: a highly esteemed philosopher and founder of The School of Life, Alain de Botton meets Katie Price; a glamour-model turned super-savvy business woman with a reputation to be bold, outspoken and sometimes, unpredictable.

When Changeboard first discovered the ‘Katie Price and Philosophy’ event hosted by The School of Life (also our partners on the Future Talent Forum), it got the team excited and so intrigued. What would they talk about? How would they engage in conversation? Setting a whole new dynamic, and possibly one the most unlikely and wonderful pairings ever – we knew this meeting of minds was going to be pretty special.

We headed to The Emmanuel Centre in London – where the event was held on Wednesday 16th November – with a packed auditorium of 400 people, to watch Price consider the pros and cons of being one of the nation’s most recognisable figures and her responsibilities as a role model.

Personally, I didn’t learn a huge amount on philosophy, but I definitely enjoyed getting to know Katie Price in a completely unique setting – facilitated eloquently by de Botton.

He opened the conversation with a series of questions on the analogy of ‘attachment’. There are three types; secure, anxious and dismissive. Price was surprised to be identified as ‘secure’ as she was convinced she would be ‘anxious’ for her ‘needy ways’, she said.

Round two: de Botton played The School of Life’s 100 Questions: Love Edition game, with a clever spin to get Price’s perspective on relationships; both business and personal. (This game did create some blushing moments, but I’ll let you buy the game for Christmas to find out why!)

Here are the key findings I took from the Q&A session:

Defining career success

Price said: “I see my ‘personal life’ and ‘success’ as if they were on weighing scales – when one is up, the other seems to be down, it’s hard to manage,” expressing her continuous struggle of hitting the right work/life balance.

“It’s weird," she continued, "When it comes to business, I’m so confident and have a ‘throw anything at me’ kind of attitude. But in my private life I’m so much weaker, needy and sensitive.”

De Botton asked her (which I thought was a great, thought-provoking question): “What do you want to be known for?” Price responded: “For being 'me', my humour and my love to give.”

Showing her softer side, she revealed that she “loves helping and caring for people,” – and unknown to a lot of people, Price was actually training to become a registered nurse before finding fame with her modelling career. “If the modelling hadn’t worked out, I would have gone back to nursing,” she explained.

When asked what it takes to become a successful businesswoman: “Start small, don’t be greedy. Aim for your goal and dream, but always be realistic,” said Price.

Celebrity & leadership comparisons

In the age of celebrity, popular culture, and the rapidly changing world of work in the modern day – Price expressed that ‘upholding her celebrity image’ (I guess just like a leader maintaining the trust of their workforce) is a constant pressure – but it seems whatever projects she touches, it turns to gold.

She openly said: “I’m just good at making money,” – with her mega-brand and ever-growing empire of fragrances, books, beauty and equestrian products (Price now owns 80% of the equestrian retail market) she’s now focussing on potentially developing home-ware.

Price may have a marmite effect on the nation – love her or not – but she’s clearly a people-pleaser. She’s been in the business for over 20 years and has had the same agent for 17 years. Another great example of this was back in 2001, when Price (better known back then for her alter-ego 'Jordan') ran for Parliament for the Stretford and Urmston constituency of Greater Manchester. Even though she was unsuccessful, she believed: “If they'd based it on the number of votes for ‘Jordan’ and not Katie Price, I would have won.”

Retaining authenticity

“I never put my name to anything I don’t try, work on myself or care about,” she claimed. Whether it’s sampling the ingredients of her new perfume or what's being written in her books: “Of course I don’t write my own books, I can't, and I’m too busy for that. I get someone round, blurt out my story and then they put pen to paper” – outlining her ‘realistic’ approach to achieving goals.

Talking about the modern world of work, Price said: “I like to put myself in many different boxes, not just one.” She enjoys working on a variety of projects and ‘making her brain connect’ to different products and perspectives. Price also admitted to having a growing interest in criminology and wishes to gain a deeper understanding on ‘how the mind works’.

Building resilience

Price has had her setbacks, which all have been well documented and are forever in the public eye. She reflected on dealing with a string of heartbreaks, depression, while trying to be the best mother possible and breadwinner – and with perseverance, self-development and therapy sessions, she’s managed to overcome these challenges. This was the inspiration behind her new autobiography: Reborn.

“I’m a ‘need facts’ kind of woman, and having therapy has made me think about and approach things differently; it’s definitely helped me,” – prompting this philosophy session with de Botton.

Her parting advice to the room: “Live every day like it’s your last, and aim for your goal. Never limit yourself and always remember, you’re born with nothing and you leave this world with nothing.”

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