Q&A from Erik Fairbairn – CEO, PodPoint

Voted as one of London’s most influential people, we were thrilled to have Erik Fairbairn join us at TEDx Square Mile last year with his talk ‘Mission Driven, today’s entrepreneurs need a social goal to succeed.’ Erik is the founder and CEO of POD Point, one of the UK’s largest electric vehicle charging networks. With POD Point Erik has put his entrepreneurial flair to one of the biggest global social issues we are facing. Here Erik shares his reflections on last year’s TEDxSquare Mile event and this year’s theme, The School of Tomorrow.

How did your TEDx Square Mile experience inspire you over this past year?
TEDx SM encouraged me to be more vocal about my views that entrepreneurs should all tackle a major social issue. I’d always believed that, but TxSM showed me how many people shared that vision, and wanted to be a part of it.

What made you want to be part of the TEDx Square Mile event last year?
TEDx is the number one speaking opportunity for people who wish to share their vision. London, and particularly Tech City, has a massive supply of innovative people keen to move the world forward – combine those two things, and you have a hot bed for producing the next visionary leaders.

Why should the person reading this article consider attending TEDx Square Mile?
Just go along and listen. You will learn. I can’t tell you what you will learn, because that will be different for each of you, but learn you will!

What do you envisage for the School of Tomorrow?
The school of tomorrow should allow people to learn a wider selection of skills – we have to choose our education path too early in life, I think. I spent years working on my engineering degree, only to discover much later that I’m much better at building businesses than I am doing detailed engineering!

What do you wish you were taught/you learnt at school?
I wish I’d been taught a wider set of real world skills. I’m not against the classic subjects – Maths and Science have served me well – I would have happily skipped Art and Home Economics, and instead gone for idea generation, inspiring others, leading people, understanding others, and basics of business.
To me, the school of tomorrow celebrates the individual more, and accepts that we need a base education in certain areas, but then we should be exposed to a wide variety of other education programmes to help us work out who we are and what we are best at.

Which top three skills do you think one should develop regardless of the industry in which they work?
Curiosity, Desire to question the status quo, Tenacity.

What is the most important lesson you have ever learnt? Why?
One I got from Winston Churchill – “When the going gets tough, just keep going”

Who inspired you the most in life?
For me, it is Elon Musk. He doesn’t accept limitations, he doesn’t accept the status quo, he has courage to chase big goals, and brings people along with him. He asks the big questions, then works really hard on them until they work. He runs his businesses because he thinks their outputs are important, not to gain wealth.

Which is more influential: nature or nurture?
As long as you are always willing to learn, it doesn’t matter.

Which is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard Work.

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