Startup Spotlight: Jonny Loudon

An interview with ex-Royal Marine, Jonny Loudon, about how startup life compares to life in the military.

Startup Spotlight: Jonny Loudon

Check out Lothifa's interview with ex-Royal Marine, now member of the Barclays Global Fintech Innovation Team, Jonny Loudon.

This week, I'm happy to introduce you to a new friend made in our London office. Jonny Loudon is transitioning from an extensive career in the military to start life in the tech startup scene.

In our startup world, we would just call that a pivot, but it got me thinking…how would Jonny see us through his world and what advice would he give to founders, who in a way are leading their troops in unknown terrain and are not always on the surest of footing?

Here are 5 lessons Jonny shared about what Founders can learn from life in the military:

Learn as a Team: Everything can always be better!

Straight after a mission, we would all get together to highlight any lessons we identified. This would be a safe environment where team members of all levels would share problems they encountered and the best way to tackle them in the future. The post-mission debrief is a space for continuous optimisation that any team could benefit from - where you hone in on what went well, what went badly and what are the next steps? - in the military this is where all the best lessons are learnt.

Know your Purpose: Everyone has a purpose, nobody is redundant!

You would never go on a mission without everyone knowing what their role was. Much like an early-stage startup, the team is always lean and everyone there needs to know what part they play as everyone is necessary for the collective survival. Just be prepared for everything to go to sh*t and have robust countermeasures in place. Having a team that understands the collective purpose but also their own individual purpose gives them accountability to the rest of the team and the autonomy to deliver.

Build Positive Relationships: The only way to accomplish the mission is to collaborate as a team.

In the military, how well you operate as a team could make the difference between success and failure - or in some cases, life or death. Therefore building positive relationships and communicating effectively is absolutely vital. As the leader you ensure everything is in line with the mission. That everyone knows what the team is doing short term and long term and that you are maximising opportunities, and reducing duplication of effort. You won’t always win everyone over in your team but if you’re clear about what the mission is, transparent about how you intend to get there and then consistent in your efforts to achieve the mission, you will inevitably win their trust.

Invest in growth mindsets only: Choose the right people for your mission

Candidates irrespective of their physical abilities would more often fail training because they didn’t come with the right mindset. Big egos can bring toxicity and toxicity is catastrophic to team culture. Making sure you have the right people is key. This will not only impact productivity but also morale in between the moments when the mission is at its most active -and when you need the right people around you the most.

Master your own Ego: Leading isn't always about being at the front!

Commanders of missions are better placed in a position of overwatch (usually at the back of the team), where you can always see the bigger picture. You have the oversight to be reactive and proactive. You can see this in the animal kingdom as well with travelling wolf packs where the leader of the pack is almost always at the rear of the pack where predators assume the point of vulnerability. This is not to say a leader should always take this approach but from a purely operational perspective, you will take the position of maximum overwatch advantage. Your ego should not be part of the equation and if your team sees you leading by example, operating with the highest level of excellence and integrity then they will too!

If you would like to find out more, you can connect directly with Jonny here!

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