Name: John Croft
Role: President and Co-Founder
Trained at: University of life
Year qualified: I didn’t
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
My first memory of being a (sales) trainee was my first ever sales manager, Albert Johnson, who told me “When in doubt, go out”. What he meant was, don’t spend your days sitting at a desk in the office… go out and see your customers and talk to them. All the rest will follow. I have been following that sage advice ever since and have not had a desk in an office since 2003.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
“Yes we can”, Barack Obama (well he said it to a lot of people, but you get my drift). I have always had an optimistic “I am sure we can do this better” approach to life.
In my early years I held back, assuming that the ‘establishment’ somehow knew better than I did. But then I started pushing and realised that the status quo is not always the best or only way. And I have just pushed harder and harder ever since. And, by surrounding myself with like-minded people, I actually think that we have really begun to make a tiny dent in the legal universe.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
Externally: Richard Branson because he has always found ways to enter traditional industries and look for ways to improve service delivery by delighting his customers – by giving them what they want and had always hoped for (rather than what they have historically just been given).
Internally: my long-time friend and colleague, Liam Brown. We started working together over 30 years ago, at a time when we were each trying to figure out who we were and who/what we wanted to be. Liam has an exceptional mind but was the first really smart person I met who did not try to make me feel stupid by comparison. Over the years we have probably been in more scrapes together than we should have ever have been (!) but it has been one hell of a ride and he continually raises the bar and pushes me to be the best person I can be.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Be creative – and be nice to people. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But you’d be amazed. The world does not need people who can fill excel spreadsheets. Today my iPhone does most of what I was taught at school. So be creative. Question why we have always done it this way.
Don’t fear technology – think about how we can use it to improve things, rather than worry that it can now do something you can also do. It is the only way our children are going to survive the mess we have made of this world over the coming generations. Be nice to people – it brings the best out in people and just makes the ride that much more fun. And, if in doubt… go out.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
Well I obviously didn’t go to law school. But when we left college, one of my friends told me that this Australian media tycoon (Rupert someone?) had just bought a satellite and was going to send it up in to the sky and use it for TV. I laughed and told him that’ll never happen… get a proper job! A few years later when he was managing director of BskyB, I had to admit he was probably right.