For this edition of FFS, we're delighted to be joined by Joe Macleod, product leader and founder of andEnd - the world’s first customer ending business.
If you're new to FFS, otherwise known as Futureheads Five Stories, this is a regular interview series where we speak to people who have interesting stories to tell.
And we couldn’t resist the acronym.
Joe is also leading our May Leaders in Change event, on the topic of endings, designed for executives leading big changes across product, tech and operations.
What’s the story of your career so far?
Established thinking said I was stupid at school. Slow Joe. Bad grades. Teachers would tell my parents, “He is a lovely child but…he won't do well with these grades”. What they really meant, although they didn’t know it at the time, was that this kid is dyslexic and thinks differently.
What most people thought was up, I thought was down. Which actually became my superpower and something I am now comfortable with.
Most dyslexics you will find in prison, and then art college. That is where they hide. Initially, I thought I was a designer, but now I think that was an approved outlet for people who think upside down - ie dyslexics. I now think I enjoy inspiring people. Which led me into management - which I really enjoyed. Again, dyslexics are good at empathising and strong at understanding the quirks of people. So they actually make pretty good managers.
However, I was distracted with the idea of endings and for years wanted to investigate it. Finally, I got the opportunity to do so and started digging around in it. A fascinating subject that I had to share, and eventually feeling that the mode of that sharing had to be a book. The funny thing about being dyslexics attempting to write a book is the assumption we find it harder than anyone else. The key to writing a good book is having a good idea and being desperate to tell everyone. The best books are not because the author knows the difference between ‘where’ and ‘were’ - which I still have to work out. Writing a book is a creative act and requires a creative approach. Yes, you might well need a good editor, but you would need that anyway.
After the book, telling the story of Ends now means I need to be on stage sharing it at conferences and events. Which leads me to Leaders in Change. An event you should sign up for by the way and listen to the story of Ends. It's very inspiring.
What advice would you give to yourself when you were just starting out?
Zig when everyone is Zagging. The Zagging starts sagging.
What do you love most about what you do?
I have an enormous amount of freedom and loads of challenges. For the most part, these are opportunities to learn new skills. Many of which are way outside of what I would usually consider enjoyable. For example, selling the insane idea of Ends and trying to help businesses end their consumer relationships. Can you imagine something harder to sell? So I need to learn how to sell.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Listen to people.
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge in our industry over the next twelve months?
Avoiding social media and getting on with work, which is always a challenge. But seriously, the challenge is understanding what we have created with social media. The impact it has had and what we need to do about it.
When the printing press was invented it disrupted society drastically. This echoed across decades. Much of the negative impact we learn little about from our printed history books. Winners write history, and obviously, there are few scribes telling us the alternative to the printing press’s success.
A little bit more about Joe
Joe Macleod has decades of product development experience across digital, product and service sectors. Previously Head of Design at the award-winning studio Ustwo. He then spent 3 years on the Closure Experiences project researching, writing and publishing the Ends book He now speaks at conferences across the world and is the founder of andEnd - the world’s first customer ending business.
Want to take part in our FFS series? Say hello at email@example.com.