The 'Playful' Breakfast

At this month's Chamber breakfast we heard from Pete Jenkins - International Speaker, Founder of Gamification+ and all round funny man! 
Read our new blog for a round up of what happened at this month's breakfast and to hear Pete's fascinating business story. 
Chamber Breakfast - Photo by Simon Callaghan Photography
It was another sell out Chamber breakfast on a sunny day in Brighton and we were all there to hear the story of Pete Jenkins and his journey from a shy kid with low self-esteem to becoming an international speaker and expert on Gamification. Pete reached number 1 on the Gamification Guru's Power 100 in February 2016, he’s got his own company, Gamification+, and is Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Brighton. Who would have thought that just a few years ago he was terrified of public speaking and suffered from low self-esteem and confidence issues?
Pete’s a local lad. He went to St Christopher’s in Hove, Shoreham College, and BHASVIC before heading off to Portsmouth University to do Geography and Economics. He was quite intelligent with an IQ of 166.
Because he was smart, people used to throw challenges his way, which he solved with relish! But rather than helping him, this hindered his journey - he fixed problems but in a reactive way, rather than being pro-active and figuring out what he really wanted to be fixing.
Pete dropped out of university as although he was good at drinking, he wasn’t so good at applying himself as a student of Geography and Economics. By his own admission, his 20’s were wasted in more ways than one. He ended up temping his way around the city, not really knowing what his goal was but learning a LOT about business in the process. And processes is what he loved!
But the cycle of temping in pensions and complaints departments affected his self-esteem and he didn’t know how to pro-actively search for something better. He moved into a permanent role at Abbey Life but after 9 months they were sold to Allied Dunbar and he found himself pushed out. Unemployed and broke, he was kicked out of his shared house and took refuge with his parents, leading to another crash in self confidence, and depression.
One day, Pete’s dad offered him an opportunity building a new demo system around a CRM project. Pete built it in 3 days and his dad realised they should be in business. And so came the birth of e-Advantage Solutions. 
Living and working from home and with only so much pubbing and clubbing a boy could do, Pete needed to find a way to leave the house more and joined the Chamber! Through networking he met a business coach and the first magical piece of advice he was given was about expanding his comfort zone, one little thing at a time. Pete finally became pro-active! He began to choose areas of his life to improve, one little thing at a time. He quit smoking, gained weight, lost weight, got married, had laser eye surgery, and then turned his mind to business.
Pete became VP of the Brighton Chamber and during a networking event, mentioned that he was looking to conquer his fear of public speaking. This lead to an offer from the University of Brighton to be Entrepreneur in Residence lecturing to the business students. What he thought was going to be a gentle step, speaking to 15 or so students in a workshop, ended up being a crowd of 80 in an imposing lecture theatre. But he did it and he still does!
Working with his dad wasn’t always fun but when they decided to offer VoiP as an additional service, Pete was given the opportunity to run the division on his own and it ended up being the biggest part of the company. Pete’s dad finally had the confidence to retire and Pete took over the entire business, looking after the IT, CRM, VoiP, web hosting, and broadband for 150 companies. 
Pete took a look into some of the products there were providing and with CRM in particular, something stood out. It was a long sales funnel and statistically 80% of all CRM implementations fail. Research was done on this 10 years apart and the stats remained the same. CRMs were big and complicated and not much fun.
Following a course he took in 2013 on gamification, Pete began to see how long and complicated CRMs could be compared to the video games he’d played all his life. And that is was possible to make them fun to use by gamifying them. He found that there was wide-eyed excitement for a subject in the people he talked to, espe-cially compared to the lack of excitement he would be faced with when talking about CRMs or VoIP…
Quickly, Pete discovered Zurmo, a new CRM that had been built from the ground up with gamification in mind. He tried it out his staff and they took to it within a couple of hours (compared to a couple of days with old systems). Pete quickly became the first UK partner for Zurmo and sold of his company’s VoiP division so he could focus on what had become is passion (and purpose).
Pete even set up a gamification module for the business students and Brighton Uni and started doing public speaking around the city to try and get more people excited about this new way of working.
Next, he had to step out of his comfort zone again. He decided that although he liked international travel, he’d always been nervous of it and it was time to conquer that fear. (And he could make it tax efficient by tying it into his businesses). Pete got himself a couple of unpaid speaking slots at some overseas conferences in 2014. Fast forward 3 years and 60% of his business is now ‘exporting’, being paid to speak at conferences around the world about the joy of gamification.
Teaching, speaking, and being considered a world expert on gamification has forced Pete to stay up to date with the latest research and thinking in this fast paced industry. And at the last Gamifcation World Congress Pete was nominated for an award for best contribution to the industry along with four of his heroes.
So what’s next? Pete would like to build his own gamified product, and he’s also been approached to write a book on the subject which would be a big step out of his comfort zone.
Pete left us with the two key things he’s learned during his life and business journey so far. First, to pro-actively search for your purpose and your passion. Second, choose to leave your comfort zone, make mistakes quickly, learn quickly and have fun doing the best you can.
We all left the breakfast excitedly chattering about comfort zones and deciding what we wanted to do to challenge ours. It was a brilliant subject for a Friday and there was a real sense of optimism in the air. I’ve recently taken my first steps towards running my own business and am on the path of finding my own passion and purpose. Pete inspired me to embrace the unknown and enjoy the journey.
Thank you to Abby Moreton for providing this blog.
Our April Chamber breakfast is already completely fully booked! However, we still have some places left at our “If you don’t like it, buy it" Chamber breakfast in May with guest speaker Karl Jones, Director at Moshimo. For more information and to book your place click here
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