I highly recommend everyone get a mentor and check in with them. It’s a great way to bounce ideas off a neutral person and find help when you need to look outside of the company.
David Lloyd is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Intern Group, an award-winning social enterprise that offers international internship programs. David left a position at Merrill Lynch in London to promote international opportunities for students around the world. David now manages a team work with offices in 12 countries.
Where did the idea for The Intern Group come from?
Right after finishing university, I moved to Latin America with the goal of becoming fluent in Spanish. I lived in Buenos Aires, where I enrolled in Spanish classes and sought out an internship to help me solidify my language skills. However, not knowing anyone made this a difficult task, though I was finally offered a marketing internship with Rolex.
I moved back to London and became a fixed income salesman at Merrill Lynch. It was my internship experience overseas that had made me stand out to the Merrill Lynch recruiters. It was at this point I realised that my international internship experience had real value in the jobs market.
I was a sales and trading analyst on the Iberia desk, based in London. I realized, however, that the corporate banking world was not for me, and I wanted to do something different.
I looked back on my time in Argentina, and the frustrations of finding an internship there, but the real benefits an international internship had offered me, and thus started The Intern Group.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to sit in on meeting whenever I can. Sometimes not to even contribute but to stay involved in the day-to-day. I think it’s important to show support and guidance even on small projects so your team knows they can come to you with any problems.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by working hard and conducting thorough research of the market. It’s also vital to have a strong team to help me innovate and create new ideas.
What’s one trend that excites you?
More travel, living abroad, and the fact that more young people want to learn more about the world. I think this will create quite an informed, exciting generation.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Maybe it’s not a habit but the ability to be flexible makes me extremely productive. I have to understand and sympathize with employee time zones and local needs that come up all the time while doing business around the world. Being able to shift and adapt makes my day much more productive because my day doesn’t stop when a small problem arises.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take your time to hire: In large companies a bad hire is costly. In smaller, younger companies, especially those with different teams spread out around the world, it can break you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Bangkok is the most visited city in the world.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I constantly speak to my mentor, and I highly recommend everyone get a mentor and check in with them. It’s a great way to bounce ideas off a neutral person and find help when you need to look outside of the company.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hiring the right team and making sure each of their skill sets compliments each other. I hired teams in 12 countries across the globe, so it was important to take my time, as I can’t always be in each location.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on we had to shut one of our businesses/branches.
This taught me the importance of evaluating carefully a country’s political situation, and evaluating carefully with whom one does business.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Offer global tax advice to non-fortune 500 companies. The only accountancy firms that offer good global tax advice are extremely expensive – so expensive that only the largest firms can pay for it.
There is a real opportunity to set up a global tax practice aiming at global, small and medium sized corporations. Currently there is no one appropriate to serve us.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent is pretty much always the best $100 I spend: on books and newspapers.
Favourite newspaper subscriptions: Financial Times and The Economist
Favourite recent books read:
“Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari
“Enlightenment now” by Thomas Pinker
“Straw Dogs” by John Gray
“Winter in Madrid” by CJ Sansom
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack is a lifesaver since I work with a global team. I use it to keep in touch with employees around the world.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari
A superb overview of humankind and our history.
What is your favorite quote?
Teddy Roosevelt’s “the man in the arena”:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
- Take time to hire, whether you are a small team or large; bad hires are costly.
- Find a mentor and check in continuously for mental stability and professional growth.
- Being flexible can improve productivity; you can’t control what will happen each day so be adaptable to keep the business going.
- Read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari for a superb overview of humankind and our history.
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