Nick Graham – Founder of Bucket Buddies

Prioritising constantly is essential. Visibility of choices leads to focus. Then you can answer the question: am I being effective as possible?

Lashings of rain, whisky and entrepreneurship have been fundamental to Nick from the day he was born in a remote cowshed on the side of a rugged Scottish mountain. His parents pioneered the oyster farming industry and whilst Nick never understood the fascination for these rubbery salty ‘delicacies’, he’s been excited by innovation and change for as long as he can remember. His passion: to explore how they can contribute to improving lives and happiness (innovation & change, not oysters!).

With experience across two decades and four continents in corporate startups, he’s found his home in social impact entrepreneurship and the sharing movement. Starting in UK apparel retail, his career flourished when setting up Nike’s European Retail store program. He made the transition from B2C to B2B when setting up Carhartt’s European Workwear supply chain and sales processes. His passion for best practice, people and processes led to his appointment as GM for VF Imagewear, launching workwear brands into the EMEA markets for the world’s largest apparel company. Joining the THNK school for entrepreneurship and societal change, he connected his passion and purpose and founded the award winning Bucket Buddies. Nick’s mission is to help people achieve aspirations by connecting like minds. “Sharing is the only true currency!”

Where did the idea for Bucket Buddies come from? What does your typical day look like?

Alone, hot and bothered, I didn’t know what to do. Lost in the Costa Rican jungle, I feared that I would not find what I was looking for. Then anger at the argument over the last hire bike in the village turned into great friendship. When we discovered we were all open to exploring together, we pooled our resources: a spanish speaker, local contacts with bikes, whispered recommendations of secret beaches and deadly waterfalls. Blissfully biking back to base that evening bathed in thick golden sunbeams, exhausted and elated, I can still recall the glow of connection & achievement. I thought how can we make this coincidence our own design?

Then I was inspired by a coach friend talking about the value of having a Buddy for each area of your life: work, play, health, relationships etc. Sharing energy, knowledge, motivation support accountability. Bucket Buddies was born.

I love not having a typical day and not setting the alarm. I try to start with stretches and meditation but as long as there’s people and progress I’m happy.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Listening openly and actively is the first step. Feedback is a gift so listening to people – employees, experts, the market – gives the first validation. Keep listening through the lifetime of an idea and you’re well set.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The Sharing Economy excites me as it is essential, fundamental and just so much fun! We evolved as social animals as we get more done together but it’s great to see this as an economic paradigm.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Prioritising constantly is essential. Visibility of choices leads to focus. Then you can answer the question: am I being effective as possible?

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Ha! My first job as kitchen porter was hellish hot and the commercial kitchen is not for me. I learned that experimenting is the best way to figure out what you are good at.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I don’t regret any choices but I would love to have stuck with computer studies. Coding is the language of now and tomorrow.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I’m a big believer in work life balance. Mind, body and soul are intrinsically linked so to work well – eat, sleep and play well too! Do the things you want to do.. with the right people.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Partnerships are critical. By understanding and aligning shared goals you can create a win-win for all parties. Even better if this allows your message to jump from one network to other adjacent networks.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Plusopia was my first ‘real world’ entrepreneurial venture without the safety net of a corporation. It’s a platform to crowdsource and implement ideas for neighbourhood improvements. We had pilot traction with the first city we approached but the barriers to entry were: lack of domain expertise; slow moving industry; is it sexy enough for us? We overcame these obstacles by quitting and moving swiftly on to something with lower barriers to entry that we love doing.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

“Which is greener, x or y?” online comparison tool. Monetised through click thru sales. Millions would love to make more informed choices with product purchases.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I gladly got fired from my first job as kitchen porter!

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Google apps of course, slack for team communication, asana for task management, streak for CRM, rapportive for contacts, batched inbox + unroll me and lazarus browser extension are all wonderful time savers. Mostly free. Which is nice.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Tao of Pooh. My favourite book. In this crazy wonderful busy bee world where we love to feel productive, take time.. and.. just be.

“While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is.”

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Eric Ries, Seth Godin, Gandhi, Mark Turrell, Menno & Bas who founded the inspirational THNK school.


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