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7 Questions on Leadership with Bryce Purnell

Name: Bryce Purnell

Title: Founder & Managing Director

Organisation: Learn Laugh Speak PTY LTD

I'm Bryce Purnell. I come from a small town near Sydney, Australia. I've started three businesses in my life, with my most recent venture, Learn Laugh Speak, leading me to open offices in Sydney and Cancun, Mexico. I enjoy the challenge of problem-solving and, like everyone, I appreciate getting things right, even though it often involves numerous failures. My focus is on enjoying my journey, as the destination isn't my important to me.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Bryce's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most demanding aspect of leadership, in my experience, lies in the ability to genuinely comprehend and empathetically listen to the concerns and perspectives of others. When we listen with the intent to respond, we often hinder our progress in providing meaningful assistance. In contrast, by actively listening with the intention to understand, we can forge a path forward collaboratively, working on solutions that benefit all parties involved.

Even within negative or challenging situations, the potential for positivity lies in the ability to identify and resolve issues, enabling collective progress. Ultimately, our shared aspiration is a mutual understanding, and it is through this understanding that we can achieve tangible and meaningful advancements

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I was drawn into leadership early on, influenced by my experiences working alongside my father. He owned a commercial cleaning business, and I started helping out before and after school, which instilled in me the value of hard work.

When my father purchased a beachside café, I was tasked with responsibilities beyond my years. I vividly remember having to let go of a 43-year-old chef on a Sunday morning at age 14, a daunting experience that taught me significant lessons in business and leadership.

By age 15 or 16, I was managing the café over weekends, supervising a team of 15 staff. These early experiences laid the foundation for my leadership journey.

My path continued with the founding of Sushi Train in Australia at 22. By 24, we had expanded to 13 locations, including 5 franchises. Along the way, I made my share of mistakes, each contributing to my growth as a leader.

In recent years, I've learned the importance of being true to myself and aligning my actions with my values. Looking back, my journey into leadership was shaped by my upbringing, working alongside my father, and the leadership skills I developed through competitive football

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My typical day begins at approximately 5:45 a.m., a habit I owe to my early experiences working alongside my father. During those days, I would rise even earlier, often at 3 a.m., to assist him. I've come to cherish the early morning hours as my favorite part of the day.

Around 6:15 a.m., I embark on a morning walk. This tranquil time allows me to contemplate the day ahead. I typically use this period to review my calendar, make notes, and plan for upcoming meetings, considering their locations and times.

Afterward, I methodically work through task lists and checklists, using them as tools to guide me through my day. I have a penchant for maintaining detailed notes, which help me remain organized and focused as I progress from one task to another.

In the evening, I find enjoyment in cooking. Occasionally, I visit the local markets or the supermarket to gather ingredients for a meal. Currently, I'm exploring the art of Mexican cuisine, delving into new dishes like Carnitas and Pozole, allowing me to practice my Spanish language skills in the process. Cooking is a source of relaxation and creativity for me.

Before concluding my day, I often dedicate a few more hours to quiet work and planning, ensuring that I'm well-prepared for the next day. This continued focus extends until I retire to bed, typically around 11 p.m. In summary, this is the essence of my daily routine.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A valuable lesson I've recently gleaned is the cyclical nature of business - it involves the inception of new ventures, the eventual transition to selling or parting with existing ones, and then embarking on new journeys. Central to this understanding is the recognition that change is a vital constant, not only for our personal growth but also for those within our sphere of influence.

Learning Spanish has played a pivotal role in deepening my empathy and understanding of the challenges our students face. It has reinforced the importance of listening with the intention to truly comprehend, rather than merely responding.

I place significant emphasis on ascertaining the aspirations and preferences of my team. By delving into their desires and identifying their strengths, I can help them align their roles with their passions. I believe in allowing individuals to gravitate towards tasks that resonate with their interests and excel at them. Forcing responsibilities upon someone is counterproductive, as it often hampers motivation and enthusiasm. Instead, I prefer to nurture their natural inclinations and provide them with opportunities to pursue their goals. This approach not only benefits the individual but also fosters a more cohesive and productive team.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

My favorite book, which I strongly recommend reading repeatedly, is 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' by Dale Carnegie. It's not only valuable in business but also in today's world, shaping who I am. These principles, derived from Carnegie's wisdom, have had a significant impact on my life. My personal take aways from this book are these 7

Avoid criticizing, condemning, or complaining.

Make an effort to recall people's names.

Display genuine interest in others.

Quickly acknowledge your own mistakes.

Steer clear of trying to "win" arguments.

Establish common ground in conversations.

Ensure that people feel valued and important.

If you have not read this book and want to connect some dots in your life I suggest because I love this book and have brought me so much clarity in personal and business situations.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

If I were to offer one piece of advice to young leaders seeking to distinguish themselves, it would be this: always seek the positive within every negative situation. This approach not only fosters personal growth and happiness but also naturally attracts progress.

Embrace your failures with a smile, remain true to yourself and your goals, and never wish away the present moment. Life is moving fast, and it's easy to get caught up in pursuing future aspirations, but it's crucial to remember that the most important time in our lives is the present

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I've learned not to forget that everyone, no matter where they come from, is just trying to understand life. It's important to be open to failures and accept when you're wrong.

With Learn Laugh Speak, we built two whole applications with 33,000 lessons for English students. Starting this business was entirely new to me, and it was okay not to know everything. I learned that it's perfectly fine to ask for help because if you don't ask, you won't learn.

Being open to your mistakes and accepting corrections is a valuable part of the journey

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