Chris Arnold - Founder of Smaller Earth

Published on: May 2013
Introduction (In his own words)

I'm an entrepreneur who has learnt quite a bit of business leadership too over the years. My entrepreneurial spirit has put me in a position of Director in a number of companies and I hope I have a motivational style. Increasing success and experience has provided me with the chance to acquire new skills, like guest speaker, and also to become part of a number of steering groups and boards for regional and international organisations. Amongst others, these have included being Chair of the Further Education Enterprise Hubs Project, being on the Regional Board of what was the National Enterprise Academy, and being on the Steering Group for the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Congress (it was my idea to bring it to Liverpool) and I was hugely glad to see it be a huge success or the city.

I have a core aim of aggressively integrating cultural exchange and travel into education, citizenship and personal development. For me, traveling with a purpose and with the idea of giving something to an unfamiliar community is the best route to accelerated learning. I also have a passion to further enter-prise culture, as shown by some of the specific boards and steering groups I've worked on.

All this has led to my biggest ever project... to be launched very soon... please watch out for WORLD MERIT*.
chris arnold,entrepreneur,global culture
Q1: Brief us about your background

A: I am from Liverpool, oldest child of three. I am from a relatively poor part of Liverpool. I attended a school in the 1% worst academic performance rates in the UK (the year that I graduated). When I was 16, I had a life changing event happen to me it's called the Hillsborough Disaster. It is still daily in the UK National news 24 years later. 96 people died. I was in the Leppings Lane end where it all happened.

This gave me a perspective that life is short. The media coverage a few days later under the headline 'The Truth' by the Sun Newspaper - gave me an insight that people can be unethical and cruel...This gave the foundation for my ethics and drive.

A teacher named Mary Wilson gave me my focus 6 months later. She saw that I was going off the rails and asked me to write life plan, what I was going to do with myself. She helped this process by asking me what I was going to do. I said "be a writer, a novelist. She was an English teacher and said I wasn't yet good enough, "Was I ok being a poor writer?" she asked. I said, "No". She said, "Well, why don't you start a business, make lots of money, retire when 40 years old, and write books not caring whether they are good enough to sell". Suddenly, I knew I was going to be an Entrepreneur.

I back packed around the world for years exploring what business I would like to start (whilst having fun and learning the world). By the time I was 24, I had travelled the world and knew what business it would be - a cultural exchange business.

I started in 1999, then in 2006. Smaller Earth Group now has 8 companies, 100 full time staff in offices in 10 countries.

Q2: What does a day in the life of 'Chris Arnold' include?

A: The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that I make my own days, however, on an average day I have meetings and talk, nonstop between 9 AM to 6PM, in person and over skype, around the world. I go home, play, bathe and read books with my two sons until about 8:30 PM. I have dinner with my wife and chat till about 9:30 PM. Then start work, all the work that my talking has generated or follow up. I will sometimes have text/type chats with people around the world at that point and normally finish the day about 2:30 AM. That's a typical day. Q3: What was the tipping point for your Business?

A: My first business, finding a couple of great staff for camp Leaders meant that I found people who were good at complimentary things. I don't think Camp Leaders would be as progressed if I hadn't found Andy Callendar 10 years ago. He is still on the team today. He is great at logistics and it took pressure off me and freed me up to be more entrepreneurial.

Q4: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

A: The knowledge that I am in the perfect place, that there isn't a single thing I would prefer to be doing on this planet. Yes, sometimes things could be easier, but I have the perfect position for the future - ambitious aims but a determi-nation and growing team to get there. Feels good!

Q5: If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you're the best in the world at?

A: I am confident in my creativity. Good at innovative and fun solutions. I hold the unofficial world record for the speed of setting up a business. Going from conversation to incorporation to brand to website to first sale with 1 hour as a challenge at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Shanghai, joint with a couple of others including Robert Acton from New Zealand and Mark Nagur from Seattle.
chris arnold,entrepreneur,global culture

Q6: How would you like people to remember you and your company?

A: I value 'making things happen' above all else. And, being clever & intelligent. I don't care if they remember me but I want them to know World Merit and have opportunity and aspirations raised globally. Its bigger than me, but it would be nice if someone googles 'history of World Merit' or the other things, that they can read my story. Just getting ready.

Q7: What's one thing you would do differently?

A: I would make more of my late teens. I was more focused than most but I didn't have enough confidence because I didn't understand enough about the world. I don't know.

I would be smarter with my money and not so optimistic about so many investments in those early years... still be entrepreneurial and take risks but not so scatter gun in my approach. Probably wasted millions all though I learnt a lot from that, so I am not sure that I should change that.

Q8: What's your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?

A: Well now that I have World Merit, I am ok.. was boredom. Now I have enough scope to be super excited about every day. Smaller Earth Group is profitable to the point of making my family secure and that is my only true responsibility other than trying to improve the world.

Q9: If you could offer a first-time entrepreneur only one piece of advice, what would it be?

A: Do something you are passionate about, and don't believe your own hype.

Your message to our readers.

India has a unique change to be at the heart of our global future. Your disperse citizens live in every country in the world it seems to me and as a culture you should be thinking how to use that network to influence in a 21st century and positive way. Yes, you have lots of problems but you could really be central to the way the human species evolves from here. Just don't get bogged down in small minded stuff.
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