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34 min read

Episode 26: Building a Purpose Driven Business: The Brightstar Story w/ Joe Lockley

Episode 26: Building a Purpose Driven Business: The Brightstar Story w/ Joe Lockley

Joe Lockley, co-founder of Brightstar, is on a mission to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds thrive through boxing education and mentoring. In this episode of the SME Growth Podcast, Joe shares his personal transformation through boxing and how he became a positive male role model for young people.

The episode highlights the importance of providing support and guidance to young people who may be struggling and the positive impact that can have on their lives. Joe talks about the early days of the academy and how it evolved to focus on introducing boxing to young people who may not have had access to it before. 

Get the most from this episode in the form that works best for you: watch the episode, read the transcript or access further resources below.


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REad the transcript

Please note: Whilst all transcripts are double checked for accuracy, they are transcribed via Otter.AI so may contain errors.

David Parry 00:07

So hello, and welcome to another episode of The SME Growth Podcast from Wellmeadow. I'm Dave Parry. And with me as ever is Richard, today we are very lucky, we are joined by a special guest, Joe Lockley.

Joe Lockley 00:22

Hi. Nice to see you. And thanks for having me today.

David Parry 00:25

Thank you for coming in, we were really interested in your business and project and we thought, what a great podcast that's going to be so glad you can come in and tell us all about it.

Joe Lockley 00:35

Yeah, brilliant. I've got to say a lot of people that have taken interest as we're growing. I think that when people have heard about about Bright Star, they think it's just a Boxing Club. It's very nice to explore with you guys a lot deeper than than just the boxing. 

David Parry 00:46

Yeah, it's great. Well, I think that's leading us straight in there. So what is it? What is Bright Star? And if it's not just a boxing club, just tell us for those who are listening who haven't heard of it before, what Bright Star is.

Joe Lockley00:57

Yeah, so Bright Star uses boxing education and mentoring to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds help showing that regardless what they've been through, they can still thrive, really. And I guess, it hasn't, when, when it started, didn't expect it to kind of become what it is, but just kind of the, we've been able to keep our why strong, but respond to a lot of the different change in environment to really change our how. 

David Parry 01:21

That sounds fascinating. I wonder if it's worth winding the clock back a bit to your life before Bright Star? You know, how on earth? Did you come to the point where Bright Star happened? What What were the things that happened to you and your experiences that that made that a good idea? 

Joe Lockley 01:36

Yeah, I Well, I guess Bright Star started accidentally, really. And it was because I've kind of made a lot of changes in my life, which have led to me kind of becoming the person I am today. And I guess all of the changes that have been made, have been seen by a lot of a lot of local people. And it was that how it all started was there was a parent who attended the gym that I go to. And they spoke to myself and my friends Stu and they said, we've seen the changes you've guys have made? How have you done it? What's happened, And I kind of told them a little bit about my story, told me about our Stu's story, and the parents said, my son really needs you guys. They really need someone like you. Can you help them make the changes? Because they're being passed from different negative services, different paths from police, local authorities care homes? Can you help them? And I'll be honest, at that time, I was a bit kind of I was a bit worried. I didn't have a clue. How do I know that any sort of therapy at that point, I was like, I don't know if we can generally help but we're both boxers, you know, we can hold the pads Yeah, we can hold the pads for them and see what happens. Every Tuesday at five o'clock, him and five his friends, there were six of them. They came along. And literally it was that we hold the pads for them. We taught them to box. And I thought that's all that it was I didn't realise the magic that was happening. And it was only kind of when we're two months into it, that we were getting phone calls from local authority from social workers from parents from care homes. And these people have massively changed our lives how it's happening. 

David Parry 03:09

So what were you doing in the gym before them that triggered the parents to spot something? What were you doing? 

Joe Lockley 03:14

Yeah, I think the gym that I went to is a really local gym, a local community where everyone kind of chats and knows each other and everything like that. And I will generally was hitting the punch bag on the on the bags there. And it was kind of those that knew me that grew up in that local area. They knew that in the past, you know, I'd be kind of getting through, but I'd struggle sometimes with my emotions, I feel like I didn't fit in. And it was boxing, when I kind of started to box when I started to do sport in general. That's what gave me a belonging, a sense of purpose. That's what really gave me that control I needed. That's where I really felt like I had I could thrive. And that was the era I did and it was where I was truly authentically myself.  

David Parry 03:56

Those parents had seen that transformation in you personally? Not, you weren't coaching anybody else at that stage, it was just you going through, you know, picking up a new sport and throwing yourself at it and getting really enthusiastic

Joe Lockley 03:58

Exactly. And I think that parents was kind of like, out of ideas out of options, didn't know how to help their son. And I'll be honest, I think that's what it was at the time. I guess. We didn't do any kind of the behaviour techniques, it was giving them a sense of belonging when they needed it most it was given them that ability to throw back control over their life. And we were positive male role models who would show up consistently at the same time every week. And we didn't realise the impact of that

David Parry 04:35

Of just being reliable, you mean?

Joe Lockley 04:35

Exactly. And you know, the bit where it kind of opened my eyes a lot was when a young person said to me, said I feel like I can trust you and I've never felt I can trust anyone. And that's massive, that's massive for what they've been through in their life. To be able to do that is is amazing, I guess. For me, it's my coaches were the ones I could trust a lot.

David Parry 04:51

It could be even at a level of just trusting you to turn up right through to trusting you. If they wanted to share some, some how they're feeling or whatever, they could trust you on a number of levels,

Joe Lockley 05:04

100%, that consistency, just just turning up just being there for him. And just listening, I guess listening is a really key part of it. Because I didn't know about all the things that I, I know now about how to bring up the subject, how to talk to him about it, I was just there to listen. And when that person talks about something, they can feel a lot better. And they can start to ask themselves the right questions, which then empowers them for their own solutions. So that was really the benefit in it. And it was kind of, after a couple of months, we said, what do you want to achieve out of this? And they went, I want to have a boxing matches. Now I'm ready to do it all and I want to be part of something, where we all wear the same T-shirts and kit. So we said to him, we said what would you like to call our boxing programme when I look at how to do it, how to set it all up and everything? What would you like to call it? And they came back the week later and they said we want to be called Bright Star and I was like, hold on. That's not Shifnal Boxing. All boxing clubs were named after their town, why Bright Star. And he said to me is that you can only see a bright star on a dark night. And that's where we've come from. I straigthened my head. I was like, hold on. The teachers told me that you weren't very intelligent and you struggled in school, you've just come up with a best idea. Yeah, that's, that's incredible. And that was the birth of Bright Sstar that they came up with it. But I guess, following that there was a lot of a lot of things that happened that we weren't happy with. And I guess we just adapted and kind of went on from there.

Richard Buckle 06:23

So how long ago was was that that initial cohort that came through,

Joe Lockley 06:27

Started 2016. That was the first six people were about 2016, I guess, the end of the 2016. That's when we formed it into Bright Star Boxing Academy. But I guess starting Brightstar Boxing Academy, that was probably one of the worst things that that happened at that point, because when you advertise a boxing club, it was boxers that came everyone that came was from other local clubs. And when the game was already athletic, they were all males. And at that point I sat down with with Stu and I said, this isn't what I want. I don't want to be part of this. I wanted to use it as a way to help people not to create another Boxing Club, which all these people were already going to the boxing clubs. And that was a big kind of turning point because he was completely on board. He's like, Yeah, you know what, you're right, when you do this differently, that led to us asking the questions of how can we introduce other people to the sport, the ones that we want to reach, which is where we started mental health support groups, is where we started referral pathways, working on other people. And at that point, we came up with the reason why want to do want to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds to be able to thrive. 

David Parry 07:31

Intriguing because you didn't go out to market yourselves to any particular segment and you attracted a load of existing boxers by that sounds like people already into boxing and wanted to come along to a new club or whatever. And you decided that's not quite the direction he was taking you in. And I guess other people listening to this might have similar experiences where their business almost gets led by the nose in a direction, which sometimes is really powerful and useful and that's exactly what you want, but not always. And in this case it wasn't, it wasn't what you wanted really. So, so how did you then steer it back without being very blunt to all these other people saying, you're not welcome?I'm sure it's, it wasn't quite as blunt as that.

Joe Lockley 08:08

Yeah. And that's a really key point. Now, I think there's a lot of businesses that I've seen that I've worked with that will, it's brilliant to be led by the customer. It's absolutely amazing. But they'll lose that they lose themselves or lose their why, their key purpose? And I think that's a question we've got to keep asking ourselves, why do I do this? And is that achieving that why? And that's why we've got to be really flexible, rather than that kind of storming in approach of Oh, no, this is what I want to achieve, I'm gonna go there. And that's what we did. So we still kept the boxing club in evenings is an open session. But we wanted the young people that were getting referred to our programmes, to be able to eventually access that club, what I thought is, we're going to work in that for them young people for a short time, until we can help empower them, we don't want them to become reliant on us. But then when they are empowered, brilliant, let's invite them into the evening sessions, where they are able to compete, they're able to take on bouts, so we still kept an element of that. That's not the core focus of it. But it's there as for us to feed all these young people in 

David Parry 09:06

So you didn't stop doing what was happening naturally, but you added something else on which meant you had spent more time I suppose, another session. And you made it quite clear that that was for a different type of audience. That was the type of the lads that came along in 2016. That their their successers, if you like that was so you just put that message out. So you didn't get the big experience boxers coming into those sessions that clearly wasn't for them.

Joe Lockley 09:29

Yeah, so the other sessions are all referral basis only, but I knew that these experience boxers, these people were brilliant people for these young people to be around. But the way that we're working with them is so different. So they've got to compete quite a quite high level in boxing. So some of the work is very hard, very challenging. Sometimes the coaching is a lot more disciplined, where you could have more of a trauma informed way of coaching the other group so as they're ready, that's we can feed them into this session. That's where they can sustain as part of Bright Star. And really feel part of the family. 

David Parry 10:03

So you had to evolve because early, you didn't have the training, and you just did boxing coaching like you would normally. But now you've since learned that for certain types of injured individuals coming along, you've got to take a different approach, you say trauma informed, you just need to know where boundaries are different perhaps. 

Joe Lockley 10:19

Yeah, I guess I guess that's where that's what led to me I knew this was the this was the why this was the purpose to all of my training, because they sit around how to work better with these young people how to really help them? What are the what are the psychological techniques we can do to work with these young people, and I was not an expert in that field at all. But I was very, very passionate about work and support them in people. So I've dedicated all of my life really to, how can I better support them? How can I be the best I can to be able to support them and

David Parry 10:49

How did you pick up those skills, how did you get that expertise?

Joe Lockley 10:53

I spoke to people who were in the fields, when we were creating referral pathways, we were getting referrals from organisations such as Mind, local authorities we went into and I said, I'll be honest with you, how can I work better with these young people? And they recognised they recommended me so many different courses on NLP, CBT DDP all these different courses that are all around psychology. I was like hold on, I'm a boxing coach now. How do I how can a boxing coach offer these so that's where the programmes were created to be able to shape not just the boxing, and right now, the boxing is a minimal part of it. Boxing is how they'll start the session and how they will end the session. And then people feel like they're coming to boxing club. But their behaviour techniques really underpin all the work we do.

David Parry 11:36

I'm quite interested that that happened with boxing. And I'm wondering, would it have worked as well with other sports because you hear about maybe someone who's a football coach or something having a similar purpose. But with boxing, I can imagine just because the nature of it, you're in one small enclosed space, it's much more intimate, isn't it? Whereas with football, for example, you're running around all over the field, even in training sessions, you probably don't have the same chances for the type of interaction as you get so, so to think boxing was almost the magic ingredient. Or could it have been any one of a number of different activities,

Joe Lockley 12:08

I would say if you look for what I said before them them needs, that purpose, that control, that belonging, that can be met by any sport. However, boxing has an ability to reach those young people that need that most. Boxing has, when you're boxing, you're expressing the things that are overwhelming you in that moment. When you are boxing, someone's holding the pass, you develop such a close bond with that coach. And when you're going to, to bounce, when you know you are going to go into war, you've gotta be able to trust in the people behind you and around you. So boxing does have unique elements, but I believe the style that we are approaching the sport can be adapted for, for other sports too.

David Parry 12:49

You mentioned a few times, you're very purpose driven. It's all about the why. Did you have a very clear way of articulating that right from the beginning? Have you got sort of a set phrase that stuck with you? Or is even the way you talk about your why has that evolved as well? 

Joe Lockley 13:04

Yeah, I guess our culture has been created around the around the Why values have been created around the Why. I guess all the members of staff that we have, they are there. They have been through it themselves have lived experience the I can show so much empathy. So I guess empowering people to thrive, the mission there has always remained the same in everything that we do every new project we create every response to when people we have that mission in mind. 

Richard Buckle 13:32

So you talk about staff there. So you're saying it started off with you and Stu and 6 lads or whatever. Where are you at today?

Joe Lockley 13:40

Yeah, so now we've got over 30 members of staff and we're supporting 600 people every week

Richard Buckle 13:45

Wow. So quite incredible growth there. 

Joe Lockley 13:48

Yeah. Well, I guess we didn't expect it to be like that at all, we just responded to a demand and filled in the gap. I know that the there is a big risk with us growing too fast as well. So what we're trying to do is get all the foundations and everything right but we have got an incredible team that are all so passionate about it and because of that they've been able to impact the young people and because of obviously the COVID crisis everything's happened there's been a lot more young people struggling and we don't want to let them in people go on a waiting list for two to three years until they get to crisis stage you want to support them at the earliest possible 

David Parry 14:22

So you've never slowed down the growth factor for fear of not being able to cope or deliver a good enough service you've just taken all comers and had to just hold on tight and go for the ride really

Joe Lockley 14:31

I'll be honest, fear is what stopped me make a lot of key decisions in my life, fears what surely what stopped me making the decision to leave a brilliant full time job to go into this full time and fears driven a lot of different decisions which has stopped our growth so I've been able to kind of use that fear a little bit differently now and that's the kind of key message for for anyone really that's that's listening. It's I guess there's two driving forces. within your life, and that's the fear of that's that's fear. And that's gaining pleasure as well. So it's pleasure and pain are the two things that are driving you. And what I found is that I was so much more, I have so much more driven to avoid fear. And it was from gaining pleasure that stopped me from making so many key decisions, because I used to think, what if this happens, what if this happens, and I'd used to have to get to 100% certainty, before I even started to make a decision? And what I found is that the fear of doing that is a lot easier to deal with than the fear of regret. So that's what I try and do now think, Okay, well, if I didn't make this decision, what implication can that have? So I'm still driven by fear by trying to shift it around and use fear in a way to, to support me. So yeah, like, like, you're saying that Dave, it's kind of it hadn't stopped us from growing. What now now we get to this stage. But at the very start, there were six boxers, I was happy to just work with them six blocks in the gym and never actually take on Brightstar. I was very happy to be in a full time job, and not let Brightstar grow. Until I started to realise that I've been drive by fear It's interesting, isn't it? You didn't have to reframe your driver to say, No, I'm now in it for the game. It sounds like you've you've always been just using the fact that your innate responses about fear of something. So you just turned it around the fear of not doing it rather than the fear of doing it. Yeah, 100% 100%, I guess now, for people who know me now and didn't know before, they would think I'm a big risk taker. But actually, at the time, I definitely wasn't I was 

David Parry 16:27

Do you not feel that way, that you are not taking risks.

Joe Lockley 16:30

I'd guess, I guess, now, the decisions that I'm taking, they'll only come to me. And if it's a really key decision, it is a bit big risk. And I guess, when we're working with 30 members of staff, there's a lot more risk, every decision I make can have an impact on them. What I found is that the worst decision is not making one, and that's where it kind of leads and spirals out. So I started to make a lot of decisions when I'm 51%. Sure, rather than 99 or 100%. Sure. And that is where that is, that's one of the main reasons why we got to where we are now because of the ability to not be afraid of failure and make that decisions quick

Richard Buckle 17:08

Yeah, I think that's that's something that we see a lot, have you ever seen Point Break with Patrick Swayze, in that, and he says your fear fear will cause hesitation hesitation causes your worst nightmares to come true. And that's always stuck with me. It's quite. And I think we've seen that over the years for those of businesses that that hesitation stops the opportunity because of fear, or like say that uncertainty that then just drives this behaviour of will put it off to the next meeting, or will kick the can down the road. And then that becomes a kind of almost a culture then doesn't it? So like what you're saying there, I think will resonate with a lot of people and hopefully inspire them in a way to say, look, if you get it wrong, you get it wrong, but you can fail fast and and learn from it.

David Parry 17:48

I'm thinking of people we've worked with over the years in our Wellmeadow journey that they fear so much getting it wrong, they'd rather wait to the 100% threshold of being sure. And, of course, someone who doesn't do anything never gets anything wrong. So they plot along and then events overtake

Richard Buckle 18:04

Well, you never get to 100% Certainty either. But that's that's the catch, isn't it? Really?

Joe Lockley 18:08

Yeah, if you stay in your comfort zone, you'll fail in your comfort zone. That's what I found. And I bet you all these people that that you speak to, if they're advising someone else what to do, they will tell them to make that decision whether you're right or wrong, when you're doing it yourself, you've got emotion attached to that situation and emotion is what stops the decision being made. Yet, if they were thinking about giving advice, someone else, that's the best way to get around that fear journey. And then when they make a decision, it's then committing to that decision not making an offer. Now, maybe we shouldn't be we should go back.

David Parry 18:37

Once you've gone through the door, close the door behind you. I just think interested in the culture aspects. You mentioned that earlier, and you know, the owners model of how successful teams do well to succeed and stuff. And it's all about that under layer of trust. So presumably, you've had to build a culture of very strong trust so that you can afford to make mistakes.

Joe Lockley 18:41

100%, that's it. Yeah, your decision. Yeah, that decision has been made, if it's on your mind says I shouldn't have done that, but the decisions been made now let's go with it. Then let's see where it takes us. Much easier said than done. Now listen, like people say yeah, yeah, definitely. But when it comes to the emotion in that emotional stop Yeah, I guess. Yeah. That's what trauma informed is very much about it's about trust, it's about the culture is that we've got it's all about that accountability. It's about them having ownership and control over their decisions. And I think that's really, really key. And it's very hard for someone who's worked in a completely different environment for them to come in and be comfortable around that but it is very relaxed, it's very much enjoyment. And it's when when you're taking on a lot of a lot of trauma from other people. It's very, very hard for them to be able to deal with that. So the environment we've got to create it's got to be in a way that they can be able to take that on and it's still know their support around them. And it's their be able to thrive with that. Yeah, for the staff. That's and that's why I know our values are self discipline, teamwork, aspiration and respect. That's something that every single person at every touchpoint of our organisation, they can feel them values, they can feel it, even the young people when they walk into the businesses working with, they can feel that. And that's really, really key even in terms of recruitment, that value and values are so much more important than skills,

David Parry 20:17

So say if come into your offices and ask anybody have your 30? What are the values that they'd be able to drop those off?

Joe Lockley 20:28

Exactly. Yeah. The star values. Yeah, that that really is, is very handy. I'd hope so. Yeah, I'd hope so I guess that they'd be able to, they'd be I guess the main thing is, rather than be able to say that, I'd hope that if you walked in there, you'd be able to feel their values, you'll see the respect even the employee that we're working with, I'll shake your hand when you walk through the door. And I think that's really, really key. 

Richard Buckle 20:47

So yeah, it's gonna say, talking about getting out your comfort zone. What are you doing? So you've been on this journey from, you know, six kids, there's 400. 600, Sorry, that so where are you? Where are you taking it? Now? How are you stepping out your comfort zone now? 

Joe Lockley 21:02

Yeah, so now I guess now is a very big time for us. So we've, we've expanded the programme from Shropshire, you know, the challenges of rural isolation, everything like that, we are now in Wolverhampton we've got a full programme into Wolverhampton, into Walsall as well. And it's just about starting Birmingham, which opens up a lot of different challenges. What I want to prove is that this model works, that sport coming differently to everyone cross sectionally can work from the education sector, to the youth justice sector, to the sports sector, can work together differently, to support young people and, you know, our mission to empower all young people to thrive. I know for a fact, there's 2 billion humans in the world, we're not going to achieve that mission. But what we're really interested in is that journey, that that destination taking steps to be able to prove this model. And it can go nationally, you know, we're working with a lot of partners internationally. Now working with UNESCO, we're kind of working with some other countries and ministers to actually show that sports development can work in a different way. And we're just really excited for the journey, not just the destination. And that kind of influence in that empowering other organisations is really, really key for us.

Richard Buckle 22:08

As a leader in the business. So you we did a podcast a few weeks ago around the different stages of growth of a business based on Shakespeare's, As You Like It and we're talking about just as a as a business goes, as you've as it evolves and grows, it goes through different stages. Are you finding that now, as a leader, you've got to change the way that you're, like managing the team, or leading or working with different partners? How's that? How's that journey shaped you over the last couple of years? 

Joe Lockley 22:38

Yeah, I've got to say, when I started this, I didn't expect it to even be a business, I thought he's holding the pads for some people. So I didn't have any idea around business management. That was one of the things that stopped me really, because like, I don't know anything about marketing, I don't know anything about accounts, or what's going to happen here. But it's bringing in them people that have that understanding and I don't have to know everything about everything, I'm just gonna have the correct skill stack, to be able to take this to the to the next level. And yeah, the change is so different, I really enjoy and I love working directly with young people. As this grows, I'm now not able to work with young people isn't anywhere near as much as I'd like. And I've got to be able to trust and empower people to be able to take that on, we've recently hired an operations manager. So I'm one more step removed. And having the structure in place is fundamental, especially in the roles that they've got where they're supporting the young people directly, they take on a lot of that they've got to have the right structure to be able to escalate things as well, as we've grown wider. We're looking at area managers, we're looking at how they're supported by another regional manager. How thats also put in there. So the structure and the changes, and my own knowledge is changing so so much. And yeah, I guess that's where it comes to me taking more steps of being afraid. But still enjoying that journey. I always think I was advised by the first mentor on this I've had, they said, find out what other Boxing Clubs are doing and do that. And I guess that was probably the worst advice ever. Because, say we could not have anything unique. And what we've kind of done now is paved the way for other people to follow. And that was really, really important. And if I thought at the start, if I thought this is where I want to get to and look to where I am now I wouldn't have done it because it feels like I've got to move Mount Everest, and no one's done that, how can I do that? But at the start, I just knew I needed to move one pebble, and that slowly becoming into into Mount Everest there. And yeah, we still don't know how far we can take this. We have set goals. We have looked at that we are doing unique, different things. But we're really, really kind of looking forward to the next steps, the next steps next steps and my understanding is going to keep growing as that happens.

David Parry 24:43

Just following on from Richard's question there really, because the style of leadership you have as a business grows has to change. Sometimes people find that they're suited to a particular part of the journey. Some people are great startup entrepreneurs, but it doesn't want to want to take it to the middle phase or other people are career professional, big business managers and couldn't survive in small business for toffee? Do you think you're able to adapt throughout that whole journey? You've already done a lot to go from a boxing coach who didn't even want a business through to someone who's employing 30 people and helping 600 youngsters? Do you think it was 10 times bigger? You'd still be good at the helm. But you just have to step back from doing some of the day to day?

Joe Lockley 25:23

Yeah, I guess? It's a good question. Because what I found for myself and for employing any staff, as I said before, is not necessarily the skills that matter. It's their passion, it's their values. And I think that that's the values that's a passion that I live and I breathe, I know for a fact, when he gets the next step, I'm not going to know, or probably be the best person to be able to be leading it. But what I'm going to do is I'm going to understand what the right skills to have from that are, who were the right people to bring in there , and then we can still win, I know that, although I don't know what it looks like, I know that I can take it to the next level, because I can bring in the right people. And because the passion, I have the curiosity, I have to do that as well, is right and the people around us, you know, the other directors at Brightstar, the coach, the staff, they are all sharing them values, they're all sharing the passion, they all share in the belief that we can get to the next level.

David Parry 26:19

If you bring different skills around you to do the job, it sounds like you're costing yourself as being the owner of the values, you're the guardian to make sure that everybody else is living those values and behaving them, and the recruits that you bring in are the same. And if you get that bit right, and the skills come in, then the rest should just sort of work as a combination.

Joe Lockley 26:39

And I guess now because it's at the stage where it is naturally, the people that we're bringing in are adopting their values. And if they don't, they're naturally find that they're not a fit, we don't have to say you're not fitting into values, they realise that they do feel like hold on now, I'm not doing this for the right reasons, I'm not showing the values, and they will we had it before they will leave because they're not feeling that right person. And that's really, really important. Because some of the people we bring in, have them values were not the skills, and they can quite easily learn the skills, but we've not found anyone that can learn values,

David Parry 27:12

do you find that some people come in and try and take too much of a business approach, very purposefully attributed you turned it into a business so you can pay people salaries and have full time staff? But that's kind of annoying in a way, isn't it? Because presumably you don't take all the income from the people who benefit from your, your club, you get other grant funding and other types of sources of income, I guess, yeah, where people are taking a bit too businessy, even trying to push you too far down that road rather than core values

Joe Lockley 27:44

I guess there's got to be an element of business. I think that's one thing I've had to understand that if we give everything away for free, we're not going to be able to grow or sustain. At the end of the day, it's human people that will miss out from that. But again, that's one thing that I didn't really know myself, but we have had people being brought in to help with that business element of things. You know, we've had people that bought in around accounts around bid writing in around and some of our mentors that have bought in for that. So in terms of the roles we recruit, they're necessarily roles that will manage staff, or also will do a lot the delivery work. We haven't necessarily had to be able to it's purely for the business. I think that's because, you know, it's very evident the values and everything we're working with that. Naturally, if there was someone who was more more business minded, there wouldn't be a right fit for the organisation. I think the key thing is that everyone understands the work we're doing and why we're doing it.

David Parry 28:38

And one of our colleagues, Hannah is working with you quite close feel the impact. Is that quite important to be able to win the next bid and the next bit of funding, and you've got to be able to demonstrate that you're having an impact.

Joe Lockley 28:49

Yeah, collecting the impact is so key. And again, these are things that that you don't think about when you just want to want to help as many people as possible, but these are things that will help us be able to help more people. But collect the impact one will help us understand, is it working what we're doing? How do we know? How can we adapt what we're doing to make it work much better. And I think the things that you measure are the things that you'll change. So that's really, really important for us. And then also, as well as looking at if it's working or not, we want to demonstrate okay it is working. How can we use this in this example, to be able to spread the work we're doing wider across the country to be able to get additional grant funding in but to be able to be demonstrate that sport can be used in such a different way to support young people. And it shouldn't be seen as a nice to do it should be seen as a must do especially for an intervention.

David Parry 29:42

Have you found already that some of the work on impact has shown up things that just aren't working so well and you've done less of that was it tended to be more positive and just reinforcing the things that you thought you're working?

Joe Lockley 29:53

I think working with someone like Hannah to do that helps so much because I'll be honest because I really wanted to work, what if I loved the impact side of things? I would say a little bit like, I know, these people already said this because of this. And I look for excuses why I create a kind of a confirmation bias because I want I want it to work. So having someone external come in to be able to measure that they can quite easily justify if it is or isn't working. So yes, we've had elements of things that haven't been working as well. And we've had to make it a kind of, like I said, we've been flexible to our how that really strict and our wise, you've had to adapt elements of the programme. So we know that young people will get into the right young people. That's the first bit. Okay, that's what the impact shown us. We know that as a result of this, they're improving their mental health, how can we further develop on some of this work? How else can we support them? What are the other needs they've gotten, that's what some of the impact has kind of led to us from understanding. And that's where we're kind of looking for the next set of data and how we can expand that.

David Parry 30:51

So something you might branch out and do things other than boxing alongside it, or will it always be centred on boxing,

Joe Lockley 30:57

I guess boxing is a really is a real USP for us. And it's kind of like boxing has kind of introduced a lot of young people to us, when they think they walk into a boxing club, it's really, really helped. What I would say, is there is a big stigma around boxing, a lot of people aren't coming because they think, to be a boxer, you've got to look like a 90s Mike Tyson, and I'm not looking like that we're gonna be really confident. And then people also think of a lot of people referring to that. Now, this young person is quite aggressive. We don't want them to learn boxing, because they'll learn how to hit us, which is not the case at all, every young person will learn the respect, they'll learn the discipline, they'll learn all the values around it. So I wouldn't ever rule it out. But I'd say at the moment is a key focus for us to actually change that stigma and show that boxing isn't just about creating champions, it's about using the sport helped people champion their lifetime. 

Richard Buckle 31:51

And without giving any kind of confidential information away, have you got any stories around, you know, kids that have come through really in a really positive way? So we're talking about data here that we can all? That's all, you know, positive in one sense, but what's the human side of it? Have you got, you know, a tale to tell around someone who's really come through, or,

Joe Lockley 32:09

yeah, we've got so many we've got. So we've got young people that actually progressed through the programme, and now actually worked for us full time, which is brilliant for such a short, short space of time. We've got one young person who I spoke to yesterday, who, when they met us, they were in a kind of real hopeless place, they tried to take their own life, which is why they're referred to us. Now. They're actually started their own DJ business. And as well as the DJ, they do inspirational talks on what they've been through and to help other people. And hearing that ripple effect. Go on is, is incredible. Yeah. And we've got young people, I suppose, one quote that sticks with me, as young person said to me, I felt like I was thick because I wasn't doing well at school. But after meeting you guys, I felt like I can use my skills in such different ways. And there's things that I can be really smart at. And I think that's a really key kind of, quote, to underpin that the work we're doing. It's all about them understanding and not seeing themselves compared to other people, them seeing themselves independently and really loving themselves, regardless of what's happened in the past and loving themselves and having belief in that future.

David Parry 33:14

With such strong stories behind you, and your passion comes across. Are you not impatient about? Don't you just want one of these clubs to be in every town in the country? Next week? You know, I probably get there now. How do you rein in that impatience? And just deal with that one pebble at a time metaphor?

Joe Lockley 33:29

Yeah, that's that's a real tricky thing for me. Because I am very much like, let's just go and do it. Let's, let's get it all there. But I'm quite, I'm surrounded by the right people who aren't afraid to say, no Joe, don't, don't do that. Don't be silly. This is going to happen and kind of help me look at the long terms. And I guess, when I see it all as a as a long term plan, I see some of the journey that we're going on. And I think that the man who enjoys walking, will walk further, the man who loves the destination. And that's what I'm really enjoying that journey, that process that the day to day of it is brilliant. If I look back at some of the biggest achievements, the highlights there, I thought we've been we achieved that goal will it be when we got to this stage, we've been on that stage. And actually, they're amazing. But the things I love the most are the day to day things because I know the journey we're on. I know the process and other people around me. 

David Parry 34:22

So how do you describe your vision? If it's less about getting to a place and enjoying the journey? How do you put into words what it is that you're aiming for?

Joe Lockley 34:31

Yeah, I guess I guess the vision that is still to empower all young people to thrive that is, that is where we where we are there. But we need to do that one person at a time. That's really, really key. And I know for a fact, if we went out there and we had, okay, let's work with another 10,000 people, the quality that we'd have, each young person would fade completely. And we need to make sure that every one young person we're working with matters. It's not just right. 600 people brilliant everything either one of them has their own story. They have their own journey, we need to be able to adapt to that, and work with people, more people, one person at a time, and not grow array where we're going to lose the quality from that delivery, because the quality is what's going to help us to grow in the future. 

David Parry 35:14

So what's your what's your biggest challenge? What's holding you back?

Joe Lockley 35:17

So good question, I guess the biggest challenge is going to be the ability for some organisations to change when we go into new areas, because this is no. So let's say some Boxing Clubs, we want to work with local boxing, and empower them. Some Boxing Clubs are about creating champions, it's very hard to change the mindset around that some schools and local authorities, they have a certain way of dealing with behaviour, dealing with trauma, dealing with the impacts of that house. And that is kind of like this is the way that we're going to continue to do it. So it's around changing the mindset of them, change your mindset about all these sectors, and bringing them all together and getting schools to have a different way of referring and people getting local authorities to understand the different approach, getting boxing clubs to adapt the way they're doing things, getting all the different sectors to react so so differently. So with I think, if we can continue to raise the impact the evidence and the awareness, that's something that we can help them change their minds. 

David Parry 36:21

Do you when you get visitors? Does that help change people's minds? Do you ever get people from our local education authority elsewhere in the country coming to visit different than what you're doing speaking to some of the young people, definitely to persuade them on the spot?

Joe Lockley 36:35

If we can get them through the doors, and they can do that? Brilliant? Yes, we can definitely change where they're doing things. Getting through the doors is the hardest bit. And I will say to young people, the hardest steps they'll make as one is through the door. It's exactly the same for any teachers level there is anyone we're working with, to be able to do that, because they've already got systems processes in place. And understanding if they're working, then absolutely brilliant that we know that we can take it a little bit further and support them a lot more. So if we can get them through the doors. Yes, definitely, we can help change their mind around it. If they could send one young person to us, we know we can make a change that young person, they could use that as evidence base for the rest of them. But that's why I like the impact work is really, really important for us.

David Parry 37:13

If you had one wish that I could grant you come true today, what would you want to use that for?

Joe Lockley 37:22

I guess that would be different from a business side of things to add to an overall overall wish, I think that a real big wish would be for sport to be seen. And young people to be seen to that as a as a must do with the need to do for sport to be used more for young people that can work with children, whether that's for Brightstar, working with them, whether that's for all of the sports club to be able to adapt slightly different approach where that is for schools authorities to refer in? That would be amazing, but I guess I know, that would support so so many young people. 

David Parry 37:53

And is it your belief then that there's a sport for everyone? Because surely lots of kids feel sports Great. That's what they love. But some others maybe feel that sport isn't for them just does that create a barrier for you to be able to produce this sort of support for them? 

Joe Lockley 38:06

Yeah, I guess I guess people that think sports for them isn't for them is normally because they've had a negative experience within a sport. And that can be done. And I've seen it before. I've seen coaches that treat a sports session like a military session, if you've been through trauma, if you've seen domestic abuse at home, something that's happened, and you've got a coach that screaming your face, okay, press ups, burpees, whatever it is, that's going to really create them for the rest of their life thinking. Sport isn't for me. And I think sport can be adapted. And people can be trained people should be trained to be in that way where they can see that a little bit different. And again, again, people some people say school isn't for everyone. And if it's taught the wrong way, then it's not. So I think that there is a sport for everyone, if it's coached in the right way school can be for everyone is taught in the right way. 

David Parry 38:58

Very powerful stuff, isn't it? That's great. Are you prepared to come in and give us the lowdown on this on the podcast? Because hopefully it'll reach a wider audience now I can't help but some people will be listening, thinking how can I help? That sounds like such a worthy cause? Lots of people volunteering their time. But are there avenues for people to help? Or is it not sort of support you're looking for?

Richard Buckle 39:00

Very inspiring. 

Joe Lockley 39:26

Yeah, definitely. We're reliant on volunteer. So we've got the 30 staff. We also have an additional 30 volunteers, which helped Brightstar to run, help Brightstar to support so definitely and if people listen to this and change a little bit of mindset around sport education, amazing. Our people get benefits for their own organisation. Perfect. I think that's what it's all around and I guess everyone is going to have the role models, they look up to, the young people and for me, the people that I look up to other people that have really gone against what everyone said. So if you look People like, let's say Edmund Hillary, for example, people told it's impossible to climb Mount Everest the pressures to them that you will never be able to make it. And that he was like, no, no, I don't agree with all the scientists there, I can do it. Straightway loads of people followed him and yeah, it is done. Same as Roger Bannister, it's impossible to run a four minute mile, you know, you can't get your lung capacity to that high, you can't keep up that pace. Or do you want us to prove that and those people follow that that wavelengths if I can help people to do things different against the grain? Amazing.

David Parry 40:29

I wonder if there's people as well wanting to set up an organisation similar to what you've done, maybe somewhere else in the world that lives somewhere else in in the UK? They presume you get inquiries all the time from people kind of do that, or is it not got to that stage yet where other people are trying to copy the model?

Joe Lockley 40:44

Yeah, we did. We do get some, some inquiries about, in fact, and London this afternoon wants to set up somewhat similar and I'm more than happy to help and kind of share their wisdom because the end of the day, that will help us achieve our vision of empowering young people to thrive. So if we can support in any way, absolutely brilliant, you know, we we meet with a lot of different countries on how to change our approach with meeting with the kind of former Yugoslavia in region around, they don't do any work on sport development, or their work is around elite performance, because they've seen if we invest in elite performance, then people are going to see them doing amazing, they're gonna want to get into the sport. And actually, we're sharing this wider benefits to sports development as wider benefits to actually helping young people for in terms of reduced crime, improve mental health as lots of issues that happen they're not dealing with because of not promoting or not investing a bit differently into sports development.

Richard Buckle 41:32

Awesome. It's inspiring.

David Parry 41:34

Thank you Joe, really good of you to come in. So there you go. I hope that there's been something in that last half an hour or so that whatever organisation you are running, you can pick something out of that that inspires you cause I'm sure Joe's story's got lots of elements to it, whether it be around the vision and the values or just that fear of not doing something. So great messages there. Joe, thank you very much for that. You've been listening to The SME Growth Podcast and as ever, please subscribe and like our podcast and share it with your friends and we'll see you again next week.

Further Resources

Inspired by Brightstar and want to find out more? Click here to head to their website.

During the episode, there are some references to previous podcast episodes, including Scaling a Business and Does your Business need a Vision? If you've not already check out those previous episodes.

Feeling motivated from learning about Joe and Brightstar's journey and growth, or the passion for their Why, have a look at some of our blogs to help your SME grow. 

Here at Wellmeadow, we are passionate about supporting business growth and have some great free resources to get you inspired, take a look at our Growth Generator and download our free ebook on Building a Business Growth Engine.


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