David Brown isn’t your average CEO: after studying music and gaining national recognition as a composer, he went on to become a serial entrepreneur, founding a number of companies and serving on the board of many more.
Having headed business across the world in Asia, the US and the UK, Brown has a wealth of experience concerning the running of a company.
Now, among his other projects, he’s heading up Ve Interactive, a retargeting and re-engagement platform for ecommerce.
He sits down to speak with Hot Topics about the things that have made him so successful. “At the end of the day” says Brown, “I worry about the things I can’t control. Anything in my control it’s just a matter of time and planning and execution.”
Brown credits his musical background for giving him the CEO skills he needed. Speaking of his methodical approach to business he said: “I think I learnt that when I was studying composition at music college.”
“You can be blocked and not be getting anywhere, then you can either produce nothing, or you get the pencil out and keep working with the same principal ideas into something bigger until you get something.”
Brown compares the intellectual exercise and heavy lifting a composer requires when struggling with a composition, to the application a CEO must apply when learning new crucial aspects of a business.
“I think that independence of creativity, pushing yourself and never accepting anything other than exactly what you want to achieve, they’re the things that can inspire people and drive people.”
In Brown’s vision, a good business leader needs to become something of an autodidact to succeed at the highest level.
“Take finance for instance. I see so many people produce poor forecasts or never really get their head around the finance and say that’s not their thing, but you can’t even instruct a CFO if you don’t understand what they’ve got to do”.
“So you pick up a couple of books and you learn about accounting, your P&L balance sheet, cash flow forecast, income statement, accounts, you have to learn about it all.”
With an incomplete knowledge of business operations, a CEO can never be as successful as a leader who embraces every aspect of the business and understands everything from the legal department to the spreadsheets of the financial division.
To hear more about how music helped David Brown develop vital CEO skills, watch the video above.