CEO Secrets with Dougal Shaw


Richard interviews BBC Journalist Dougal Shaw about his book CEO Secrets based on the BBC Series CEO secrets in which he interviewed 100s of CEOs.

When Dougal first began as a business journalist at BBC, he wasn’t particularly interested in the topic. Prior to his new career, he was training for doctorate in history. He began creating content for social media, interviewing CEOs who found themselves in the BBC offices. He then shifted to producing miniseries, talking to different CEOs every single week.

Dougal has taken years of interviews and analyzed them for patterns in the lives and behaviors of CEOs. The pattern that stood out most was the difference between CEOs who founded their own company, and CEOs who hadn’t, what Dougal refers to as “corporate climbers.”

The founders were brasher, more prone to extemporaneous speech, and sometimes quite eccentric. Meanwhile, the corporate climbers were highly-prepared and behaved like participants in a job interview.

He also noticed certain traits among the younger founders. Many of them, reassuringly, appeared to be wise beyond their years. This early maturity was frequently catalyzed by a traumatic event in their family like divorce or death. Entrepreneurship for some became like a coping strategy. It was something they could throw themselves into at an early age.

Dougal also discusses the challenges of interviewing CEOs, especially when they bring along their PR teams to coach them. Getting past the censors is one his goals, especially when his agenda differs from the CEO’s. Dougal views himself as somewhat of a psychologist, attempting to coax real and authentic answers out of his interviewees. The best answers for the audience are ones that surprise, not boilerplate jargon.

As well as focussing on ideas in the book they discuss who he would have liked to interview, and what Dougal is going to do next. They were introduced by Peter Cowley, whose extraordinary story was featured on the NBN a few months ago here, or go to to the Public Success Private Grief website here 

Listeners can get get a 25% discount if they use the code ‘CEO25’ on the Bloomsbury website here

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CEO Secrets is now out as a book!

Your Host

Richard Lucas and Kimon Fountoukidis

Richard Lucas is a business and social entrepreneur who founded, led and/or invested in more than 30 businesses.

Kimon Fountoukidis is the founder of both Argos Multilingual and PMR. Both companies were founded in the mid 90s with zero capital and both have gone on to become market leaders in their respective sectors. Kimon was born in New York and moved to Krakow, Poland in 1993. Listen to his story here.

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