#48 The Chaos Wrangler

Ghilaine Chan was introduced to me by Zoe Cunnigham, who I interviewed over here. Together they have set up the Exponential Network and Zoe describes Ghilaine as a freelance COO who helps people realise their business dreams. Ghilaine helps people to operate and scale fast growing businesses in a productive and streamlined way, keeping an eye on time and money. You can read her blog here. Here's what she has to say...  


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the last year?

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you
— Steve Jobs

It's people that go on and do whatever it is whether they have 'permission' or not. It is not about doing it the right way, in the right place for the right people. It is about doing it.

There are lots of people, smart or not, who carry on doing things that are not so smart. Your intelligence is not the thing that means you can or can't do something.  Sometimes doing something without any knowledge of how it was done before gives you a much stronger position than if you try and do something the way it has always been done. 

The answer that will always get me riled is 'this is how we have always done it'. It may not be the best solution. It may have worked when it was created, but will it work now, now so many things have changed. Does it work? Has anyone even asked that question? Is it still working as it should?
The only thing you can rely on is that things will change. I am still amazed by how many people try and hold onto things they don't have control of because they want it to stay the same. Smart people or not, many people fear this.

But sometimes if you have nothing to lose, you may well be at an advantage to those who think they have the smarts. People like Einstein and Edison, whilst they may have been smart, did not get their breakthroughs because of brainpower or IQ. They got them because they kept on trying. They kept on working on the problems in front of them. They kept on. Even more importantly than that, they started. 

Starting something is the most likely way to achieve something. If you don't start, you can't fail. That is likely the thinking behind a lot of people not doing the things they feel they can or should. But if the think what is holding you back is you feeling you are not smart enough, send that thought somewhere else!

What’s your burning question of the moment?

Too many to write here. The main one for me is why we still have a problem with the isms: racism; sexism all the inequalities. I struggle to see why people want to maintain their power. I really believe that if we share, life is so much better. It breaks my heart that we still have to fight these things.

What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?

I mentor people as part of a couple or charitable incubator/accelerator hubs in London and Reading and I am in constant awe of people and their ideas. I am not one of those people who comes up with great ideas, I help people make them happen. I am not a dreamer or visionary or any other word that you assign to people like that. I am inspired by people who can come up with these amazing ideas and work hard to bring them to life and create a business opportunity from it.

There is not one person, but many, often they are doing things in the face of great adversity and with limited resources, trying to change the lives of people who can’t help themselves or solving problems that no-one is that interested in solving because it won’t make them a big buck.
These are the people that most inspire me and drive me to be helpful and useful every day.


What would be your one piece of advice to students out there?

Everything you do, is a choice. There is very little that you have to do. Breathe, eat, drink, sleep. These are the things you have to do, you are compelled by your biology to do. Pretty much the rest of it is a choice you make. Every day.

Life can suck and you feel compelled to make certain choices because of the people you have in your life and how they rely on you. So if you are compelled to do certain things from respect, courtesy or duty, you may not feel you have a choice about what you do, but you can have a choice about how you feel about it.

Just by viewing everything you do as a choice, can allow you to reframe the way you think about it. It is amazing how in control you can feel about your own destiny. It can make you view the actions you take through a different lens and consider certain activities differently. Sometimes you may even go out on a limb and do something you didn't even feel possible. Like saying no to someone for example. It is amazingly enabling to think about all you do and consider what choices you have made to get to where you are.

For me, the biggest impact on me was something my father told me about a couple of the jobs he held. He told me that he wished he had given one of them up sooner, but he had a family of 4 children to feed. After he told me that, I promised myself I wouldn't stay in a job that made me miserable. It took me a few months into a situation at a previous role to realise that I was doing exactly the same thing as my father, just because it paid the bills. Once I realised that the way I was being treated and felt was a result of a choice I made to stay, I realised I had to go. It was one of the most freeing decisions. I now look at all situations as a result of a choice I have made and not something that has been foisted upon me. They may not be the best choices, but they are mine. And when I make a bed, I know I have to lie in it! 

You can read the rest of the profiles here:

#47 The Honest Designer

#46 The Ethical Fashion Designer

#45 The Designer of Power

#44 The Designer of Communities

#43 The Transition Designer

#42 The Drawing Designer

#41 The Ethical Futurist

#40 The Actor-Coder

#39 The Motherhood Designer

#38 The Zoo School Designer

#37 The Thinking Clearly Designer

#36 The Accidental Designer

#35 The Workwear Designer

#34 The Designer of Vulnerability

#33 The Graphic Designer

#32 The Design Graduate

#31 The Service Design TV Host

#30 The Change Maker

#29 The Learning Designers 

#28 The Human Interaction Designer

#27 The Full Stack Strategist

#26 The Design Writer and Doer

#25 The Behavioural Designer

#24 The UX Leader

#23 The Behavioural Researcher

#22 The Service Designer

#21 The Local Government Designer

#20 The Start Up Designer

#19 The Human Centered Designer

#18 The Strategy Designer

#17 The Interaction Designer

#16 The UX Designer

#15 The Data Designer 

#14 The Experience Designer

#13 The Design Teacher

#12 The Creative Technologist

#11 The Creative Generalist

#10 The Hyper Island Designer

#9 The Conscious Designer

#8 The Business Designer

#7 The Networked Designer

#6 The Speculative Designer

#5 The Digital Maker

#4 The Craftsman

#3 The Storyteller

#2 The Dreaming Maker

#1 The Go Getter