Jonathan Kemp Interview
“My life was really tough until I got help and added value in people’s lives.”
We at BoxHuman take time to celebrate founders behind the businesses. Especially the ones who are inspiring, helping and bringing light within the world. We do this in order to rebalance some of the negative messages we often hear, see and receive on a daily basis. We met up with one of these amazing individuals…
Hi Jonathan, let’s start by getting to know you. Can you please tell me a little bit about you and what you are especially known for?
I am a Human Intelligence Entrepreneur and over the past 20 years, I have developed a scientifically proven technique called SmartWisdom which helps people achieve their true potential and gain a competitive edge.
SmartWisdom is a next-generation note-taking that helps the user increase 10 key cognitive skills for managing day-to-day knowledge (for example in meetings) and gives them a competitive edge over anyone who is just listening, taking traditional notes or using a laptop.
Thank you Jonathan, such a great start and intro! Wow a Human Intelligence Entrepreneur sounds very interesting can you please tell us what that is and what inspired you to start SmartWisdom?
A Human Intelligence Entrepreneur is actually a term I made up at the beginning of 2019! The idea came from all the talk about Artificial Intelligence and AI entrepreneurs… My specialty is about human intelligence, and I am an entrepreneur, so I mixed the two together and bingo!
The reason I made up my own job title is that I had always struggled to describe what I do in a simple way that people could immediately start to get some idea of my area of specialty.
The great thing about this title – there is no one else who is a Human Intelligence Entrepreneur (as far as I know) and every time someone asks me what I do and I give that answer, the look on their faces is priceless. Often a mixture of surprise and laughter and then they ask the next question… which of course as an entrepreneur I want them to do and in comes my elevator pitch.
I was inspired to start SmartWisdom because of the challenges I had with studying. I am dyslexic but I did not know this at the time. I hated much of school and decided being a punk rocker and all night fishing was a much better use of my time! (I was not diagnosed until I was 48).
In my mid 30’s I decided to go to university for the first time and did two business postgraduate courses. I started to create SmartWisdom over the course of those two years and by the end of the studies, I was achieving better results than the students who were more qualified than me.
That’s very inspiring to hear how you turned around a personal challenge into something so successful. So Jonathan what’s been your biggest challenge that you’ve had to go through since starting your business and how did you overcome it?
I would say one of the biggest challenges I have faced has been selling my services, without a question of doubt.
I had been in the public sector for a long time (twelve years in the Met Police, here in London) and selling was not part of a police officer’s skill set. Our equivalent of a ‘sale’ I guess is an arrest and I did not need to try and persuade the suspect it was a good idea to come and be my customer!
When I set up on my own, I imagined all I needed to do was be good in my area of specialism (managing day-to-day knowledge) and I was. I was lucky I got my first client, a large investment bank almost by accident and all went well for two years until they had a downturn back in the early 2000s.
Now, I knew, I should have been out selling my services, but the reality was a) I did not know how to do it and b) the idea of cold calling/selling filled me with dread. I would rather walk up in Everest, naked, backward, chanting an ancient language (yet to be learned) than pick up a phone to someone I did not know.
Part of the problem was as a dyslexic (albeit I did not know it at this time) I hated speaking to people on the phone as even the spoken word could mix into a ‘word soup’ and I could end up with not a clue about what was being discussed. The other problem was my background had instilled in me that sales was a rather vulgar occupation.
But I had no choice. I tried writing letters, emails, phone calls… nothing worked. After three months of this I was desperate. I then reached out to a great American friend who was in financial sales and he said the immortal words…
“Jonathan the only reason you pick up a phone to someone is to get a meeting that is it, period!” You do not want to explain what you do; you don’t even want to be answering questions, all you want is the meeting. “The best way to do this is to write a compelling script”.
It was like a light bulb went off in my head.
He helped me create my first script and I was off. Within a year I was disappointed if I was not getting a meeting for every three calls I made, and if it was two then I was on form!!
Can you tell us how SmartWisdom improves a person’s cognitive skills and why does improving this give you a competitive edge?
SmartWisdom is a scientifically proven next-generation note-taking technique, proven (those tested where all experienced professionals, average age 38) to increase your real-time understanding in demanding meetings, presentations… by:
> 12% within two weeks
> 20% after a year
> 23% after a year
(If you are dyslexic and this is 23% above what non-dyslexics can achieve, it is a game-changer).
As a result, experienced professionals who are SmartWisdom users, feel more confident in their abilities to manage new/complex information and have a higher level of self-esteem.
SmartWisdom has been developed over twenty years, the first client in 1999 was a large investment bank. The primary purpose of SmartWisdom is the moment you start to use SmartWisdom listening and then to use SmartWisdom writing is to convert information you hear into knowledge (which is the understanding of information). This is very unlike traditional note-taking where the primary purpose is to passively record information.
SmartWisdom improves cognitive skills because the technique enables and requires you to understand what you are listening to/reading by; helping you proactively process the information at a much more deeper level, immediately converting it into knowledge. For example in meetings, presentations, conference calls… or read reports, research…
The cognitive skills improved are for the entirety of a 1hour meeting, presentation, you can maintain a much higher level of:
> Active listening
> Focused concentration
> Real-time understanding (20-23% increase)
> Dynamic knowledge structures
> Deeper questioning
> Dynamic linking and spotting of patterns
> Idea generation
> Create a holistic overview for immediate use
> Improved recall (by 24%)
In the workplace relationships and knowledge are key, so increasing any one of these skills can increase your potential for a competitive edge. By increasing them all you are then in a different league to anyone who is just listening (and therefore limited by the human short-term memory), traditional note-takers and laptop users.
Traditional note-taking has not changed for 2,000 years, it was developed pre Romans and is the same now as it was then. Traditional note-taking (previous generation note-taking) is a record now, use later technique. It is not very effective in education, especially where you can put off understanding until later after the class/lecture.
Previous generation note-taking is totally lacking in the workplace where knowledge is needed real-time during a meeting because it is as a result of this knowledge that decisions and actions are going to be made. A failure to understand what is happening can result in substantial risks due to sub-optimum results, which could include wasted staff time on projects/tasks, inefficiencies, loss of revenuer etc…
Laptop users are at an even greater disadvantage. The laptop (previous generation technology when used for note-taking) impinges relationships by creating a barrier when the lid is opened. The Laptop decreases performance as it is a compelling and often irresistible distraction device (emails, social media, etc… when one should be contributing and focusing on the meetings). Laptops have also locked into technology with word and the keyboard the 2,000 year-old recording technique and you have even less flexibility than with users who use pen or paper in a loss of ability to make links etc…. Not only that the screen size is probably about half the size of a piece of A4, so you are immediately limited by how much information you can see at a glance while you are talking with someone.
In a nutshell, if one makes the strategic decision to use a laptop when working with others you are a) using previous generation technology b) deskilling yourself!
Very interesting! I will certainly now think about putting my laptop away especially when I am studying! I believe that knowledge is power, so can I now ask…What moment or memory makes you feel empowered and what do you do to empower yourself on a daily basis and why?
I was facing another downturn in business as I was heavily reliant on clients in financial services and they had started to cut back due to their own cyclical downturn.
By chance, I met a friend who is another entrepreneur in the local supermarket carpark and he noticed I was not my usual upbeat self. I explained the predicament I was in. He responded “Jonathan you have succeeded once, so you know it is possible, put in the action and you will succeed again.” Thinking about what he said now pops into my mind each time I face struggles.
What empowers me daily…
1 – Being around other people who are entrepreneurs/creatives.
2 – Having a plan for where I want to go.
3 – Having a daily checklist plan, which ideally is done the day before so that I can check things off.
4 – Getting up at six am, having breakfast, going for a twenty minute walk and to start working by seven, so by nine when most people start, I have already got two hours under my belt.
I am Entrepreneurial, Creative, Cheeky/dry humour
If you were to give someone, one piece of advice before they start a business what would it be and why?
My one piece of advice for others is to find people who you admire and who are willing to help or inspire you.
The key qualities I would look for in another person are either
1) The believe in you, more than you do yourself or…
2) That the person is further down your chosen path than you are and can help you optimise success and navigate those tricky potholes!
I’ve definitely taken note of that, so thank you. So what is your favourite quote and why?
My favourite quote… Interesting I don’t have one. Maybe because I am dyslexic, and one thing many dyslexics have is an appalling short-term memory. So, even if I had one, I would forget it soon after. I do have one saying, which is my own, and for which I am well known for, it is quite simple F*** it! Let’s do it!!
What do you think people can learn from your own journey and what three things would you say to your younger self and why?
What can someone learn from my journey:
I think no one really knows the outcome of anything. Even if you are not certain, you can look someone clean in the eye and say with total conviction ‘I have no doubt in my mind, this is going to be a great success’ adapted to what ever you have no doubt about!
What three things would I say to my younger self?
Go and get help with your learning difficulties – When I was younger (back in the day) there was less help/knowledge unlike there is now. I assume that if there was better access to help, it would have transformed my life and enabled me to go to a great university straight after school.
Go and get help with mental health – I am bipolar I did not realise this until I was diagnosed in my early 40’s. This has made my life really tough up until I got professional help. How tough? I remember many times I would not wish what was happening in my head upon anyone, not even my worst enemy. Although I had always worked and I am very high functioning. I could have done so much more if I had not been struggling as much as I did with mental health.
Go and enjoy life – go away, visit different places, have fun. Maybe stay in Australia, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I worked in the Outback as a cattleman for a year. Out there, in the outback, they call it ‘Gods country’ and ‘land of the never, never’. You either never leave or never go back, I was one of those ones who nearly never left.
What future life goals do you still want to achieve and in three words how would you describe yourself.
Future goals – Quite simple really
1) I want to empower dyslexics worldwide. With SmartWisdom, next generation note-taking I have found a unique way to upskill our abilities to manage understand new/complex knowledge at a higher level (by 23%) than non-dyslexics can achieve. This is truly both revolutionary and transformational for us all (I was not diagnosed until I was forty-eight, so the impact on my life alone was substantial). The reason this means a lot to me is because I believe life is about making a difference. If each day I feel and know that is what I am doing is helping others… then each day is a day well spent.
2) I want to help educate people to know that right now traditional note-taking is a 2,000 year old passive record now and use later technique. It’s therefore way past its sell by date and all laptops have done is further embed that inefficient technique. In reality, by doing this, laptops are deskilling future generations across the board. They are putting a ceiling on their ability to manage knowledge in real-time, particularly in the workplace: meetings, presentations, conference calls, interviews…It is imperative that education does not the younger generations for their lives ahead, by training people to use laptops to manage new information in the classroom/lecture hall.
3) I want to take SmartWisdom out to both the worlds of education and work, as much as I can. Why? Because I just enjoy doing it and it is really worthwhile and rewarding.
4) To create SmartWisdom software – the possibilities are mind-blowing.
5) To do some more scientific studies with cognitive neuroscientists – I am highly analytical, and I love looking for better ways to understand and improve what I do.
SmartWisdom sounds amazing. How can people get started and start learning?
The SmartWisdom® course costs £199 for children from age 12 and students and £399 for business people, and takes 5 hours. You can enrol in the SmartWisdom University at www.smartwisdom.com
Wow such brilliant and inspiring advice, thank you! And last but not least… A BoxHuman is an empowered individual. They will not be defined by society’s labels. They show the better qualities of humankind, such as strength, kindness and inspiration. Can you please tell us what makes you a BoxHuman?
For my life to be worthwhile, it is not really about the achievements, nor the money, nor the status. It is about creating something of real value which makes a difference in people’s lives and helps them.
Being decent to people on a day-to-day basis, whether asking the fast-food server how their day is going or helping someone up a set of stairs with a heavy case or buggy, or paying a compliment to a stranger. It all helps to make life a little bit more worthwhile.
All that and most importantly having a great relationship with my daughter and my friends.
“Thank you Jonathan”
For more inspiring human stories check out BoxHuman Empower Stories