Innovator Insights: CEO & Founder of Never Liked It Anyway, Annabel Acton @neverlikedit
Name: Annabel Acton
Title: CEO & Founder of Never Liked It Anyway Twitter: @neverlikedit
Annabel Acton loves shaking things up. For 10 years she worked as a brand, marketing and innovation consultant and partnered with some of the world’s largest companies — and now she is a co-founder of Never Liked It Anyway, a site to sell all that breakup baggage. Ditch the engagement ring or handbag in the wrong color from the dude no longer on your arm or even some weird objet d’art the former love of your life imagined was “you”. Retail and therapy with a vengeance. Annabel is also a member of Dreamers // Doers, a highly curated community of high-achieving trailblazing women who come together to support each other on their entrepreneurial paths. The community encompasses a diverse mix of female founders, women working at startups, and other female creators, change-makers, and influencers.
Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?
Annabel: I love challenges — no matter the shape and size. I’m at my best with a big fat problem in front of me, with no clear way in. Being an entrepreneur forces you to tackle problems you never even knew existed with tools you don’t even know you have. Everything you’ve ever learnt at every point in your life comes into play as an entrepreneur — the discipline you learnt through ballet, the management style from your old boss, that off-beat case study during your political course, the nurturing skills from your mum — you lean on all your learnings when you’re running your own business and find a way to put them into action.
Me: What problem would you like solved?
Annabel: One hot area for me right now is education — and trying to find a way to make it more creative, dynamic and focused on disruptive thinking — not just rote learning. The world will be facing a lot of very interesting problems in the future, and we need interesting minds to solve them — not just minds that know how to study to pass a test. Besides, life’s too short for beige thinking. Passion and a point of view is what keeps us moving forward. I want to help make these things skills that we can teach, harness and encourage throughout the education system.
Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?
Annabel: My favorite piece of advice that I try to follow now, but wish I had adopted earlier is to focus on getting going, not getting it right. As an entrepreneur, so much of what you do will evolve, change and morph in ways you never thought possible. When you get welded to the idea of how it ‘should’ look, you end up paralyzed. Making a start and bringing ‘it’ to life as soon as possible takes the idea out of your head and gives it a life of its own — no matter what they ‘it’ is — a piece of art, a poem, a business idea. What matters is that you make it real and give it space to flourish — and evolve over and over again.
Me: What does success look like for you?
Annabel: Success for me means enjoying my life as I go. Not building up to enjoy my life 20 years from now. It means feeling stretched and challenged, having enough time for my friends, my family and my passions — and it also means enjoying the challenges along the way. Never Liked It Anyway has opened doors I never dreamed of — we’re working on a TV show, a book, two products of our own as well as building the core business. Each of these pillars are a whole new world for me — full of new stuff to sink my teeth in to. It’s like one giant video game and every level feels like a new adventure. That alone is success — and the kind of success I try to give weight to.
Me: Who are your heroes?
Annabel: It may sound a bit odd, but anyone who adds a little bit of silliness to the mundane are people I like and admire the most.
Salvador Dali is a huge inspiration. He knew how to take a concept and launch it into popular culture in a way so dramatic, fun and infectious that you just wanted to be part of it. He was a brilliant innovator and marketer and just the right amount of crazy! Things like rocking up to an exhibit opening in a limo full of cauliflowers or creating a hospital scene in a bookstore window to launch his book… It’s quirky and reminds us not to take things too seriously.
I’m also a huge fan of PG Wodehouse. He’s my favorite author by a long shot. He’s subversive, delightful and has such a cheeky spirit, it’s utterly infectious. His commentary as POW during WWII is also very admirable.
And Willy Wonka. The Gene Wilder version, naturally. His ability to add nonsense and creativity to everything is nothing short of marvelous.
Me: What is your best discovery?
Annabel: Quite seriously, one of the best discoveries is the power in asking for help. I never thought I could do it all alone, yet I still found it difficult to ask for help. In the last two years, I’ve become much better at asking for help, advice and direction when I need it. I’m always blown away at how it catapults my trajectory far further than I could have ever hoped. I’m part of a great group of entrepreneurs and we all help each other willingly. If someone asks me for help, I do what I can, gladly. Knowing that you have that kind of support is priceless.
And another excellent discovery? That white wine in a sodastream = champagne.
Me: What would the title of your biography be?
Annabel: Keep It Silly.
Me: What is your biggest regret?
Annabel: I know it sounds cliche, but I really don’t have a regret. I’m truly happy with where I am and even the seemingly catastrophic mess-ups along the way have helped shape and develop both my business and my personal journey and led to where I am now.
That said, I did crash a company car on the first job I interned at (an amazing production company in Sydney). I was mortified. So mortified I abandoned the idea of production pretty soon after…which might have been what led me to where I am, so once again, no regrets!
Me: Anything else we should know about?
Annabel: We’ve just launched our second product — the Bounce Back Stack. It’s a deck of 50 challenge cards to help you get back to fabulous!
We’re also on the hunt for two interns — one for graphic design, the other for social media and growth hacking. Both of these positions are exciting, fast-paced, fun and very action-orientated!
This post originally appeared on Kelly Hoey’s website. Keep up to date with Kelly’s latest Insights by signing up for her Innovator Insights newsletter.
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