En Route to World Domination via Crazyville
When I was eight years old, four Ninja Turtles and a rat named Splinter kindly educated me about Renaissance art. Michael Jackson taught me not to spend my life being a colour and thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger, my Spanish knew no bounds: “Pasta la vista baby”. I was clearly very advanced for my age.
When Oliver was eight, he started programming computers. By nine – he moved on to assembler programming. It is fair to say he was a bit of a nerd and a total goddamn genius. This didn’t help much with his popularity at school, but it did put him on a path to greatness.
With aspirations of world domination from a young age, Oliver founded his own internet solutions company in 2001. Silktide has grown at a compounded rate averaging 100% each year thereafter. My piggy bank contains 27 pence and 1 Euro.
When I’m bored – I like to see if I can lick the end of my nose. When Oli’s not preoccupied with taking over the world, he likes to set himself ludicrous challenges, like producing a work of art every day for 30 days.
Yes, he drew that. Annoying, isn’t it? His latest challenge was to take a photograph every day for 30 days, though current work in progress is an animated music video. He just needs to learn how to animate first. (Minor detail).
To pass the time, Oliver likes to run marathons, play a touch of Handel on the piano, strut his funky stuff at Salsa and Zumba classes and wrestle crocodiles.
You can see why I have trouble.
So brother, when did you first decide to take over the world?
Saturday, 11th December 1993.
It looked like any other Saturday, until the news broadcasts started coming in. I didn’t want to – couldn’t – believe them at first, but there they were – confirmed relentlessly by multiple sources.
I knew then humanity needed my help; that conquering the planet may be their only hope of salvation. For Mr Blobby was #1 in the UK charts.
How does it feel to be so very busy and important?
Well for starters, I haven’t got time to answer that question.
What did it take for you to get to where you are today?
How did your time at school shape you as an adult?
School was not fun for me. Pretty much the only thing I enjoyed about school was studying; the rest of the time is a blurred montage of being thrown off moving buses and having my head smashed into sinks by classmates.
Turns out that’s not entirely without an upside. Almost as much as Mr Blobby’s sacrilegious ascendency to the charts, that quite painful time gave me motivation. Learning and creating things was what I enjoyed, so I focused on that. Turns out it pays dividends later.
Where does your crazy ‘can do’ attitude come from?
This is going to sound weird, but mostly “computers”.
I began programming when I was 8. That taught me a tonne of things early: algebra, for instance, but also that these amazing plastic devices could accomplish things based entirely on our instructions.
You might think of this as a kind of mini Age of Enlightenment, compressed into my childhood. Rational thought, study, experimentation were all rewarded. The only limits were your own brain and willpower.
This was a great foundation for believing anything was possible, but I was still a pretty shy and awkward kid. Much of my adult attitude has come from relentlessly studying others, and getting things done. Confidence is earned, attitude can be learned. But not by sitting on your hands.
What’s the best piece of advice you have given or received?
Read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
I usually have several copies on hand and give them out with impunity. Anyone who masters the first habit will outperform 90% of people on the planet; master the first 3 and you’re nearer 98%.
I won’t pretend to have mastered any, but I re-read this almost every year.
From whom do you draw your greatest inspiration?
It’s really hard to narrow this down because I find many people inspiring for different reasons, and the kind of people who are truly great are usually so because they were quintessentially themselves. At a push, Steve Jobs.
Tell me about the highlight of your day.
What makes you feel proud to be part of our generation?
Being proud about something you never had control over seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? It’d be like being proud of having brown eyes.
Our generation is luckier than all the ones before us though. No major wars, better education, technology, healthcare, mortality, freedom, equality, opportunity, knowledge, prosperity and best of all, The Internet. We owe all of that to the generations before us.