Benefit of the doubt? The Innovator and Self-belief

Benefit of the doubt? The Innovator and Self-belief

I was lucky recently to interview Shaun Pulfrey, the creator and owner of the Tangle Teezer company. I was struck by how important his story about self-belief has been to the creation of the Tangle Teezer products. Having struggled with formal education, along with receiving messages about respecting your elders and betters, it would have been easy for Shaun to doubt himself. But his desire to innovate and create products that wouldn’t damage hair was too strong and, at first single handedly, he set about turning his ideas into reality. 

So, let’s distinguish an Innovator from an Entrepreneur. An Entrepreneur starts by looking out into the market – where is there a gap? Or where is there an existing product I can apply to a parallel market (Netflix is a subscription service that existed for films and TV, which Audible piggy-backed on with its subscription service for audio books)? Or how can I put two products together (Uber Eats uses Uber cabs to deliver food to people’s homes)? Entrepreneurs wouldn’t dream of starting unless they knew where the market opportunity was.

Innovators on the other hand see stuff differently and are prepared to risk challenging the norms. They want to create things that either don’t exist but would just be interesting to design, or that solve a real problem regardless of whether there is a market opportunity for what they design. The idea comes before the sale. 

To be an Innovator you have to have the courage to believe enough in your idea that you will risk following it through, even when it might fail. And certainly, the innovators we talk to describe their relentless desire, or the itch they have to scratch, which means they can’t stop creating wherever they are or whatever is going on around them. 

But they also describe that sense of self-doubt or fragile self-belief that means any criticism from others, or just the feeling that they haven’t done justice to the idea that was in their minds, can often lead them to back off or just give up.

While low self-belief is very common for Innovators, developing much deeper self-belief is key to being able to bring the great ideas to fruition and launch them to the world. Shaun talks about the moment he decided that his product was good enough and his decision that he didn’t need to listen to the voices of his elders who had doubted him. He could believe in himself and make this work.  Our founder, Mark Loftus, at CharacterScope similarly talks about how he has learned and is still learning to trust in himself and his ideas so that even if they are not ‘perfect’ he can believe that they are so much better than not having them out there at all.

What we have come to realise and is personified in Shaun Pulfrey is that when innovators have high self-belief alongside high humility it is a particularly powerful combination. As Shaun says, you have to get close to the people giving you feedback, to really hear what they are saying and to take their feedback into your creations. For feedback not to cause you to give up but to serve as the inspiration to improve and spark the next creation.

Listen to Shaun’s full interview here.

Visit Tangle Teezer.

HR Business Leaders Programme

HR Business Leaders Programme

We are delighted that CharacterScope has been chosen to support the Guild of Human Resources Professionals in its exciting development programme for future HR Business leaders.

The Guild of Human Resource Professionals is a newly formed Guild with the purpose of bringing together individuals from the profession to support their development. Their Leadership Programme is a great career development opportunity, with delegates participating in masterclass sessions delivered by seasoned experts in their fields. They receive mentoring from practitioners who provide career support, as well as their personal insights throughout the programme.

We will be working with 30 high-potential HR Managers to bring them deep insight into the leadership contribution they make now, and how to develop themselves for future HR Director roles.

CharacterScope will be their always-available, digital coach, offering insight and daily development workouts to ensure they build their strengths for the future.


Have a look at the brochure here: HR Professionals: HR Leadership Programme 2018

If you would like to learn more about the HR Professionals Guild, visit their website: The Guild of Human Resource Professionals

If you are interested in CharacterScope, why not read about the 9 Leader types: What type of leader do you have the potential to be?

Can people change?

Can people change?

Do you believe you can change, learn and grow? Or do you believe that your abilities are innate and can only be developed up to a fixed level? Can intelligence and character can be changed? Or are they set, and there is not much we can do to alter them?

This difference in beliefs is known as the ‘fixed vs. growth’ mindset and has been researched extensively by Carol Dweck. Those with a fixed mindset believe that success and intelligence are innate, and those with a growth mindset believe that success is due to hard work and learning, and that with effort, intelligence and character can be changed.

In her research, Dweck has found that those with a fixed mindset can get caught in a desire to look clever in all situations, seeking to confirm that they are inherently intelligent. This can lead them to avoid challenges if they don’t think they will perform well, and they are more likely to give up easily when faced with obstacles. The result is that those with a fixed mindset may achieve less than their full potential, as they are hesitant to push themselves out of their comfort zone. In contrast, people with a growth mindset are more likely to persevere with challenges even if they don’t perform strongly in the first instance. Their openness to learning and belief in the possibility of growth serving as a motivation to sustain them through set-backs.

CharacterScope is founded on a growth mindset: that character and intelligence can be developed given the right focus, effort and support:

  • Focus means choosing your goals for yourself wisely. We believe that people can achieve anything they set their mind and heart to, but if they try to be everything and achieve everything their effort will be diluted and lack focus.
  • Effort means accepting the hard work that comes with the chosen goal. It is easiest to see in sport – top level performance does not come without sacrifice and dedication.
  • Support – CharacterScope is carefully designed to support you and prompt you to be your best self. Yet it is even more powerful if there is a coach, mentor or friend to help you stay motivated and handle the inevitable obstacles.

So our message is that the change you want to see is possible and CharacterScope will help guide your journey.