5 on the 5th Interview - Nick Kellet of List.ly

5 on the 5th Interview: Nick Kellet

I’m a list nut. As you’ve probably noticed with my blog, I love list posts and/or 3 or 4 bulleted-points like a list.

I had heard of List.ly but had really used it. Then Nick Kellet, co-founder of List.ly started tweeting with me and one awesome Skype session later, I have someone I like to keep in my little sphere of influencers who I can also call one of my social media friends.

Below is my interview with Nick – take a read and then let me know who your tiger is (you gotta read it to know what I’m talking about) 😉


Name: Nick Kellet

Title: CoFounder – Listly

Company: Listly

Website/Blog: http://list.ly/

Twitter handle: @nickkellet


Question 1: Why did you choose to work in this industry?

I love startups, but most of all I love jumping domains. I love solving the new problems that come with new domains.

I’ve worked in Fashion Manufacturing, CRM, Retail Promotion, Business Intelligence & Board Games to name a few.

So jumping into consumer-focussed content marketing, crowdsourcing and curation was just the next step. It completed my switch from B2B to B2C. Actually in reality is all just about people.

My board game was crowdsourced and curated, so when I discovered Listly and explored the idea of joining as co-founder it was an awesome fit.

Question 2: How do you keep continuing your education and staying up on all the latest trends and changes?

I loved to read (or more often listen to books). I explore blogs and content on slideshare, attending conferences and also connecting with people. You  need many data points to keep yourself connected and grounded.

I’m always listening and looking for new connections (social, intellectual and emotional).

Feeling is a big part of our growth opportunities as fully evolved humans. I’m big on intuition and empathy.

One of my favorite books is Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind”. I’m a big fan of the right side of the brain. I’m unsurprisingly left-handed.

I live for creating and explaining the world in terms of models. This is how I learn and refine my beliefs. Start with a straw man model and then iterate. Replace heads, arms, legs etc until you have a robust working model of your reality. That’s how I solve problems.

I strongly believe you can’t formulate sitting on the bench, you need to be in the game. Ac active player. Trying, failing, iterating and ultimately winning.

Question 3: What do you love the most about working in your industry? What bothers you the most?


I love the reach, the possibility. Reality often falls short of 10 millions views, but it exists as a possibility.

So when you publish a piece of content and it gets 10k views or even 30k views that’s amazing.

You know that’ cool because when you began you were delighted with 500 views.

10 million views may be elusive (or exclusive to Madonna or Lady Gaga), but there is always tomorrow and your next bright idea.

I love the fact we can set outrageous goals. We just need to be kind to ourselves if we don’t quite achieve them. It doesn’t mean giving up. Sometimes all we got wrong was the timeline.


The internet is a bubble. Social Media is a bubble. We live listening to other people in the bubble.

Saying that feels like confessing that the emperor is naked. He is.

Real people operate at a different level and pace. They don’t and won’t care as much as you do. You offer a potential solution to one of their many problems and challenges. That’s an adjustment we all need to make.

So you need to adjusts your models and expectations to their reality and their lens.

Question 4: What is the hardest situation you’ve encountered in your business and how did you handle it?

Letting go of an idea. That is the hardest thing.

I’ve let go of a business I sold. That was like selling your 1st born. On the scale of things that’s actually easy.  You can always create a new idea.

Letting go of half-baked ideas that were just wrong (bad ideas) or too early or … . That’s harder.

I’ve also let go of my board game, GiftTRAP.  I published and promoted it and it keeps on living. It won 20+ awards including a Spiel des Jahres prize and was translated into 14 languages. It’s sold 80k copies to-date.  Today I’m no longer the active publisher. That’s been the hardest thing to let go of. That experience was a roller coaster of ups and downs. With hindsight I should have enjoyed it like a roller coaster, but instead I lived every climb awaiting the dip and every dip expecting the climb. That was a hard lesson, but one heck of an achievement.

The game always had a life of it’s own, one that I breathed into it. It kept on going long beyond my will to persist, which is possibly the hardest thing to deal with. Great ideas do have a “life” of their own, beyond the control of the inventor. Sometimes you can get too close and too connected to an idea. And sometimes you can listen to all the wrong feedback. Any entrepreneur has made all these mistakes.

Today, I try to be less connected, but also more persistent. I’m always looking for “signs of life” in my projects. Ideas take on their own being and skip to their own beat. Running with natural momentum is much easier to manage and grow.

Question 5: What is the best business advice you’ve been given and why has it stayed with you?

My old friend and mentor Harish asked me a mind blowing question. This was in my first job at French Connection’s head office. I was 21.

“What are you to the tiger?” was his question. A metaphorical tiger.

Who is your tiger? What’s their role in the world and what’s your role relative to them? Is your tiger in the wild or in the zoo.

It’s a deep and philosophical question that anyone can ask about their role in the world

It’s healthy to appreciate your role in context.


One for the road…

Bonus: If you could come back to life as any person from the history, who would it be?

Some kind of explorer would be good.

I’ll say Black Adder. He’s historical with a touch of fiction thrown in for good measure.


So… who is YOUR tiger?

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