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What I’ve Learnt: Paul Brown, founder and CEO, 6B Digital

Paul Brown

6B Digital was founded in 2014 by Paul Brown.

The Leeds-based technology and engineering consultancy has a team of over 40 focusing on focused on developing integrations, applications, and software for private and public healthcare sectors.

The company’s clients include ITV, Public Health England and several NHS Trusts.

Here, Paul shares all the lessons he has learnt.


Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

Getting into work nice and early is essential for me; it helps me arrive with a clear mind ready to attack the day ahead of me. When it’s time to ‘switch off’ in the evening, exercising and having fun with my kids helps me unwind.

What’s been your luckiest break?

Without a doubt meeting my wife Kate; we’re partners in life and in business!

What’s your best failure?

My first business at the age of 18 was a printed magazine that failed spectacularly. At the time I was already passionate about tech so the decision to pivot to an online publication and utilise my code skills was an obvious direction to take. Fast forward to today, and putting that career emphasis on the thing I loved has been one of the best decisions I ever made. Failure in this instance showed me what didn’t work and how I would need to adjust to be successful in the future, but it also taught me a lot about myself and made me more resilient.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

As a business leader, it’s vital that I continue to hone my own skill set and lead from the front. Learning to write code, and continuing to write code on a regular basis has been the single greatest investment I’ve made – for myself and the business. I’m a big believer that to truly excel in anything in life you need to invest more than money alone. To be a leader in your chosen field, you need to invest your time, and hell of a lot of it. Elon Musk puts it best when he says: “I strongly believe that all managers in a technical area must be technically excellent. Managers in software must write great software or it’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse!”

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

I have three titles which I come back to for inspiration: ‘ReWork’ by James Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson: This was an invaluable resource when I was first starting out and looking to form 6B. It emphasised the importance of stripping things back to the bare essentials, and then building from there. Whether you’re just starting up or running a big business, this book will help you redefine your approach and show you it’s easier than you think.

‘Radical Candor’ by Kim Scott: These days, a lot is made of trying to create the ideal ‘company culture’. But what does this actually mean? And how can it be achieved? Kim Scott breaks down how to connect better with your employees through caring personally while challenging directly.

‘The Joy of Work’ by Bruce Daisley: I wholeheartedly believe that going to work every day should be something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy what you do then it will be reflected in the quality of the work you produce. What this book does exceptionally well is provide 30 succinct tips that combine inspiration, empirically tested insight and practical answers in equal measure. It’s the best book I’ve read on company culture.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Don’t overthink it, just go for it!

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

I’m lucky enough to feel inspired every day by the team I have around me at 6B. We have an incredible people-focused culture, and we are united by a drive to have a positive impact through our work. We only hire the best so I’m surrounded by great critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, people who stretch the boundaries of what’s possible, which is incredibly rewarding.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I learned a lot at university but the best thing I learned was how to surf!

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

Covid-19 was an undeniable gamechanger for the world of work. The main benefits I’ve noticed to me and my team is the increased flexibility and balance it has given to our lives. Our team has been able to readdress their work-life balance with hybrid working, allowing them to juggle work with day-to-day home life. It’s made our team happier and it shows in the work we produce. I also think the playing field has been levelled and customers are now buying from a broader range of suppliers from various locations, which has enabled us to partner with businesses where it wouldn’t have previously been possible or desirable in their eyes.

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is being able to build a team that is capable of creating a positive impact in the lives of our clients and their end users – something which takes on extra significance in the world of healthcare. But beyond the work we produce and its lasting impact, success also means nurturing and developing our team so that they can become the best version of themselves and progress in the way that they want to in their career.

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