What I've Learnt: Damian Hanson, Director and Co-Founder, Mission Labs
Damian Hanson, along with his Co-founder David Hague, leads the team at Mission Labs, the creators of cloud telephony solution CircleLoop and customer experience platform SmartAgent.
In March, Mission Labs was sold to software group Gamma, announcing plans later in the year that it would be doubling headcount having already recruited 50 over the course of COVID. Hanson and Hague founded Mission Labs in 2016 and have overseen its rapid growth.
Damian was also the Co-founder of One iota, the Manchester-based software provider, overseeing its acquisition by Sanderson Group in 2013.
We found out the kinds of lessons Damian has learnt in his career.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
I think this would have to be listening to some music. Before lockdown I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed it. But during lockdown I found myself finding new playlists on Spotify when not on video meetings to help relax my brain. Just don’t ask to see my playlists!
What's been your luckiest break?
I don’t feel “luck” is a word that should be associated with successful entrepreneurs or businesses. If you have a passion or vision and you persistently work harder than anyone else you know then you will find that you will become a lot “luckier” (as other people see it).
If you pushed me for the “luck” I valued the most, I would say I was fortunate in my early business years to work with some inspiring and supportive business leaders who gave me their time and advice - I learned a lot from them both good and bad. Beyond that I haven’t been lucky - I’ve worked harder than anyone else I know apart from my co-founder David Hague, who's done the same.
What's your best failure?
At school I sold cans of pop out of my school bag undercutting the canteen. It was going really well until the school saw a decline in their own sales and tracked me down - I had to wind the venture up as my sales totally “fizzled” out.
What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
In business, the financial and time investment I have placed into being a start-up founder has been rewarding for me. It has given me control of my own destiny but has also been hugely rewarding to see others around me develop into successful colleagues, together winning amazing customers and growing our business.
From a personal perspective, I invest a lot of time in watching my sons play football and cricket. I love doing it so they can enjoy their own challenges and develop personally.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
I’ll be honest and admit to not reading as often as I might like, but when I do I like to read about non-fiction subject matters in sport, crime or business - it's inspiring to read about real things for me.
The most memorable early book that I'd recommend was Richard Branson - 'Losing My Virginity'. I think it shows a real vision and determination to create a global business from the very start.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Take risks faster, worry less, be passionate in everything you do and listen more to your heart than your head.
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
All of my family and friends who have been and remain fully supportive in everything I do.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
I’m a fully qualified chef.
How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?
I believe COVID has changed the workplace for many years to come in terms of working flexibility and environment, but I also think it is has taught many of us to value our working relationships more, so when we do see our colleagues again we will appreciate the moments of interaction and team camaraderie you cannot benefit from working from home, and that many have missed so much. I know I have.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me is not a “final destination” but the relentless pursuit and achievement of various goals that mean something to you, no matter how big or small they might be.
Your goals could be something you want to achieve this month, this year or this decade - if you don't set yourself any goals you won't achieve that feeling of success, simple as that.
Professionally, I’ve taken great satisfaction from building several successful start-up businesses. In doing so it's been especially rewarding to see the progression and success of many colleagues I have worked with along that journey. In my family life, success will be making sure my children are well-equipped for their lives as adults and are decent, humble and honest in all they do beyond my lifetime.