Peter Gould on Design Thinking, Branding, and Productivity [S01E01]

Peter Gould Speaking in the SIA Business Podcast


Brief Summary

Peter Gould is a talented serial entrepreneur and design and branding specialist from Australia. He has worked with several large organizations. In this interview, we discuss his initial tough days, challenges of being an entrepreneur, his business development process, productivity and more.

(His detailed bio as well as show notes to follow).

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A Confession

This podcast episode took me an extremely long time to publish. I don’t have the courage to mention how long I made Peter wait but I hope he can blame this on the perfectionist gene which kept making me put off this episode. My apologies, once again Peter. 


Detailed Bio of Peter Gould

Apart from being a kind and patient person, Peter Gould is also a designer extraordinaire, branding expert, creative entrepreneur, and digital artist. Over the last ten years or so, he has been involved in the development and launch of many exciting and innovative projects globally which have reached millions using a positive, inspirational creative approach.

He has run a successful branding & design firm Gould.Sydney from Australia working with a wide spectrum of clients from global icons such as the United Nations, international agencies and governments, large commercial enterprises including Etihad Airways, Thomson Reuters and household brand names such as Colgate Palmolive. This firm was recently acquired by Zileej; more on that later.

His artistic work has been commissioned by diverse clients ranging from Middle Eastern royalty and a Prime Minister and has featured in galleries around the world. He has won several awards, including recently an Islamic Economy Award presented by Dubai Ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed. He has even launched his own apps & games, a clothing range, several online creative platforms, and he conducts branding workshops internationally.

He is also the Design Executive Officer Zileej which focuses on creating positive change through design, with a focus on inspired innovation and Islamic design thinking. Plus, he has over a quarter million social media followers.


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Show Notes

In the above candid interview, Peter shared some excellent insights which can be of help to any entrepreneur and creative such as: 

The intersection of arts, creativity, and technology

• Balancing one’s artistic flairs with commercial aspects of work

• Branding and what it means

• His agency’s initial approach to working with a client, be it a big brand or a small startup

Using the dove analogy for better work performance – (it’s a good example; do check it out!)

• Example of a successful marketing campaign done where Peter’s team helped a community-based organization raise over a million dollars of extra donations (70% increase) through unique and disruptive stickers plus social media campaign

• Peter’s initial struggle when he was in the initial years at the university and had started his first company. (I love him sharing how he would have sleepless nights and then try to get an hour sleep under the corporate boardroom before the client would walk in; that’s some HUSTLE!)
• The need for doing internal for-fun projects (like the kids’ apps that he has created when his kids came along) which in turn led to more opportunities in the form of clients wanting his agency to create similar apps

The 4-Hour Work Week and how people often get confused over this; 4-hour work weeks means delegating more so you have more time and then it’s unto you to use the free time to sit on the beach or like Tim, Peter and me to spend it on doing new projects and things

• Great advice to people who are stuck in a 9 to 5 job that they hate, but who are afraid of venturing into entrepreneurship

• Why having a job and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive concepts (as in you can be an entrepreneur in today’s day an age while you have a job and continue building it until you earn enough to be able to ditch your job and focus full time on your business)

• The secret to Peter’s marketing methodology for bagging big brands etc (it’s simple and fun!)

Go ahead and check out the episode! I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did!


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Irfan: Hi everyone, welcome to the SIA podcast, this is Irfan from In this podcast show I will be talking to talented entrepreneurs, marketers, and writers; and I will be finding out what are the most secret tapes and hacks which have earned them financial and time freedom as well as a lot of success. So let us get started. Today is the first episode of the SIA podcast and I am very happy to have my good friend Peter Gould with me here. Peter Gould is a designer, creative entrepreneur, and digital artist. Over the past 10 years Peer has been involved in the development and launch of many exciting and innovative projects globally which have reached millions using a positive inspirational and creative approach. He runs successful branding and designing firm from Australia working with a wide spectrum of clients from global icons such as United Nations, international agencies and governments, large commercial enterprises including Etihad Airways, Thomson Writers, and household brand name such as Colgate-Palmolive. His artistic work has been commissioned by diverse clients ranging from middle eastern royalty and a prime minister and has featured in galleries around the world. He has won several awards including the recently won award presented to him by the ruler of Dubai. He has launched his own apps and games, a clothing range, several online creative platforms, and he also teaches branding workshops internationally. He also has over a quarter million social medial followers. So let us get started.


Hi Peter, welcome to the show. How are you doing man?


Peter Gould: Thanks a lot. I am really grand. Thanks for having me on. 


Irfan: Thank you so much for taking out time to come to this show. Can you tell me a bit about your story and how you ventured into creativity design and branding etc. 


Peter Gould: Yes, I would love to. Yes, absolutely. I was pretty much one of those kids that love to draw and always create things and cut things up and probably draw on walls as a kid and I guess I have that kind of creative streak and where they led us… I never stopped doing that. In fact, right now I am staring at my creative studio wall – it is like a big coloring in the wall. While we were having this interview I just realized that I have not grown up a lot. But, yes, basically I now run a design and branding studio here out of the city although most of our clients are international. For the last 15 years I have run that company and I have a small team here. Where they came about was just following the passion for creativity and the intersection of art and design and technology using early on in graphic design and now work on whole bunch of interesting projects across the globe digitally and still a little bit in print. So that is a bit of a snapshot of what I do day today. 


Irfan: Nice. I like how you describe it as intersection of art, design, and technology. I am reading Steve Jobs’ biography right now, the one that he officially approved of. The author also talks a lot about how Steve Jobs was able to be at the intersection of art and technology and how that led to so many great products.


Peter Gould: Absolutely. That is right. He is very much creativity at the intersection. he talked about intersection of humanity and technology and very much you can see that. I think that is really where a lot of the people that talk about innovation creativity really talk about intersection that is the recombination of other elements together and actually there is a really great Steve Jobs quote that I always paraphrase because I cannot get it just right. Basically the intent is that creative people often feel guilty because they are just taking other things that already exist and combining them together; and I think I had shared that guilt when I came across that quote. I was like yes I do not feel like I necessarily created something that is entirely new but this recombination of so many elements that create value in somewhere and I want to embrace that. 


Irfan: Yes. You made a very good point and yes I think that most of creative people have this guilt within them. I have a bit of different opinion about it. When the first human being created the aeroplane he was still copying birds, right? He was trying to be like birds, right? but at the end he created something new. So I feel like imitation is like a huge tribute to the actual creators and obviously you do not have to plagiarize it. You have to make something new out of it. As long as you can do it I think it is fine to be inspired from something. 


Peter Gould: Right, absolutely. Honestly you can imagine just that something is in your head that is so far out that is completely different category of seeing it. It is awesome that inspiration from things around you but looking ways to do it more imaginatively or combine it with something else that takes it to a whole new level. I think it is really about a mindset. If you a have a mindset about experimentation and innovation, then it really applies about whatever you do. Whatever kind of job you work in, or what kind of thing you are interested in doing, just having a mindset of trying things out, experimenting, iterating, changing, trying again, that is probably being a big learning that I have experienced in my time.


Irfan: Right. I have a bit of a sensitive question for you now, be ready. I just wanted to ask, is it hard to balance the artistic side of your creativity and design versus the commercial aspects of it because you have worked with some of these huge brands. How are you able to balance it and make sure that you are able to provide value to your clients but are also true to your artistic self?


Peter Gould: That is a very very good question and it is very much one that I have struggled with and is a classic problem for many creatives. It is how do you balance your artistic intentions and inner efforts versus making a living and having the commercial priority of life. one of my favorite books which is “The Agony and the Ecstasy” which is about Michelangelo. It is sort of a fictional historical biography about him and his life and going far back in five centuries ago and he is talking about how certain things he wants to create but his client, these patrons, that really force him to do things that he does not really want to create. So this is interesting intersection. That issue goes back a long way for any creative person, and this is Michelangelo. In my own life and experience, I guess I have been fairly fortunate that the two have interacted in a fairly harmonious way. But I probably never be able to truly wear the fine artist hat or consider myself as a purely fine artist that does the work which sits in galleries and be in catalogues just because I do so much commercial design work as well. When you do commercial design and branding to reach our products and things like that it is okay to have an artistic side and that is probably encouraged and I think that is totally fine but it will be very hard a thing for me to purely [00:08:11] to do my kind of philosophical artworks or spiritual artworks and then also be expected to be completely respected in the business world. It is kind of a hard struggle, but that is okay. At the end of the day I do not think they are rules any more. Whatever labels you attract that is fine and just go ahead and do what works for you.


Irfan: That is true. That is very well put and I agree with you. I am going to ask another question which was not on the list that I had sent you but I hope we will be able to stay on schedule. I think it is a very good question.


Peter Gould: Actually I forgot and I did not read any of the questions. I am just having a casual chat to feel good.


Irfan: I am just curious about how is your process when you are working with a client. For instance, there is a brand that comes to you and it is an airlines or FMCG brand or something like that. So, can you take us through the process how do you interact with them, how do you get requirements, how are you able to put your team and yourself into motion for that client.


Peter Gould: Yes, great question. I have a team here and we basically in the last few years have built a process around that. Generally, it is the same whether it is a larger and more established global brand or a multinational as opposed to even if it is a tiny startup or a smaller company. When it comes to branding there are still a lot of foundational questions that need to be answered. Usually we do a lot of fairly conventional things like have some discussions with them, some interviews with them. Where we are trying to really change more and more without any short approach to any project is we spend a lot more time thinking and applying a strategic process which means that we interview more people involved in that organization and sometimes their clients, their stakeholders. We have designed a thinking tool which means reframing their challenges a little bit. Instead of “Hey we need a new branding, we need a new campaign to communicate”, what we do, that is sort of a given, but we want to dive a little deeper now. So spend a bit of more time thinking about where design can strategically add value at whatever point of that organization it might be. We had some great results in last couple of years doing that and then we just basically try to work with them, look for opportunities where design and creative thinking can be something of benefit rather than just an exercise trying to make things look prettier and cohesive visually. We got to think how can design surely integrate in this company to make it a more design driven company. That is our approach.


Irfan: Nice. I assume that with this in-depth approach you will be able to attract probably the best clients who are very serious about their business and their goals and everything, right?


Peter Gould: Yes. People that understand… design thinking is a bit off a buzzword that has entered the corporate checkbox that need to be considered. So that is not necessarily a good thing because people might say oh we are doing designed thinking when it is more of a label banner and approach. But if done well it can really transform an organization. For example, IBM recently announced that all of their employees are going to get designed thinking training. What that really means is bringing sort of a creative mindset whatever their position is and building that around real human and for user centric problem. Rather than coming up with an idea and say, “Hey let us build this and do this and market it”, let us flip it around in head and just really listen to what people want, what are their problems, what are their needs, reframe the kind of questions around those what users are actually wanting and experiencing, and then building everything around that and continually developing and experimenting and prototyping and trying to answer that response.


Irfan: Right. Do you think that you should always be going with what the customers want versus what you guys think should be the next big thing? There is a quotation by the head of Ford Motors, and he said that if I had asked people what they want they had asked for a faster running horse cart.


Peter Gould: Yes, that is right. The credit should go to Henry Ford although no one knows if he ever had actually said it. But the point is well made. I have heard that it is like a dove where if you are holding it in your hands you do not want to squeeze too tight and hurt it or you do not want to just let it go and it flies away. I think innovation and innovation team is a bit like that. In a client relationship you will need to lead them and show that you know how to add value to their organization with design. You really got to listen to them and work around those. I am trying to reframe the challenge, that is a big one as well. Do not just take the brief as it is, you could actually be a lot more effective if you look a couple of steps deeper or zoom out a couple of levels. So really listen to trying to help a client but I do not like to just take here is the problem I am going to fix it approach because you might actually find that if you reframe problem, you get a much better result more meaningfully. You could have bounced the two and there is no one shortcut that works every time.


Irfan: I like the dove analogy that you used. Do you have any examples of any successful campaigns or any challenging campaigns that you guys pulled off and which you are very proud of?


Peter Gould: Yes, definitely. We are fortunate we had quite a number because we worked across different sectors and different type of organizations as well at different locations. A simple example was just even one here that was quite recently. It was a community based organization and they came to us and said we know we need to improve our communication and we need to be appealing for donations at this time of the year. The ahead of mind setup was we need posters and flyers and a bit of social media and that is traditional routine which is fine, but we came back and really tried to dive to the differences. The reason why you are struggling probably with donations because every other organization in the space is doing the same thing. So we came up with more disruptive type of creative ways while looking into space. Just one overlooked to the whole area where they were not really able to touch in and we built the sticker campaign around where people were cramming the sicker on things and taking photos with around the hashtag. The end result was they got around 70% more donations, a million dollar plus extra donations that they got. they said a big part of the whole communication effort was stronger and that was just applying a bit more designed thinking. That is where the design stuff looks pretty, rather than answering the questions we were trying to dive deeper into how can we actually help this organization.


Irfan: Nice. I would like to go a bit back in time here. When you were starting, when you were fresh out of your university, or the time when you were looking for ways to find more success and you had challenges at that time. I would like to talk about that a little bit, and how you were able to overcome that.


Peter Gould: No problem. I think going back, if I look at it, I started my first company when I was probably my science first or second year at the university and I had no idea what I was doing. Which was kind of good in hindsight, it was a big learning experience. I sometimes recommend people do that, other times I say do not do that. But it was a great way in. That was a really crazy time when I was trying to do my university design course and then I would be rushing back to client work and then not sleeping all night and then trying to catch an hour sleep under the corporate boardroom before the clients walked in, stuff like that. This was around the whole [00:17:01] so there was a little bit of craziness, people did not understand the way I review or trying to figure out what I can do with it. It was a really interesting time and I learnt so many things in that time and realized that at the end of the day you got to have the basics right – good quality relationships, you got to understand service. You can be the best most creative awesome designer but if you do not know how to work with people and listen to them and help them and have the basic service things there then there is no point. So that really helped in terms of learning how to run a business and I think over the years I tried to bring all these learnings together and now got this team in last few years and done really well. That has been quite a journey and everyone goes through that journey, having the mindset to fail for it. If things do not work out, try it, keep trying, iterate, try again, fail forward, instead of thinking about failing just think about learning. You are always learning and both having client projects and always trying to have internal projects that you are working on and you develop internally and sometimes those internal ones become a big hit.


Irfan: What do you mean by internal projects? Can you give us an example of that?


Peter Gould: Yes, definitely. Basically we are always trying to have a couple going and these are the ideas that as a team we could come up with. just our day to day experiences and sometimes sorts of random intentions when we come up with ideas and we just kick them off. so we have done a couple of… for example, kids apps. When my kids came around in the last few years I nearly felt like I want to build some apps that I do not think exist out there that could be really good for them. That spun off a whole series of different apps which have done really well and that in turn generated other opportunities for other kids’ apps where the clients wanted us to do apps inspired by the ones we have done internally. So we have that experience a few times over where you kick something off, you may not make a lot of money but it is a lot of fun to do and you learn a lot. And then it opens a door for other client projects that are in the same space. So always try to have something internally, also just for fun, keep everyone engaged, and always trying stuff out.


Irfan: I love how you describe these internal projects leading to something new, some more opportunities, even if they do not make you a billionaire or something like that. So that is very nice to know and we will surely put links of your apps etc. in the article that goes with this podcast. I would like to know now how you are able to stay creative and productive. Do you do meditation, do you read a lot, what are your hacks for creativity and productivity?


Peter Gould: I try starting chronologically. In the morning I try to get up pretty early and kick start the day usually hoping for the sun is up and doing sort of spiritual practice that I do, that is similar to meditating type of thing. That just kicks me into gear. I have a gratitude journal that I write which is basically three things that I am grateful for and then other parts to that like things you want to achieve, things that you want to do in your day and in your life. So I am trying to do that as a regular basis. Every day you get into that positive mindset of trying to achieve and also be really grateful for all the good things that are happening and the things that are not so good you put them in perspective. I try to kick start the day with that, getting when I do get into work. I try to be fairly structured. I have sort of a system. actually I have a blog post about it if anyone is interested. It is a combination of things like Trello… I use Trello extensively to plan a lot of medicals for my daily activity and my team activity. All my different projects are Trello cards on Trello boards, I am a bit of Trello junkie. So I definitely recommend that if you have not checked it out. Then things like team communications through Slack. We do weekly team session and then we have regular brainstorm of different things. I try cut out a bit of time every day for different activity. Around the middle of the day I just try to block out an hour or two, after lunch go for walk and read a book or work on a language or study a course, I am doing an online Stanford course at the moment and I am trying to make sure I cut out time for that every week. I do not think there is anything particularly innovative about my routine. To be honest, I have learnt how to do it from all the leaders in the space – Tim Ferriss, Dan Sullivan, all these guys. I just tried out things that they recommended and I just tried to adopt those. I wish I could say I am super disciplined about following them, but I do my best. so far it has been pretty good, all these things.


Irfan: Perfect. I assume that since you are such a heavy user of Trello, your email inbox probably will not be as awful as mine is, right?


Peter Gould: I really try to get away from email. I try to use it as little as possible. Of course I do check it, probably way too much. But it is always zero, I rarely have emails sitting around, I cannot stand it, I just got to get them out of the system, and Slack is a great replacement of that as a tool. Actually one of the guy I think mentioned you going to interview him, Com Mersa, and I was with him in Dubai a few weeks back, and he said he checks his email only three times a week. That is my goal, I want to be like that, only check my emails three times a week that would be awesome one day.


Irfan: I think Tim Ferriss is the same way. He has schedule like one or two days a week to do that. 


Peter Gould: That is right. His book “The 4-Hour Work Week” and his podcasts which other send me often has his five-bullet Friday things. I get a lot of value from that and I think I borrowed a lot of that kind of thinking. before I work this book was a real game changer for me when I first read it. The whole channel of lifestyle design has been fantastically helpful in lots of areas so I recommend it to others. Although interestingly he always gets asked the question… Tim Ferriss, “Do you actually have a 4-hour work week?” Of course the answer is no because what he does say is look it is really a life optimizer. So if you follow these techniques you will certainly have a lot more time in your day, and whether you choose to sit on a beach for most of the day or go and create other companies and projects is up to you. So that is fair enough. That was a good answer.


Irfan: Yes. Actually I got asked a similar question. I was speaking at a local university here in Pakistan couple of days back, and the other speaker asked me, because my topic was inbound marketing, how to attain financial and time freedom the inbound way. He asked me, “Do you have a lot of time?” and I said no, I am very busy and he said, “So how can you teach others time freedom when you do not have time yourself?” Then I explained it to him that first of the 4-hour work week title because he also mentioned it. I said it is just a title, a catchy title, right? So it does not mean that you will be able to work 4 hours. The second thing that I mentioned was that the reason I do not have time because I am doing new things all the time. The primary things which might be bringing may be 70% of my income, the revenue, is being managed by the team that I have raised whether it is full time people based in Pakistan or it is freelancers or any part-time workers. But the reason I did that is how I have been able to take out time for other things. I could have used that time for something else, like traveling or being on a beach or something. But I enjoy working more than being on a beach I guess. So that is how I answered that question.


Peter Gould: No, truly. I feel it is very simple but so many people miss that is he has the mindset of that freedom which is you can do with your time whatever you like but it is sort of breaking out of that. I think he calls that the deferred life plan. He is basically trying to take away “Do not think of yourself you are going to work like crazy, buy half a house and eventually retire and then enjoy your life”. That is very old school thinking. It is like now what you do is, build into your day and into your week the activities that you would do if you are financially free. So that means going and sitting on a beach for couple of hours in the middle of the day, go and do that thing, but build your work system around you to support that. Or if it means that you want to go and start up a new social company to help people in this area for a community thing, go and build that thing and then build your company and the ecosystem around you that supports that. I have tried to do that so I have got my regular team but I have also got virtual employees and assistance, trying to use an extensive network of people that help you in different ways and you help them. it really frees you up to do creative projects, internal projects, side projects, or if you want more time to take your daughter to something for the day then you can do that. That is my hope. I really want people to pick up on that. I really hope that a lot more people embrace that and not be scared to try it.


Irfan: Yes. That is very well said. As you said it is about having more choices and more freedom in your life. So it is up to you how you use it. whether you use it to pick up your daughter or attend parent-teachers’ meeting, or anything else. That is very nice. Do you come across a lot of people who want to start a business and they are afraid to take the first step, or they are afraid of failure? Do you have any advice for those who are stuck in such a 9 to 5 job which they probably do not love? If they love it that is fine but if they are stuck in it and they are not able to take the next step, do you have any advice for such people?


Peter Gould: Definitely. I feel fortunate and honestly a little bit privileged, so I do not want to come across as arrogant because I was really very very fortunate that I started really young. I was 19 or 20 when I started my first company and I was just around the right people that I would feel comfortable to try it and it opened up a lot of doors early on for Australia but also learning quickly and that grew. So I never really had this corporate life at all where you have this 9 to 5 grind. I do not want to sit in a position and say, “Oh yes it is fine just quit your job and everything will be okay.” I do not want to say that. But I also want to say that I think if I was to look at what I am really passionate about or ask a friend of mine what are you really passionate about, what would you love to do with your life if you could do any one thing that you want to do. I will say is not it worth trying and really striving to make your life about achieving that thing? Is not the fear of having to live in a 9 to 5 grind of a job you do not like scarier than not attempting to actually go ahead and achieve that dream? I cannot feel if you balance the two. It is like, “Oh it is too scary so I am just going to take this job because it is safe even if I do not like it. I will spend my whole life doing that thing I do not like.” That to me sounds crazy. Why would you do that? If you say, “Because it is too risky, I do not have the money, I have got to support my family”, that is all valid. But give it a shot. Really, there are so many ways in this global super connected digital world to actually make that happen. Just go ahead and try to figure it out and listen to podcast, read books, meet up with people, just communicate with people like you that are trying to do it. Totally it can be done.


Irfan: Yes, I agree. I also find myself quite fortunate that I never had a job that I really loved so that is when I had to try something of my own. I guess I was entrepreneurial always. I always had an entrepreneurial mind. I feel liking that aspect because the people are dependent on that security that job offers or claims to offer. Usually when you are dependent on that and you have kids then it becomes very hard. But if you start young, if you are fresh out of university, or even if you are still in university and you start something the risks are low. So obviously if there is someone who is 30 or 40 and has 2 kids and a mortgage to pay, we cannot honestly tell him to just quit their job and have no plan. Obviously they got to have a plan and most people think of these as mutually exclusive concepts. They think job versus entrepreneurship, but you can have a job and you can still be a part time entrepreneur until you earn as much or at least 70% of as much as you are earning right now.


Peter Gould: Absolutely. It is funny because I have seen friends around me that are in similar age bracket. I am 33 and I have few friends that have more of a corporate kind of lifestyle. Over the last few years as they have seen me experiment and try different sort of little startup ideas and internally alongside my own company. For whatever reason a few of them picked up and started doing that and they are doing it really well. At the very least, even if it is not as big financial passive income yet, for one guy in particular who is a good friend of mine, he is contributing so much to the community around him. He is really helping change people’s lives and he has got that great little language coaching course. It is great. I can see that people love it, I can see his real passion in it, and I am convinced that will go a long way into bringing the energy into his own day to day work in some way or other. If you are in your teens or 20s or you have not got kids, you are crazy not to go and try your passion. You have to do it. If you do have kids and you have lot of commitments and responsibilities for one fact that you are listening to this podcast is a good sign that there is something in you that wants that spark. Just chase it and look for ways to responsibly go for it. There are so many stories on entrepreneurship where people are the unlikeliest person, it is not some Harvard MBA kid who has everything necessary that makes it. It might be someone else that has had much more challenging circumstances and overcomes them and creates something beautiful and amazing. Do not limit yourself, there is no need to. 


Irfan: Nice. My next question is about something which would be of a lot of interest for the listeners. I would like to know what is your marketing and business development methodology or to put it crudely, how are you able to land these big brands? Do you actively pursue them and use paid marketing and stuff like that? Or are you using inferential marketing or something like that for landing these big projects?


Peter Gould: I think very simply for me it is been a long process of getting out of the building and going and building relationships with people around the world. Particularly as I realized how limiting it was in terms of being in Australia in this sort of market and areas that I was going for. I realized that there is a much much bigger and more exciting world out there and I need to just go for it. So I funded myself many times over going around the world. going to the US, going to the UK, going to the South-East Asia, going to Middle-East and just literally going to meet people, go to things, turn up, show them my work, show them that i am out to build this database. I did not have some magic helping hands, I did not have some big family network, none of those things. I was just a random nobody guy from Australia who starts turning up all over and booking booths and trade shows and then showing my design work and then I am hoping to try and get worked at. It was just simple and obviously being passionate about it and not thinking of people as sales opportunities but as people that you would like to work with and help and that has value over time. I did that for at least 5 years straight. So you have to be patient and you cannot expect it all to happen quickly. And that network has just really grown from there. After sometime you actually start getting invited to things, then as people like your particular offering that you have, which is kind of niche, and hopefully people would support that or follow us even. I had that experience. So now people are reaching out and say, “Hey, could you come to this venue, could you come and show us your work” and that kind of stuff. It just comes down to really being at the service of others, showing that you know you want to help and you got good value, you are willing to work hard, you are willing to offer a good service, and just being a good person about it. I think it is very old school but I know obviously I have things like social media, I have an internal newsletter, but I do not really actively do much more complex advanced techniques. I do not have a very active digital marketing strategy so much.


Irfan: Yes, and I guess that is fine for you because you are already getting probably more work than you can handle. So it is fine to be content with what is working for you already, right?


Peter Gould: Yes. But at the same time you do not want to get too comfortable. At the same time as this is working successfully for my core branding business. There are other side projects that I am trying to build where I do very much need to have that kind of strategy and be a lot more conscious about how I am going to build [00:36:58] marketing and build SEO and build active session media advertising. So, yes, you need to have the two and you can never just sit and be comfortable, that is for sure. 


Irfan: Right, well said. In terms of working with these large brands for B2B, do you think that traveling around the world, building these networks, showing up in these exhibitions and trade shows and all that, do you think that is more beneficial for you than social media would be ever for you?


Peter Gould: It really depends. I guess I have a combination because I am fairly active in sharing and have bit of a following online. I am trying to be very consistent with that and that is a default, that needs to be there, and that does support whatever other activities I am doing. But you have to be careful, you do not want to necessarily disappoint. I would not show up to a trade show and start trying to hand out flyers. This is amateurish work. It is a very large market, there is no way that way you can go for that. But when you are at events and you meet people in the corridors, such and such would introduce you to such and such and you have done a good job for this guy so he is going to show you to or give you the details of the friend of that guy, it is very much word of mouth. This word of mouth gets supported by just good and regular communication. That is how it works for what I am doing. 


Irfan: Yes. You summed it very nicely and I guess I am not half as successful as you but I guess I have the same…


Peter Gould: You cannot say that. It is how you measured, it is pretty objective.


Irfan: Yes, that is right. I think my methodology which is very strange for me because I never thought… I was just trying to be helpful all the time. I have just been trying to be helpful and provide value and since I live in a developing country, Pakistan, most of my marketing is dependent on social media and the internet and stuff like that. So it is just about communication and being helpful and trying to care. I actually have an article coming up which is about selling by not selling. I mean if you are trying to actively sell something you will not be a successful salesman but if you are not focusing on selling and focusing instead on the client and what their needs are and how you can help, that helps a lot.


Peter Gould: Yes, and finding ways to add value to people. We are in an era where we have five to eight thousand messages a day. There are twenty-five thousand new products lunched at us every year. We have good filters where we can filter a lot of the noise and if you want to be relevant to people and want them to care you have got to create something of value, something they care about and it’s increasingly difficult. But if you are speaking to a fairly niche audience and you know that you have got something good that they genuinely believe in, they will be able to detect that that is authentic. Where if you just go in for everyone and anyone and you got a general product for the masses then good luck, it is going to be pretty hard. But if you got a specialized product for certain kind of tribe that they love, [00:40:29] marketing guru. You can start with that and that is being effective for me.


Irfan: Right. I just have couple of last questions left. How were you able to build a powerful personal brand? When we see your website, when we see someone mentioning your name we have a certain positive image of someone who is really good at design and branding and creativity. How do you think you were able to build that personal brand?


Peter Gould: I think it is all of the things that we spoke about. but try to be honest and true about that. Do not superficially try and create this image of you and what you are. Any time you do post about what you do and the positive things happening in any achievements there is a certain element of egocentric part, it has a reality that is there. But that does not mean that turn it off and do not do any promotion, do not speak to people, because then honestly you do not have any visibility and you cannot communicate with people, they do not know who you are. It is a balance though because if you just start always posting about what you are doing, your achievements, and I am so good, I am over here, I am over there, your reputation is built around that as well. It is a lot of things. one of my favorite books around personal branding is called “Brand Against the Machine” by John Morgan. great guide to personal branding and another one I listen to is Michael Hyatt. He has a great book called “Platform” and he has got his podcast. I think he is a good guide. He is a grounded kind of a guy, he is like a dad and he talks about his community stuff a lot. He is not like hotshot craze tech entrepreneurs saying like, “Yes look he is Harry who got 20000 fans”, it is more of like Harry be yourself, have a humble approach, also have high aspirations, do not be afraid to share our achievements. I tried to take that path. Any personal brand is just really built around these types of things. Really consider it, put a lot of time to thinking about it. Design your personal site well, your personal communication, have a good pdf overview about yourself you can send to people. These are just the absolute basics. I am still surprised how few people take care of them. Every time you meet someone that you are interested in working with, you want to impress, or something like that, send them an email that has got a pdf overview about you. Make sure your card looks great, your website looks great. It is really not that hard to do that. Just make sure you do it. Then you are already ahead and within a few years it is going to be expected of you to have a really good personal branded digital presence. If you do not, you are going to be left behind. So hurry up and do it now.


Irfan: Right. I think you already have registered domain names of your kids, right? You never mentioned that, so I just guessed that based on what you were saying.


Peter Gould: That is right. But they happened to have unusual names. One of them have the first name Dotcom which is really cool. The others I have got variations. but I think we think alike, we are trying to plan ahead.


Irfan: The other one is going to complain when he grows up. So be ready for that.


Peter Gould: I know. The question is what is ahead. I am really excited about the future when I am dabbling with something which augments a little bit of reality and virtual reality. I think digital experience is going forward like… there is a great book I absolutely love called “Bold” by Peter Diamandis and he is thinking [00:44:35] and singularity. Even if only a small fraction of those sort of things come true, it is a really exciting and interesting couple of decades ahead and more active and proactive you are about creating things in that space with good intention, trying to bring positivity into the world, we have amazing opportunities. Just go for it.


Irfan: Yes, perfect. You mentioned some awesome resources which will help me as well as the listeners so thank you so much for that. Any final advice or any final words before we end the session?


Peter Gould: I think just be really grateful for all the awesome things that are happening in your life whatever the situation is. it could always be worse. So being grateful for what you have got and actively remembering that. Then trying to just positively build something in this world, trying to… it is a little cheesy but… just saying go for it and actually trying to help people. There are such big problems in the world that we need to fix individually and collectively. So think creatively, be inspired, keep growing, keep learning as a person and just make awesome things in the world. That should be a pretty awesome way to live your life.


Irfan: Perfect. Peter, what is the best way for people to reach out to you? If you want to mention your website or any other quantic details.


Peter Gould: Yes, sure. Just get me at or just Google my name Peter Gould. I try to update my Facebook everyday so if you Facebook this name you will get it there or any other social media, no problem.


Irfan: Perfect Peter. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for your time.


Peter Gould: My pleasure. Great to chat and everyone has an awesome day. Thank you.


Irfan: Thank you.


Syed Irfan Ajmal is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and a seasoned digital marketer.
He is an international speaker, and speaks and conducts trainings at various organizations and events of Pakistan and UAE.
Moreover, he also writes about entrepreneurship and digital marketing for various large publications of the USA, UK, Canada, and Pakistan including Forbes ME, the World Bank, Huff Post,, Virgin, and others.
Photo ofPeter Gould
Peter Gould
Job Title
Entrepreuer and Branding Influencer
Gould.Sydney, Zileej
UAE / Australia,
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