Climbing the ranks, and how long it takes to become successful

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Dan Knowlton is co-founder of Knowlton an agency that creates entertaining ads that sell stuff.

Biggest fuck up?

After graduating from uni, I applied to a load of jobs, and the only one that accepted me was a well-known car rental branch.

They sold the dream of a ‘graduate scheme’ where you work your way up the ranks to running your own branch like it was your own business. I worked my way up to Assistant Manager over a year, got promoted too quickly and was way over my head.

I was managing 9 staff and 250 rental cars with next to no experience, and I was shit at it. I was working ridiculous hours, running myself into the ground and hating life.

I was also applying for other jobs late at night and somehow managed to get a phone interview for my dream job at a company in London.

I couldn’t believe it. This was my escape.

As I had next to no time outside of this job I hated, I booked the phone interview for an evening after work. I did zero prep because I was so stressed and felt like I had no time to do anything other than fumble my way through my role as Assistant Manager.

Anyway, my golden opportunity arrives. I get through the door from work, and the guy calls. I nervously answer we have some small talk, and he asks his first question. It was something about what industries do I see growth potential in and why.

My mind goes blank.

I fumble my way through an answer that makes no sense. His response, ‘Riiiiiiiight’. My palms start sweating, and I panic.

I hang-up and turned my phone off. Dropped to the floor and sobbed.

I called up my parents sobbing, told them I hated my life, handed my notice in, and ran home to my parents like a child. At the time, this seemed like my biggest ever fuck up, but looking back, it happened for a reason, and I love what I’m doing now, so meh.


Loads of stuff which we speak about in The Business Anchors Podcast, including;

  1. The whole smoke & mirrors thing. I remember when I started in business, I used to say ‘we’ and ‘us’ to make the business look bigger than it was when really it was just me living at my mum’s, sitting around in my pants with one client.
  2. People trying to sell me stuff. Piss off, if I need something, I’ll research on the internet and buy it. Bloody Marketers.
  3. People pretending to be nice to you when really they’re just trying to sell you something.
  4. Did I mention I hate being sold to?
  5. Cold LinkedIn messages with people trying to sell you their shit product or service.

Useful advice

Be patient, it’s going to take you a lot longer than you think to achieve what you want to achieve. When I was a kid, I remember telling my mate’s Dad that I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 25. And I did it because I’m fucking brilliant. Only joking, I’m not a wanker.



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