IN THE BOOTH: CARL KONADU
CO-FOUNDER AND CEO | 2-3 DEGREES
Carl, can you tell us a little about yourself and your career so far?
My name is Carl Konadu, and I'm the co-founder and CEO of 2-3 Degrees. I've always had a passion for working with young people. Growing up in South East London, I wanted to be a professional footballer, but unfortunately I only made it to semi-pro. It was alright, but I didn't quite hit the heights of the Premier League. I went to university to study International Relations and Politics, but I really wanted to match my two passions: international relations and sports. I did a bit of work using sports as a tool for diplomacy for a while; projects in Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. It was a lot of fun and I had a great time, but I always knew that I had the urge to support and encourage young people, especially those leaving the education system.
Many young people leave school with the capacity to memorise Shakespeare or Pythagoras' theorem, but many of those skills become redundant the minute they leave the school gates. We set up 2-3 Degrees to help young people build the skills they are actually going to need: confidence building, self-esteem, learning how to network, and learning how to communicate in a room full of professionals. Next April will be 7 years. We've got a team of 14 people and we've worked for over 7,000 young people.
"A social enterprise that delivers personal development training to inspire and equip young people and help them become the best version of themselves”
Can you tell us more about the company and what your role as CEO entails?
2-3 Degrees is a social enterprise that delivers personal development training to inspire and equip young people and help them become the best version of themselves. We work with schools, local councils, and corporate partners, taking young people between the ages of 14 to 25, and taking them on a journey of personal development and personal growth. There are many young people in London and around the world who might, because of the colour of their skin, the council estate that they grew up in or just something to do with their background, have never been exposed to certain places or certain things. We're teaching young people how they can make sure that they're communicating with the best possible language and how they can make sure that when they're applying for jobs, they're putting their best foot forward. We're ensuring they're giving themselves the best opportunities possible when they get into the working world. We do that across a series of workshops and programmes. Some of our core themes are Who Am I?, a workshop around helping young people visualise their future. Fail Big, one of our most popular workshops, helps young people stop seeing failure as a permanent stain on their record and, instead, see it as a stepping stone to success and developing the leader by mastering communications and starting to think about how they can become the best version of themselves.
What does my role entail as the CEO? There's something interesting that happens when you start something up and then you assume a position a little bit later on. When we first started, my co-founder and I, Azzees Minott, did everything. We did the finance, marketing, and deliveries - everything. We went in and delivered the workshops with young people. But we've now got a team, so my role as CEO is now focusing on the strategy. Where are we going? How are we going to get there? How can we make sure that the leadership principles within the business are clear?
One of the common comments I get from our team is that this is the best job they've ever had, and that makes me really proud. Part of the reason is that Azzees and I were intentional about making sure we're creating an environment where we're not just trying to inspire young people, we're also trying to inspire our staff, so we have to live by what we're teaching. The personal development books, the mentoring, and the exposure that we give our staff members support to in different industries, it's all part of the package and the process. It's my job to make sure that we're all rowing in the same direction. So, it's leadership, strategy, clarity and decision-making.
How long have you worked at The Ministry, and how have you found it so far?
It's a funny story. When we were about two years into the business, I had a meeting with someone who was based here. They gave me a tour and I remember walking around thinking to myself, I would love to be here one day but I'll never be able to afford it. Fast forward two years, and we're here! It was such a surreal moment when we made the decision, signed on the dotted line and said we're coming to The Ministry! It signified so much more than just an office space; it signified our growth and how it's so important to believe in your dreams. That might sound silly for a coworking space, but not really because I grew up around the corner. There's that added element of growing up around here, being local to this place and now working here. We've been here for over two years and it's been an amazing experience. We started with two desks, just me and my co-founder, then became three, then four and now we're at 5 or 6, so the growth has been brilliant.
One of the amazing things is whenever we bring people here, especially staff members we're interviewing, one of the key things for them is that they get bought in by the space. As soon as they see it, they want to work here. For a company to work here speaks to how cool they are. All of our partners and clients, whenever we bring them here, book a room and host them... it's an incredible experience for us as well.
There are so many things that I love about The Ministry. Apart from the fact that I love the gym, I'm really sad that the cinema is gone. Having the staff is super key and it goes a long way when every morning you say hello and get a smile back. That's a big thing. The deli staff, they're friends. I can walk in, order something and have a conversation about their newborn daughter or how their runs are going. The fact that they remember what I want before I order, all of those things adds to the experience. Pareen, Alex and everyone are so great, even the IT service desk. Everyone is so quick to make sure that you've got everything you need. If there's something going wrong in the room you've booked, Nate is on it in a flash. All of those things add to what, for me, has been an incredible experience. Given that I'm the owner and the person running the business is all the more important because it's another extension of the team’s culture. The culture here allows me to embed that fun and friendliness into our culture. On my birthday, I remember they put up a sign for me where the menu is, those little touches go a long way. So. yeah, we love it. We love it here.
"Having the staff is super key and it goes a long way when every morning you say hello and get a smile back.'”
Do you see yourself in a coworking space in 10 years or do you think you’ll go back to a more traditional office?
First of all, it depends on the size of the business. If the business has grown astronomically, we'll probably be in our own office space. What's interesting is that I don't see us having an office space in the same way than we probably would have before experiencing The Ministry. Whatever we end up growing into, we would still want to have the element of community, vibe, fun and the dynamic feel that The Ministry has.
In 10 years time, if we were a team of 50 or 100, I'd still want us to have a space like this. Even if it was just 2-3 Degrees staff and our own building, we would still want that community element. We still want to have loads of fun. We still want a deli area (if we can). We definitely want to bring that vibe and that people feel to it. We might do that from a size perspective, but we'd still want to keep the people element.
Is there anything on the horizon for you or the business that you’d like to shout about?
There are quite a few bits and pieces. We're growing, so we are going to be recruiting. We're really excited to be looking for three new positions in the immediate future. One is a Facilitator who will go out and deliver inspirational workshops to young people. If there's anyone who's particularly well-versed in delivering inspirational workshops to young people, we would love to have you apply. We're also looking for a Programme Officer who can join the team and help with the administration of our programmes, and an Outreach Manager who can support us by building relationships with other partners and other clients who we can do more work with.
2-3 Degrees is always doing two things: One, delivering more programmes in more boroughs. Right now, we're about to launch a programme in January in Suffolk and Camden, as we've already got programmes in Westminster, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kensington, Chelsea and Earls Court. There will always be more programmes, so if there are any members who have links in any of those boroughs or want to get involved, please let us know. Two, if anyone wants to mentor, inspire and encourage young people, please get in touch with us. We're always looking for more volunteers to join our programmes so we can work with those young people who wouldn't usually get access to these types of spaces.
To find out more about Carl & 2-3 Degrees, check out the links below:
2-3 Degrees website
Tedx talk 2017 - Death is liberating
Tedx talk 2015 - He takes after her
From Failure to 1st Class - Springpod keynote
View Carl's LinkedIn Profile
@carlkonadu and @2_3degrees on all social media platforms
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