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Stephen Shortt

Stephen Shortt is a keynote speaker, entrepreneur, investor, and the Managing Director for ETC Consult. He is a next-generation entrepreneur and uses his knowledge and experience to guide entrepreneurs to discover their paths to grow and flourish. Stephen is the President and a founding member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization – Ireland, the former Global Chair of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, which supports student entrepreneurs worldwide. He also served as a board member on the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Accelerator Global Committee.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Stephen Shortt talks about his background in entrepreneurship
  • How do entrepreneurs grow and connect with others in their network to solve problems?
  • Why business owners should attend the Entrepreneurs’ Organization
  • Stephen shares key details about his upcoming book

In this episode…

How can you build a successful multi-generational business? Handing over the reins for succession can be stressful, but does it have to be?

Stephen Shortt is a speaker and entrepreneur who understands the terrain of operating a family-owned business. His generational family business filters and guides employees and employers to targeted positions aligned with their skills. Using his experience, Stephen helps brands have constructive conversations and the tools to scale and grow — and engage with entrepreneurs across the globe.

On this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Stephen Shortt, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, investor, and the Managing Director for ETC Consult, to discuss ways to engage, connect, and grow brands. Stephen talks about his entrepreneurial background, involvement in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and an upcoming book about strengthening multi-generational businesses.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:02  

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran  0:13  

Hi, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I am the host of this show, check out some of my past interviews got some great interviews with smart CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies and organizations like Netflix, Kinkos, YPO EO activation Blizzard lending tree. I’m also the Co-Founder Rise 25, where we help connect B2B business owners to their ideal prospects using podcasts and content marketing. And this is part of our global leadership conference series, the Global Leadership Conference, or GLC is known as a conference for emerging business leaders. It’s put on by the Entrepreneurs Organization. Each year, I’m a member of EO and I will be attending this year’s event and I created this series to highlight some of the people who’ve been to the conference before and you could share what it’s like this year, GLC is both in person and virtual. It’s in person in Washington, DC, and also in Barcelona, Spain, April 23, to 26 2022. It’s also virtual. And it’s open to all EO members worldwide. So you can go to To learn more about that. And my guest here today is Stephen Shortt. He is an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and facilitator and you may guess, from his broke, he’s also from Ireland, such a wonderful country, which I was so fortunate to study at Trinity during law school, and he’s president of EO, Ireland. And we’re going to talk a bit about his background, his journey through entrepreneurship. Stephen, such a pleasure to have you here today. And first of all, you were born into an entrepreneurial family, your your parents had started a couple of different businesses, which you ended up taking over and buying from them. What was it like growing up in an entrepreneurial family?

Stephen Shortt  1:49  

I well, I mean, it has its challenges that had his moments. I think one of the things that I learned early on as it as a child was that I was not going to be good at working for anybody else. And just whatever way that my genes were built, that it wasn’t gonna sit well with me to be told what to do by other people. So I actually started my first entrepreneurial in our project, I guess, in third class in primary school, so that’s about eight or nine years of age. So I am well listen, I draw. So I draw I do comic, I did comics. And I drew comic books and comics, like four or five page comics. Because we had the home office, we had this huge photocopier at home. So I was able to do my drawings, photocopy the guys into like a three, fold them over and have it look professional,

John Corcoran  2:41  

leveraging technology at a young age. I love that, that’s great.

Stephen Shortt  2:46  

Well, so I used to sell the comics for about the equivalent of let’s say, five cent, for each comic, probably cost my parents 25 to 30 cents for me to photocopy all these things. But I made a bit of money, I did some, I was creative, I was able to scratch that itch. Um, thankfully, I’ve learned a bit more about economics as I’ve gone on entrepreneurial journey. That’s great.

John Corcoran  3:10  

That’s great. And so, you know, you observed your parents, do you think that there was a point where you realize that you wanted to go in and be an entrepreneur yourself and run a business? Oh, was it something that

Stephen Shortt  3:24  

I mean, I had sort of growing up, it would have been really unusual in Ireland, I mean, it would be you would get a good safe job, either working because the economy in Ireland in the 80s was pretty awful. So you would try and find a good safe job and rise up through the ranks of corporate management. So from my parents, I think growing up in school, there was probably only about two or three people whose parents were kind of business owners or business leaders and the others might have been like a bank manager or a manager in an American company or something like that. So for us to have our own business, which wasn’t a pub, which is very common in Ireland, or a shop or retail or something like that, for us to have something else was a bit unusual. But I definitely saw the benefits I grew up with the ethos of, well, it’s our family business. So weekends don’t matter. Five o’clock is just another hour that you can be working to make sure that the stuff gets done. And I know working in different family business when we grew it, and we were more international. One of the things that our international clients liked working with family businesses is if something goes wrong in the middle of the night with a client who’s in the country doing a training course or something like that, one of us is going to get up out of bed and go fix that problem. As opposed to having to bring somebody in Japan to get the all clear from somebody in New York before they can say sorry,

John Corcoran  4:52  

yeah. Now there were two separate businesses Alpha college was one and etc consult which you still own and run One Alfa college is teaching English as a foreign language and you had students coming from all around the globe to learn in Dublin, and the other one etc consult kind of explain what you do

Stephen Shortt  5:11  

through that. So etc consult is the older business of the two. So I bought both businesses, and I sold out for college after it being around for about 30 years. So having that conversation with your parents to sell the third child, that’s, that’s a deep conversation to have. But yeah, necessary. But etc consult is we specialize in psychometric assessments. So we do. On the one hand, we do career guidance on interview skills for individuals and people who want to either get a clearer understanding of what’s going to fulfill them in life, or how to go about getting into those roles. And then for companies, we also do psychometric selection, where we do competency based interviews, or we do personality profiling, or aptitude profiling to make sure that you’re actually getting the right person for the right job, because traditional interviews are notoriously not great at picking the right person. Right.

John Corcoran  6:09  

And your timing was impeccable on the sale of Alfa college. So you had to get over convincing your parents to actually sell it. But when did you sell it?

Stephen Shortt  6:21  

So we felt like it was a long process. It’s a whole different podcast on the ups and downs of due diligence. But my last day in the language travel industry was the sixth of December 2019, which was a Friday. And my I believe that that was the day that the officials in Wuhan announced the COVID-19 was a thing. So obviously, English language industry 100% reliant on international travel, and people being able to come to Ireland. So as COVID was starting to bite, I was called lots of things from an evil genius to stuff that’s far less complimentary by friends and former colleagues.

John Corcoran  6:59  

It’s funny, it let’s talk, let’s pivot to your involvement with EO Entrepreneurs Organization and the Global Leadership Conference, which you’ve attended for a number of years. First of all, you were one of the founding members who brought EO to Ireland, to how did you come to discover EO? And why did you decide that you wanted to start a chapter in Ireland.

Stephen Shortt  7:23  

So I was probably one of the only people in the founding group of your members that didn’t know the other business leaders in Ireland because my with most of my time being spent in international education, most of my connections were all international, I didn’t have a big network of Irish contacts, because I didn’t do any business in Ireland. So I actually came in through a very, very dear friend of mine in Vancouver, who’s in the industry as well, who has a an English language school in Vancouver. She told me about it at an event. And I started researching it and they were just about to launch a chapter in Ireland, I reached out and as it turns out, the staff member who was in charge of EO Europe, new, put a new chapter launches was the girl I was in school with. So I was able to sit down and met her for lunch, she talked me through a lot of stuff. And it just really sounded like something I wanted to be involved in. I remember the Boston chapter came over for their chapter retreat to Ireland. And that was kind of the launch of yo Ireland. We were sister chapters for a while and all the rest. And I remember my wife and I at this dinner, I didn’t know any of the Irish people we were chatting to some of the Americans and my wife turned around to me after about a half an hour at this reception and said you need to join these people these are your freaks like these talk the same way you talk you have to join this group. That’s great.

John Corcoran  8:48  

And you help to join it and then the you go to Global Leadership Conference in Athens, Athens in 2014 That was your first year attending the conference. And and you’ve been ever

Stephen Shortt  9:02  

since. So I’ve been really fortunate enough to have been at every GLC since that and I’ve I won’t say I’ve stepped up into roles specifically to get access to it but I won’t say I didn’t either. Obviously, I really enjoyed the roles that I took but going to GLC is one of those highlights every year that you get such an immense amount of energy inspirations connections, friendships, and the access to some of the speakers and the learning that goes on at GLC is just unparalleled. I mean, my very first GLC in Athens I was introduced to multipliers by Liz Wiseman. It was a there was a presentation by her name just escapes me now. Hazel, She’s based in Dubai. And she basically does the facilitation for all of the multipliers workshops in the mapper region in Europe and Middle East, Pakistan, Africa and It was just one of those moments of understanding this content that I’d never come across before. And I thought this was absolutely brilliant and a mindset change for me and how I held myself in business, surrounded by all of these people around the world who think and and have you think like me and have the same issues that I have and have the same maybe issues, maybe not the right word, but have the same problems have the same thoughts of the same things that they have to deal with. And then having a conversation with how you can put that into practice, and really coming home and understanding how I can make those changes. That was really one of those pivotal moments for me in, in my entrepreneurial world. And that was at GLS at my very first GLC. And I’ve been everyone since

John Corcoran  10:48  

and you’ve been some some of the other cities, you’ve been to San Diego. Macau, I think was in 2019. What are some of the other highlights from some of the other ones you attended?

Stephen Shortt  10:59  

So I’ve been to San Diego so I one of the things that is a bit of a always a juggle for me is it’s my daughter’s birthday around the time that GLC is always on as an entrepreneur. And as somebody who’s very interested in in family, I want to always make sure that I’m there for my daughters and my wife’s birthdays and big special events. And one of the luxuries of being an entrepreneur is you get to set your timetable to a certain extent but the people in GLC just wouldn’t listen to me that it was my daughter’s birthday and had to be moved by week so and so I had breakfast with my daughter that day and then went I really convoluted way to get the latest flight that I could get out of Dublin to connect in London to go through Atlanta to go to San Diego or something like that. But even that, I mean, I remember being on some I mean, anyone who’s in San Francisco will our San Diego would probably kill me, but there was a baseball stadium that we had this amazing event. No idea what the baseball stadium was, as an Irishman. madres.

John Corcoran  11:56  

Yeah. All right. The Padre San Diego Padres. Yeah, there we go. That was it was that one.

Stephen Shortt  12:03  

Just an amazing feeling to be on what felt like hallowed ground, even though I didn’t know any of the history or the backstory of it. But it felt amazing to be on the pitch with all these other entrepreneurs and talking about things, and really understanding how people engage with each other. And if I remember correctly, there was a big boxing match that a couple of bars close to a we’re showing an EO had, some people had some reserved seats and things and it was really like a real sense of camaraderie. Then Frankfurt, I’ve been in Toronto, I’ve been in Frankfurt, I’ve been in Macau, I’ve been in my missing one. San Diego and Athens. I think that’s, I think that’s simple.

John Corcoran  12:49  

And almost out of time here. But would you say to someone who’s considering attending Global Leadership Conference?

Stephen Shortt  12:55  

I mean, as facile as it sounds, do it if you haven’t been to a GLC, if you haven’t experienced that, just just go, it might feel all what am I going to get out of this, there’s no direct correlation to this, you will, I almost guarantee you, you will meet that one person who will just have a different focus or they’ll say something or a speaker will say something that will help you to change your trajectory and accelerate your growth as a leader. And as a business owner.

John Corcoran  13:28  

This has been great, Stephen. And just to wrap things up, I know you have a book that’s going to be coming out soon about running family businesses, how to run them without losing your family. So tell us all about that. And also where people can learn more about you and connect with you.

Stephen Shortt  13:42  

So yeah, I’m writing a book at the moment. And I have a keynote based around the same same book. It’s called Build a killer family business without killing your family. It was it’s spun out of a course that I did through another er Richmal Hall in South Africa on keynote speaking and presenting and it was just an idea that I started to develop and run with I presented to a couple of your chapters and I’ve given I was at GLC X last year presenting which was just amazing. So yeah, I’m if anybody’s interested. Successful succession calm is that website or is my website. You can get me there. Delighted to have a conversation with anybody about EO about GLC or if there’s any way that I might be able to help.

John Corcoran  14:28  

Excellent. Stephen, thanks so much for your time.

Stephen Shortt  14:31  

Pleasure, good stuff.

Outro  14:33  

Thanks for listening to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast. This episode is powered by Rise 25. Please subscribe and check out future episodes.