Graham Harris | Against the Grain

Avatar Disruptive HQ | 27/08/2018

We were joined in the studio by Graham Harris talking about his new book Against the Grain. Graham is a former print worker who in his free time developed the Tri-Creaser working from his garage.  This device has gone on to revolutionise the print industry.
Graham joined us to talk about his new book – Against The Grain

Hello, my name is Graham Harris, business owner, and also the author of this book called Against the Grain.

How I went from the Factory floor to owning my own multimillion-pound company and how you could too. Now that’s the key thing really. It’s how you could too and not necessarily to own that a business of that size. It’s realising your dreams. It’s a book of inspiration. It’s a book that has got to number three already in one bestseller chart and I’ve been told you know, the reviews are good.

It’s inspirational. It’s not just about invention, which is my subject. Really. I just want to go back to humble beginnings how it all started for me. I’m going to talk about how I got my first job which led to 20 years later me starting the business and I have to thank somebody who’s she’s a Superhero. I didn’t think so at the time but I’ve just come out of school with no, really no examination.

No exams. No great exams at all. But my mom she saw me lying on the sofa bit demoralised what I’m going to do with my life and she rang up a local printing company thinking that printers get paid a lot of money, great. I went for an interview got the job straight away that afternoon I was filling bins up. He’s a bad business, but that’s all we’re doing for six months and I didn’t tell my mom because she thought it was going to be a printer that kind of thing. But um, but I love the job so much. I started to get into the kind of making the books, print finishing and I was passionate about it strangely enough.

It was something I wanted to do. So I asked my boss if I could go on the apprenticeship scheme. It said well, we’re not doing that anymore and we’d rather work 12 hours 7 days a week. So it’s really dismal for me, but I thought you know, I’m going to work these hours. I’m going to work on Saturdays when everybody else goes home so I can actually operate the machines and I can really learn my own skills. So I didn’t get an apprenticeship. I’ve got my own unofficial Against the Grain apprenticeship if you like so I did things differently.

So yeah, I went through a period of that time and 20 years later loads of things happened. Ups and downs daily got lost my job in trouble all the kind of things. You know that you can think of it in a way sort of happened to me, but I just want to go back a bit. So if I didn’t choose invention as my role as something I wanted to do. I’m going to talk to you about winning the lottery. So the chances of winning the lottery are 14 million to one. Quite yeah, 14 million to one. So if you would have done the lottery put money on the lottery since 1994 you’d the failed 1250 times imagine failed in that many times. So when I chose to invent something the odds were I didn’t know it at the time but 5,000 to what? It’s not great or does it five thousand to one but when you look at the odds against winning the lottery, it’s not bad if I went to win the lottery again, if I try to win the lottery again, probably be impossible, but the odds on that are two hundred trillion to one.

Now because of invented once when I had my second invention, it took me a couple of times. It’s it’s a two-to-one success rate. So this is by far the better route to go in my eye. I don’t think it’s going to, if you read my bought you will know some ideas are put into it that gives you a shortcut to getting those odds right down, but once you’ve invented once you become a Serial inventor, I don’t really like that terminology, but that’s what can happen. Let’s say it’s ten to one, or let’s say 20 to one, it’s still good odds against this really. But I just want to talk to you about what’s in my book, I’ve talked about the kind of backstory, the human story, which is quite, hopefully quite intriguing and interesting. When you invent you’ve got to look for something in your environment. So there’s me in the middle you in the middle. A lot of inventors don’t do this they just have some crazy ideas to come up with something that they think is funky or needed.

So you’ve got to look in the garden, if you work in an office the office, out walking the dog, in the shed, wherever. There’s something going wrong all the time you go outside now, you’ll see something failing but we think it’s going to be somebody else is going to come up with an idea. Or maybe that idea exists, but why not have a look at it to see if it does exist or not. It’s quite exhilarating. It took me three weeks to find a problem and actually solve it and get my first prototype. So the other thing I want to talk to you about is being secretive. So keep it secret.

This is a major thing, the old scenario is you go to the pub with some friends. I’ve got this great idea you really love it, but, everybody says not very good. You’re deluded. You’re crazy. So you end up not doing it and that’s what happens quite a lot and so many ideas don’t go all the way because somebody put them off. I don’t even tell my wife a lot of the inventions I come out because I know she’s going to say I’m crazy. Everybody says I’m crazy. So I keep secretive and that’s the main thing, but the main thing that’s threatening through everything is to be passionate. Have a desire as well. When I say that, you need a drive to actually get you through all the ups and downs because you’re going to you’re going to hit some rocky roads, and it’s this that gets you through it. You’ve got to love what you’re doing and you’ve got to have a goal. You want to start your own business, it’s more than just probably inventing a product for me. I didn’t want to go back to the factory. I couldn’t see the grey-haired version of me working for a boss in 20 years time. And it scared me to death. I have bad dreams about that now, but that’s just a few tips there, but I really welcome you if you could read the book and tell me what you think.

Thanks for listening.

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