Ep576: Gavin Wren – Invest Your Time in the Right People

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Quick take

BIO: Gavin Wren is a founder, consultant, and content creator from London, helping the world learn more about food. His background in media has seen him photographing food around the world for the likes of National Geographic and writing in the national press.

STORY: Gavin’s worst investments have been the relationships he’s put in a lot of effort and time to build, only to realize they weren’t beneficial for him.

LEARNING: Don’t bend yourself out of shape for people. Learn to walk away from bad situations.


“Don’t be a people pleaser. It doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Gavin Wren


Guest profile

Gavin Wren is a founder, consultant, and content creator from London, UK, helping the world learn more about food. His background in media has seen him photographing food around the world for the likes of National Geographic and writing in the national press. Today he helps organizations develop their strategy for the future of sustainable food whilst also creating content on TikTok, which reaches millions of people each month. He’s the founder of three businesses and a non-profit but loves nothing more than good pizza or strong espresso.

Worst investment ever

Gavin’s worst investment over the years has been investing in the wrong relationships. Spending months or years building relationships that weren’t beneficial to him has been worse than losing money. According to Gavin, one can get over financial losses quickly. You’ll be depressed for a few days or weeks, and then you get over it and move on. But the bad personal business relationships are pretty insidious, and you never quite recover from them.

One instance Gavin recounts is this person with a lot of influence and power he badly wanted to work for. Gavin wanted to be part of their circle and work with them. He did everything he could, got close to the person, and started working with them. Gavin soon realized that there was a misalignment of values, and something just didn’t sit right with him about this person. But Gavin kept pushing because he knew he wanted to be associated with that person. A year later, Gavin was stuck, intensely stressed, and always anxious. Eventually, he stopped working for that person, which was the biggest relief ever because he didn’t get anything out of it. All he did was do a lot of work for very little money.

Lessons learned

  • Trust your gut.
  • If stress and anxiety arise around a person, question whether that relationship has a long-term benefit.
  • Drop your ego and do the work that you want to do and that you enjoy. Not the work that you think someone else is going to enjoy.
  • Don’t bend yourself out of shape for people.
  • Speak your mind and be honest.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Learn to walk away from bad situations and just bite the bullet.

Actionable advice

Before forming bonds with people, ask questions to get more information and decide whether those are the right bonds.

No.1 goal for the next 12 months

Gavin’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to keep growing his TikTok account and find a way to start monetizing it.

Parting words


“Just keep trying to help people and learn in the process.”

Gavin Wren


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning in our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risks but to win big, you've got to reduce it. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. And that mission has led me to create the become a better investor community in the community, you get access to our global asset allocation strategies and stock portfolios, our institutional grader Investment Research weekly live sessions, and the risk reduction lessons I've learned from more than 500 guests go to my worst investment ever.com right now to claim your 50% lifetime discount exclusive for podcast listeners, fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guest, Gavin Wren, Gavin, are you ready to join the mission?

Gavin Wren 01:01
100% I'm all ready to go.

Andrew Stotz 01:03
I'm excited. I've got some things I would love to talk to you more about. And particularly, you know, we were just talking about some stuff related to sustainability and food and all that. But maybe you could just take a minute, and tell us a bit about the value that you bring to this wonderful world.

Gavin Wren 01:22
Yeah, thanks, Andrew. So the value that I bring to the world, I'm aiming to help people understand the world of food better, there's a huge amount that goes on behind the scenes of foods behind the supermarkets behind the shops behind the packaging that people don't know much about. And I want to help people understand that better. So that can be about how your food is produced, or the politics that goes on behind the scenes, or maybe some of the even some of the things that have gone wrong in the past that people don't really know about so and that helps people to eat more healthily or to more sustainably, and just to understand how they can do a little bit better each day in the world of food.

Andrew Stotz 01:59
That's a topic that's valuable for all of us. And ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you a little bit about Gavin Gavin is founder, consultant and content creator from London, UK, who's helping the world learn more about food. His background in media has seen him photographing food around the world for the likes of National Geographic, and writing in the national press. Today, he helps organizations develop their strategy for the future of sustainable food while also creating content on tick tock, which reaches millions of people each month. He's the founder of three businesses and a nonprofit, but most importantly, loves nothing more than good pizza or a strong espresso. So tell us a little bit harder to get into the whole aspect of sustainability and that type of thing. I mean, we were talking a little bit about that before. I'd love to hear a little bit more on that.

Gavin Wren 02:50
Yeah, I think a lot of it comes from a really varied background in the world of food. So when I was a teenager, I wanted to be a hotel manager, I wanted to work in hospitality. And that led me into working in kitchens in hotels and restaurants and bars. So I got this really good understanding of foodservice. But as time went on, I didn't want to be customer facing service, I didn't want to be that that didn't quite sit right with me. So I actually went into a different career completely, which was designed. But food always drew me back. And so after many years, I went back to university and I did a master's degree in food policy, which is a subject that I didn't even know existed, you know, it was, I didn't even know what food policy was. And as a creative as a designer policy was like a theme, right? I didn't even want to sort of acknowledge that policy was something I was interested in. But I did the course. And it was an amazing course. And I learned a huge amount about what happens behind the scenes of food, you know, what goes into getting food from farms to our tables, and that includes everything from the production, but also what happens within governments and businesses really, behind the scenes and, and how, you know, what can be done to help and change that? So at the moment, the focus of a lot of organizations is how do we prepare for the future? You know, that's both in terms of remaining profitable, but also making sure we still got a planet in the future as well. So these are the kind of these are the chat and also actually, there's a third one, which is how do we keep everyone healthy as well, you know, so there's kind of these challenges to the sustainability that really sort of come to the fore. It's such

Andrew Stotz 04:35
an interesting topic, and I graduated from high school in 1983. And, you know, food wasn't such a big issue. You know, we had a garden in the backyard all summer long. Mom would tell me go out and you know, get some beans and carrots or whatever. And there was a farm nearby. I grew up in Ohio and I worked on that farm and we bailed A and stock that for the cows and all the animals and, and also what's very interesting was there was not much obesity at that time. And so much has changed about food, like it just become corporatized it's become big business, it's become big government and people seem to be much less healthy. And I just sometimes wonder, I think living in Thailand, you still have a lot of subsistence farmers that just grow and eat the majority of what they grow, and then sell the rest. And you realize how simple food used to be?

Gavin Wren 05:40
Well, you know, if you, I'm guessing here, but a lot of people who listen to this podcast might live in cities, or they might you know, live in, you know, in a densely populated environment. There might be some farmers who listen, and that's awesome if there are as well. But we a lot of us don't have a relationship with food production. We don't know what we don't see where our food comes from. But there are half a billion farmers in the world, there's 500 million farmers in the world. Yeah. So but we don't see any of this, you know, I don't see a farmer, the only farms I see are on Tiktok. You know, and that's the only ones that I see. Yet. There's, you know, a huge amount of people in the world, like you say subsistence farmers, I mean, especially in countries like I imagine, yeah. In Asia, in like India, in China, in Thailand, you got a lot of subsistence farmers. And but yeah, in the West, and especially in cities in developed countries, you know, we just don't have a, we don't have that connection to the food anymore. And that has lots of effects as well, you know, because it makes us more reliant on an industrialized food system, which isn't necessarily or maybe it just needs a little bit of help along the way, you're going in the right direction.

Andrew Stotz 06:51
So how would you leave the audience you know, with all that you've learned, and all that you do in relation to food? What would be a message that you'd like to get across to the audience about food? Because then we're going to move on to tick tock?

Gavin Wren 07:04
Yeah, okay. Well, nice. Well, one of the most important things about food is to always learn from other people. I mean, this is a really general thing. I'm quite, I'm a bit of a hippie around these kinds of things. But, you know, you've got to learn from other people. Because we all we've all got strong opinions about food. And we all want to do what we think is best everyone thinks they know it's what's best. But ultimately, you've got to like, always learn from other people about what they're doing. And always be willing to try new experiences. Because if you get if you're just doing one thing, and you think what you do is best then you're being blinkered and there's more you can learn that always. I mean, I've been studying food for years and years and I'm learning stuff every single day. So yeah, keep open minded and keep learning that's the most important thing.

Andrew Stotz 07:51
That's great advice, not only in food really in life, I was thinking about okay, so what's something that I learned about food I think when my mom moved to Thailand six years ago and she had had a stroke and she had high blood pressure and you know, she had been on the typical medicines that they're on in America, I studied a lot about different nutrition and how that could help and I found beet roots and I started giving a beetroot juice which we have a lot of beet you know in Thailand and and that just brought her blood pressure down until now she's her blood pressure's down her weight is down. And and also basically if her blood pressure starts to go up, you know have have one or two of those and I was just fascinated that I never understood the connection between nutrition and actually healing you know, like I just knew you know, eat well I've always eaten you know, pretty well but I didn't really see that actually some foods can really have a medicinal or an impact on our body. So

Gavin Wren 08:50
yeah, they really can and it's often can be subjective as well. So sometimes what works for you or your mother might not necessarily work for me. So this is why it's important to keep being open minded and trying things because the one thing that you find out in food and food policy and sustainability is there's not one answer there's not an answer that works for everyone. So it's different for everyone and but yeah, but obviously food is you know his life so it's important really important.

Andrew Stotz 09:20
So let's talk about tick tock just a really really reason why I want to ask you about tick tock is simply because you know, I've had a lot of people say I should go on tick tock and you know, I do YouTube and I should try tick tock and and I get a little bit and and I know that some of my listeners have gotten the same feedback and you know, we see it's a phenomenon going on. And I'm just curious from your own perspective, what what how is tick tock work for you and like how do you how do you see tick tock now that you've, you know, done a lot on and

Gavin Wren 09:52
yeah, I think tick tock is a really great platform to discover like your authenticity around content because Is tick tock really does reward like natural relatable content, that's an if, you know, you'll see a lot of accounts that have got like, a, sorry, you'll see an account that goes viral, but it's only got like 500 followers. And genuinely, generally that's because they produce one piece of content that's so so like authentically relatable, that everyone just goes, oh my god, yeah, I get this, I get this, you know. And that's, that's the thing and you don't really get that so much on other platforms. So tick tock really rewards being your authentic self. So if you're starting out on tick tock, the most important thing is just to keep making content and changing it up and changing up and just just making content on a regular basis, however often it is, whether it's once a week, once a day, once a month, whatever, just keep making it and just keep on trying new things. And then you'll get some feedback at some point, somebody will take off, and you'll be like, ah, that's what works. And as you get quicker in time, as well, you know, I had a huge success recently, as we're just talking about the best before dates. So, you know, there's this huge thing that a third of all food is wasted, you know, a third of all food doesn't get eaten. And one of the reasons for that is because of best before dates, which in the UK best before, dates are a sign of quality. So there's saying that if you eat the food before this date, it's going to be better than if you eat it after that date. They're not saying the food's bad after that date. That's a separate thing that's used by dates. But anyway, best before dates are a sign of quality, but a lot of people will look at that, and they'll throw the food away on that day, you know, and that's just a complete waste. So I started eating food after its best before date, and immediately that just like took off, you know, people were just, like, blown away by it. And you know, that immediate feedback, you know, you sort of post a video and then you look at it an hour later, and it's got 30,000 views and you're like, okay, yeah, so people like this, you know, I you get that real, immediate feedback on what other people like what you're creating, and that's amazing.

Andrew Stotz 11:58
It's interesting, because in my coffee business, you know, we're required by different customers to have different shelf life, and best before dates and stuff like that. And but invariably, the best before date is always months before it would really have any problems. So I became less of a stickler about that once I kind of learned that mainly, like most things in the world, it's nowadays it's, it's called, see why a you know, cya. Cover your ass.

Gavin Wren 12:35
Yeah, well, exactly. That's the thing. I mean, like the use by dates, which are supposed to be about food safety. So in the UK, the official advice is that for use by date, you should not eat food after use by date, like absolute, that's government advice. However, what are used by date really is, is the minimum length of time that a manufacturer thinks that the food will be okay to eat. It's not the maximum, it's, it's literally the bare minimum, plus the cya margin, they need to add on as well. So, you know, like, bacon has a use by date on it, you know, so you shouldn't eat after that. But I've just eaten some that's two weeks past its use by date, you know, but again, people throw food away just based on those dates, rather than using their senses, you know? So yeah, it's a huge thing. It really is. And I think in the West, especially in developed in richer places, it's one of the biggest sources of food waste.

Andrew Stotz 13:24
So that's a great, you know, lesson for all the listeners out there. It's just you know, next time you see a use by date, you know, don't it's not an iron rule, you know, open it up, check it out. Don't worry. You said something about one of your Tiktok videos, you said, Honey, 3000 year old white honey, something like that.

Gavin Wren 13:42
Yeah, some archaeologists say honey doesn't go bad. Honey is a bit like salt. It's like it doesn't go off. I mean, so obviously, salt has a best before date, but you know, exists in the ground for like 1000s of yours. But honey also has very low water content. It's got a it's quite acidic, and it's got hydrogen peroxide in it, which is from the B stomach so it basically doesn't go off and some archeologists found some honeycomb in a Pharaohs Egyptian Pharaoh's Tomb which was still good to eat even though it's 3000 years old. You know, it's so beautiful. Why that you know why the honey in our cupboards has got a sort of date of 2023 I'm not quite sure because I'm sure it's gonna be okay plenty of time often.

Andrew Stotz 14:24
Corporate food Oh, well now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one goes into their worst investment, thinking it will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it and tell us your story.

Gavin Wren 14:38
Yeah, so the My worst investment ever. There's a few examples of this. And there's I've got examples of financial bad investments. You know, I've lost money on cryptocurrency I've lost money with both clients and suppliers and things like that in the past. But when I was preparing for this, I was like, but what is like the worst investment Not like the biggest financial loss, but the worst investment. And I realized that my worst investment over the years has been time put into the wrong people. Yeah, so it's really what I'm saying is people, but I don't want to say the worst investment is people, because people also can be the best investment in the world as well. So there's two sides to this, this is, this is the wrong people, and putting too much time into those wrong people. Because, like, if you lose money, so I had a supplier many years ago, who ripped me off for sort of 10s of 1000s of pounds. And, you know, that was really depressing, like, you know, when we realized that, that was that that had like, gone, gone south, and there's nothing we could do about it, we got it, you know, it was really depressing in that moment. But when I put say, weeks, months, even years into some kind of business relationship, whether that's whether this is someone who's above me, like, say, a client or supervisor or you know, manager, or whether it's someone that's working for me, when I put a lot of time into that person for lots of different reasons. And after, like I say, months or years, you realize that the relationships just not helping anyone, you know, it grinds you down slowly. And that's a really bad investment. And you get over the financial ones quickly, you're depressed for a few days or a week, and then you get over it and you move on. But with those with those personal business relationships, that that just a wrong, they can, they're quite insidious. And I think that they're that that really is what's what I would say, has been my worst investment over the years. In fact, I'll go a little bit further on that I get a little bit personal about it, not about the people that I've worked with, but, you know, I said the people above. And I think that's really interesting, because we can all understand how perhaps, if we had someone working for us, and they weren't doing the work they needed to do, they were delivering bad quality work. And we can all understand how that would be a drag as a, you know, as a, as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, or whatever you're doing, if you could understand how that would be a difficult situation and, you know, hard to deal with. But people above us, so say, clients, you know, or, if we're talking about managers, or if you're an employment, talking about your boss, sometimes ego drives us to do certain things. So you know, I want to work for that person, that person's got a lot of power. So I need to be in their circle, or, you know, this company, I want to do the work that they're doing. And but when you get close to that person, or you just started doing that work, there's a misalignment of values, or there's something that just doesn't sit right. But you keep on pushing, I kept, you know, I've done it, I keep on pushing and pushing, because I know I want to be associated with that person, I want to be doing that. And then literally, and that's the worst because your ego drives you to do it. And then like a year down the line, you're, you know, you're so stuck, I was so stressed like so like intensely stressed and had a lot of anxiety around delivering any work. And the moment that I separated from working for that person, it was just like the biggest relief. And, and I gotta be honest with you that in one of the cases, I'm thinking about the ego that drove me to do that, which was the status associated with working with that person. And I didn't get anything out of that. All I did was did a lot of work for not a lot of money. And that was it. So that's my worst investment.

Andrew Stotz 18:39
So how would you describe the lessons that you learned from that?

Gavin Wren 18:47
You got to trust your gut. You know, if you're working, if you're working, and you've got a lot of stress and anxiety around a certain person, and that persists and it comes up either week, after week or month after month. If that stress and anxiety around that person comes up question whether it's really long term beneficial, because there's a good chance that that stress, anxiety will not go away, and it will keep on coming up. When you work with that person. When you get that email from them. You get a Slack notification, something comes in, you get that gut feeling, you're like, this isn't going to be good. So you got to trust your gut. Got to drop your ego as well. Go do the work that you want to do that you know you enjoy. Not the work that you think someone else is going to enjoy. deliver good work for your clients, of course, but don't you don't bend yourself out of shape for that make sure you're doing what you really enjoy. And you speak your mind could be can be honest.

Andrew Stotz 19:49
It maybe I'll share what I take away. I mean, you got me really thinking about the people in my life. And generally, I wouldn't say that I've had that many situations where I've, you know, been in that? And I was thinking, why is that, and one of the things when I was young, you know, I had basically gone through rehab, and I was getting off with drugs and alcohol at a young age. And what they told me is that, you know, you can't stay around people that are drinking and using drugs, you know, it's just too dangerous, you've got to walk away from that. And that meant I had to walk away from all the friends that I had at the time. But, you know, it kind of made, you know, it made sense, I didn't really want to walk away from them. But it made sense. And then, after I did walk away, I felt better. And I felt relieved. And I was able to go on with my life in a different path. And that has been a life of, you know, sobriety over 40 years now. But the point is, is that maybe at a young age, I learned to walk away a little bit more, and just bite the bullet. Whereas I think for a lot of people, you know, you do get in a situation where you're like, Yeah, but I've got to do this, and I really want to make this happen. And this is going to be my stepping stone or, you know, that type of thing. And so I'm, I've been, it's an interesting one. And it's one of the very few of the stories that I've been trying to think about, like one has that happened to me, and I haven't seen it. I don't actually know why that is, but that would be my explanation. You have any thoughts on that?

Gavin Wren 21:28
Yeah, so one of the one of the things could be I mean, if what you've described of your experience, you learn, yeah, a young age maybe to sort of speak up when something didn't feel right. You know, so someone's a people pleaser, and you know, I can definitely be guilty of that in the past, then you kind of you put yourself in positions where you keep chipping away at one to try to make things work, you know, and that, you know, so that's why you've got to trust your gut instinct, because the quicker you speak your mind about those situations, the quicker you get out of it. So therefore, it doesn't arise it, that could be why you've not experienced it so much. But I've definitely found that as over time, I've learned to be quicker and look just more direct, you know, I'm English, I probably tried to be a bit too polite, sometimes, you know, but the quicker I can be direct about a situation being not feeling right, or just questioning, while the reasons behind it, the quicker I get out of it. So yeah, I think that's a, that's the big lesson there is, don't be a people pleaser, doesn't get you anywhere.

Andrew Stotz 22:38
It's a great lesson. I know, I teach ethics in finance. And I tried to tell people that, you know, if you were in high school, and you were taking an exam, and one of your friends or someone in the class was cheating, generally, you're not going to raise your hand and call the teacher and tell the teacher, hey, this person is cheating. Because they're just not a real benefit for you to do that. But what I tell people in the world of finance, when you see somebody cheating, the fact is, is that it could be that a client, like my mother, or your mother, or some, you know, clients money could be lost as a result of that cheating, and you you have an obligation to speak up. And so I think it's a really good lesson, you know, from what you're describing in that is, you know, when it doesn't feel right, you know, speak up. So let's just wrap it up then by saying, okay, based upon what you learned, you know, from this story and what you continue to learn, what action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate?

Gavin Wren 23:44
One of the most powerful questions one of the most like bond most powerful actions you can take is just to ask, why is, you know, when you're, when you're in a situation, say, if I've got a lot of anxiety, it might be around dealing with someone in particular, you know, that's one of those people that I obviously just rub up against. It's just to be always asking me questions like why do you want to do that? Why is this important? Why is this the pathway that we need to go along? Because that clarifies for me, whether I want to be on that pathway with them or not. And it's, it's so it's not to be honest with you. It's not about it's not about being hard nosed and be like, you know, and saying no to people, it's about asking more and more questions, so that you get more information so that you can make the decision as to whether that's the right path or not, it's about you know, getting feedback and trying to help them as well at the same time, because they don't want to work with someone that they don't get along with.

Andrew Stotz 24:35
Yeah, yeah. So that's a great, you know, actionable advice for the listeners out there. And that is, you know, ask why. So, let me ask you another question. What's, what's a resource eg that you've created or that you use that you would recommend to our listeners?

Gavin Wren 24:56
Sorry, just pause for a second. Yeah. Do you mean like as in tick tock or something like that?

Andrew Stotz 25:02
Yeah. I mean, if you, you know, feel free to recommend that say, you know, like your tick tock as one place, or is there any other things that you like or resources that you would find have found valuable in your life?

Gavin Wren 25:19
Hmm, good question. Okay, it's a good question. Obviously, visit my tic tock because there's a huge amount of information that you can learn from on there. And I keep reading, I'm a big reader of nonfiction. So I will always recommend reading books from people like Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin kind of people like that. He just gives you an understanding of how the world works and how we can improve ourselves on a regular basis. Yeah, that's what I would definitely recommend.

Andrew Stotz 25:52
Great advice. You know, it's so it's harder to read these days, I used to read a ton. And now, you know, whether it's tick tock or YouTube or whatever, it's easy to get distracted. So great advice to on there. So last question, what is your number one goal for the next 12 months.

Gavin Wren 26:11
My number one goal is to keep growing my tic tock but also to find a way to start monetizing that because I put a huge amount of time to help people and I love doing that. And I've reached the point where the growth and the audience I've got that there's a way to start making that more of a part of my earning as I as I do my work everyday. So that's my main goal is to just keep growing the Tick Tock and build that into something that's a larger part of my business life.

Andrew Stotz 26:41
Fantastic, well, listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. If you haven't yet joined the become a better investor community just go to my worst investment ever.com right now to claim your 50% lifetime discount exclusive for podcast listeners. As we conclude, Gavin, I want to thank you again for joining our mission and on behalf of a Stotz Academy I hereby award you alumni status but turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Gavin Wren 27:15
Just keep trying to help people do good. That's the thing, most important thing help other people you're learning the process?

Andrew Stotz 27:20
Well, we appreciate that you come on to help us and that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. Let's celebrate that today. We added one more person to our mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. This is your words podcast host Andrew Stotz saying, I'll see you on the upside.


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Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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