Gerald Brown

gerald brown

We were delighted to speak to you Gerald. You’re an exceptional leader in our eyes, having developed yourself by learning and adopting principles that you believe in; finding the inner strength to create discipline; and then by listening first and being humble you continue to inspire other leaders around you. Having joined Unicef India recently, after 14 years at UrbanLeaf, you now find yourself living in Delhi managing 9 teams with the goal of growing to 20 teams. To say we are proud of you is an understatement. 


What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

I read my first self-help book in 1992 called Lead the Field by Earl Nightingale and his book has most influenced my life. I could relate to it instantly. First published in 1968 it’s a logical book with practical steps and I remember reading his suggestion to complete one task at a time by wholeheartedly focussing on it and then move on to the next task. I thought wow! I can now use this principle to improve my life and that’s what I did.

The book that I tell people to buy if they ask for recommendations is called 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. First published in 1989 and based on everyday principles everyone can apply to their life. It taught me how to treat people. Seek first to understand before being understood is a very powerful habit and forms the backbone of how I manage my teams. This book is a must for every type of leader, whether in business or as a parent.


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? 

My Huawei Watch Fit cost £95 and has changed my life for the better. I’m really into my health and fitness and this watch just simplified and enhanced my life by counting my steps, so I know if I’ve been moving my body enough each day. If I’m under my goal, I’ll either do some more steps or add them to the next day. It also tells me how many calories I’ve burned that day, so I don’t need to manually count them. The information is all there, I can track my fitness goals and it flashes up when I achieve my milestones. I find it empowering and motivating, with weekly and monthly progress reports together with praise messages and encouragement to do better if I miss my goals.


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

I believe there is a very fine line between success and failure. Life is a journey and when I’m struggling, I look for the lessons in the mistakes and things I get wrong, knowing these failures will lead me to success in the future.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?

STOP USING PLASTIC! Especially water bottles. 

There is no excuse for not carrying a reusable water bottle around. We need to take care of the world we live in and not destroy our environment and the wildlife.


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? 

In 2016 I spent over £4k on a 12 week intensive Ultimate Performance course with 36 personal training and nutritional advice sessions. This changed my life and taught me the principles of nutrition and what I needed to eat (and not eat) to achieve my health goals. Since then, my body fat sits between 10 and 15% and I know how to exercise properly and take care of my body.


In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

Eating beef for breakfast! Beef has very high protein and the energy I get in the morning is incredible. I used to mix a bowl of porridge and fruit one day with eggs on toast another. But now it’s beef for breakfast.


What advice would you give to a smart, driven student about to enter the “real world”?

Whatever you do in life, never be afraid to show your emotions.


In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.? What new realisations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

At the office I put on my headphones when I need to focus on a specific task, that way I get less unnecessary and unproductive interactions.


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

I play a YouTube video from Frank Ocean called Pink and White. This takes me to a place that is both still and beautiful. It makes me feel so good afterwards and is my reset. In my new job I’m playing it every day at the moment!


Which people have most inspired you in your life and why?

My Dad brought up 12 kids, mainly as a single Dad. How incredible is that? He taught me the difference between right and wrong, how to treat people properly, honesty and respect.

When people ask me why I stayed at UrbanLeaf for 14 years I tell them because I was inspired by you both and the values, principles and leadership you demonstrated were in line with my own. What I’m doing now here at UNICEF India is applying what you both taught me over the years. I’m grateful for that. Thank you.


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