Michael Lebor

micheal lebor

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

I’d recommend an author called Johann Hari. He has written 3 books called Lost Connections, Stolen Focus and Chasing the Scream. They are about addiction, depression and our loss of attention. One book explores our relationship with our mobile phones and is the next global pandemic in my opinion. I’m concerned about our children, addicted to their screens. I mean, I’m addicted to my phone and it’s pretty harmful. This book helped me put in strategies to manage my phone addiction, but like all addictions it’s a constant battle. 


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? (Brand and model, where you found it?) 

An alarm clock, which allows me to plug my phone into another room at night. One of the most important things for me is not looking at my phone before bed or first thing in the morning, leading to me falling to sleep quicker and giving me some space to think freely.


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

When I was 22 I decided to go and make a documentary film in America; saved up money to buy a camera and bought two plane tickets for myself and a friend. I was very naive because I didn’t know what I was doing. I thought that I was going to sell it and you know, live an easy life of just going off and making films. It was a failure at the time because of course, I never sold it. But it did get me a job in production and so that was the start of my career. I spent a lot of time and energy on this project and if I look back at my life now, aged forty two, it’s one of my greatest achievements and hasn’t made me a penny.


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? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

Don’t sleep in the same room as your phone.


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

I think spending a lot of my money making a film, and obviously, a lot of my own time and energy, even though it hasn’t made me a penny, has definitely been a great investment.  When I look back at my life now, aged forty two, it’s still one of my greatest achievements.


What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I make my daughter marmite and honey on rice cakes every day after school. As a result several of her friends now have the same thing. 


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

Not sleeping with my phone in the same room.


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

You can’t learn everything on your own so find a mentor. 


What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

That you need to have a formal qualification to be a film-maker. Anyone can do it.


What frustrates you the most about your industry and the way companies are run in it?

There is no structure to a career path of a film-maker, it’s very entrepreneurial, requiring a lot of resilience, ingenuity and flexibility. 


What does a balanced life look like to you? Has a work or a project you have been focused on caused you to neglect other areas of your life?

For me a good evening routine and a good morning routine is the pillar to a healthy life.


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I find morning meditation helpful as it grounds me and helps my brain work things out to be productive. As I’m a film-maker, if I’m really in a funk I watch films and TV, as I can always learn something new.  


What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership starts at home. Leading myself to live by my own principles is the biggest challenge. Once you succeed at that you can lead other people naturally and authentically.


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

My Dad was an actor and shaped my view of working life. As a child I had him as a role model as he didn’t work 9-5.

I grew up watching Michael Moore, Nick Broomfield and Errol Morris who are all documentary makers and inspired me to become one too. 


What do the words principles and values mean to you?

They are standards we hold ourselves to, sticking to my values is important for our own wellbeing. It gives us a feeling of mastery over ourselves. It’s the basis of personal leadership. 


If you had a forum to speak to 50 leaders, what question would you pose to them, to get them thinking about and being better leaders?

I keenly follow politics and I’d like to ask politicians what justification is there for following a model that does not work?

Are you following conventional legacy systems or is there a better way?


What one thing could you do that you aren’t doing now, that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?  What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?

Sticking to my evening and morning routines.

Building a client relationship system to create new contacts and nurture old ones. 


Have you ever engaged with self-help, mentoring or coaching? If so, how?

Over the last 20 years I’ve read a lot of self help books and listened to many podcasts which have been interesting but it doesn’t stick. Starting the leadership programme with you guys the most important thing I’ve gained is the belief that I can change despite past failures.

Get in touch with Michael if he can help you grow your business with short videos to promote and market your company www.rabbit-hole.film

Topic: 50 in 50