Can You Teach Good Taste? 3 Things I Learned From Magnus Walker


I feel so lucky when I get to sit down with the numerous successful people we have on the show, and pick their brains on how they dominated their field. And that is exactly what I did when I spoke to fashion designer and entrepreneur Magnus Walker.

You probably know Magnus from his hugely popular TEDx Talk called Go With Your Gut Feeling. Magnus grew up in the tough northern UK town of Sheffield, but ended up in LA and created three incredibly successful businesses in fashion design, filmmaking and sports car design.

The theme throughout all of this success is Magnus’s commitment to listening to his instincts. In his TED Talk he calls it the “strange feeling”.

All of the lessons I’m talking about today come from this root attitude. When Magnus was a teenager in the seventies he was constantly told “cut your hair and get a real job.” He has done neither.

Instead, he lives the life of his dreams, applying his creativity and passion and setting trends that Hollywood A-Listers can’t afford to ignore.

Here are just three of the key lessons I learned from talking to Magnus:

  1. You Can’t Teach Ideas and Good Taste
  2. How Bad Can It Be?
  3. Work Ethic

Magnus Walker - Follow Your Gut - Trailer

1.You Can’t Teach Ideas and Good Taste

Another common theme linking all of his successes, is the fact that Magnus didn’t have a professional or educational background in any of the industries that he has dominated.

He stumbled into each of them, but what Magnus does have is an acute sense of taste, and a desire to put his own mark on whatever he creates.

This is something that a lot of people overlook when they are trying to make it. They are searching for the magic formula, trying to master the methods that have come before them.

This is what they teach you in every business and art school. There is a right way to do something, and even if you break the rules, you have to know the rules.

Magnus didn’t pay any attention to that. Magnus has an uncanny ability to believe in his own vision, and as a result everything he has created has worn the distinctive mark of his own unique style.

This is a crucial lesson for anyone trying to dominate a creative and competitive industry. You have to put yourself into it, and you either have good taste or you don’t.

Make it your own. Leave your mark on the product, and only then will it stand out. Steve Jobs was a genius at this.

Art schools and MBAs can’t teach you how to get good ideas. That has to come from you.

Magnus Walker On Taste And Good Ideas

2. How Bad Can It Be?

Magnus is effectively an immigrant in the US. As he told me in the interview, had he stayed in Sheffield, he probably wouldn’t have had the boldness and vision to take the risks that have made him so successful.

This goes back to a big theme for me on London Real. I love that immigrant mentality. It probably has something to do with being out of your comfort zone. When you are already fighting for survival, you are more willing to take risks.

Magnus himself said that with everything he does, he still feels he has nothing to lose. He also told me he thinks a lot of people are stuck on the issue of risk. They talk themselves out of a good idea because they are scared of failure.

We hear a lot of talk about overcoming fear of failure, but Magnus is proof that going to where the fear is, really works. And it has worked at least three times for him in a big way.

Magnus never rests on his laurels. I don’t think he could even if he wanted to. He told me that in the design business you always have to be reinventing the wheel.

I think what marks Magnus out is the fact that he LOVES the challenge of staying ahead of the curve. He doesn’t shy away form the risk of trying something new.

Like he said, everybody wants the next best thing, but few people are willing to risk doing something different.

Magnus Walker On Embracing Risk

3. Work Ethic

Despite Magnus’s Rick Rubin beard, his dreadlocks and grungy Venice Beach style, be in no doubt about how hard this man works.

As a young man, he was basically an athlete, training in cross country running twice a day, five days a week, and he was even part of the same running club as Olympian Sebastian Coe.

In short, Magnus learned very early on the value of discipline and commitment. What marked him out was a desire to be free, and to be truly himself.

Going with your gut sounds like an easy way out. But for Magnus it is  not about taking the path of least resistance.

In fact, Magnus never shies away from the difficult choices. Going with your gut means doing what scares you the most, and being prepared to work for that vision.

The key here is passion. Magnus doesn’t have to trick himself to be motivated. He has a passion for realising his ideas.

As Magnus says, most people never find that thing that makes them passionate, and that’s what they can’t understand about his success.

If you love what you do, your work ethic comes naturally. If you are having to force your work ethic, maybe you are not following your gut.

Magnus Walker On His Work Ethic

So there are my three lessons. I could have written a whole thesis on what makes Magnus Walker successful. Magnus’s message is something every entrepreneur, artist and creative visionary should listen to.

Leave a comment below and let me know what your gut is telling you TODAY, and what fear is stopping you from acting on that vision.


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