Steven Bartlett on How To Invest Time and Money Wisely


For a man of just 30, Steven Bartlett has a lengthy CV. An investor in big-name health brands such as Huel and the personalised nutrition service Zoe, Bartlett is also the youngest Dragon to appear on Dragon’s Den, the co-founder of marketing company Flight Story, a partner of wristworn tracker Whoop and the host of the popular podcast Diary of a CEO. And that’s the edited CV. Most recently, Bartlett has also become an investor in Until, a flexible workspace for health and wellness professionals.

Here, he shares his greatest lessons with Men’s Health, including why he values self-tuition over mentorship, and never schedules a meeting before 11am…

A great idea with a bad entrepreneur is a bad investment. But an idea that you don’t understand, that seems like a bad idea, but with a great entrepreneur, always ends up being a great investment for me. It’s really a character analysis. In the first season [of Dragon’s Den], I was probably investing in ideas. In the third season, I’m investing in people.’

We get a hundred pitches a year in the Den. And they’re often in industries that I’ve never operated in before. The thing that I do understand is the inevitabilities that occur in business. I understand that your initial hypothesis is probably going to be wrong; you’re going to have to pivot. I understand that you’re going to have days of crisis. And I understand that every single day you’re going to have to sell to people: investors, employees you want to hire, retailers. Are you humble enough to pivot when all of the information says you’re wrong, or are you going to be stubborn and romantic about your hypothesis? Are you going to be resilient in a moment of crisis? And are you a great salesperson?’

steven bartlett until mens health

Courtesy of Steven Bartlett

Resilience is based on belief, which is based on evidence. If you want to build resilience you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and survive. From that you’ll learn that you’re more capable, tougher and more resilient than you thought.’

Great is just good, repeated. We think of great as these major miracle steps forward or these masterful ideas. But when you look at how great people have come to be, or how great things have come to be formed, it was actually just consistently doing things well.’

I don’t have like a 6am green juice, meditation, gratitude journal, all that nonsense. But at some point in the day I have to move my body. And it’s usually after work, because I get up a bit late. I prioritise sleep: I never set an alarm; I have no meetings before 11 o’clock. I wake up when I wake up, which means I’m getting all the sleep I need. And then that typically means I go to the gym after work. It’s been the single most important change I’ve made in my life.’

‘I became a member of about 10 new gym propositions, originally because I was looking for somewhere I could train with a bit of privacy. Then I met the co-founder of Until, who told me about their business model. Most health and wellness practitioners have two very poor options: they secure a job somewhere and get paid a fraction of what they bring in per hour. Or they go self-employed and give up 75-80% of their income to rent a space. Until is the middle option, and I think it’s the best option: where you’re self-employed in terms of freedom and autonomy but you get the benefits of great facilities and a much greater share of the income you make. And I’d use the facilities purely on the basis of how high-spec they are, irrespective of whether I was investing in the company.’

‘There really is something called freelancer’s depression, where you’re working alone on your business, between four white walls. There are so many great things to being a freelancer, but the one thing you lose is that sense of community that you get in an office. Studies show that when we’re in community, we experience stress less; when we have challenges in our business, we’re able to resolve them quicker and easier. That’s why community was so central to Until’s proposition. We’re bringing these freelancers together.’

I go to the gym seven days a week. And obviously not every day is as gruelling as the others, but for me the key is consistency. I used to set myself these really unsustainable goals, like I’m gonna get a six-pack in four or five months or whatever. And either way I’d fail. If I did it – I never got a six-pack, but let’s pretend I did – I’d lose my why and spend the next six months being sedentary and eating out of a trough. But if I didn’t do it, I’d lose motivation anyway because I’d failed at this completable goal. The thing that changed it for me was setting up a goal that I could never complete, that I had a new shot at every day.’

Attention these days is in diminishing supply. When you’re thinking about brand marketing, you have to craft stories that are compelling, that understand the world that the person listening lives in, how many other demands and pressures they have on their very limited time. It has to be about them, not your minty toothpaste: their goals and ambitions. And it should be an emotional story because those are the stories that penetrate our wallpaper filter.’

Mentorship is really overrated. People see it as a barrier: “If I haven’t got a mentor, then I can’t start this thing.” And maybe once upon a time that was true. But in this day and age where you have the entirety of the world’s information, Chat GPT and all of these incredible resources in the palm of your hands, and podcasts with everyone who’s done everything, we have to liberate ourselves from this idea that mentorship comes in the form of a monthly coffee with a successful person, and see it more as having the initiative to research and to listen. Self-tuition is under appreciated.’

steven bartlett until

Courtesy of Steven Bartlett

I think of my time as these 24 chips and by the time I’ve slept, eight of them have gone. You’re standing over this roulette table and how you place these 16 chips determines your health outcomes, your relationship outcomes, your professional outcomes, or at least your ability to influence them. So I can place one of them on walking my dog. Two of them on taking my girlfriend for date night. Two of them on going to the gym. Four of them on work. When the wheel spins, you find out the returns you’ve reaped. It’s important to be intentional. Unbudgeted money will be wasted; unscheduled time will be wasted. I don’t schedule hanky-panky, before you make that the headline…!’

The best advice I’ve been given on Diary of a CEO was episode 101 with Mo Gawdat. It’s such an emotional episode: his son dies in a routine operation, he quits Google and goes in search of happiness. One of the things he said to me, which has stayed with me ever since, is we’re unhappy when our expectations of how our life is supposed to be are unmet. Even as my life progresses and I’m exposed to more privilege, I can keep my expectations in check to get joy from the things that I’ve always gotten it from.’

If I had to start out from scratch tomorrow, I’d be extremely bullish on artificial intelligence. AI is going to completely change our lives. And so with that comes a lot of closed doors but a lot of new doors opened. And if I was young [again, he’s all of 30], I’d be working and failing in an AI startup. That’s what I’d go do: maximise my learnings. I’d go put myself in that room. My thing is: don’t fight inevitabilities and don’t engage in cognitive dissonance, which is where you lean out because it threatens you in some way. Do whatever you can to lean in. Because there’s a huge opportunity.’


Jamie Millar is a freelance journalist and regular Men’s Health contributor, writing about style, grooming, fitness and culture. Follow @mrjamiemillar


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