Hunters Race/Unsplash
Hunters Race/Unsplash

A Diary of a CEO review: Steven Bartlett’s multi-faceted self-help journey

From a college dropout to running one of the biggest podcasts in the UK, meet Steven Bartlett, the founder of A Diary of a CEO. This podcast series helped my development the most in 2023, and I thought, fittingly, as the year has come to an end, it’s about time I reviewed it.

Steven Bartlett is a 28-year-old Nigerian-British entrepreneur based in Manchester, who rose to fame with his marketing firm, The Social Chain, and through his appearance in the popular British reality show Dragon’s Den. However, what piques my interest the most are his podcasts and the extensive selection of people he has on them. They range from iconic British comedian Jimmy Carr, appearing in an episode to dissect why he went to Cambridge and what makes up a truly happy life, to Mia Khalifa, the world’s most famous adult entertainment star, coming on the show and telling of her horrific experience in the pornography industry.

One thing that particularly intrigues me is the way he communicates through and structures his podcast. In his episode with Jimmy Carr, for example, he starts by asking basic questions about his early life and the corporate vs. entertainment industry then goes even deeper, asking personal questions such as what makes you happy, and even regarding how he used to avoid paying tax. Carr explained “you have an accountant, and he asks, how much tax do you want to pay? Well, there’s a scheme, great is it legal?, you can pay as much as you want” and then “it all caught up, and it was in the front of the paper saying you have done an aggressive tax scheme and it is morally wrong”. This piqued my interest since it displayed a genuine human side to the comic, who appeared to take nothing seriously as he, like most people, grew greedy with his money, which deeply impacted his public image.

The contrast between the two podcast episodes is what really makes me appreciate Steven’s series

The Mia Khalifa episode also fascinated me as it showed the versatility of The Diary of CEO, as he now displays the perspective of a social media influencer/ former adult entertainment star. She refers to her partner at the time as “someone who saw a toy to play with, and he introduced me while also encouraging my journey to the porn industry”, advising  “you shouldn’t enter the industry unless you have already been in the industry. It shouldn’t be the first option for you”. I think all these ideas display that Sarah, Mia’s real name, is advocating for women to adopt a cautious approach to sex work.

One thing that is interesting in his series is his focus on celebrity culture

The contrast between the two podcast episodes is what really makes me appreciate Steven’s series as having different underlying goals, with one being about the humanness and happiness that a celebrity possesses at heart and what it took for him to reach that point, whilst the second is about encouraging young women to advocate for themselves. Yet, one thing that is interesting in his series is his focus on celebrity culture; as he remarked “I have never and would never pay a guest to come on”. Yet, by analysing the guests he has on, it tends to be a lot of arguably either washed-up or up-and-coming celebrities. Could it be that the series’ main goal is not self-help, but to revamp the celebrities’ careers and increase his numbers?


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