As part of a new series, Disability Horizons Co-founder Martyn Sibley will be interviewing famous and influential disabled people from the top 100 Power list to bring you a collection of entertaining and informative podcasts. This week, he talks to disability entrepreneur, business consultant and wheelchair user Phil Friend…
Over the years, I’ve met a lot of people working to tackle accessibility, equality and inclusion issues. Most are either disabled or have a close connection to disability.
To say that everyone is friendly and nice sounds insincere at times. But it’s so true in this community. Even when funding or market share matters are discussed, everyone still helps one another. I suppose that’s what you get with a social mission? Who knows. Either way, it’s enabled me to have incredibly useful conversations with a wide variety of disabled people, and invite a number of them onto my podcast series.
Either way, it’s enabled me to have incredibly useful conversations with a wide variety of disabled people, and to invite a number of them to join me on my new podcast series.
After the success of my first podcast with Sarah Storey, I was less worried about getting guests. Thankfully – anxiety and stress are never worth it anyway. However, I wasn’t sure who to invite on the show for episode two.
I started thinking about the issues disabled people face at the moment. One huge area is employment. It signifies our value to society and our contribution. Plus, employment underpins our financial independence too.
*SIDE NOTE: We all know that not everyone can work. That’s cool. Other episodes will address this point. But for those who can work, but face discrimination, this fight is important. Not divisive.
I’d read a great book last summer called Defying Disability about nine disabled leaders. One of the people in the book was Phil Friend. He’s currently chair of Rica, the consumer research group for elderly and disabled people, and a notorious disabled entrepreneur. Having been so inspired by him, I reached out to ask whether he would join me on a podcast.
Over a few months, we spoke a number of times. I’d been motoring on with creating content, building communities and having an impact on society. However, I had so many unanswered questions around funding and businesses. Projects cost money for technology, people, and so on. So getting to speak to Phil about it was unbelievably helpful.
So, I figured, why not get Phil and his motivating, kind, and helpful nature out there, for all of you. As a podcast guest, I could ask him other questions, relevant for you, the listeners. Plus, I’d probably learn a whole load more myself.
In this episode, you’ll hear about how Phil went from ‘special school’, to being a social worker, to supporting big businesses to be inclusive. As a result, disabled people have been able to consume more products and services, as well as get jobs at big companies.
Sometimes in life, we get jealous or resent the success of others. A very strange trait, particularly when money is involved. But the fact that Phil has run a successful business and earned good money never provoked negativity. It’s because he changed the world for the better. He worked hard and he was rewarded well too.
This is the dream for everyone surely? Disabled or not. Phil pulls no punches that his biggest asset is his difference. Being disabled offers him unique opportunities for business, his career and lifestyle. To me, that’s very powerful.
Our differences are our assets! Be proud. Be open. Be yourself. Be fulfilled.
By Martyn Sibley