“I bought a microphone and launched a podcast” Stuart Waddington, Co-Founder, TDL

Having served 12 years in the RAF delivering leadership, personal development and physical training to new recruits, senior officers, and specialist teams across the Armed Forces, Stuart Waddington founded Star Development UK to apply his military experience to civilian situations. During lockdown he turned his hand to podcasting and currently hosts the popular podcast The Leadership Lounge.

My dyslexia wasn’t diagnosed until I was in college, so I spent my school days thinking I was thick. I was good at sport but my further education plans in outdoor adventure were scuppered by the national outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. Instead, I joined the RAF as a physical training instructor.

For someone like me who loves sport, this was a brilliant opportunity. The role of a PT instructor in the forces is to keep people fit, mentally and physically, and equip people with the skills they need to do their jobs. So much in the military is about psychology; helping people overcome their fears and encouraging them to work together as a team to achieve amazing results. When I toured Oman and the Falklands, I was also responsible for community and cultural engagement, so I acquired a surprising amount of people skills.

Around the time of our fourth child, I left the RAF to do something for myself. My first business was a fitness bootcamp, which is still run by my wife, but I had an idea that my military expertise could be applied to business leadership development. I invested in some digital marketing skills, built an online profile, and launched Star Development UK.

Our first course was a success, with people enrolled from all over the world, but my timing wasn’t great. The world went into covid lockdown as we completed our first cohort, I had no choice but to put the business on hold. Stuck at home, but with a growing network of global businesspeople, I bought a microphone and launched a podcast.

Now I love podcasting; it’s a brilliant way to engage with people and explore leadership themes.  I’m still learning every day and enjoy sharing peoples’ stories. I am very proud to have recently broadcast the 125th episode of The Leadership Lounge. I am happy to say I have never felt like as though I’ve had a job because I love what I do. If you use your passion as career direction, it will lead to success.

I joined the IoD about four years ago because I wanted to be ‘in the room’ with decision makers. I absolutely love the research tool and the expert advice that’s available and being able to meet clients at 116 Pall Mall delivers a lot of credibility. My IoD connections have been helpful in evolving my leadership development business, TDL, which is now fully interactive and runs from a Microsoft Technology Platform

I’m passionate about encouraging entrepreneurs and enjoy my role as Vice Chair of the IoD Cheshire. I organise events for both members and non-member, and we have recently launched a monthly dinner club which is also helping us build stronger connections with local businesses and local community groups.

You can listen to Stuart’s Leadership Lounge podcast here.

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