Sustainable Success: Turn Obstacles into Learning Experiences with Dave Cooper 

Life’s never going to be a perfectly smooth road. Everyone’s going to face challenges: mental health problems, imposter syndrome, dropping out of school — the list goes on. But it’s not the end. It’s never too late. Every struggle, every obstacle — approach them with curiosity and optimism, and you can transform them from roadblocks into learning experiences. 

In this episode, Dave Cooper shares the proudest moments in his career in education. He also teaches us to have a positive attitude towards education and find a way to learn from every experience. Lastly, he shares his secrets to sustainable success.

Listen to this episode if you want to discover how curiosity and optimism create learning experiences.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover Dave’s proudest moments in his educational career. 
  2. Learn Dave’s secret to creating sustainable success through learning experiences.
  3. Develop a positive mindset towards education and imposter syndrome.


Episode Highlights 

[3:19] Dave’s First Proudest Moment

  • For both him and his colleagues, seeing their students graduate is a privilege.
  • Dave believes that everyone has to experience graduation.
  • COVID impeded graduation ceremonies, so they waited and invited all the graduates to come along.

[5:44] Supporting Students

  • Students often enter business and management because their parents want them to pursue a degree. However, they are unsure of which direction they want to take.
  • This phenomenon is common in young people. They often realise midway through that these courses aren’t for them and leave.
  • Dave always supports his students’ decisions but tries to ensure that they’re making them for the right reasons.
  • Dave will help a student dissect their choices, almost like a SWOT analysis.
  • Mental health concerns have been more prevalent in the last year, so they try to provide support.

[8:50] The Importance of Finding Learning Experiences in Life

  • There’s always an opportunity to return to education when you’re ready.
  • Mature students bring so much experience into the classroom and even strengthen the relevance of what they teach.
  • Experience and knowledge outside the university could bring students to the level of a postgraduate program.

[10:06] Dave’s Second Proudest Moment

  • Dave is proud of giving his inaugural lecture as a newly appointed professor in which his children, colleagues, and people from the university and the region were present.
  • He still gets nervous before a presentation, but the keys to beating nerves are structure and rehearsal.
  • When speaking in front of people, there’s a particular style, and it’s crucial to insert some humour to get people on your side.
  • Dave suffers from impostor syndrome every day. But it keeps him at the top of his game and teaches him not to take things for granted.
  • In a way, impostor syndrome helps you be humble and honest with yourself.

[15:24] Dave’s Family Life

  • He’s proud of his kids, all of whom have an entrepreneurial spirit.
  • His eldest has gotten his PhD in computational microbiology. He started his own business in Canada, where he uses advanced computational techniques to treat cancer.
  • He talks to his son through social media, but he misses being able to hug him.
  • He has twins: his son is a digital nomad and works in civil engineering, and his daughter is an immersive theatre actor.
  • Dave is currently engaged.

[19:04] Dave’s Third Proudest Moment

  • Dave was Capgemini’s Program Director for their telecommunications sector.
  • They were in charge of delivering the billing system for Cellnet before the turn of the millennium; otherwise, it would be chaos.
  • They created vignettes of people that have done remarkable things.
  • Once they had achieved it, there was a sense of relief and satisfaction followed by a momentary recovery.

[24:17] Dave’s Secret to Success

  • Dave talks about sustainable success.
  • In sustainable success, it’s essential to maintain curiosity and remain optimistic. Look for learning experiences wherever you can. 
  • Hold on to strong values, respect others, and encourage innovation.
  • We judge and are judged not by what we say we do but by what we do.

5 Powerful Quotes

[6:26] ‘… if a student is taking that view [that this path isn’t for them], it’s a very positive decision because they’re taking responsibility for their future in their learning. And so we would support them […] What I would do is make sure that they’re taking the decision for the right reasons.’

[11:56] ‘… what you’ve got to do is practice, you’ve got to rehearse. If you’re giving a presentation to lots of people that you’ve never really engaged with, you just got to prepare.’

[13:04] ‘I think people look at it and think it’s a negative thing. It doesn’t need to be. I think it’s about being honest with yourself. Understand why you’re there. But equally, try not to let it impact on your relationships with other people.’

[25:11] ‘We judge people, and I expect myself to be judged not by what I say I do, but what I do.’

[25:36] ‘Every leader needs a big box of well done for our teams, a tin of persistence, a bottle of ambition, and a pack of tissues.’

About the Guest 

Dave Cooper is the Professor of Management and Economic Development and the Head of Business School at the University of Chichester. As Head of Department, he is responsible for developing, monitoring, and implementing new courses and programmes.

He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Computer Integrated Manufacturing. He formerly worked in the Aerospace industry and Capgemini. Joining the University of Chichester in 2003, he won several EU-funded research programmes. Dave is also a Chartered Engineer, a Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

If you want to know more about Dave, you can connect with him via LinkedIn.

Enjoy this Podcast?

Dave walks us through his career in education and emphasises the importance of curiosity and optimism in his journey. If you enjoyed today’s episode of The Mindset Mentor Meets, hit subscribe and share it with your friends! Everyone can find success by looking at their origins and building new connections.

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