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Making money out of what you love

Alex Ross
UEA Graduate

Al Gosling looks like a grown-up. His hair is relatively sensible and, although it isn’t tucked in, he is wearing a shirt with a collar. I think I half half-expected the CEO and Founder of a company called Extreme to be an over-enthusiastic twenty-something with spiky hair, bounding around, fervently showing everyone YouTube videos of skateboarders.

It’s reassuring that this isn’t the case, though. As a recent university graduate attempting to make the leap into freelance journalism, I’m relieved to meet somebody like Al who comes across as a relatively normal person. My days are mostly filled with firing pitches off to magazines and newspapers in the US and the UK in the hope that one of the dozens of emails I send out will catch on with somebody. In between, I spend my time chasing up bands and venues, trying to push my promotions company, Girl Colours, into new spaces.

It’s actually really fun. I get to spend my days doing – or at least trying to do – what I’m passionate about. Occasionally, though, between that fourteenth cup of tea and the fortieth pitch without a response, it gets tiring.

Talking all things extreme: Al Gosling meets UEA undergraduates

So Al’s speech is a spark. He’s tireless, speaking about his mistakes as exhaustively as he does his successes. And there have been plenty of those successes: launching his TV channel in 60 countries, investing in drag racing, opening hotels. He seems genuinely interested in the creativity of those in the room, too. Unable to hide a smile when he’s told that his last visit to UEA in 2006 inspired a group of students to start an Entrepreneurship Society, he talks in depth about the pitfalls of a new company and the ways to overcome them. He talks about challenges that he still faces today and the inevitability of failure. All of which would sound negative if it weren’t for his unwavering drive to push his creation forward.

So, that bit between the tea and the unanswered emails seems a bit silly now. If that pitch doesn’t get a response, I could always just call the editor, or write the article anyway. If a band doesn’t get back to me, I’ll find another one. I’LL START A BAND MYSELF. WE’LL BE BIGGER THAN KISS.

It’s definitely no stranger than buying some videos of snowboarders and then opening a chain of hotels.