Hi there and a warm welcome to my blog.
"This is my personal blog, where I will post about stuff that's of personal interest to me - so it may not be your cup of tea (and that's OK). This may involve the seemingly mundane, spurious and sometimes interesting ramblings normally around the subject of my business life, my dogs, the things I enjoy and my friends. Apparently, I also cross over into other subjects, but I'm not convinced..."
I only started blogging on my favourite subjects in 2009, after re-discovering my passion for writing content following a period of reflection about where my life and career were headed. This is the bit about me you won't find in any CV.
Having worked as a senior consultant in retail marketing for the past 8 years, working with some of the world's top brands from the sports, telecomms and consumer electronics sectors, I have always had a passion for business and entrepreneurism. Ever since I worked my way through university as a security guard, I have written business plans for companies that I would one day start.
I experienced the sh*t end of the stick when, having left university, I went to work for my fathers printing company. His lithographic house became a fully fledged printers in the late 1990's, after the arse had fallen out of the platemaking and reprographics industry, effectively rendering the skills of the tradespeople obselete. Forced to diversify, they moved into digital print, introducing one of the first digital presses to the South of England - £200k worth of Scitex Spontane (it killed me when the auction following the companies liquidation sold this for a mere £12.00!) and then a Roland B2 press.
In hindsight, the writing had been on the wall for sometime, having had to endure bad debt after bad dept when the business ethics built on a handshake and goodwill were not sufficient to protect the business from hooky buyers and dodgy sales reps.
My father ploughed everything he had into the business, because he couldn't stand to owe suppliers. He remortgaged, sold their premises, but it wasn't enough. It drove him to drink excessively and quickly he spiralled out of control. In the first few months of working for him, I went from van driver to stand in MD as was ever absent.
One of my first acts, as a 21 year old, was to work with the insolvency practitioners to formulate a CVA, to lay off staff and cut the wage bill and to try and keep sales moving and pay the bills. All while trying to protect my family, my employees and my business in the process. Unfortunately, while the CVA was accepted unanimously by our suppliers, the factoring house were unable or unwilling to release funds against our debtor list.
So the business closed, and on my birthday in March 2003, we closed the business after 14 years of successful trading. I had to break the news to 8 guys, after having already gone through the same process only a few months earlier. It was to be "one of" the worst birthdays of my life. I learned some key lessons about business and life through this experience;
1. An entrepreneur should be fuelled by passion, but emotion should never cloud judgement
2. That you shouldn't be afraid to fail, failure is part of business, it is how you cope with failure, learn from and apply it that is important.
3. To treat staff, suppliers, customers and the process with respect and make decisions that are morally and ethically in the best interest of all parties. Don't be evil (ok, so I'm not the first to use that, thanks mr and mrs google).
The loss of the business hit my father extremely hard and his drinking spiralled out of control. In the end they lost the family home and my parents seperated. I didn't speak to my father much for the next few years as he spent time in and out of rehab clinics.
Eventually, it was 2007 and he was turning his life around. He moved back in with my mother and things were looking up. I was driving down to Woolacombe in North Devon for my birthday (yes that date again) celebrations with a few pals, when I received a call from my mother. Dad had been taken into hospital and scans had shown a shadow on his lung.
A few days later he was diagnosed with an aggressive and advanced lung cancer. It was terminal. He eventually passed away in August 2007. I was due to head out to Las Vegas for a conference and I remember standing in the foyer at BT's HQ at Newgate street, when I received the call from my mum, saying that he only had a few more days.
There is nothing like the trauma of bereavement to create a sense of reflection about one's own life. I decided;
1. That life is too short not to take (carefully researched and measured) risks, big or small.
2. That I would cope with any kind of trauma by dedicating myself to and refocussing on my passion, business and sports, rather than spiralling into depression through drink and drugs.
3. That what ever happens, you should always have your health. Even if you have no material possessions, as long as you are fit and healthy, in body and mind, you can always start again. There is no subsitute for this.
Why have I just subjected you to an abridged version of my life story? Well, we all have experienced trauma and chaos in our lives. What I've learnt is how you can apply these experiences in a positive way to build your character and make decisions that will enable you to dust yourself off, pick yourself up and try again. Hopefully next time, things will be a little easier and more successful. These are many of my motivators and drivers, things which inspire me from deep inside to do what I want to do and achieve my goals.
The first thing I encourage you to do is consider what inspires or motivates you, from your experiences - good or bad - and reflect on the decisions you made as a consequence. Did you curl up into a ball, all timid and afraid. Did you choose to try and forget by using alcohol or drug abuse as a means of escapism? or did you channel the pain into a focussed and determined new path for your life?
This is my blog. You can now understand where I'm coming from and hopefully share in where I'm going. And I hope it'll help you do the same.