I am currently in Barbados, where I came on honeymoon 25 years ago. And if you were here with me on the balcony with a local Bajan woman sitting on the road under our balcony, singing something unrecognisable in a smooth unobtrusive way, you would see the beautiful Caribbean sea sparkling through the palm trees here the soft rustle of the leaves moving in the gentle breeze.
And I was thinking about the last 25 years and how different my life is today as a result of a decision I made when I was 16 years old and knew nothing (though I thought I knew everything).
When I was 16 and my Dad asked me what I wanted to do when I left school and Uni, I said I didn’t know, but I did know that I was going to run my own business by the time I was 40. And so it was!
25 years ago – when I last came here – I was employed by Yellow Pages. I was earning a pretty good wage, and I was good at my job and there were a lot of fun times. But looking back I can see how stressed I was most of the time. As a sales environment you were only as good as your – or your teams – last set of results. Life was unpredictable, and chaotic, and at the same time very structured and quite rigid (there was no discounting for example in those days). If you worked there – you will understand what I mean.
Not long after I got into recruitment by accident. An opportunity came up and I took it. Although I had just taken a high level job at Yellow Pages which would have seen me move eventually to Milton Keynes, I knew I was never going to be able to open a business in directory advertising. And so – after a project rewriting the internal recruitment process at Yellow Pages – an opportunity came up to get into recruitment. I saw this as something I COULD potentially open a business doing and told the person interviewing me that was my plan when he asked where I saw myself in 5 years.
That visionary guy was Simon Arber, co-founder of Computer Futures (later to become the S3 Group). Simon hired me anyway! And then did his best to keep me in the business. I was promoted to regional manager after 2.5 years after returning from maternity leave (very progressive company and very equality driven despite the initial lack of women in the business).
And so – as I had outlined in that interview, 5 years later you will see me running the first of my 3 recruitment businesses and surviving the worst recession we have known, which wiped out 50% of the recruitment agencies in the UK. And training clients and staff alike how to recruit on culture using the system I had developed at Yellow Pages. I had finally decided to write a book (The Book on Recruitment – available here and had been invited by a friend to a free ‘authors weekend’.
It was here that I made another life changing decision – though like most life changing decisions, the implications were not obvious at the time. It was here that I decided to stay and listen to a short slightly arrogant guy on stage called Andy Harrington, talking about public speaking. I don’t know why I stayed because I considered myself a pretty good public speaker, in fact I had taught ‘train the trainer’ and coached people how to speak from stage. Anyway, something moved me to listen for a few minutes, and as I did I was hooked.
Andy is a world class public speaker who is now also a friend and has changed the way I see myself, my business and my public speaking. The business I set up 2 years ago – Strategy Social Media – has been structured in a very different way to my previous businesses and as a result has seen phenomenal growth and grown to a team of 11 in 2 short years.
Next month I am launching my Dream Board – which is a mastermind group focused on those who want to grow their business fast. There are only 2 ways to grow your business – fast or slow. Having tried both – I prefer fast, for lots of reasons I won’t go into here. Of course, there are also dangers of growing fast – but as long as you are prepared for them, fast beats slow every time in my opinion.
If you want to grow your business fast and you want to know more about the Dream Board – drop me a line and lets have a coffee sometime when I am back from my island in the sun!