From failed Pop Sensation, wannabe Rugby star, to infantry marksman, CEO, business author and Rainmaker!
It’s been a fine journey, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it; oh, apart from the skin-tight pants, perhaps! Oh, and perhaps my first school reports announcing, I would probably do better in lessons, if I spent more time concentrating and less time in the ‘Wendy-House’, with my legs dangling out the window, daydreaming! Back in the day, I was labeled as a Child with learning difficulties. These days it’s called having teachers who fail to engage with those who are more creative than academic!
I’m guessing the headmaster would not have predicted that some years later that day-dreamer would be CEO of an international business with HQ’s in Cambridge and Pittsburgh! I’m also pretty sure my English teacher would be dumbfounded at the prospect of me being a published author! The number of times my teachers told me I wouldn’t achieve anything in my life, unbelievable, but I guess I owe them thanks!
Telling me what I wasn’t capable of doing, was probably the biggest motivator I experienced in the early days, even though it was not intended to be; That’s kind of an own goal for them, and a pivotal moment for me!
In my early school years, I was just another kid who wanted to play football and war games. Later I discovered music, it would not have been unusual to see me running across the playing field, hopping over the hedge to meet my cohorts, to listen to music instead of attending double maths! I may have been one of the original disciples of ‘fake it till you make it.’ You’d have surely agreed had you seen me with my bleached blond shoulder length hair, black capped sleeve tee-shirt, skin-tight pants and Green-Flash plimsoles!
I was encouraged to follow my aspirations to be the next Noddy Holder by my drama teacher. No surprise when you learn she was also the drama teacher of Sir Cliff Richard, some years earlier, I mean many years, I must point out! To get to the point my aspirations to become the next big thing didn’t quite work out. So with heavy heart, I looked for an alternative career path. Then it happened I had the second of my epiphanies if I couldn’t make it in music I would become the best Rugby player I could be. In those days you couldn’t get paid for playing as it was still an amateur game. So I decided the best way to achieve that goal was to merge it with my desire to travel. So I joined the infantry.
Leanring to dig holes and shoot at people, in a variety of exotic places around the world, is a skill I’ve never found a place for in business. But the important thing is the lifelong friends I made during that time, my brothers in arms.
After six active service tours, a fist full of qualifications, that I am still trying to make use of; Combat Survival Instructor, Long-Range Reconnaissance, Escape and Evasion, and many a game of rugby in some very exotic and hair-raising places, it was time to change tack. After 13 years of saluting things that moved and painting things that didn’t, I decided to embark on a new career in the world of business. Clearly with no experience in business, apart from the selling key-rings to my fellow school buddies to supplement my pop star lifestyle, and the N.Ireland photographs of murals I sold to my fellow soldiers as souvenir keepsakes, to supplement my income and support my rugby habit, I had no real business experience.
My post-army career started with the TSB bank as a financial adviser, it was here that my colleagues awarded me the nickname of cb. I arrived with no experience, spent two weeks on a course and at the end of it was handed the keys to a new car with a pre-loaded boot full of application forms! I soon learned that I could do this as an independent, supply the products for less commission and still earn more than I was with TSB. So started my true love affair with all things business. All through this journey, I was writing as a hobby. In the heady days of pop, I was writing songs. In the Army, I was writing presentations and speeches for various uses. With the TSB I wrote a short book on sales, it wasn’t that great and never saw the light of day. My first solo business was a complete failure, I failed to plan, I failed to research and I had no hook to attract customers. Nonetheless, this was one of my pivotal moments in business, the lessons learned were significant and vital to my future endeavors.
My first business was not the greatest of starts, but boy, what a great classroom that turned out to be! What’s more nobody needed saluting and I didn’t have to ‘bull me boot’s at night’!
My second business was much better and without formally planning, it became the launchpad for my third business, let me explain: I had become frustrated at the lack of software support for my sector and so took it upon myself to design a solution using relational databases. Within a year I was earning more, selling the software than I was as a Financial Adviser! This opened many doors for me, including the opportunity to start taking on other challenges. One such challenge was riding from Lands End to John-O-Groats for charity. Something else I am passionate about and have maintained, over the years. I eventually sold the rights to the software and started perhaps my biggest project.
From a standing start, I designed and built a Financial Services support business, attracting some great people along the way, who were instrumental in its success. From that standing start, we took it to well over £13 million and then started the process of replicating it in the US. Eventually, the business was sold and I stood down as CEO and returned to the UK. This is where I took another pivot and decided to concentrate on my writing, motivational speaking, mentoring passionate business people, and some consultancy work under the cb branding. Concurrent to this I published three books and undertook some creative writing, articles and brand stories for a number of businesses in the UK. The story continues…
My passion is writing content to match your needs, you should never underestimate the power of words and their influence in business. Writing great content is what I do, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning!