It wasn't until I was selecting my degree subject for Leeds University that I started to think about what I wanted in life. Up to this point in time the only thing I'd really had going for me was my aptitude for mathematics and a keen sense of achievement.
Throughout my life I had believed that having a steady career and getting a well respected job was the norm and that's what I set out to do. I made a plan, it was to get a high paying job in IT and work in the financial industry, simply because I recognised that this was the best paying industry for IT services. On my mind I had only one thought at this time of my life, I want to make lots of money.
After graduating with a BSc in Computer Sciences, I went on to complete a MSc in Information Systems, partly because I wanted additional qualifications to get the jobs I wanted. On leaving Leeds, I went to work on getting the roles I wanted but things didn't go according to plan.
I never did get into the graduate training programs like I planned, other candidates were simply getting chosen, so an alternate plan was hatched. I decided I would work somewhere for 1 year, get work experience onto my CV and then get that dream job in the finance industry.
So, CV in hand I applied for any job going that was moderately decent
and soon ended up working for British Aerospace within their IT security department. This was the experience I needed. The idea was to do 1 year in this role and then take that experience on the CV and get a job in the City of London.
The plan was starting work, after a year I once again went and interviewed and very quickly found a step in role working for FNX Ltd, a big move in the right direction towards, or so I thought at the time.
Working there was great, I loved being in London, working for decent wages and all things seem to be moving well in the right direction. I was on top of the world, having a great time in life and spending my hard earned cash on gadgets, gizmos and a lot of games! I loved playing console computer games and that's something that I did a lot in my spare time. Little did I know what was to come in my own self discovery.
As time progressed, things started to crack and it really wasn't that long before I started to sink and question myself as to what I was doing and what I really wanted in life. There were several incidents at work which revolved around supporting trading systems at major banks that really caused me to start rethinking.
There I was, sometimes doing 15 hour days, with the longest being a 17 hour day, and I wasn't being paid well enough for it. I think I began to question my own value and whether I was worth it, and ultimately my whole world shook apart when finally 3 years into that role, I had a breakthrough moment where I decided that enough was enough. If FNX weren't prepared to reward me for my value, I would leave. I gave them an ultimatum, "raise my salary or suffer me leaving.".
When we look back at life there are turning points which act like u-bends in our lives. This was one of those moments for me. The manager said "NO", and I said, "Goodbye".
I had no plan
I had little savings and suddenly my realisation was that this wasn't what I wanted to do all along. I had worked so hard on my studies and made choices based on old values and now I just didn't know what I wanted and what mattered. Money was important, but I discovered that being happy and life fulfilment was much more valuable.
It took me another 9 months of pottering around, by which point I had managed to spend all my money and get myself into £20,000 worth of debt, that I needed a new plan.
One thing I was always good at was setting a goal and a plan.
I would later realise that this is one of the best strategies to achievement, when your goals and plans are detailed enough to implement with precision.
The new plan was to run my own company. A complete deviation from the career path, a choice which was slammed by the parents and regarded as idiotic by my friends. I simply wanted to be the director of my own life, to take responsibility and create a life that was worth living, a life where what I did matters to other people and to the betterment of the planet.
2001 was the year it began and now in 2012, I'm happy to say that 10 years on and I'm really pushing forward in my new ideas and how I'd like to make an impact on the planet. I've since achieved a lot and lost a lot in the process, but these are all learning lessons we have to take on.
As things started getting better and better, soon my immediate motivation of needing money faded away and I could replace it with higher ideals, and it was only then that I realise the importance of having a vision, having higher values and how that plays into the equation of becoming better at life and at business as a result. It wasn't all rosy, there were still many failures in decision making, buying choices and business ideas which simply did not work!
Failing upwards is something that I think we all need to do more of.
Each time you fail, you only find another way how not to do it.
Luckily I've managed to build my business and also consulted, invested and advised on many other businesses as well, acting as consultant through to board level and director level appointments in other companies.
I've built my own property portfolio and enjoyed many of the rewards and luxuries which success brings with it, all the time understanding that money is important, but only as a value mechanism to explore other opportunities for life's wonderful experiences.
How did I do it?
I worked hard! In fact, though I didn't know it at the time, I followed almost to a tee what Arnie said in his now famous 6 Rules speech at the USC Commencement Address in 2009. These were his rules
- trust yourself
- break the rules
- don't be afraid to fail
- don't listen to the naysayers
- work like hell
- give something back
It wasn't easy, I had to learn a completely new range of skills and a completely new industry. I got into affiliate marketing and internet marketing and I had no knowledge of marketing, internet, business or anything related to my new business.
Most people start out in business doing something they know or have experience in, I chose to do it in an industry I knew nothing in, furthermore I was extremely introverted at the time and had to get out of my shell to learn the concepts of networking, socialising, communications and building rapport. All skills which has taken me 10 years to learn and I still consider myself to be a complete beginner.
There's a lot I can ramble on about, but I think for the purposes of keep this page short, please read my full story in my book, 12 Startup Success Secrets.
Needless to say, I'm here to stay now, as an internet entrepreneur entering his teenage years (in business terms), I now beginning to see the bigger picture and how things come together.