I’ve never been that big on having a grand plan for my career. Things started well with a nice big slug of conformity and success, but after 10 years I was left thinking “Is this it? Is this the best we can do with people in organisations?”. I knew it wasn’t of course, but there were precious few companies around the globe that appeared to share my view. I guess my soul rejected the corporateness of it all, much like your body can reject a dodgy transplanted organ. And much like a transplant rejection, your body doesnt really have a plan for replacement of said rejected organ, it just hopes you have something better lined up!
So I left. I didn’t really have a plan, just a passion. The next few years were a bit of a blur, and a heady cocktail of highs and low’s. For someone who has deep rooted self doubt issues, those early days were, at times, incredibly stressful and more than once I questioned the logic of stepping off the corporate gravy train. And so did my wife ;).
But deep deep down, the security issues aside, I loved it and I learnt a few things along the way too. Over the years I’ve worked for companies large and small, established institutions with legacies stretching back centuries to startups flying by the seat of their pants. I’ve led HR, Business Development, Marketing, Operations and IT functions across many different sectors. Ive run a business, turned it around and sold it.
I also learned a few things about myself too. I could make things happen. I could bring those skills and experiences together for the benefit of others and make a difference. And so it was that 18 months ago I found myself entering the world of self employment. Again, no real plan. Just a quirky story and the same passion I’ve always had. There has been no time for reflection and self doubt. I adopted a strategy of “not looking down” and trusted in my instincts to find the right path. Which is exactly what happened and it has been one of the most rewarding periods of my career to date.
However, anyone who has attempted doing their own thing will be acutely familiar with the challenges of building a business, especially in consulting, on your own. You have, in general, three key challenges: 1) Find and win the work. 2) Deliver the work and 3) Stay on top of your game, keep yourself up to date. It’s a tall order, especially once you get clients on board. The niggling self doubt dwarf on my left shoulder wouldn’t allow me to immerse myself totally in delivery so I continued to commit time to meeting people, to keep the dialogue going, to explore. All of which seemed to deliver a very successful 18 months, but which proved exhausting. Over Christmas I decided I needed to find a way to scale, either by working as an associate with a company or by working with other independents, as I am now with Doug Shaw – more about him later.
“Ah! A plan” I hear you say! Well, almost. You see, despite the intention, in the middle of those exploratory conversations, one in particular caught my imagination and well, as any red top hack worth his salt would say, one thing led to another and… you can guess the rest. Yep, the new dawn. Over the next few months I’m going to be transitioning to join @rogerphilby and the rest of the @chemistrygroup team on a permanent, full time basis. If you dont know Chemistry, do look them up. They are one of this country’s best kept secrets. They have a client list to die for and anyone who has heard Roger speak about what they do, they achieve incredible results for those clients. More importantly though, they have a culture, and a team to die twice for. They practice what they preach; they eat their own dog food. With extreme gusto. Right up my street.
We haven’t decided on a job title yet; I get to make that up myself so expect something non conformist and left field. Chemistry already have a “Head of Amazing” in the business so I think I have a plenty of latitude 😉 They (we!) have big plans and judging by progress to date, it’s going to be one hell of a ride but more of that at some other point. Suffice to say I’m very excited and feel more than a little bit honoured to be joining the Chemistry team.
If I may though, a moment of reflection. I’m not big on regrets. After all, I’m here, right now, knocking out this blog, sitting in our lovely house, trying desperately to rally my two awesome children in preparation for going on holiday tonight and before my gorgeous wife, @footbug comes back from work and raises a knowing eyebrow at all the things left still to do. Nope, no regrets about my journey here.
You will recall that I mentioned @dougshaw1 earlier in the post. Doug and I have been talking about working together for quite some time now. You could even say “making plans”. Indeed, we are working together, on a great project with our friends at @careergro, helping them bring their awesome product to the UK market. Doug is one of, and possibly THE, nicest, warmest and most generous people I have ever met. Working – or rather plotting mischief – with him has been one of the highlights of my self employed journey and I have learned a lot from him. He not only has great knowledge which he shares unconditionally, he also a great ability to help others, including me, reflect and learn more about themselves.
Working with Chemistry will without doubt be one of the coolest highlights of my career. No question. However, against all odds, it comes tinged with a bit of sadness in that the plans Doug and I have been forming won’t, in their original format at least, come to fruition. Still, like I said at the beginning, I’m used to that. And my intuition tells me it wont be the end of our plotting. Watch this space.
So, to the Chemistry crew I say bring it on and I can’t wait to get started. To say I’m excited is an understatement.
To Doug I’d like to say a big thank you and that as far as I’m concerned the plotting doesn’t end here. It just won’t follow the original plan.
No change there then… 😉
Good luck, Gareth. I hope you get what you dream for.
Thanks Julian! I’m sure it will be a blast. Ive known Roger for a few years now so there is some common ground already. hope all is going well in Hong Kong!
It has been a pleasure working with you…you made the difference when it mattered. And I consider you a friend as well as a colleague. I am not going to wish you luck, as you do not need it, you are truly an asset, have so many wonderful gifts and I know you are going to achieve great things. x OraRuth www,hirematch.me
Wow, thank you OraRuth 🙂 Its been great working with you and likewise – getting to know you as a client and friend has been the best bit. A new chapter for both of us eh?! Thanks for commenting and catch you when I’m back 🙂
Sounds like a great opportunity! p.s. someday, I TOO want to work with Doug… 😉
Hi Robin! Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. Doug is great to work with. Not only does he m is his stuff, he is also really comfortable when he’s trying stuff he doesn’t know. He isn’t afraid to try, even if it doesn’t work out which I think is a great trait. And of course he’s great fun too 😉
Sounds like a fantastic opportunity. I wish you all the very best with it. I just took peek at Chemistry’s website (love the design); I’m looking forward to seeing the sketch of you on there!
I totally agree with everything you say about Doug. I’ve experienced working with Doug from a client’s perspective, and it is equally fun and worthwhile.
And I absolutely know what you mean in your heartfelt statement:
“Is this it? Is this the best we can do with people in organisations?”
Grrrrrrr. Aint it just so frustrating. But it’s a thing that gets under one’s skin, isn’t it, to somehow see if we can do better – whatever the route we take to do it.
lol yes the sketch! Think i’d best lose a few pounds first just in case the artist takes me too literally and I look one of Homer Simpsons neighbours 😉
You are right about the “getting under the skin” thing – in a way i guess we need these seemingly hopeless situations to act as the catalysts to change. I do feel we are at the beginning of a turning point though.
Thanks for the comment Flora – see you soon!
Hey I picked up this late – but what fantastic news! Always hear great things of Chemistry.
Well done fella! Catch up soon.
Gareth, I’m obviously a month and a half late to the party, but congrats. I love it when people forge their path and are excited about tomorrow. Cheers!