9 May 2011

I have just spent 2 weeks in my homeland at the foothills of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. It’s a magical place. It’s the land that time forgot and long may it stay this way. Anyone who knows me, knows just how important my time there is.

Considering the hectic duties of our Manchester business, UKFast, a place which is aptly named, I can’t remember a moment where we have ever come up for air.

Yet, in spite of craving the intensity and fast paced business life, I never tire of the Welsh countryside and there’s not a more beautiful time of year than this.

Time out is so important and the bigger UKFast gets the more I realise I need the complete switch off. I have come to learn that the peace and quiet of the mountains is a great place for me to get the time I need to reflect on important decisions.

Also, I love it. If I have learnt anything from my peers it is that life is so short, so just do the things that you enjoy the most. If you can combine what you love the most with what is absolutely necessary, you have the recipe for success.

You’d be excused for questioning why I chose a place where we had no internet, no phone, no mobile, and intermittent heating and water over a more exotic location but, for a man who lives and breathes the Internet, this is the only place I have found on earth that is remote enough to disappear in. It’s just perfect; it’s on my doorstep.

The journey back is always interesting as my mobile bleeps incessantly as it picks up the emails and texts that escaped me. Listening to the news, it is mind bending to hear what happens in the real world in just a 2 week period. Yet if you think about it, nothing really changes. The world has a habit of carrying on regardless of your absence.

I am lucky that I have a great team at UKFast who know what they are doing and they have a habit of running the business better when I am away! I am not sure what this says about me! However, I mustn’t grumble. UKFast is a collective of fantastic minds and personalities and it is designed in such a way that it develops in line with the team who run it.

So what’s new? What is on the horizon?

I left the business after a record quarter and, with a Royal Wedding imminent, there was talk in the business community of a disastrous April.  With millions of people timing their annual leave to take advantage of the bank holidays, I must admit that I had lowered my expectations of what we should expect. Yet, in spite of the holidays and the whole world glued to the telly (including me – yes I found one) for the Royal Wedding, April was a respectable month and we exceeded my expectations.

There were predictions that the Royal Wedding would cost the economy £6 billion. However, as an event, it showed Britain in its best light and it is wonderful to see so many people from all over the world coming together for something that we all relate to. Whatever cultural background you come from, everyone loves a wedding and as weddings go, what a spectacle it was.

In my opinion, this event plays an important part in Britain’s recovery. A buoyant economy relies on positivity and an underlying feeling of confidence. I can’t remember an event in my lifetime that united so many people from so many different walks of life. It is absolutely what we needed as a nation. With politicians intent on debating process and problems, we need to build from here.

Gordon “Bennet” Brown’s doom and gloom era is long gone. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s plain for everyone to see and if you are in business now is the time to remain positive and stick to your plans. After all, you can go away for a couple of weeks and the world won’t have changed, it’s just your perception of it that’s important.

So, when you are worrying about interest rates that may go up, or tax breaks that could be better, just remember that Britain earned the title “Great” and it’s the Great British public that achieved this. What is important now is not to forget that we are competing on a global level more than ever with emerging economies overseas. And this isn’t just in business; this is especially important in our schools and public services and in every walk of life.

I was asked to talk to some children at a local school once and I prepared my talk around the magic of what every member of the class was going to achieve.

There is no better way to inspire a room of 7 year olds than to tell them that they are the people who will be building the planes, trains, hospitals and schools of the future. That they will go on to run and shape the world.

So, let’s hope I am right. The signs are certainly there and we have a good cross section of businesses at UKFast and the general consensus is that trade is good.

And in the meantime, whilst I work away in Manchester, I know my mountains are in safe hands, guarded by HRH Prince William who keeps a watchful eye on the mountain ranges of Snowdonia in his SeaKing helicopter.

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