22 August 2011

So you want to be successful? Just how far are you prepared to go? Do you have what it takes? Do you know what it takes?

All these questions need answering if you stand a chance of making a difference in your lifetime.

The answers you give are all relative to the results that you will arrive at. The more committed, the more passionate, and the more determined you are, the bigger the outcome.

The same philosophy applies to everything in life: sport, parenting, education. It is so simple. If you want to be good at something, you have to get obsessed and practice over and over again until you become an expert. As Tony Robbins says, “Repetition is the mother of skill.”

Show me an expert and you will see in front of you a dedicated and committed person who understands the importance of self-sacrifice and application.

It’s safe to say that when I started UKFast I was a rookie and although I had been in business 12 years or so before as a musician and empressario, I was not really equipped for what lay ahead. I was also still making the same mistakes over and over again, not learning.

And now, although I have leant an enormous amount helping get UKFast up to its present size, I find myself at that rookie stage again.

It’s one of the challenges of running a business that is constantly growing. As soon as you get comfortable with the business, you wake up one morning and the number of people in the office has doubled again. With a plan to add 100 staff to UKFast over the next 18 months, I have it all to do.

I suppose this is one of the reasons why I get up in the morning. It might also explain why I get up so early!

I am often asked “what drives you?” It’s a great question because I am not 100% sure of the answer. I originally set UKFast up to make enough money to go back into the music industry. Ironically, I had to sell my 96 track digital recording studio to help get UKFast get off the ground. So that backfired somewhat. I lived for recording music and spent every spare penny writing and producing music. The music industry is further away now than when I set out on my journey 12 years ago. So, if it’s not the music then what is it?

It’s definitely not money. I enjoy a few of the finer things in life. However, most of my personal money goes on sport. The only things I value in life are the people and relationships I have with the people around me. So, maybe that’s it. Is it the people in my life that make me do what I do? I certainly wouldn’t work this hard for myself. This makes sense. I am sure those of you with wives, husbands and kids, find yourselves working considerably harder than the chapter of your life before. I just have a huge extended family now with UKFast and everyone who connects to her.

It doesn’t explain, however, why I have this obsessive gene but that’s for another blog perhaps.

I was interviewed by 2 dynamic ladies last week for an award we have been nominated for. They were clearly intrigued by the energy in UKFast. They asked me “what do you do when people repeatedly miss targets?” The right answer at this point in a normal business probably touches on “micro-management.” I simply said, “People are always going to occasionally dip. We will offer them support but invariably they will bounce back. If they don’t, we will find them another challenge within the business.”

They quizzed me further. I could see the doubt on their faces. However, I was not about to tell someone something that I didn’t believe in just to influence a potential award. I went on to explain that the only time people dip at UKFast is when they have problems in their personal or home life. Our job as managers and colleagues is to identify these problems, raise them discreetly and offer a helping hand or a solution. I passionately believe that if someone is unhappy for whatever reason, you not only have a duty to help but it also makes good business sense. If productivity falls as the result of distractions, the opposite applies when people are fully engaged and really happy at home and in their business career.

The next part of the interview process involved the 2 ladies interviewing 10 or so staff and asking them for their personal opinions about the business. Jonathan and I were kicked out of the boardroom at this stage.

After a good hour, we were invited back in. I was told “You should be really proud of your team Lawrence.” She’d asked them, “if you take away the beautiful offices, trips to Verbier, Wales, endless parties, the chef, would you still feel as passionate about UKFast?”

They’d all said “hell yea!” Stephen (a good friend and team member for 8ish years) piped up “this is just the gloss, I started when the business didn’t have all this and we were in a tiny office down the road. I come to work to compete, to make a difference.”

George said he’d never woken up and not wanted to come to work. Charlotte, who is my youngest manager at 24 this weekend, said “I know I can make a difference and I have the support of everyone around if I need help.”

I could feel the emotion swelling inside. If there was one defining moment why I work so hard and do what I do, it’s clearly linked to these awesome characters who I am lucky to work with.

After they’d left, Stephen popped his head into the boardroom. He said, “It’s like I said to them Loz, people don’t dip in performance here. If they do, it’s because they have problems in their home life.”

I realised just how far we have all come on our journey together. If my job is to help get the team aligned, here is a clear sign that my managers have a great understanding of people, each other and our values.

It doesn’t matter what role you have in life or why you exist on this great planet of ours, you are fundamentally put here to make a difference. It’s safe to say that the guys at UKFast do this in abundance.


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