19 January 2014
It’s my youngest’s 2nd birthday party today and along with the obvious celebrations it’s a great reminder of a very special day 2 years ago when Gail brought Coco into this world. I love parties. They are a great reminder of a moment in time, a time stamp of a different era. It’s so much easier to look back at a momentous occasion and remember the emotions and achievements of the time with clarity as if it were only yesterday.
Without these measurements in time, it would be very difficult to know whether we were progressing and this, in turn, becomes reason itself to celebrate the moment even more, knowing you will be looking back in years to come with pride at the achievements of today’s special occasion.
On reflection, that snapshot of life back then was very different. We were living in our flat in Manchester, as our home in Hale was being renovated. Gail and I have always managed to remain disciplined with UKFast and whatever happens in our home life doesn’t impact on the day to day running of UKFast, but it was tough at times.
The hardest part from my perspective when your wife and business partner is having a baby, is knowing I am losing my greatest director for a year. We live, eat and breathe business and whilst I get a great deal of the credit for UKFast, anyone who knows me, the business, Gail and the team knows that UKFast is a culmination of effort from a bunch of extraordinary people. The most important of these in my eyes is Gail.
Yet from that small flat in Manchester the 5 of us lived for a year, very happy with our new arrival.
I have no idea how we managed it looking back. And in those 2 years we’ve built 3 data centres, moved 10,000 servers, offices and more or less doubled staff and turnover. All in what feels like a blink of an eye. Anyone who has kids will know the feeling of amazement at how fast they grow up. I am showing my age just by making this comment!
And life today? We are living in our home, it’s finished (only just) and so it’s easy to switch off with all the creature comforts and places to hide and work. It’s so much easier than being on top of each other in the flat with a new born and 2 kids with energy that rivals mine, that’s a challenge.
I made so many mistakes; finding myself in that situation was one of them. It’s safe to say that I let the side down, yet she never complained and she’s always believed in me and never waivered.
When people wonder why I try so hard and why I put so much effort into everything I do, this is why. It’s called teamwork. We do it together because on our own it just wouldn’t be as much fun.
I am often asked ‘what do you think are the secret ingredients to being successful’, and without a doubt it’s the same thing, but it works across a much wider environment, everyone knowing their place and the part they play in the bigger picture.
Teamwork works best when people pull together and whilst there is challenge and competition amongst the team mates, there is no place for conflict and no place for ego. This starts from the top and works down.
Managers who are more concerned with how they are perceived and being popular, find it difficult to make the tough choices at those crunch times.
I love a business where people can challenge each other, myself included. It’s worth not embarrassing people though and if you disagree with someone try and not do it publically. Find a quiet place and have a word. Sort your differences out behind a “glass wall” before going back out on the floor. But be warned, once you have agreed something, your word is your bond. Never go back on it.
So whether you are looking for the perfect partner in your home life or business, or both in my case, or if you are growing a team at work, or building a family, set yourself some milestones. Look for reasons to celebrate. When we were just 3 people in an office, we’d celebrate a good week with fish and chips in the local pub around the corner from the office. Now a-days we have hundreds of accolades being shared out across the year and right across the business. Ultimately, it’s much more fun to grow something together and if you are doing well, it makes sense to celebrate with the people who are helping you on the journey.
As a manager or business owner your duty is to motivate your team and part of that is making sure they feel valued.
But when you do celebrate, make sure you reflect and cast you mind back to the year before, or the tougher times of yesteryear and measure that gap. That’s the area where momentum is created and the magic happens. Above all else, find a way to enjoy every moment of every day. You only get one shot at this life, unless you are super lucky like me, (and I wouldn’t recommend reliving that one!) so rally around some support, get some goals written down on paper; family ones, personal ones, business ones. Commit to making some changes in your life and start measuring. Promise to throw a party when you cross the line and watch the difference a motivated workforce can make. Tiny changes across a long period make a huge difference.
Have a great year ahead. Enjoy building your team. There is nothing in life more fulfilling.