21 February 2016
I never mapped this path. This wasn’t what I had in mind.
You might think with my talk of Goal Setting that I’d planned this to the letter. Oh if only life were that easy!
My real plan, my earliest one, involved music. I visualised myself sat in a recording studio producing music to make people melt, bring tears to their eyes and dance like it was their last night on earth.
That was my vocation it always was. From 7 years old being given a singing scholarship to one of the greatest music schools in the country, Durham Chorister School, I set out on my journey. It was my vocation.
It’s interesting because whilst music is my first love and I can’t believe I have sacrificed it for so long, it was the school and the inspirational leaders who drove us, expecting such high standards from us that nowadays, no matter what I am doing, I don’t understand the word compromise or average.
We were taught intensity and passion and that was whether you were singing at the top of your voice or whispering, the intensity would always be turned to 10 on the dial.
So travelling back from a holiday with my family, with a 4th daughter on the way, a business with such potential to sky rocket. I have as usual some tough decisions to make.
Ironically when I set out with UKFast it was only supposed to be for a couple of years. “Make enough money to be able to keep clothes on our backs and to spend my life writing and building a family.”
Well I have sort of done that, although the writing is putting pen to paper and there’s no manuscript in sight.
Its funny how things turn out. I got the bit between my teeth after feeling aggrieved from one or two businesses and competitors early on in our journey at UKFast and I have never looked back.
But when is it time to call it a day? I have been offered sums of money for UKFast which would mean I’d never have to work again and my family are set up for life. It would give me a lifestyle I could never achieve by staying involved with UKFast as it would take hundreds of years to accumulate these sorts of amounts. In Britain, you only really become mega wealthy when you sell a business, or run it offshore!
There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. There are not enough years left in me to discover all the unanswered questions.
And what about my original goal and passion?
What surprises me is how UKFast and the challenges of running such a complex technical business has managed to keep me on my toes for so long focussing and learning, day in day out and away from the piano and recording studio.
It doesn’t seem possible when I’d spend every last penny to be in a studio morning, noon and through the night as a young man.
Yet I have felt incredibly satisfied and fulfilled with my role and duties within UKFast. Somewhere down the line, it took over my life and I never had time to reflect. In tech you can only look forward and there is no time for reminiscing and remonstrating.
But after 16 years on this tangent, I can’t help thinking its time to call it a day.
I have loved the idea of being a musician for so long and I am immensely proud to have been a professional pianist for a decade in Manchester.
So it looks like I have some decisions to make.
I am known only for my work within business and tech, not music. A year ago I received my proudest moment being honoured by the Queen with an MBE for my work in the digital industry. This year I have been graciously gifted a doctorship for my work as a businessman.
I always seem to get official letters when I am out of the country. My assistant read a letter from the Prime Minister whilst I was away, thanking me for my contribution towards entrepreneurship.
My life has changed so much and I can now see so much more that I can do both for UKFast and the amazing people who work there, even the country as an entrepreneur, inspiring others and helping teach and show people the way.
I can’t do everything well and if I truly am not someone who compromises, I have to commit to one or the other, once and for all and get on with the task in hand.
And no matter how much it breaks my heart to know that I will never have the time to truly change the world in music, I know that my responsibilities as a business person, all be they unplanned and unexpected, warrant my unequivocal attention.
At a time when the country is torn between Europe and Doctors and Nurses blame governments past and present for failings in the Health service, Britain needs business owners to stand up and make a difference and to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Somehow and don’t ask me how, it looks like we are building our first school, but if I am truly to help the next generation, I have to help at the coalface, and not as a theorist.
I suppose I can still romantically class myself as a conductor and the musical notes and phrases are the stories and achievements made up by the incredible people I work with.
Conducting should be effortless when you work with the best professionals and I honestly believe the team around me at UKFast are not only world class, they are capable of anything.
So as I close the lid on the piano and say goodbye to a dream I once had and one that I have cherished from my earliest memories, and anyone who knows me from my childhood will know how much this hurts, its time to embark on this next adventure, wholeheartedly and to help others make a difference.
UKFast is too amazing an organisation to give anything less than 100% and even that’s not enough!