5 March 2014

I often find that you learn the most on occasions when it’s you who’s supposed to be doing the teaching. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was invited to speak to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs at an event run by the Prince’s Trust.

Looking at the walls where they had stuck big A5 posters of their business ideas was an eye-opener. Their aspirations and ambitions were really great to see, but one poster stood out like a big dark cloud, casting a huge shadow. It was a list of the cons involved in working for someone else and it was a pretty dismal piece of evidence when it comes to the UK jobs market. What kinds of companies are we creating when our young people feel, amongst a number of things: disposable, underappreciated, bullied, overworked and underpaid? My god! If I thought my team felt like that, I’d shut down UKFast the next day!

The to-don't list

The to-don’t list

I advised these young entrepreneurs, the next generation of leaders and innovators, to use that list to create a company that was the complete opposite. I’ll come back to this subject another time because there’s a lot more to say about the pros and cons of working for yourself versus the pros and cons of working for someone else, but that’s for another day when I can sit down and really hammer away at the laptop keyboard! For now, I think it’s fair to say that today’s business leaders need to really think about what kind of company they’re running and how its culture (or lack of) is affecting the people within it.

One of the things written on the list of negatives was the phrase “dream stealers”. Personally, I think it’s a travesty that this is how our young people are experiencing the world of work. I have great belief that the young people I had the pleasure of meeting yesterday will choose to create dreams, not to steal them. I look forward to seeing these dreams come true.

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