A Long Story Short

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Growing up I was just an average kid from an average family, living in average England. There was nothing special about me and I certainly didn’t have any silver spoons. My parents got divorced when I was seven or eight years old, and this impacted me quite dramatically. But one thing that I always had was the love that came from my family.

My father lost his business and had to start from scratch when I was still quite young. There were definitely some lessons that I took from that. Seeing someone that I loved and admired having to build himself from the ground up after losing everything made me realise that if you work hard, you’d ultimately get there. It also gave me the determination that I needed to succeed.

School was always horrible for me. I remember the day that I finished school and how excited I was to do something else- although back then the only thing that I wanted to be was a ski instructor! After some practical exams I went on to become an instructor and taught people how to ski, but my mother was never very happy about this. She told me that times needed to change quickly, and that I needed to pursue a professional career.

On the day of my first ‘professional’ job interview my mum told me that I needed to give it my all, but all that I could think of was that I didn’t have a clue as to what a salesperson actually does, and I wasn’t interested in pursuing it as a career. But in hindsight it was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’ll always be grateful to my mum for making sure that I went through with it.

I went on a train up to London for my job interview and I met two guys who asked me about my background and history, and then one of them asked me to sell them a pencil. I’ll never forget this moment. I made them laugh, I engaged with them and built some rapport and they landed up offering me the job on the spot. I couldn’t believe my luck. My first job as a trainee salesperson started shortly after this.

After some training my life for the next eighteen months was to do 100 door-knocks every morning, and 100 cold-calls every afternoon. Whether I wanted to or not, this was what I had to do every single day. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life because even though I hated lots of it, it taught me so many things and I learnt so many valuable lessons. More importantly, it taught me how to sell.

The two guys that I worked for at my first job- David Shillingis and Eric Pomfret were so supportive and played an incredibly instrumental role in my career early on.

A couple of years after starting my first sales job, I went for an interview for the chance to live and work overseas selling financial advice. I got the job and I was sent across to Bangkok in Thailand as my first overseas posting. I was so excited to go on a new adventure. However it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

I remember walking around Bangkok when I got there to try and get my bearings and all that I could think was ‘what on earth am I doing here and why have I done this?’ I went back to my hotel room, sat on the edge of the bed and cried. I was twenty-three years old and I didn’t know what I’d done. I phoned my mum and told her that I wanted to come home, and she said: “No. You’re not coming home. You’ve made a commitment, and the company have offered you a job. You’ve got to stay there for the next three months and give it your very very best. Be committed and if it doesn’t work out after three months then you can come back, but you’re not coming back before then”. This was the best piece of advice I ever got!

My boss in Bangkok told me that people wouldn’t trust a twenty-three year old with their life savings. He told me that I’d have to stand out and be different, and the only way I’d stand out is by being really smart and truly knowing my subject. He bought me every single book that was available about wealth, financial management, and financial services. For three months I studied these books. In school I had never been a fan of studying, but this time there was a purpose- this was going to help accelerate my career.

Over the years my career became more and more successful. I was one of the best wealth managers in the international arena. But with success came arrogance. I started believing that I was above other people and this was an ugly characteristic.

One day I was knocked down to earth with an almighty bang when my CEO- the guy that I’d helped build a business with decided that he didn’t want to carry the business forward with me any longer. After being at the company for sixteen years, he no longer thought I was the right person for the job.

The following day I was told that my back was broken and that I needed spinal surgery. In addition to this, my partner told me that our relationship was going to end. In just a few days, I experienced three massive blows.

This sent me to a very dark place. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to continue living. I’d had enough of the world and I hadn’t accepted the fact that I was actually responsible for what had happened. The wind was knocked out of my sails for a long time after this.

It was my family and close friends that ultimately pulled me out of this dark place. They gave me hope and made me realise that there was in fact lots to live for. My kids kept me grounded, and my now-wife Anna and friends Danielle and Sarah were very supportive. They were there for me when I needed it the most. When you look around and see the wonderful people you have around you, it gives you a reason to re-focus. In my case it allowed me to pick myself up and face the right direction and actually look forward to my future.

The experience that I went through gave me the opportunity for a new beginning. It made me identify and address what it was that I really wanted to do, which was to help people.

I wanted to help people grow and have better lives and be more successful. I knew I had the skills, I knew I had the experience, and I knew that I could make a difference. And this is how make-it-happen was born.

Make-it-happen was born from the desire to get people out of their armchairs, up on their feet, and focused on their careers. My aim is to improve people’s performance in order for them to have a better, more enjoyable, more fulfilling life.

It’s quite simple: if you want to have the life that you dream about, then you’ve got to change your story. Remove the excuses, because if you change your story, you’ll change your outcome. And if you change your outcome, you’ll have a much better life.

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