When I started my first Business Communications Agency.
(I think it was a Creative Agency.
Or a Design and Marketing Agency.
I’m not sure).
I was 30.
It was 1998.
I was really good at attracting really good people to join me.
Team members, I mean.
And they stayed.
You know what my most vivid memories of the early years are?
It was fun.
I smiled a lot.
My face still remembers the smiles.
How the smiles felt.
And I was really interested in people.
I was interested in everybody.
I didn’t compare because I genuinely wasn’t really bothered what the ‘Proper Agencies’ were doing.
I genuinely thought that because they were so much better than we were.
There was no point in comparing.
I was just having a nice time.
And all of a sudden.
We were selling a million pounds worth of what we did each year.
The First Ten Years.
In the first ten years we grew to 30 people.
And still they stayed.
But the last 5 years were different.
The Last 5 Years.
In the last 5 years I think we were a ‘Proper Agency’.
And it wasn’t so good any more.
I wasn’t so good any more.
I didn’t speak to my team much.
Things worked so I just let them run.
And only really intervened when things broke.
I’d butt in.
Because now I ran a Proper Agency I had much more important things to do.
Employing big people.
With big names.
And big salaries.
And weird things started to happen in my Proper Agency.
I was employing people I didn’t actually like.
I didn’t know how people actually felt any more.
How they ‘were’.
Across the team, I mean.
And I didn’t interface with so many clients, either.
I cherry picked.
And I also think I said things to individuals in the team that were unkind.
Or at least inconsiderate.
But whatever it said.
It was wrong.
I could analyse what was really going on in the last 5 years – forever.
And still not know.
Maybe I’d had enough.
And I was sabotaging.
Maybe I thought I was better than other people now that I had a Proper Agency.
So I was just less interested in some people than others.
I’m not sure.
What I am sure about though is that I’m not a bad person.
I bet I did bad things though.
Whatever was going on.
The Proper Agency that I’d created wasn’t fun at all.
I didn’t smile so much.
I wasn’t so interested in people any more.
Pondering instead such things as productivity.
Forgetting that high-level performance all those areas required.
Very soon after.
I’d closed all my agencies.
They were gone.
That happened almost ten years ago as I write this.
Amazing how time flies.
And I’ve been compelled to write this because only now do I feel that I am in the right place to reconnect.
In business, I mean.
I’m just more relaxed.
Back to not comparing whatsoever.
And I do mean that.
I just do what I do these days.
And it feels nice.
But I’d better be careful.
Because if I ever do get ‘Proper’ again.
If I ever do work out what I am doing.
If I ever do get past this ‘making things up as I go along’ phase.
If I ever do get past this ‘winging it’ stage.
If I ever do get past this ‘fun’ stage.
I might just fuck it all up again.