If I died tomorrow would I be proud? Not really… I think to look down upon my own death at this point would feel ambiguous…
I don’t really feel I’ve achieved anything of warrant in my life for the most part.
My wife would tell you that I’ve saved lives at sea, or that I’ve ridden my motorbike alongside a free roaming tiger in India or swum with wild Dolphins in Egypt…
But I think within every one of us there’s a gauge for inadequacy.
You’re either too ignorant to know that you’re missing something genuine, too wealthy to care, or you’re too intelligent not to feel burdened by the weighing and measuring of your achievements. Then there’s the sociopaths, but that’s another story!
I guess the biggest issue I feel for the most part is that as human beings we just don’t know what we’re doing. The trick to life is how well you disguise that, that’s why guys like me struggle because it’s like an impossible process not to just blurt out the truth surrounding who we really are, or what we’re really thinking. Most people want you to bullsh*t them… to drip feel the bad bits into bite-size portions so that you don’t offend their delicate sensibilities – but that’s just not me.
I run my own business, so I’ve had hundreds of clients over the last 15 years and I’ve been doing all sorts of things, from commercial partnerships, to brand strategy, to new business development, you name it, if it generates a company revenue or helps them create a wider awareness surrounding their brand, then I probably know how to approach it.
The issue that seems to play out for the most part is this ridiculous concept of “that’s the way we do things” or “that’s the way we’ve always done it” – You may think those days are gone but they are NOT! Those sentiments are as ingrained in the inner workings of many industries, to the point that they’re crippling our economy, and no one even knows what’s going on!
I recently did an 18-month project for a leading men’s luxury retailer and at 18 months I just had to leave the business because it was such a toxic atmosphere and the whole company was run purely on vanity, definitely NOT logic! From the eCommerce, to the social media and beyond, most elements of the business were outsourced, so you’d have a social media manager, who didn’t fully understand social media, getting paid a full time wage to run a team of three people who knew very little, to essentially manage a ridiculous ad spend budget and actually outsource all of the delivery of anything, to a 3rd part company for delivery… Worse still is the average return was less than 5% the add spend… Imagine that scenario in 3 or 4 divisions of a business. That’s not something that the shareholders are ever going to hear about being broken right, but that’s where all the profits go and that’s where the company fall’s flat and fails to get anything productive done efficiently. You haven’t got time to innovate when you’re fighting fires.
Then you consider the money spent on vanity marketing, paper-based ad’s in the FT, celebrity’s, sponsorship, all the intangible, unsustainable or gaugeable routes to what your ultimate aim is… the money in the til.
The problem is, everyone’s more interested in keeping a monthly wage rolling and job hopping until that increases, with little innovation or accountability.
This company in question had an out of touch, narcissistic CEO, a brand director who seemed to be winging it and clearly had no idea what to do commercially and a CMO who seemed more comfortable with a bottle of wine of a lunchtime than actually doing anything productive… the problem in this scenario? Seems obvious right? But the problem is that no one is Policing this.
As an individual I’m often seen as a bad egg because I call it as I see it. Some staff don’t like me because I am open with directors about anyone with a distinct lack of, well, actually doing any work at all… Brands pay me to come on board and be the guy who will dive on a grenade to evolve them, the guy who has their focus, energy and consumer commitment tattooed to his chest… they pay me to innovate, to spot process bottle necks and to deliver new streams of revenue and opportunity, but when you get to the point of delivery and you’re honest, you tell them what needs to be done, but it’s rare that you get anywhere regardless of the top directors agree with your findings there’s always too much politics – it will upset him or her, or it proves the CMO has been messing about for years if you succeed etc… and that’s not how a company should be run, it should be run like a Star Trek Vulcan was running it, based on logic… sure you need a few crazy space cadets along the way for some personality, but the primary decisions should be based on cost, risk to the business and return on investment.
I’ve spent around 15 years being paid to tell companies what to do in advance so that they create sustainable new business development, commercial and strategic sales processes that will ensure the longevity of their company. I’ve also spent 15 years waiting for them to get their finger out and actually make those changes…
I’ve told companies of their eventual demise on numerous occasions, with strategy in place to change their stars, and then had to watch as they didn’t pay attention and the company died or got acquired to stave off the wolves.
I found 31 commercial partnerships for this British brand I mentioned, within 9 days of being in the business… It took them 7 months to give me a contract to close those partners… At 18 months I left because they’d only allowed me to sign up a couple and because they didn’t understand how to best manage the process internally once I closed a partnership. Which consisted only of working with a CRM chap and getting some content from someone in marketing for each partner initiative. At some point you have to bite the bullet and stop flogging the horse, but I genuinely believe I could have built that business over time to upwards of £1billion in turnover… my initiatives are still making them millions of incremental revenue every quarter, I’m just not there to innovate them so they’ll eventually die off… such a waste!
I spend a lot of time away from my family doing what I’m doing, and it all seems so pointless, I’ve made so many companies millions and still never managed to find someone who’d cherish my loyalty, as opposed to screwing me out of my % so they can keep as much of the immediate pot of gold over thinking long term.
I just don’t see the point…
I honestly feel like most days I’m lost. I literally want to do something that means something!
People so often say, “Thomas you always seem so happy and I love your energy” but ultimately that’s because I shield the negativity for the most part, as people will distance themselves from you if you’re too open. Something that’s evident in my experience.
Anyway, time to slap a smile on and crack on again. Just hope that at some point I find a role where the fit is everything I’m after. It just feels after 15 years like that fit may never come.