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30 June 2009

Know where you're going in life... you might already be there

I had an interesting meeting at the end of last week - nothing like I thought it would be. This meeting was set up following another of my contacts recommended seeing him. On the tin, so to speak, John Whitfield from Grant Thornton is an insolvency practioner, but after spending a couple of hours with him it was quite clear he was not like the "stereotypical" IP that's for sure.

The message that came over loud and clear was his understanding of opportunity and recovery. As he put it, google him and you'll read about insolvency work and not the positive work he's done to help struggling businesses.  Highly professional, John shared with me his views of insolvency and the need to bring in expertise at an early stage - something that I strongly agree with.

Equally, I explained my background and the hopes I hold to help those with entrepreneurial spirit whether in education still and starting out on their career or someone that has been established and found the current recession too much to trade through. In return he agreed with me. Our conversation then turned to much more pressing issues based on the changing world we now live in forced upon us during these difficult times.  In particular we discussed at length the shift back to 'values' - family and personal values and as reasonably young (!) and successful business people we have realised that we all have been missing the point to some extent.

One of the reasons for breaking away from the 9 to 5 routine (not that I ever worked just 9 to 5 or had a 'routine') was based on wanting flexibility to be a better Mum and wife, to avoid office politics  (you know, the arguements over air conditioning etc!) and generally to enjoy life and work. I wanted to dictate my day not the other way round. As a consequence I am actually more productive and effective. During  the meeting, we laughed and shared numerous stories but then John told me about a recent email he'd received. I have to say that normally I hate such emails and they head straight to my DELETED ITEMS. He insisted that after all we'd talked about I should definitely read this one. When I returned to the office the email came through.

Let me share it with you...

Picture this, a beautiful picturesque fishing village with four fishermen finishing their day on the tranquil sea and just tieing the boat up. A tourist was just passing by when he stopped to comment on the quality of the fish they'd caught and asked how long it had taken them to catch them. "Not long" they replied The tourist asked "why didn't you stay longer and catch more then?" The fishermen explained that the fish would feed their families and meet their needs. Looking slightly puzzled, the tourist asked them what they did with the rest of their time. The four fishermen told him that the sleep late, fish a little, play with their children, enjoy siestas with their wives. They added that in the evenings they met their friends in the village, had a few drinks and played songs on their guitars. They said that they had full lives. The tourist interrupted by saying he had an MBA from Harvard and could help them.

He said "you could start by fishing longer each day. When you have extra fish you could sell them. With the extra revenue you could buy a bigger boat". One of the fishermen asked what would they do then "The bigger boat will allow you to make more money so you can then buy another boat and another after that until you have a fleet of trawlers. Once that's happened you could cut out the middle man and sell the fish directly to the processing plant and maybe even have your own plant. You could leave your little village and move to a big city like New York and build your empire". The fishermen asked how long this could all take. "Twenty to twenty-five years I reckon" replied the tourist. The fishermen then asked what would happen then? "Afterwards, that's when it gets really interesting. You'd be able to  buy and sell shares and make millions" explaind the tourist. "Wow, millions you say? Then what?" "Well after that you'll be able to retire,  gentlemen, to a beautiful little  picturesque fishing village where you can sleep late, fish a little, play with your children, enjoy siestas with your wives. In the evening you could meet friends in the village, have a few drinks and play songs on your guitars".

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT, KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING IN LIFE... YOU MIGHT ALREADY BE THERE AND YOU MIGHT ALREADY HAVE YOUR TRUE HAPPINESS YOU'RE SEARCHING FOR! John, thank you for a great meeting, the start of our working relationship and a superb email!