It’s difficult to believe that my business journey has spanned over a quarter of a century. Reflecting, it would be all too easy to indulge in a clouded nostalgia highlighting only the achievements and success I have been so lucky to enjoy. Success, in my opinion, is not innate. The values and drive necessary to attain success however, are.
My determination and drive has shocked those around me for as long as I can remember. Once on a holiday in the Isle of Skye, I turned around to see that my father Ken, Uncle John and his 2 sons, both in their late teens, had disappeared to the local pub. I was particularly put out that they had left me, the youngest at around 13, with the ladies. I asked the direction of the pub and as I ran down the drive I heard someone shout "but its 6 miles away!"
It is amazing what you can achieve when you are focussed. I had never run like that before. It was different to the times at school running futilely around the sports field. This time, I had a purpose, a destination and most importantly, a point to prove. It was a hot day and I arrived shortly after the men had sat down, they were about a third of their way into their pints.
They were taken aback when I calmly pulled up a chair beside them. They were convinced I'd got a lift at first.
When it was time to leave, I was desperately in need of a lift home. I was tired and beginning to ache. One of the men said, "So, I suppose you will be running back then too?"
"Of course I answered" as if there was simply no other option.
I set off down the road, jumped over a fence as I now knew the way and headed across the fields.
Later that evening, I overheard my Uncle John speaking to my father; “That boy Ken,” he alleged “will overcome anything and achieve whatever he sets his mind on.”
This moment of harmless adolescent earwigging was to become a driving force which to this day burns deep within my soul.
I tell you this story because it is important for me to share with you the reasons why I am the way I am. There is no point me simply telling you this is the way. It is the reasons why that drive us. A light is very useful in the dark, but if you don't know where the switch is, you are going to have problems.
Pride is a big driver for me. I take pride in my heritage and ancestry. My Welsh heritage is one of those innate values I speak of that are vitally contributory to my success. I am working hard to pay thanks to my homeland in what I believe to be quite a spectacular way.
Castell Cidwm is a property based on a lake at the foot of Snowdon. My wife Gail and I are currently in the process of developing a £6 million facility that I am certain will be of great value to an area I have begun to refer to as “My Necker.”
Necker Island is an awe-inspiring, tranquil place and this kind of atmosphere really allows the mind to conjure things you may not have dreamt possible from your desk in the city. This is the very atmosphere I have set out to create at our very own Welsh sanctuary.
I am building an open home, a place where people can develop and define themselves, both physically and mentally. I have witnessed this first hand when Poppy, my middle daughter, shocked us all by climbing Snowdon at the age of 5. Up and down in 6 hours – must be the Welsh air!
I’ve made some of my biggest personal and professional decisions by the lake and if I am to inspire other young entrepreneurs as have always planned on doing; it would surely be ludicrous for me not to share this inspirational Welsh air with friends, colleagues and the local community alike.
Passion is another important value that I hold dear. Without passion we have nothing. With Passion comes belief and belief is the number one key ingredient to happiness and success. If you doubt in your ability, you will fail. Sadly, today’s society encourages and trains us to temper our belief, so that if we fail, we are prepared and not too put out. You hear stories of schools removing sports day and competition. Whilst a schools purpose is to educate, I believe that their main objective should be to bring out the best in everyone. They traditionally value and measure accomplishment academically and elevate people who are good at passing exams. Sadly, if you are not great at the academic side of things, you can go through your school life feeling like a bit of a failure. Yet how many of those academic kids go on to be huge successes in business? Not half as many as the ones who flopped at school.
Involvement with local schools is something I enjoy massively. Children are the most intuitive beings out there. They ask the best questions. I recently have been lucky to build a great relationship with Webster Primary, a school across the road from UKFast’s new office building. I invited the children to come and quiz me on what it means to be an entrepreneur. Although the office beanbags and trampolines provided a fantastic distraction, the kids asked some profound questions that I’d never have received from my usual audience of market leaders and SME’s. It’s so important to nurture these growing minds and instil them with passion and belief, no matter whereabouts they fall in the class league table.
Based in Manchester, there’s nothing more rewarding that being able to use the success of the brand UKFast to help the local community. The Christmas period is a season when my team and I especially like to roll our sleeves up and help out anywhere we can. Whilst this time of year is magical if you have a family and great friends to celebrate with, it can be fiercely lonely for those not so fortunate. At UKFast we have made it our mission to try and bring some Christmas cheer to those less fortunate in the North West. A production line forms each year in the office as hundreds of toys are wrapped and delivered to the local children’s shelters and hospitals; every child needs a present to open on Christmas morning whether coming it’s from Santa himself or the UKFast elves!
Last Christmas we set up shop at The Booth Centre, a day centre that offers activities, advice and support to homeless people in Manchester. This fantastic organization provides education and training to the homeless in order to aid them in finding new homes, improving their health, increasing skills and giving them the confidence to resettle back into the Manchester community. It's extraordinary that there are so many homeless people in the city and I was shocked to see how bad the problem is. I felt so proud to be able to donate food, clothes and sleeping bags along with my team and it is definitely something we will be involved in every year moving forward.