Success is a funny old word for me. Obviously during my sick leave and ultimately leaving my previous life as a bond trader in the city, after the onset of mental illness, it was really hard to convince myself that I hadn’t failed somewhere along the line. It’s just not what was in the script, was it?
I’ve spent the best part of the last two years realigning my priorities. What does success mean for me? And the result of all this? I still haven’t a clue. I keep reading all those sayings they have on tea towels, like “happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a way of life” and all those. In reality, that doesn’t help me much.
What does help is to see people who’ve been there, turned it all round, and smashed it! (I mean that in the sense of doing really well for themselves obviously!) Well this week I had the absolute privilege of meeting up with a few ex colleagues whose story just makes me smile.
The place I used to work, which for whatever reason will remain nameless, was a shambles of a workspace for years. I didn’t realize that til much too late, but an absolute shambles non-the-less. At this point I should point out that I have no ill will towards any one individual for whatever situation I ended up in. It seemed it didn’t matter where you were in the pecking order, you were fair game for unreasonable requests and impossible working conditions. How many times did I hear the words “work smarter!”? Ah dear me it just makes me cringe!
Now the big thing here is that it doesn’t actually matter what industry you’re in, if you work for a place that’s collectively lost the plot, then you’re in for a rough ride. Is that really your failure? Of course it isn’t, but some poor buggers (myself included) don’t always see it that way.
Let’s get off that and fast forward from 2007 to 2012. Some of my ex-colleagues, now no longer at the bank, managed to walk away, get their heads back on it, and work out a way of doing what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to do it. The beauty here is that it was combining joy in their work, with the fact that they’re seriously smart and hard working cookies, and that they had a brilliant idea.
I popped into their office this week to say hi, and was blown away by what they’d achieved. This stunning office, right in the centre of the City of London, and the initial staff of 4 or 5 in the UK is now well over 100 worldwide, and they continue to expand rapidly. I could tell you how much this company they’ve built is now worth, but that’s not the point.
Maybe you think it’s easier to be happy when you’ve got a bit of cash knocking around? Maybe you’re right, but the point here was they re-evaluated what working environment made them happy, and went for it. These boys and girls are all good mates, and visibly love doing what they’re doing. And the business is flying. And they’re getting to spend time with their families without wanting to kick the cat every night. That’s got to be something knocking on success, surely?
What does this have to do with wine? Well, not a lot I guess, other than they seemed genuinely interested in what I was up to, opening up a wine brokerage in the UK. They started a company, based on a great idea, worked hard, found their pocket, and are making a huge success of things. I’ve started a company, so at least I’m at stage one!
The great idea is to bring alive the biggest wine region in the world (Bordeaux) to people who have dismissed it. Obviously that’s not easy, but it’s a lot of fun. So now I just need to find my pocket, work hard, and hopefully success will come.
Only worry is, will I recognise it if I achieve it?
This is an entry to the Monthly Wine Writers’ Challenge as started by Jeff, The Drunken Cyclist.
For anyone interested, the company these guys and girls started was trading solutions platform called Algomi. If anyone has any past experience in the financial markets, do check it out, it’s impressive stuff! www.algomi.com. You will be hearing plenty about them in the near future!