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My 30+ Year Apprenticeship to Get the Job I Wanted


I started work at 17 leaving school with a few ‘O’ levels – hardly classed as a high achiever, but then studying geography at A level didn’t seem logical when I wanted to go into business rather than teaching or geology.

I’m now 52 but I haven’t stopped learning and 30+ years later I still enjoy learning about all sorts fo things.

Apprenticeships are all about getting the skills to do the job you want to and my 30 year apprenticeship continues unabated even though I have a role I love. I’m a business coach working with business owners who are going places and have recognised that they need a little help.

Sam Carpenter, who wrote the foreword to my book, is always learning too. His personal story is full of learning for others but also very neatly demonstrates that if you think you know it all then you’re dead in the water. His motto is to keep learning about everything – he reads most days to extend his knowledge and learn!

Every day I learn something new. I seek a solution, hear a challenging thought or perspective. I ask questions and listen to different views and opinions to discover something new.

But working with business owners and management teams of high growth businesses isn’t as easy as just turning up and asking lots of questions and then reflecting it straight back to the person who told you, albeit in a different way. A successful business coach is absorbed by the owner, the business, their markets, challenges, problems, goals, successes and failures – you become as involved, as connected, as engaged and dare I say as passionate as they are. But you leave the emotion at the door – business owners have plenty already!

To make a real difference to business owners and their companies and be a successful business coach I have to take all of my 30+ years of learning, knowledge, skills, experiences and T-shirts and use it to coach success. There is no one size fits all here – no standard checklists, templates to fill in or boxes to tick – everyone is different.

As a coach I don’t tell my clients what to do although that would be easy solution. But it just doesn’t work in the long run. Self-discovery, really buying into your goals, ideas & objectives and learning by doing is what makes the real difference – having it done for you means you’ll always need to have it done for you! Not a very grown-up way of running a business.

Another part of the 30+ year apprenticeship is my black book. As a client said recently “I can always rely on your to refer me to excellent suppliers that make my life easier”

I know that the reasons I love my work, and I’m good at it, is all down to those 30+ years. Just ask yourself if you were an apprentice for your current role what would you be learning now?

If you’d like an insight into my 30 year apprenticeship then my book The Grown-Up Business has lots of answers.