Whenever I’ve delivered a talk in the past, I’ve always been comfortable and, happy to take feedback at the end of my presentation.

I then use the feedback to better myself in subsequent presentations. 

I’ve always been a believer, even before my accident that feedback good and bad is the breakfast of champions.

In reality the only way that you can better yourself in whatever you do, is through receiving constructive feedback.

It’s fine being told that your good or, indeed you’re not so good but, if you don’t know why you can’t do anything about it. 

The biggest thing that I learnt from the age of 14, when I was a juvenile racing cyclist is something known as race craft, basically the art of reading a race, knowing where to position yourself to get the best result.   

From the age of 17 I used to have a cycling coach called Harrold, for simplicity we’d just call him ‘H’ but, I’d cycle from over near Halifax to where he lived in Wythenshawe the other side of Manchester, about 38 miles in total.

I’d sit down to a cup of tea that was like drinking natts piss it was that weak and, a couple of stale biscuits before doing an hour of interval training on the turbo trainer wired up to all kinds of electrodes.

He’d then proceed to give me a leg massage using Baby Oil and, Albus Oil which, in fairness was probably the only benefit that me and, the various other cyclists who attended would actually get from the visit.

Then feeling completely lethargic I’d set of back towards Halifax cycling another 38 miles. It was always good training but, you never really learnt anything from your visit. 

If any of us who attended was honest with ourselves, we’d just think that it was an eccentric old man just craving a bit of company.

I stuck at cycling, well competitive cycling until I was about 19 when I discovered that I was a very good salesman.

I started my career in sales at a place called Harry Hall Cycles in Manchester, the first year at Harry’s I was a grease monkey, better known as a push bike mechanic.

That all changed one day when I’d just finished a new build of, I think it was a TREK mountain bike worth about £300.

When wheeling it through to the shop floor to put out for sale, I was collard as I walked on to the shop floor by a gentleman interested in buying a new mountain bike.

As it happens the entrance to the shop floor was right outside the boss Graham Hall, son of Harry, it was right outside his office.

Now bearing in mind that I’d never actually sold anything before, the poor guy never actually knew what had hit him.

I must have up sold, cross sold till I was blue in the face but, the guy who only had a £500 budget walked away having bought an £800 bike and, he spent a further £200 on accessories.

I was immediately promoted to shop floor assistant….

Let the games begin….

Due to the fact that I was already a top cyclist, it wasn’t long before I became a sponsored rider sporting a Harry Hall purpose built frame equiped with Shimano Dura Ace, Shimano’s premier equipment.

I also had a florescent yellow Harry Hall winter bike and, a white Harry Hall track bike that I used to use on the Manchester Velodrome. 

So why is (Feedback the breakfast of champions)….?

Due to the feedback that I received in sales at Harry Halls, I decided to branch out into the world of IT (information technology) for any techno-freaks. 

More specifically a company called TBS Cygma selling remanufactured Toner Cartridges or, Printer Cartridges.

I thought that I’d made it, I was at a very young age at just 22 years old offered a £15,000 a year basic salary, then I was offered an additional £15,000 on target earnings and, a fully expensed Ford Escort RS Cosworth company car. 

I’ll never forget part of the service that we provided was, we’d collect all empty toner cartridges from the Universities.

As you can probably imagine, my fuel bill was horrific… 

We used to supply each department at the University with what we called an Erco Box which, was essentially a 4 foot high, 2 foot wide cardboard box with a green dragon printed on all four sides.

Then people would slowly fill the box with empty toner cartridges ready to return them to be refilled.  

Following an argument over commission after signing a contract worth £300,000 to supply all the Universities nationwide with remanufactured toner cartridges for 12 months, I decided to leave and, go to computer consumables company in Bradford called ISA International which, I stuck at it for about 12 months before I jumped ship joining a company called QC Supplies in Dewsbury run by two people, John Crabtree and Tracey Quigley hence, why it was called QC Supplies.

A rather risky strategy especially considering the fact that I’d just bought my first house in Crumpsal Manchester and, I was going to be carless. 

Anyway things didn’t quite work out as planned at either QC Supplies or, the house in Crumpsal.

It’s funny the amount of completely useless information that you remember, as long ago as it was I can even remember the house address: –

87 Brynorme Road

Crumpsal

Manchester

M8 4GW

I had to sell the house achieving £32,000 for it which, I thought was quite reasonable for a house that was completely trashed by our dog, a Great Dane called Harley.

Harley was a blue in colour, well it was more of a grey colour, he had strange markings, he had a half white face and, he was covered in black dots a bit like a Dalmatian. For as big as he was and, my god he was big he was a big softy. He’d regularly stand on his hind legs with his front legs hooked over your shoulders then he’d stay there whilst you rapped your arms round his back for a slow dance.

The house simply wasn’t big enough for him…..

It was a 2 up, 2 down terraced house, with a garden that’s not much bigger than a full sized snooker table.

The lounge was also ridiculously small, the kitchen was just about big enough for two people so I’m guessing that your all getting the picture.

Dawn who was my partner at the time and I both worked for TBS Cygma, in fact that’s how we met, Dawn used to look after marketing and, general admin whilst me and 3 other sales guys went out selling.

Sadly I then needed to sell the house in Crumpsal and, move back with my father near Halifax.

Anyway I digress, back to the title of this blog, Feedback is the breakfast of champions….

Following a pretty disastrous home buying and, the start of my career in sales I’d moved back to live with my father.

Following a short stay I landed a job with a company called Horizon Technology Group near London Heathrow Airport selling EDI Software or, Electronic Data Interchange Software.

I stuck it out here for a short while, before I was head hunted by a company called Serena Software which, on the face of it looked like it could be a very attractive company with the head office based in Canada, a nice car and quite a healthy salary.

It wasn’t long before I was on the move again joining a company called Fusion Business Solutions selling a software solution called Remedy Helpdesk based on something called the AR System or, Application Request System.

The product portfolio included: –

  • AR System;
  • Remedy Helpdesk;
  • Remedy Change Management;
  • Remedy Asset Management;
  • Remedy Service Level Agreements;
  • Remedy Configuration Management;

It was here that I made quite a name for myself, when I soon realized that I had the gift of the gap, basically I could sell sand to Arabs or, snow to Skimo’s.

Due to the successes I was having with Fusion, I was sent on some mind blowing business trips, I was flown first class to New York to seal a sale with Credit Suisse First Boston and, again to sign a deal Lehman Brothers.

It wasn’t all business trips either, me and the other big achievers was flown to Las Vegas for a week of debauchery and gambling.

We also went on numerous trips for breaks in Amsterdam, no prizes for guessing why we went their….

Probably the most extravagant trip was, me a two others was flown first class for a weekend in San Fran Cisco, to something that was known as the Rehab Party which, essentially was a pool party that involved copious amounts of alcohol and, dodgy food.

How nobody drowned is anybody’s guess…. 

I stayed at Fusion Business Solutions for 5 years before the owners sold the business to The Innovation Group which, meant that all the reasons for joining and, staying with Fusion was lost.

Fusion was like being with a family run business, you had the MD Phil Brooks running the business, his brother Gary Brooks heading up the technical side of the business.

It was based on the top floor of Baltic House with, views almost reaching Southampton.  

The Innovation Group was a huge company in comparison, run by some corporate bigwig called Rob Terry, Rob proceeded to strip the life and sole out of what was otherwise an amazing company.

I decided to up and leave Fusion to become the Sales Director for a company called TeleLogic, TeleLogic was a specialist in Change and, Configuration Management software. The product range was: – 

  • Source Integrity; 
  • Integrity Manager;
  • TeleLogic Doors for the AS400;

Change and Configuration Management was a space that IBM had just broken into through the acquisition of our arch rival Rational but, they didn’t have any products in the AS400 space so, IBM also acquired TeleLogic for Doors and, IBM Rational was created..

Due to the feedback that IBM received from Telegic’s senior management team, I kept my position and, I became the Sales Director for IBM Rational, this is where I was when I had my accident in August 2009.  

So here we are in November 2021 and, OMG it’s been a challenging year, especially with COVID. That said, I’ve / we’ve already started planning our cycling goals for 2022, goals for me include a mixture of public speaking and cycling so watch this space….

Hears to kicking the ass out of 2022…..