On Thursday, I re-connected with a chap I first met in 2012 when I spoke at the invitation of Action Jackson to the Bold Achievers group of young people in Holloway, North London. This young man distinguished himself that evening by already having published a book for student entrepreneurs, and this week he updated me on how he’d turned that into a business which involved him public speaking and teaching and inspiring others. We were talking in the week between his wedding and his honeymoon, and that gives you a clue to the man. He wanted to look at his business through my eyes and see how he could make more money more easily. Right up my rue. Now that he’s married, he’ll want to work smarter so he can have more time enjoying his life as well as his business.
On Saturday I met a beautiful young Polish girl in her thirties who visited to give a handful of us some very professional manicures and pedicures. I assumed this was her full-time biz, but no. She works in a factory during the week as a quality control chemist. She’s living and working and paying tax in the UK with her fiance and they’ve bought a house, and a piece of land they want to build on. He works in the same factory during the week, albeit on different shifts, and in his leisure time, like our beautician, he also has a part-time business. In his case, he’s doing building work.
I asked what would happen to them after Brexit. They don’t know, but they don’t want to go back to Poland. England is their home now and they’ve made a life for themselves here, they’ve been resident for quite a while and are net contributors to our economy being both employed and self-employed.
I gave her some advice about her pricing (too cheap) in view of her values and professionalism which were immediately evident to me. Soon they want to start a family, they are saving hard for that day. What do they miss about Poland? Their mothers’ pickles, marmalades and jams! What do their families love about the UK when they visit? Dishwashers and boot fairs!
She had a lovely sense of humour and their one regret is how hard it is to make friends here as some of their Polish acquaintances are jealous of their success without being willing to work quite so hard for it and, as yet, they haven’t found close British friends. I hope she and I will be friends, we had so much in common… including a love of birdsong. She asked me what I thought she was going to do that evening, after work. I already knew her fiance was working. She was planning to take a shower and then sit in the evening sunshine garden with a glass of wine, listening to the birds. Simple pleasures, her just desserts after her sixth working day that week and a long one at that.
On Sunday my bestest friends in the world came to lunch al fresco. It was a surprise for one of the guests as it was his 72nd birthday. You wouldn’t know he was 72, he’s sprightly and clever and fun and kind, younger than me in many ways and yet older too, and it was nice to be his surprise gift on the day. We have known each other for more or less forty years and originally I started considerably more right wing than he, and he has been a lifelong card-carrying member of the Labour Party. This time – a first we could celebrate together – we both voted the same, Lib Dem, slap bang in the middle. We both agreed I’d always been a liberal. Yes, that’s true. I have. And it was a lovely feeling to be united in our politics this time, not divided by it, not that either of us have ever let politics be a barrier to our friendship. That’s been based on values, a recurring theme this week.
I’d I got up early on Saturday to speak to two ladies who had booked themselves into my online diary. One was in New Zealand where fog had caused her to be late home and, due to the time difference, we re-scheduled for Monday. Then my second call had to postpone due to a family emergency, both of which left me surprised and a bit loose-endish, wondering what the Big U had in store for me instead. Couldn’t go back to bed, ‘cos once I’m up I’m up. I think I probably planned my cooking for the next day instead.
On Monday morning I “met” my new pal in New Zealand and we had a very productive talk about her business and her talents and how to combine the two. I learned something about the relationship between Australia and NZ which I didn’t know before, and I shared with her that the men in my family, brother + two nephews, are just about to land in NZ for slightly more than two weeks following the British Lions rugby tour. We discussed rugby (the R word) in a series of Facebook PMs, discovering that neither of us were fans but we are delighted for those who are.
Later on Monday I had a second conversation with a new-ish fast-starter client who has taken to Facebook Live in the first-equal best way I’ve ever seen (and one of only two ways I actually enjoy). She has a lovely direct gaze straight at the camera, she has a good face for video, she keeps it short and her topics are interesting. Each time we speak we up her game to an extent that surprises both of us. She has a GSOH and said, in closing, that she wasn’t sure if she dare speak to me a third time as where on earth could it go from here? Where indeed! She’s got a Big Mission and while I am grateful that’s not me, I am thrilled when those called to greatness show up in my life and I can help and support their mission.
Tuesday and Wednesday were a glorious mixture of people reporting in with good news of bravery and wins, things to celebrate, contracts, pitches, successes various. I LOVE that, that people bring their excitement to share with me via email and PMs, but equally I am happy to be available when the boot’s on the other foot and they need help and support and ideas when life is tricky, as it can so easily and often be.
The other thing I’ve been doing all week is helping a friend and colleague who has decided she wants to move from the property lane of the wealth highway to the business one. Again, right up my rue. I own investment property but it is becoming increasingly painful as she and I have observed together over a number of years now.
One day she just decided she’d had enough and started to look at buying businesses instead, businesses that needed turning around. And she was surprised to discover there are as many for sale as there are properties, you just have to look in different places.
So we’ve been evaluating businesses and how much we would pay for them and I’ve been teaching her how to read accounts and reminding her what we know about options (buying businesses – or properties – using their cashflow/profits/equity) and we’ve been looking so far at hotels, hostels, holiday businesses of different types – B&Bs from Spain to Scotland – and glamping fields in England. OK, you’ll have noticed that there’s still a property-based theme here, but slowly slowly. It’s only her first week.
The men and women I’ve met this week have put me in mind of that adage which says “Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says Oh Crap, she’s up!”
Are you up?