As with all new years, there comes a period of goal setting and also reflection. So, lets reflect. Sometimes I think about how life once was, how I once was. I use this to review how every experience has shaped the person I am today. The highs, the lows and everything in between has amalgamated into the by-product that is writing the blog you’re currently reading. In these moments, I experience the warm glow of joyful nostalgia but also the cold embrace of regret. Thankfully both have yielded lessons only life can teach.
Let’s head back in time shall we…
I remember when I got my first job at 17. I’ll never forget my first day, 14 June 2015. It was a Sunday, a nice day too. I think I was one of the first of my friends to start working part time. It was a retail gig at a shoe shop. I had no prior experience, so the managers really took a gamble with me and for that I’m forever grateful. I started on the minimum wage for my age group. This was the most money I had ever seen in my life and I was content with every penny. I was never a fan of asking my parents for money, so when I no longer needed to I loved it, and I’m sure they did to! It wasn’t by any means easy though. It taught me a lot about people, work and real life. Whilst studying for my A-Levels, the independence of having a part time job engineered a motivation to make it work by all means necessary. Late nights in the library, early morning weekend shifts — the whole lot. But it was great, and it set me up for the next big hurdle: higher education.
Heading to university was a whole new world of independence, responsibility and challenge. It was also a humility pill and a confidence booster like no other. Bar two or three mates, I knew no one among a population of thousands. I needed to fit in and make friends, and I needed this ASAP! Thankfully I wasn’t the most timid fresher, but I certainly wasn’t the most outspoken. Safe to say I did alright in the end. In hindsight, university was probably my biggest learning experience. I could probably write a whole blog based on those three years alone. Maybe one day! All in all, the changes are clear to see and I’m thankful to everyone that played a part.
The next major learning curve was undoubtedly my industrial placement experience. I started as a Sales Assistant at a B2B marketing and events company. A position that was very different from selling multi buy school shoes and plimsolls on a Sunday afternoon. This role involved direct business event sales to big companies, for fees-per-head I could only dream of paying. I remember being too scared to even answer the team phone to take incoming enquiries. Next came the challenge of making independent outbound calls to a complete stranger asking them to pay hundreds of pounds to attend an upcoming event. My first call almost gave me a heart attack. Two months in, I was making calls to everyone and anyone that would give me the time of day. I look back on that and think wow — that’s actually quite remarkable. With the placement came other life lessons such as understanding a business’ ways of working, developing a professional etiquette and the dreaded realisations of workplace politics.
I guess the last reference I’ll make is to The RealTalk Blog. As a team, a brand, and as a community; the growth has been great unreal. A journey of highs and lows, but thankfully more highs. The blog and subsequent podcast are a true testament to small beginnings.
In this same breath, I’d like to speak to anyone pondering on an idea or vision. Why not start today, no matter how small. It could be as little as starting a draft business plan on paper or setting up a WordPress/Shopify website. It will be tough at the beginning. What if you fail? What if things don’t go your way? But, what if it flourishes? I’ll end it there.
Having the courage to start something and stick with it, especially if you’re passionate about it is key. What are you currently apprehensive about? That new job, position of responsibility or life change? Whatever it is, it will always seem more daunting at the start. Take a plunge and trust yourself — you’ll be an expert in no time!
Perhaps this blog won’t be as long as I thought it would be. Hopefully I’ve been able to get my message across. Small beginnings are only the start of something great. Everything you’ve been through has created the person you are today and will ultimately contribute to the person you choose to be tomorrow.
Let’s make this year one of many small beginnings!
Originally published via The RealTalk Blog in January 2021