Article by Kirk Pickstone 16.05.16
I always had very successful teams and operations, I managed to climb the ladder from the ground up. Not the easiest approach but leaving school with average grade does not secure you a job in a high-flying career. Besides that at 16 when I left school I just wanted to earn some cash. I had been working since 13 in a butcher shop so that was the logical job for me, as I was already doing it.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself running a large supply chain operation for a major cement manufacturer. Some 150 staff and more HGV than I care to remember. I was at the top of my game well-respected leader, great peers, fantastic results. Now a majority of my role involved motivating, reporting results through presentations and graphical information, I was in my element loved it.
I decided that I was still hungry to progress so decided to look for the next step up, targeted a few organizations and managed to get a role as a Sector General Manager for a global supply chain company , looking after over 200 staff , 3 sites across the UK with a budget of around £20m. Big responsibility, great remuneration package I was going places.
Then something strange happened, my interaction and reporting of improvements, results, and ideas went from very visual and vocal interactions to more written reports and communication more via documents and emails. I was challenged on my use of words, missing words the wrong use of them (e.g wrong use of there and where). They were pretty critical about it and the perception was you could not be intelligent if you got all this wrong or indeed a good leader. The pressure was on but no matter how hard I tried I just kept getting it wrong.
I started to get stressed about this what was going on, then a friend of mine a journalist training to be a teacher said I thnk you could be dyslexic, I was surprised but listened as I discovered recently that my eldest son was dyslexic and dyslexia is a hereditary condition.
So in 2010 I booked an appointment and was tested for dyslexia and they confirmed I was in fact dyslexic, to me it was a relief and explained as I looked back why I had felt as I did, why I had struggled at school with certain subject, basically why I was me.
I got to the point in my role where I dreaded going to work every day I would begin to feel sick every time I got in the car and set off. I remember discussing this with my wife one day (well after several other times). She was finishing a masters degree and setting up a design company, the plan was another 2 years of me working for a company and then to start my own business as well. This particular night I just broke down I could not go on any longer, I felt very close to having a nervous breakdown. So when the opportunity to take redundancy came I took the opportunity. I vowed that day never to work for anyone else every again in my life. All the “backstabbing” and distrust I experience put me off for life, people may think my statement was a crazy thing to say. However 5 years later I still maintain I do not want to work for a company as an employee again I want to do things our way on our terms and work with people we chose to, not someone else’s selection.
So we decided that my fantastic wife would take a project management assignment, I would take on interim assignments both via our company. Whilst building the design and handmade bespoke wall statement pieces http://www.smoart.com.We launched at Tent London in Sep 2014 offering bespoke work for private and commercial applications.
We have both worked on some amazing and challenging projects since 2010 not looking back once to wonder if I should have got “a proper job” (remember my statement never again ). We both work extremely hard 7 days a week we are doing something, it does not feel the same as clocking in and out of the corporate tread mill.
At the same time as starting a business I decided I needed to prove to myself and the world that I was not stupid by being labeled dyslexic. So though an opportunity for some European funding for small businesses I went to Coventry University as a mature part-time student. I graduated in 2012 with a Masters Degree in Global Entrepreneurship, I was extremely emotional that day I stood in the Cathedral with my wife and youngest son in the audience and my parents watching on live stream at home. I am immensely proud of myself ,that’s allowed.
There is no quick fix to getting your business Idea of the ground and it’s not always easy if it was then everyone would be just like Richard Branson. You need determination, attitude and confidence to pick yourself up even in the darkest hours. Having the emotional support from a partner or family is crucial as they will believe in you even when you have lost all confidence that you have anything good to offer the world.
I did not think this at the time, but I am forever in the debt of that company for breaking me down to the point I had had enough. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to my amazing wife for picking me up and dusting me down when I was at one of the lowest points in my life.
So I will leave you with this thought, if you’re doing a job you are not happy with and feel like you’re just on that treadmill day in day out. Then look to do something that excites you something you’re passionate about that make you wake up on Monday morning as happy as you are Friday afternoon. Then create something and never look back, never look back.
I hope you enjoyed reading my story please leave comments, I love feedback.
Kirk, Dyslexic Entrepreneur