Back in May I wrote an article on winning awards after I was crowned ‘Director of the Year for Talent and Innovation’ at the annual IOD Wales Director of the Year Awards.
Fast forward five months and not only have I been crowned ‘Young Director of the Year’ at the national finals in London, but the ‘Overall Director of the Year’ award in front of over four hundred of the UK’s most successful businessmen and women.
Wow! To say it was unexpected was an understatement. I was overwhelmed, shocked but absolutely ecstatic. The best thing about it was having my partner and parents in the audience to see me being presented my awards by Michael Portillo.
While my acceptance speech was by no means on a par with Gwyneth Paltrow’s blubbing Oscar acceptance from 1999, it was nonetheless heartfelt and emotional. And with over 5,000 views online (http://bit.ly/JTAcceptance), people seem to like it, so I thought in this article I’d share the five things, I highlighted in my speech, which I believe have got me to where I am today.
The first is passion. My advice to any budding entrepreneur is to make sure you’re doing something that you are eternally passionate about. For me and my colleagues at SuperStars our core passion, and the thing that drives us, is developing brighter futures for children across the UK.
The second is belief. As the saying goes, ‘whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right’ and I think that’s so true. Whatever you’re doing in life, whether you’re selling or pitching in business, if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will.
The third is positivity. There’s so much negativity in our society. When I told people I was setting up a business after university, they told me I was mad, it wouldn’t work and to go and get a proper job. There was no encouragement or optimism. Despite this, I was positive I could make SuperStars a success. I think as entrepreneurs, we have a duty to spread positivity amongst the business leaders of tomorrow, they are the future of our economy.
The fourth is hard work. When I started SuperStars, I would meet with successful business leaders, which I’d be aspiring to emulate in future years, and ask them what the secret of their success was. I soon learnt there is no magic formula. It’s good, old fashioned hard work, grit and determination. You need to get on that treadmill and keep on running and running and running! You need to be prepared to work harder than your friends, your colleagues, in fact, everyone else around you to make something happen.
It’s not a bed a roses, it’s tough and challenging out there, but I like to take inspiration from Rocky Balboa, who said: “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Finally, I think the key thing I’ve learnt is that you’ve got to dream big. We’ve got a big problem in our society that we need to get over. When you ask a child what they want to be when they are older, they’ll say an astronaut, a business man, a millionaire, a pro footballer and so on, and we pat them on the head and say ‘yes, you can do whatever you want to’. For some reason, as we get older and are asked the same question it’s not ok to dream big any more. You’re in school and the careers advisor is rolled out who prescribes what you should be.
Whatever your age, dream big. Big dreams are the inspiration for winning. We have a responsibility as leaders of British businesses to keep on dreaming big. I’m dreaming big, are you?
James Taylor is founder and CEO of SuperStars (www.super-stars.org.uk) and chair of the Welsh Government’s Entrepreneurship Panel for Wales. Follow him on twitter @jamestaylor_SS