'Never dismiss ideas, no matter how crazy they sound. File them away until the time is right...'
My first 'proper' job was at the Daily Telegraph in London as a classified telesales rep on the Gardening section. I remember when I was told I got Gardening my heart sank - everyone else in the new intake had sexier sections, like Motors and Emporium, but I must have shown very little potential to be landed with the short straw.
Over the next two-and-a-half years, I learnt about sales, techniques, objections (there were many) and most importantly of all, listening. I believe it has stood me in good stead. Lesson learnt - when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Back in 1999, partying aside, I started working in 'new media' - all things internet-related. My newspaper colleagues thought I was mad leaving the security of newspapers, but it was a promotion, and I was determined to take every opportunity that presented itself if it meant making more money. Career enhancement was not the driver, but living in London with a three-year-old daughter was costly, so I didn't hesitate.
After a short time I was asked to look after the commercial development side of our websites and met one day with a chap who had this idea that people would search for mortgages online.
Initially, I was sceptical but the salesperson in me thought it would be a good fit for our online personal finance site and we went ahead and did a deal. His idea developed into Moneysupermarket.com, a huge success.
It taught me an important lesson: to never dismiss ideas, however crazy - keep them on file until the time is right.
For the last 10 years I have been in a CEO role - most recently with Hardware Association Ireland - and this current role has provided the greatest learning curve. I had no previous experience of this sector, save for being a DIY enthusiast, so I knew it would be a challenge. I didn't realise to what extent the sector suffered during the crash and how that affected our association's membership - businesses closing down, the next generation in a family business having to emigrate, massive debts arising from credit customers defaulting, and so on.
Having stood by the association during the worst of times, members are hopefully now seeing a renewed effort by the association to put their wants and needs at the centre of our efforts to rebuild. I stand by the simple business slogan of 'Plan, Do, Review' and intend to always apply it.
Sunday Indo Business