Rick Wakeman

Develop your skills in an age of multiple careers keep learning

Rick Wakeman was fantastic on Desert Island Discs, the other day. One of the many memorable things he said was how the ability to sight read music after leaving The Royal College of Music, was essential for a session musician. This enabled him to perform with stars such as David Bowie, Brotherhood of Man, T, Rex, Elton John, and Al Stewart. All before a hugely successful career with The Strawbs, Yes and then his solo work. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Carol King songsmith who created Tapestry, both laboured as session musicians. I have always admired craftsmen and women. To develop your skills, however talented you are, it takes time, blood, sweat and tears. In an age of AI and multiple careers work on your craft, keep learning. What are some of the lessons of life-long learning?

My most painful lesson

Not long after becoming a salesman and seeing the marketing director on stage, I wanted to be him, do his job. When I achieved that, it was great, but the painful lesson was afterwards. Running our own consultancy: when out of corporate life, business owners would ask me as a marketing expert to do “stuff”. I felt I was found wanting. I had climbed the corporate ladder and forgotten or in fact never learnt the detail to a level I was happy with. So, I had to learn quickly. Fortunately, with Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) resources, and hard work, I did so. Things like digital skills. When you run your own business, you must make things work. As a marketer, you get a depth and breadth of learning you miss in larger organisations. However, with the larger organisations I still work with, this maintains that strategic insight. So now I have the best of both worlds: a depth and breadth.

Some things don’t change

Despite all the talk about automation, multiple careers, increased competition, and challenges caused by online making businesses making commerce faster and easier to set-up, many things do not change. With experience, patterns emerge repeatedly. The key issue with project failure for example being that it is usually down to people. Poor communications: bad briefs, teamwork, or vested interest.

It’s You First

You. I have come to admire Andy Murray. I love tennis. Roger Federer is my favourite, but I do admire Andy Murray. One thing I notice with him is his note-keeping, his private notes to himself. I am a great note writer and list writer. If I had to write one word above all others, most days, it would be, “you”. It covers a multitude of sins (so to speak)! First, remember to ask the other person i.e. “you” about them. Don’t talk about “myself”. When you walk along and overhear a conversation how often are people talking about themselves! Ask questions and you learn and benefit. It’s great for business and you feel great having done it. The other aspect of you, is that in business, your business or team cannot function well if you are not effective. Don’t blame the business, look at yourself. A little like the recent election disaster for Theresa May. It was you Theresa…not them.

Keep fit in mind

As I said, it takes time to develop your skills, however talented you are, it takes time, blood, sweat and tears. In an age of AI and multiple careers work on your craft, keep learning. I recommend using tools such as notebooks, I use OneNote, Evernote, actual notebooks, talk and listen to trusted friends and keep changing. It hurts but like keeping fit, it’s good for you and business!

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Posted in Blog.