This week’s interviewee is Martin Spiller Chairman of Systemagic (providing businesses with IT support services) and partner and Non-Executive Director of Jenson Solutions (providing financial consultancy services to SMEs). Accountant. Barrister (non-practising). Fuelled mostly by caffeine and nicotine.
1.Biggest Mistake you made in the last year & how you fixed it?
Not sure if it’s in the last 12 months but the biggest mistake I have made in recent times is not following my own rule of doing things the way I am comfortable with. I made a number of investments on my own account where I was less actively involved and I also chose to work on projects with people that I was not 100% certain about.
In all cases, the end result was a failure varying from a bit of a mess to total calamity. Furthermore, it has cost me quite a lot of money and more importantly wasted a lot of time which is the one commodity you can’t get back!
After sorting out the various messes and extracting myself from a few different situations I decided I needed to be true to me and stick to the principles I have learned during my career.
So now I try every time to assess:
- Whether I respect the people involved in whatever project it is and do I think we can work together. I don’t have to like them, although it certainly helps, but I will not work on things where I have doubts because when I have ignored my instincts it hasn’t gone well.
- If I have sufficient involvement and control so that I am comfortable I can make a difference during critical moments in the business or project and the rewards justify the risk.
- Make sure it’s fun but ensure the paperwork is in place, because despite my background when I haven’t done the necessary its always blown up in my face.
I have boiled this down to a more straightforward principle of “don’t work with dickheads!”
2. A lightbulb moment
I think my lightbulb moment came whilst working in Corporate Finance early in my career. I always wanted to be top dog and whilst I had aspirations to do my own thing I wanted to conquer the corporate ladder first. After getting passed over, or more accurately black-balled by someone I didn’t even work with, for an early promotion I realised that I needed to just be myself.
I was trying to be a corporate animal and to fit in with what I thought was required rather than just being myself and having fun.
Ever since then I have tried to always be me; be good, give honest advice, believe in fate, have fun and challenge myself.
Oh, and remember Don’t work with dickheads!
3. Tip for tomorrow
It’s something that’s easy to say but not so easy to do but I aim to start every day with a clean slate and list out the 3 things I am going to achieve that day and try to ensure that there is:
(a) A challenging task.
(b) A fun task.
(c) A task which adds value somewhere.
I don’t always succeed but as I start with a clean slate you go again…and again…and again.