10 things I learnt in 2014

It’s the end of the year. It seems like yesterday I was drafting New Year’s resolutions, writing top trends for 2014, and gearing us all up to rocket into orbit. It has been a big year, an exciting year and year of terrific expansion. With just one day left to go, I thought I would spend some time and reflect on what I have learnt this year.

In truth, some of these are things that I had forgotten and simply remembered or been re-shown, but there were also some big new lessons that really have helped me and F4 grow and mature.

1. There are surprises around every corner

Whatever you think is going to happen may not and you probably can’t even imagine what will. Definitely have a plan, but be aware that new things will always get thrown into the mix. Be nimble, flexible and open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Adapt. Pivot. Embrace change.

2. Hope is not a strategy

If you want something to happen, go make it happen. Sitting and hoping for the phone to ring, for the next big thing to happen, or for an awesome new team member to find you isn’t really a great strategy – go out there and make it happen, find them yourself. Use your networks. Fortune favours the bold, and all that!

3. Persistence pays off

Hard work. Sweat capital. Never say die. Persistence is one of our values for a reason. I’ve discovered that “no” can also mean “not now”. For me persistence is about respect, consistency, maintaining contact. To get results, sometimes you need to just peddle a bit harder…but boy it pays off when you do.

4. Be brave

Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop once said to me “Fergus, be courageous: it is one of the few places left uncrowded”. I really should have this as a tattoo, and maybe one day I will. We are just about to turn three. Without the courage to take that first step, and the second, and the third and every other step after that we wouldn’t be where we are now. Importantly, don’t worry so much what other people think.

5. People make the business

The outcomes we achieve are all because of people, not technology. We have amazing technology but without an amazing team we’d be nowhere. At the end of the day we are in a people business and always will be.

6. Slow down. Take time to look up and out

It is really important to step back and smell the roses and see the big picture. We get so caught up in the detail sometimes we forget to see what is really going on. Getting inspired and looking outside is like oxygen for us. We need it to survive.

7. Don’t panic

When something goes wrong, and it will; stop, breathe, get the facts, pause, regroup, align and take action. The most important thing is not to freeze. In most cases it is not as bad as you think. Don’t catastrophise.

8. Learn from your mistakes

This follows on from 7. When things do turn out to smell a bit on the whiffy side we always try and understand what we could have done differently instead of pushing it under the carpet. Best practice isn’t something that just happens – it happens because you never stop learning, and passing on the lessons to those around you.

9. Celebrate success and be grateful

Every day. Every week. Every month. Every quarter. We are not machines. Success can be its own reward, but so can celebrating regularly. Wasting time together, blowing off steam, and showing pride in what we do energises everyone on the team to keep pushing, keep driving, keep being creative and keep on winning.

10. Pay it forward

There were and are an abundance of people helping us be successful and I really like helping others do the same. I have started mentoring a start up, and have spent some time with incubators. I get a lot out of this, too, and often come away with new ideas for F4 and how we can improve. I don’t ever want to lose the start up passion, energy and exuberance – it is actually a lot of fun.

I hope these few insights may inspire you and your teams into the New Year. So, from the team at F4 and myself, wishing you prosperity, fulfillment and job satisfaction in 2015.

Forward Thinking