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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Davies

Self Made Man

Many years ago, when he was announcing his desire to be the Republican nominee in the US Presidential race, Jeb Bush described himself as a self-made man. Jeb Bush. The same Jeb Bush whose father and brother had both been President of the USA. Self made. A phrase which suggests someone who achieved great success entirely without help. A pretty bold claim for someone whose beginnings were far from humble and whose support structure was unlike almost anyone else who had ever lived!

On the other hand, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who grew up in a house in Austria, with no plumbing, who arrived in the US with only a gym bag and who, through working as a labourer and investing in property early on, became a millionaire before he'd ever appeared in Conan the Barbarian and long before he became Governor of California, has said repeatedly that there's no such thing as a self-made man. Every achievement he's had, has come by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Arnie's quote appears in Tim Ferris' book Tools of Titans, which I was listening to on Audible as I was driving north yesterday morning to surprise my mum with flowers on her last day in work before retirement. I'd initially left the whole day free, however as is the style of my life at the moment, things had started to creep in to fill in the blank space in my diary. As such, I was running through the itinerary in my head and thinking about the variety that the day held. Even a relatively 'quiet' day had four different appointments, each with a story behind it of how it had come about and every one of those stories started with someone else.

And that's been the story of Matt Davies Leadership so far. On September 9th I celebrated one year in business. That day was a Saturday, spent Coaching American Football and relaxing at home with the family, sandwiched between a week where I travelled to Newcastle, London and Barcelona and one where I travelled to New York! In 15 years in financial services, I made it to Dublin once but, otherwise, never left the UK. In one year of self employment I've been to Europe, the US and Australia already, as well as delivering remotely to clients across the world, with more adventures in the pipeline.

I've worked with leaders across sectors I'd never imagined working with; from technology, to recruitment, to education, to pharmaceuticals, to health and social care and beyond. And every one of the things I've been able to do can be traced back to a friend or a colleague who has kept me in their thoughts, vouched for me or given me an opportunity. Just by way of example:

  • A chat with my old work chum Kerry, way back last summer, led to a chat with Gordon, which led to a meeting with Jane Mudd. That relationship has given me some of the most fulfilling work I've ever done.

  • A catchup with my old teammate Ryan, led to an introduction to Andrew which opened doors and opportunities to work with leaders in recruitment and travel the world.

  • A call with an old friend from my early days at the bank, Amy, led to a suggestion to attend a monthly event held by Kirsty, where I met Caroline (my new work wife - there was a vacancy after leaving the bank) and Caroline introduced me into the NHS, as well as allowing me to work alongside her with several clients.

  • A chat with an old colleague before I left the bank, Irvine, led to an introduction to (another) Kirsty which led to opportunities to coach and to build my network

And the list goes on and on like that! Former teachers, American Footballers I've played coached alongside and against, associates I've worked with introducing me into other businesses, school friends, drinking buddies, more people than I can remember as I sit and write this blog. I've been blown away and while I'm far from the rich and famous icons who get asked what it feels like to be a self-made man, I can vouch for what Arnie says.

To everyone who has been there on the first 384 days of my journey in business, I extend my heartfelt thanks. To the associate firms who have trusted me with their work and their brand, the clients who have welcomed me in and all of the great people I've worked with along the way, you have made this year the most fulfilling, enjoyable and engaging of my career. I look forward to doing more great thing with all of you in the years to come!

The adventure is only just beginning!

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