Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Loneliness and Vanity

I'm writing this post whilst travelling to Oxford for the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 dinner (as both the companies I am involved with - M8 Group Ltd and Endura Ltd - qualified this year) and I've realised I'm in the process of breaking one of my golden rules.

Entrepreneurial life can be lonely and at times frankly quite tedious. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do but sometimes I yearn for the variety and intellectual stimulation that comes from interacting with other like-minded people and businesses in other sectors.  The risk of course is that one gets drawn into spending time doing things that address that itch for social interaction and intellectual stimulation at the expensive of the day job.

So I have a personal rule: to avoid ego-massaging events and self-publicising competitions. More often than not the motivation for getting involved in these is simply to feed one's own vanity and search for interest rather than to really help the business.  In fact, these events can in themselves be described as Time Thieves (see earlier post).

Back in 2002 M8 Group acquired the assets of two *very* bust .com boom businesses: Greenfingers and ThinkNatural.  Buying assets from receivers is an interesting topic in itself but one specific incident sticks in my mind in relation to this topic.  We had 24 hours to clear the assets out of the head offices of these businesses  and one of the tasks was trawling through the shelves of documents to see if there was anything worth taking with us. At the time I was struck by the acres of trade-press cuttings (none of which would have been seen by a prospective customer of the business) and the  impressive shelf of plaques and industry awards we had to wade through to try and find anthing of value.  You have to wonder how much effort was spent on pursuing these vanity based affirmations of how great the businesses were whilst the businesses slowly (well, rapidly actually) ran into the ground (burning over £20m in the process).

I'm sure I'll have fun tonight and hopefully meet some interesting people; but I will have a nagging worry that attending this event is the first sign that I'm allowing loneliness and vanity o affect my judgement.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin, just to let you know that you are sitting next to Natalie Thwaites tonight, one of the Piper team, so I'm sure you will have fun!

Kev said...

Hi Libby -- damn, missed her. Entertaining evening though I have to admit.