“The course allowed me space to recover my own confidence.”
What was your work situation before the Launch Pad?
I’d just lost my company.
I had a company helping people make the best use of solar electricity, and providing free heating and hot water to residential and social housing. It was selling in 14 countries around the world.
But after a newspaper campaign against residential solar subsidies, there was a change of government policy, and my seven workers and I lost our jobs.
That company was my second career – my first was in telecom software. I helped form a unicorn company (a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion) that was sold for $1.5 billion to Alcatel in 1999.
How were you feeling about your work?
I was in a particularly low place when I came into the Launch Pad.
I’d put my life savings and seven years of my life into that company.
And it was difficult to get a job: I didn’t find very many adverts for CEOs or managing directors of small electronics companies – I felt that was the only thing I’d been doing for the last seven years.
Why did you decide to join the Launch Pad?
I needed help.
I knew that I needed to do something different, because I couldn’t do what I had been doing. And if I wasn’t going to do something that I’d done in my past, I needed help in making that happen.
What had you tried previously to do to make progress on your career change?
I did a taster session with Careershifters earlier in the year.
For a Saturday morning, it was revolutionary. So I thought, I’ll have more of this please, because then maybe I can rediscover myself, and what I want to do.
What were your reservations or skepticism about the Launch Pad?
I wasn’t sure it was for people like me. I felt it was aimed at people in jobs.
But I thought, why not, and I dived in, as deeply as I could.
What was the experience like?
The course allowed me space to recover my own confidence, and provide me with tools and ways of being that I’ve carried forward. I was lucky to find it.
I also made some good friends that I’m still in contact with, years later.
What were the highlights?
Meeting interesting people, and having a sounding board to move forward with – that was a big highlight.
And some of that wasn’t on the course at all. Four months later, a group of us from the course met up and had a weekend away, and talked about our individual journeys – discussed our lives, basically.
During the course, another highlight was reaching out to inspirational people. I think I did 75 interviews with people about what they loved about their lives! That also taught me that I could iterate emails to achieve what I want – I learned new techniques.
What were the toughest moments?
I’d just lost my livelihood, so it was a difficult period in my life personally.
On the course I struggled with confidence and understanding myself.
But the Launch Pad helped me find new opportunities, and be more conscious of what I wanted.
Where are you now in your career?
I’m forever reinventing and experimenting.
I’m co-founder of Startup School for Seniors, a programme for people over 50 to enter the world of self-employment and starting a business.
I’m also a business coach, and I also support businesses as an advisor.
I’ve written a series of guides about financial success within community businesses.
And I commuted to Paris to teach at an American university!
How did the Launch Pad help you get clear on and move into your new career?
As you can see from my career, I really took experimenting to heart.
That was one of the key things that I embedded in my life and my practice after Launch Pad.
The Launch Pad helped me uncover doors of opportunity for myself, and also understand more about what I wanted, both at that point in my life and in the future.
What on the course led to that impact?
During the course I discovered that different people love different things about exactly the same thing.
I interviewed about fifteen lecturers, and no two of them used the same word about what they enjoyed about lecturing.
That allowed me to enjoy whatever I want about what I do – even if what I do is the same as what other people do. What I enjoy about it is my own.
How do you feel about your work?
I love it.
It’s a work in progress, just as my life’s a work in progress.
My career is a new start, but a constant new start. It’s a plateau if I want it to be a plateau, and it’s new and vital if I want it to be new and vital. I’m in control of my feelings about my career.
What’s been the impact of your shift on your wider life?
If we say that what we do during the day for money has no impact on the rest of our life, then we’re fooling ourselves.
So, the course has changed my life from what it was then, to what my life is now.
What would you recommend to anyone considering the Launch Pad?
Go for it.
And make time for it. It’s not just a Saturday morning call: it’s a Saturday morning call and that reflective moment that you might not otherwise have in the morning.
The course is an opportunity for you to change your life and do something now. Whilst you hate where you are, whilst you’re uncomfortable with where you are, make the time to make the best of what you’re doing on the course.