World Mental Health Day (Entrepreneur Edition)

“I’m Fine”…….How many times have you heard that said?

Above: Commonly referred to as the black cloud or the monster in your head…

You can read about it online, you can listen to the radio or watch the TV and hear about ‘depression’ or ‘bi-polar’ and many other of the types of mental health problems that are discussed albeit still very much away from mainstream medias attention.

But what does it actually mean…

It means that for men in England and Wales aged 20-49 – suicide is the most common cause of death at present. Of course suicide is not a mental health problem per se – it is very commonly linked to mental distress however.

It’s always best to speak about what you know about…for me thats entrepreneurship and depression. Both of which have been the leading factors of my life story for as long as I can remember.

Entrepreneurs, those ‘crazy’ individuals who go all out in an effort to create and build something spectacular, to change the way we do things, bring something new to market or disrupt existing sectors are of the most common sufferers of mental health issues.

Starting a successful business is not something you just do, its something that you livebreathe and becomes your entire existence…there isn’t a 9-5 element to entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur tends to merge their own self worth and existence with that of their business and personal goals until there are no blurred lines – until work/life balance no longer exists.

Work/Life balance is bullshit.

Entrepreneurship in essence is an obsession. It stems from control over your destiny, the direction and details to grow and innovate…all at the hands of the entrepreneur. Add to the mix 3, 10, 50, 400, 3000 employees who’s livelihood is also in your hands – the pressure mounts up even further. Investor money burning every month, further pressure. Your friends don’t understand? Your wife leaves? The deal fell through? Cash in the bank burning too quickly? No one to talk to?….thats right, no one to talk to….because who else could possibly understand? 

Why are 1 in 3 entrepreneurs suffering with depression?

Simple – its expectations. From others and most importantly from their self. Because of course….you’re not where you thought you would be by now are you?

I started on my entrepreneurial path very young – several little ventures along the way until starting my previous company over ten years ago most effective weight loss supplement. Which grew and grew, made more and more money, both the business and I were one and the same. To those ends we made a lot of enemies (people hate to see you succeed), we did incredible things in the community and for charities, we seen and heard at every event and publication. For ten years the business ran successfully – but depression rode along with me EVERY DAY. That black cloud that follows you around no matter what you do, “smile for the camera” – great another piece in the paper meanwhile in the back of your mind depression keeps chewing away or the million other times of the day when you just want to lock yourself away and escape. Best sales month every? Who cares….Landed a fantastic project with a new client? Great, but it wasn’t big enough….Hired 2 new staff to boost development…yes but X Y and Z.

Eventually I found my ‘divider’ – the piece I needed to separate life and work….when I found out I was to become a father. That gave me what I needed to step down, walk away and breath for the first time in over a decade. Get away from expectations and the 120mph life.

The cost of entrepreneurship is high, when we see so many of our brightest entrepreneurs committing suicide (Jody Sherman, Ovik Banerjee, Matt Berman, Aaron Schwartz and so many more) you have to step back and take stock as to why this is happening and what we can do to help.

World Mental Health Day & What you can do

It began in 1992 as an initiative by the World Federation for Mental Health – a global organisation who every year with a different theme aim to bring attention and awareness to mental health issues around the globe.

As to what you can do…that varies on an individual basis….but most importantly….speak to someone….anyone.

Find a way of dividing your time between work and life….a hobby….thats what they used to tell me…find a hobby to distract you. Easier said than done when you are obsessed with work. But find something that can ease the pain.

Take care of your mental state, your body and your family – every piece is crucial, look up Brad Feld – a well known VC who suffers with depression who talks openly about it, or Jerry Colonna – the entrepreneurs ‘therapist’ that suffers and helps those who suffer get through the hard times.

Drop me a message, an email a tweet, whatever…entrepreneurship is hard.

Read more here about World Mental Health day and how you can support: http://metro.co.uk/2016/10/09/world-mental-health-day-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-important-6181925/

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You got hacked last week

You don’t know about it and why would you – the fact is that studies show over 74% of UK small businesses had a security breach in the last 12 months. The remaining 26% most likely just haven’t discovered the threat yet.

Back in 1991 the Michelangelo virus would infect systems and lay dormant until the birthday of Renaissance artist Michelangelo on March 6th, before erasing a user’s hard drive. It should be no surprise therefore that today’s virus, worms, ransomware or general malware are as smart as they are.

A single piece of malware is most likely sat somewhere on your network today; collecting passwords, copying sensitive data to a server in eastern Europe or perhaps simply waiting for a moment to encrypt your files and resell them to you.

It is perceived by many that big companies are commonly hacked by foreign countries. This is a misconception. The reality of the situation lies in the millions of really smart (and curious) teenagers just looking to figure out systems and networks, how to access, bypass and login for fun. The motivation for these attacks goes beyond making a profit and it would seem that this profile of ‘attacker’ are of the most common variety within the industry today.

Article featured in Insider Magazine October 2016.

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Don’t take advice from me about cars

I know nothing about cars, for many years I’ve been happy with the fact my cars always had a start button. Press the button – engine starts and off we go and until my new car turned up (which I love) – I was doing a thousand miles a week on the road in a nice black BMW, up and down the country seeing clients every day of the week have a peek at this web-site.

You might think that stacking up 50k of miles a year would give me some insight into how these wonderful machines work – but no, not a clue.

To that extent – if I ever offer advice about cars – other than ‘that one looks nice’ – DON’T LISTEN TO ME – I can’t give you much solid advice. The same principal should apply therefore to numerous outlets – my lawyer who really doesn’t understand much about how the internals of a complex piece of software shouldn’t tell me about how I should refactor that bit of code I’ve been working on.

Yet time after time – we see people taking advice from someone who has little to no experience in a subject matter – its infuriating because this is how problems mount up. I recently spoke with a friend who attended an event on how to market your business more effectively on social media. The only problem was the one doing the preaching wasn’t a social media ‘guru’ (more on that another day!) but instead was an ex-accountant who auto-tweets and cross posts all their content from various news stories without any context at all.

Don’t get me wrong – fantastic to see there be 20+ people in the room all paying £100 to be there because Joe down the street said he had a great time in the seminar learning how to tweet more often (and hey it gets retweeted by Sarah the auto retweet stripper account who just wants to meet you as she is single and in your local area!)

If the person on that webinar, that stage, that ebook, whatever it maybe – hasn’t actually accomplished what it is you are there to learn – then why bother?

It is because most of us want to believe in ‘the secret’, there must be a formula, a method, a step by step plan to: build our businesses, increase profits, get more users, be a better leader, gain more followers, etc.

The real secret, is there is no shortcut, there is no ‘follow this ten step plan to success’ – its about hard work, dedication, some degree of luck (although thats not the right word really), timing and DOING THE WORK.

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East Midlands Only Star Code Club & Regional Champion

Anybody that knows me will know I am involved in many areas of technology and education, be it on various boards or as ambassador and advisor to companies and charity’s in these areas.

Back in 2014 after getting to meet and talk to various people about Code Club – I decided it was time to bring a louder voice to the East Midlands with Code Club. As one of the few clubs that would be run by a business owner I knew I could give my Code Club a different direction than most. After numerous discussions with various venues – Derby City Council had the Central Library on offer to host Derby Code Club.

Roll on some two years or so later and after being a very vocal advocate of Code Club, training others, growing the club locally and ensuring that as many youngsters got into coding as I could – my club was awarded the Star Code Club status, the only club in the East Midlands at this time to have the star club status. Not only that but I was named the East Midlands Code Club Champion.

Working alongside Derby council and the Derby central library to teach children aged 9 – 11 to write code, produce games, animations and projects using the MIT project Scratch is nothing short of fun, inspiring and entertaining for all involved. Following on from a very successful 2014 & 2015, the Derby CodeClub run every Saturday morning in Derby central library has been a great opportunity for young children with a passion for computers and learning how they work to come along and spend the morning creating games, using their imagination and figuring out how to piece blocks of code together to create truly unique pieces of work.

In an article last year for the Derby Telegraph Alison Martin, the city council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It is very important that our children acquire good computer skills as early as possible. Our code clubs will engage children in fun digital activity outside of school, and so contribute towards their overall learning.”

The official Code Club web site offers up the best description of their mission:

“Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

We create projects for our volunteers to teach at after school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries. The projects we make teach children how to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations and websites. Our volunteers go to their local club for an hour a week and teach one project a week.

Each term the students will progress and learn more whilst at the same time using their imaginations and making creative projects. Terms 1 & 2 use Scratch to teach the basics of programming. Term 3 teaches the basics of web development using HTML and CSS. Term 4 teaches Python and so on.”

With an ever growing waiting list of children wanting to attend Derbys local CodeClub, its important that more people get involved with the local community to help develop the skill sets and interests of young children with a passion for IT being the Derby truly is the city of innovation.

You can find more information and request updates on Code Club Derby by following this link to the official Code Club web site. Also worth reading the 2014 year in review blog post to see how the organisation is growing across the country herbal weight loss supplements.

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