The Wise Why

Episode #48

Episode #048

#48 Chris Jones – Entrepreneurship, and Business

by | 10 Feb,2023

About This Episode

Chris Jones is a successful business owner with multiple companies in Oxfordshire, UK. joined Kirsty van den bulk on The Wise Why podcast about his journey as an entrepreneur and the challenges he faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He quickly followed this up with the launch of BAGP, an event staffing agency, Events Boards Oxford, which creates step and repeat boards for events, and Generator Hire Oxford, which provides mini generators for events. During the podcast, Chris shared his insights and wisdom as a seasoned entrepreneur, particularly in sales and business development.

He also talked about the challenges his company faced during the Covid-19 lockdown and the plans they made with other companies in the events industry to enable a swift return to business when the rules changed. As a loving husband and proud father of two, Chris is passionate about balancing his family life with his business pursuits. He also revealed that he is a dedicated supporter of Arsenal FC.

Episode #48 : Full Transcription

During this episode Chris Jones shares his entrepreneurial journey and experience as a business owner. Chris provides valuable insights for anyone looking to start their own business or looking to improve their existing business.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Hello and welcome to the Wise Wire. This morning I am joined with a great man. And honestly, just before we went live, we were just working out, how long we’ve known each other. So yeah, that goes back a few years, and we didn’t realize until we were in the studio. So as usual, the Wise Wire is not about me, it’s about my guest. So, Chris, introduce yourself because your career is incredible.

Chris Jones: UM, you’ve set me up there. Kirsty I sometimes don’t think it’s exciting. I know my kids don’t think it’s been that exciting. UM, Chris Jones I have to be thankful because I’ve probably worked all my life. I don’t think there’s been any time where I haven’t been working. But my background was very much, UM, it and web development, UM, for a number of years. UM, but for the last 13 years I’ve worked for myself with a couple of companies, UM, that we started up. But UM, my heart was always it. And I think I came at quite an interesting time because there was a transition between old and people may not know this, but before pcs there was this old sort of terminal server scenario. UM, and you had all this old TDI equipment, which was then taken over by pcs. pcs started to come in, switches, hubs, routers, these are all new things that were coming onto the market. And I was just at that time for selling that equipment. So really loved everything about the internet, what it was about, what it could deliver, uh, UM, and it was just an exciting time. And UM, at that time, if you’d have said you’ll be working for yourself in a number of years, I’d have probably said absolutely no way. Because I loved what I did. I thought it’d probably last forever. UM, but the technology changed. UM, I think the last year of actually working was probably weirdly, was probably the lowest salary that I ever had. UM, there were some great days in it, and you’ll probably remember as well, where it was easy to make a lot of money, a real lot of money. And it was new technology. uh, and I use this phrase, UM, sparingly. But it was, it was almost like the one-eyed man was king in the land of the blind. Because if you knew a bit about technology, you could go into a business and say, look, this is going to do, this is going to change your business. This is going to, you know, suddenly you’ve got pcs on everybody’s desk, you’ve got 100 meg, UM, connections running to each desk. You can do things much faster, much quicker. UM, you haven’t got these massive TDI systems, IBM mainframes and all this sort of thing, tapes, and floppy disks and all this sort of thing. And suddenly went to this new networking scenario. And it was a really exciting time. So that was quite an exciting time. For me, and very enjoyable. My last job that I worked at was with ah, a web development company. And I always joked with my boss that I’d never worked for myself. And it was just out of the blue really, that I just had this crazy idea about using, UM, Google Analytics. At the time, Google Analytics was new, UM, and I used it as a tool. I used to look at our website and go, okay, who’s coming to the website? I don’t want to be making 100 phone calls a day. Let me see who’s coming to the website, let me understand what they’re showing interest in. And I would just phone people up. So, if you came onto our website or your company, I would know that you probably interest in doing something web wise or doing something, a solution that you were looking at. And then I would just follow that up accordingly. And it just seemed to work very well, and it worked for a number of companies. UM, so just had this idea to start this little company, little consultancy called glue. UM, and it was really analyzing analytics, social media to help small businesses find out who was coming to them, who would be possible tariffs for them to sell to. UM, maybe a couple of years in, and this was with an old partner. We looked at ah, UM, events and we knew nothing about events. We had no experience. And the naivety at the time was we wanted to do the consultancy work in the week, and we wanted to do the UM, events at the weekend and we thought that would just work perfectly. Little did we know. And sort of 13 years later, uh, the consultancy is probably sort of dawn to about 5% of what we do and the event is about 95% of what we do. So UM, yeah, the last few years have been just very interesting. Working for yourself is challenging, rewarding, UM, every emotional you can think of, UM, because it’s events and it’s event staff, UM, there’s always something that’s going to throw you. It’s a learning day every day. UM, but I love what I do and UM, touch with long may it last.

Kirsty van den Bulk: And I love the fact that you’ve uh, just almost described my entire working life for the last 20 years in that synopsis there. Because like you, I found myself in the It industry. And that’s what we were just talking about there. I was working for D-Link and I think you were ah, at Allied telescope at the time and so we got that. I also worked for Intel, and I taught people and I love this. I remember the days before a PCIMCIA slot, and I launched the Pentium for onto the market. I do it because it was the M mobile. And then of course we then went into the Centrino platform and all these wonderful things. But prior well actually as I was doing that, I was also working in events. And then after, ah, my life, I went into tech a bit more and really thrived in the tech industry. And then I found myself like, you an accidental business owner, and I love it. And that imposter syndrome that you just talked about is real. And, UM, people don’t realize that we still have it. Even if you are thriving in business, that insecurity is still there.

Chris Jones: Yeah. ah, it’s a massive thing. I don’t know why we suffer it. UM, but even today, there’ll be some days I’ll just go, what is going on? And I think it’s probably because it’s a lack of understanding of maybe a certain situation. Because I’ll hear people talking about something and I’ll just go, I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. But I’m honest enough to say, listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I need to find out or go away and find out or whatever. Because there’ll be a terminology that comes up and I’ll think, I don’t know what that means. Should I know what that means? And the worry stands sets in, and then nine times out of ten, all it is some newfangled term that replaces something that you’ve known for a number of years anyway, and you’ve called it something else. But, UM, yeah, it’s interesting, but as I say, every day is a learning day, and I’m always keen to learn. It’s not a case of I hope one of my strengths is that, uh, over the years, we’ve adapted and had to adapt and not afraid to take on new challenges or learn new things or understand new things or new ways of working. Because one of my worries is, as you get older, and I sort of think, I don’t want to be the old guy that still wants to use a quill and a bit of ink to write something. You want to keep up with the times, you want to make sure you’re up with things. And as long as I think I still got that passion and desire to do that, uh, I think I’ll always be in business.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I love it. And actually, last week we were in Stratford and we took our daughter’s room into a museum, an old museum, and she actually picked up the quill and the ink and do a beautiful picture. I gave it to my brother because it was his birthday. Beautiful picture out of ink, and it took forever to drive. But that’s just given me a lovely image of that Quill ink because, you’re right. UM, my daughter had never seen a quill and ink, and she was absolutely fascinated by it. So, something I want to talk about just quickly is the events industry that you’re now in. You’re firmly with your feet planted and how people don’t see what you do. It just happens.

Chris Jones: Yeah, it’s an interesting one. We’re a staff agency. So, we supply staff for events in and around Oxfordshire. And UM, one of our biggest challenges is that people don’t know who we are. I’m going to be very opposite centric here, so I apologize. But if you look at the Westgate, if you look at Sheldonian theater, uh, if you look at Glenn palace, if you look at stoner park, if you look at, UM, UM, some of the places, any sort of university place, we have staff working there. Jack FM, for example, as well. We have people working for these organizations, but you wouldn’t know it’s, boys and girls, people that are working because we’re either, uh, in black or white, or we’re in branded uniforms for those organizations. UM, and I’ve always just had it as a real challenge, and I’ve actually flipped nights about it and sort of wondered how we could affect that. But it really is just a case of, UM, us keep doing good work and where we can push the message on social media, UM, which is such a strong thing to do now. But UM, the early stages, it was interesting just knowing that we do something. We’ve done some interesting stuff over the years, but nobody would know it was us doing it. And UM, I’ll give you an example. Last year, UM, Hillary Clinton came over for UM, her graduation and a couple of other things. And we looked after on a dinner one evening, and the next evening we looked after at the Sheldonian for a graduation service. But nobody would ever associate those two things with us because they were part of the university. But it was our guys stewarding, it was our guys at the dinner, sort of thing, et cetera, et cetera. But it’s just fascinating the stuff that we do. UM, but again, sometimes I go to meetings, and I say to people, we’ve done this, this and this, and I’m sure they look at me and go, now that hasn’t happened. And we’re like, yeah, sometimes we’re able to take pictures of stuff, other times we’re not. We just have to run with it. But UM, the events industry is just such a great, diverse industry, so many different things. The thing that I love is that phone can ring, and you just don’t know what it’s going to be. It could be absolutely anything. It could be the opening of a restaurant to UM, uh, an orchestra playing at the Sheldonian Theater, to a car show somewhere, to a promotion of a new shop, to UM, uh, running a bar somewhere. There are so many different things that it does, and that’s one of the great loves and passions that I have, that we could be doing so many different things. And I think it’s interesting for our staff as well, because I certainly wouldn’t want to be coming to the same thing, doing the same thing every day. It’s great that we’ve got a real range of different clients and we’re doing so many different things, day in, day out sort of thing. Really.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I loved my time, I really did. I used to run huge events at, UM, places like the NEC with teams of girls. And sometimes I’d have a team of 20, sometimes a team of 40, UM, sometimes just a team of two. And it was really good fun. And you had little slogans that you had to do. You had to stick within the brand guidelines. And the events industry underpins an awful lot of what I do with my clients today when I talk about branding and I talk about being true to your brand, your brand voice, UM, a lot of that I learned in the events industry, because it overarches everything. Because you were a brand ambassador, you are representing a brand. And if you did it incorrectly, I mean, I come up this is the days where people used to smoke. So, you’d have so to your stuff. Yes, you can smoke. You’ve got to cover your branding. You’ve got to go round the corner. You’ve got to be as far away from the stand as humanly possible. People are not allowed to eat or drink in branding. So, we’d have to put a coat on and people don’t realize that actually eating and drinking, you’re just having your lunch break. Not in branding, you’re not. And it was just, I mean, some of the times when you’ve got a team of that, you would then get back to my hotel and this makes people laugh. I was washing uniforms in the bath and laying it out okay because the uniform had to be clean the next day, especially if you were doing a drinks promotion and the fizzy drink had gone and over the uniform, so you’d be there washing it out. And I wasn’t the only, uh, event manager doing it at the time because I was on a skincare promotion. And the event manager at that point, I was the assistant. And we were scrubbing in the bar, the uniform, ringing them out in towels and hanging them up.

Chris Jones: Good stuff, good stuff, good stuff.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Uh, yeah, we’re going to touch that big, the big COVID-19. It must have hit you quite hard.

Chris Jones: Yeah. Painful. Absolutely, uh, painful. I mean, uh, in business, you face challenges every day. There’s always something that gets in your way. You’re looking for that smooth growth, sort of up, and hopefully the upward curve year in, year out. But there’s always sort of troughs and dips, et cetera. But the problem with COVID it was just something that we didn’t understand. We’d never heard it. We’d never understood what it’s about. A recession you knew about, and you knew what it involved, and you knew you had to tighten belts, et cetera, et cetera. And there was a plan how you would get through it. But with COVID I remember, UM, obviously you couldn’t come into the office you were sort of, uh, at home for a while. And I remember being at home watching the BBC News as everybody was, and you were literally watching every interview, every bit of thing to get a gleam of bit of information. And I think the general bub was going to be okay. A couple of months, it’ll be all over, and we’ll be back to work. So, you were just waiting for that scenario. And I remember listening to and it was a lady, I think she was a politician, and she said this was probably about two weeks in, and she said, oh, I hope you all realize this is going to be nine months or more. And I just absolutely and I’m unashamed to say it, I just broke it down. At that point, I just started to cry because I was thinking, our businesses are all based on interaction, face to face interaction. So, it was just it was a moment of absolute devastation of, you know, we’ve got three or four businesses that rely on interaction, people being together, events, et cetera, et cetera. UM, and yeah, it was just a moment. And, UM, I went away, sort of gathered my thoughts, and we really had to think about what we were going to do, what’s if it was nine months, what was going to happen? And, UM, not only from a commercial perspective, but also from a retention of staff perspective as well, because we have anything from 100 to 100 and 5160 staff on at ah, any one-time doing bits and pieces. And suddenly there was a week where we just had phone call after phone call, was just canceling every event that we had planned, because usually we have a forward plan, two, three months or maybe six months, things, bigger events coming up in the summer or whatever, and everything just canceled. So, there was a moment where it was just, there’s nothing happening. This lady is now saying, this thing could last for at least nine months. And we were thinking, this is the end. The business is going to finish. UM and I think one of the things that comes out of it, and I think it’s where business people and I suppose other people I don’t want to just say it’s business people, but where I think you get strength from Is, you suddenly have to go, right? I’m either going to have to pivot or I’m going to have to do or to ride this out. But make sure I’m ready to start again as soon as it’s able. UM, the pivot option at that time was everybody was saying, look, we’re going to go hybrid. And I sort of thought to myself, well, hybrid is great, but it doesn’t help us because everybody being virtual, everybody doing zooms, everybody doing what we’re doing now, these streams, that’s great. And we’re still communicating, but it’s not helping my business in the fact that I’ve got 150 people who still want to get out and work and do events. So, we really had to think about, okay, we need to be ready. And one of the things and I had a great conversation with one of my friends, UM, a lady called Amy, and we just sort of talked about, okay, what do we need to do, what do we need to be ready with for when events do come back? Because they will come back at some point. UM, and what will we need to be, uh, prepared for? Because things like social distancing and PPE masks, because these are all foreign things, and we didn’t understand it. So, we actually set up an events group, uh, and we contacted venues, UM, demos, UM, event organizers, UM, caterers, all sorts of people who said, look, we want to have a unified voice for Oxford and Oxfordshire when we all come out of this thing. And, UM, we set up this group on LinkedIn, and weirdly, obviously, was it online, but every week we just got together and go, right, what’s the challenges? What’s the latest, UM, instruction from the government? And it was such a good melting point of getting information and making sure that we were up to speed. We knew what was going to be happening. Right, okay, you can have 30 people outside, you can have this amount of people if it’s going to be an outside function. You can do six people if it’s indoor. All these things were changing on a regular basis. And so, when it did get to a point of view could actually start doing things again, and, yeah, we still did some hybrid stuff. uh, I think we did the first I think we actually did the first hybrid event down at the King Center in the country where six of us got together. UM, the guys from James Walton and his guys from, UM, that event company set up this streaming, uh, situation and we did the first hybrid event, UM, in the UK. And it was just fantastic. We got into conference news, I think it was put into conference news, but, UM, we did get away from it, and we did get back to that. We could do something now. And I remember, UM, we did the, UM, vice chancellor’s speech at, ah, the Sheldonian Theater. uh, and we’ve done this thing for several years, and basically you could almost get like, 300, 400 professors who would be going into the Sheldonian to listen to the speech for the voiceprint of what’s going to happen for the next year. But this event was completely toned down. She was in an encapsulated plastic sort of booth. We had to make sure that all the professors were spaced out across the theater. There was only probably about 150, UM, but it got us back to events and what you can actually do, but obviously masks, and, as I say, social distancing, and all this sort of thing. But yeah, it was a challenge. It was a real interesting challenge. And UM, you hope we don’t have to ever do anything like that again. But I think as business owners, you’ve always got to have a contingency plan. You’ve always got to and it’s not UM, paranoia, but I think you’ve always got to think what would happen tomorrow? What could happen tomorrow? What’s happening? I get things like baron’s Daily as an, uh, email notification and it’s just telling me what’s going on in sort of business and what the expectations are. Because is the recession going to hit? Are we going to do is something else coming down the pipeline? Do we need to look at new technology? Do we need to look at, I suppose, things like this sort of central bank digital system that’s supposedly coming along? Do we need to understand that? Do we need to understand, UM, crypto? Do we need to understand all those sorts of elements, blockchain and all those sorts of things? What could be the impact? I think you’ve always got to be asking yourself question, what next? What next? But UM, yeah, I think that’s probably been the most challenging time we’ve had as a business. And UM, I think we did okay just get through it, I mean, it was emotional, it was stressful. UM, not working for nearly six, seven months, UM, is going to cause a strain for anybody. UM, luckily, we had a few pennies in the bank and UM, UM, the rates rebate, things sort of help to get us through, but uh, UM, challenging, challenging times.

Kirsty van den Bulk: And of course, that’s when I met you again. UM, because I just thought it’s the business, which I think was and you reached out and you were doing clubhouse at the time, and almost as the start up. And interestingly enough, I was sitting on that call. My office at that point was a different set up, and I felt like complete imposter. And honestly, I was like, why am I on this call? I came up and I said to my husband, I said to the clubhouse call, and he went, clubhouse, huh? Don’t worry about that. I was talking to people who are big in Oxfordshire. I was on the call, and he went, how would you feel? I went like a fraud. But it was good.

Chris Jones: You were brilliant. No, you were brilliant. But that’s the thing, I think we all worry about things that probably, uh, aren’t there’s nothing to worry about. I think we’re using our insecurities to prevent us from moving forward and prevent us doing what we do. I don’t think if your business, day one or day 30, you can still not know everything. You can still get things to learn. If you’re trying to give a good service or deliver a good product, that’s all that matters. If you’re in business, I don’t think how you do it, why you do it, some, uh, of those things I just think, don’t worry about it. I say to my youngsters, just do the best that you can. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. You’re on your journey. Your journey is your journey. Nobody else can impact it. They might try and trip you up or whatever, but you’re on your journey. Things will go well, things will go bad, but it’s your journey. And people judging it, a, I think it’s a waste of time, and B, it doesn’t have any relevance. UM, that’s one thing I would say to a lot of youngsters about don’t worry. The old school. And I remember it, you’d be in the schoolyard, and you’d do something wrong, and people would take the mickey out of you and maybe call you a name, and you’d be paranoid about it for months, weeks, years, whatever. M, it might have effect on you for ages, but the reality is in here, nobody really cares, and nobody would even bother remembering in months to go or date weeks later. But I think it sits in your head more than it actually needs to.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Really good advice. So, I want to touch on who has inspired and supported you?

Chris Jones: Wow. Good question. UM uh, inspired? uh, well, I met, I listened to a talk by a very interesting guy I don’t even know it’s, a guy called Stuart Miller. And he was one of the original founders of buy box. It’s a business in UM it’s similarly like these Amazon boxes. uh, they did a similar thing, but, UM, just under a different guise. And Stuart Miller was just one of the most engaging people I’d ever met. He came to do a talk at, UM, what was then the clarendon Business Center. And he was just talking about business in general. And I went along, didn’t have any sort of preconceived ideas, but just wanted to listen to what he had to say. I was keen to sort of say, learn, understand people. And he told this really great story about how his business was like a pirate ship and he was a captain, and, UM, it was just sailing around the world, just pillaging and going crazy and whatever. But the analogy was almost like sometimes your business is sort of all here, there, and everywhere, but it’s just a matter of trying to make it as smooth as possible. UM, and I was so taken by this conversation, uh, this speech that he said, we had a conversation afterwards, and he mentored me on quite a few occasions and gave me some great bits of advice. And one of the bits of advice, and it’s still apparent today, uh, I think we were talking about marketing, and he said, look, you have to think more about things. He said if you had a million pounds, you could spend a million pounds really quickly on marketing and advertising, and you could do a television ad, you could do all these things and you might not get the responses you want. But if you really have to think about it, if you only have £100 and you have to think about it and really think, how am I going to get the best out of this £100 target audience? Who are you going to appeal to? What’s the message? You’re going to get out? And you have to really, really think you’ll get far more out of it. And I’ve used that up, uh, to this day. Yeah, we could spend a lot of money on a lot of things, but it’s always been, right, how do I squeeze the most out, uh, of what we’ve got? And not just a case of let’s just spend money doing stuff? So Stewart was a massive influence and gave me some great advice. And there was another guy called Dave Beasley who ran, UM, beeline, UM, graphics, and then went on to Oxford Office Equipment, who I’ve just known for years. And he’s just one of the most resilient people you’ll ever meet. He’s old school salesman, just always looking for opportunity, UM, just always on every day. uh, and that’s something that, again, I’ve tried to take into. And I think over the years, you just try and take little pieces from different people and just go, uh, what do you do well, right, okay, what do you do? Well, again, you’re still on your journey, but what can you take? What little bits of experience can you take from there’s a guy called Stewart crooker, who’s one of the partners at ah wellers, and I just admire what he does and how he helps run that business. And you sort of just go, right, I could take a bit of that and use that in our business, or I could take a little bit of this and use that.

Kirsty van den Bulk: UM.

Chris Jones: As I say, it’s just a learning curve. I will never be in a position where I say, I know everything and that’s it. Now, UM, I think everything’s going to work perfectly because I just know being working for us now for 13 years, something will happen today, something will happen tomorrow, and it will be something new completely that hasn’t happened before. And it’s like, right, how do we get out of this? How do we resolve this situation? So again, who could I phone? Who could I speak to? Who’s going to be able to give me some bits of information? Who’s going to be able to and it’s the old thing. And one thing that I always used to do, people used to think, uh, I’m sure people used to think I’m an idiot, but I would be in a networking situation or uh, a group or whatever, and somebody would say something, and I would just ask the question. I wasn’t embarrassed to. I know some people go, or I’m not going to ask that question because. I don’t want to embarrass myself, and I don’t want to look silly in front of other people, but I would say, what is that? What does that mean? Because I’d want to know the arts, and I’d want to grow when I’d want to understand. And I’m sure some people would go; you probably should know that. uh, and other people would go, God, thank goodness you asked that, because I wanted to know that. And I didn’t understand it either, because I get people later coming up to me and said, yeah, good thing you asked that, because I didn’t have a clue either. But I just wasn’t afraid of that. And even today, I’ll still do the same thing. It could be awkward, it could be embarrassing, it could be something very basic, but I’ll still ask the question because I just want to learn, I want to understand. I want to improve my business. UM, and so I’m not afraid to ask the question. So, yeah, I think those are the people generally that have inspired, but I’m inspired every day with people just with their journeys. uh, and the other thing I think is keen to remember is you’ve got to remember everybody’s on their own journey, but everybody’s also having problems as well. I think we assume everybody else is all right, and it’s only you are having a problem that day. But the amount of people who’ve got commercial issues, family issues, health issues, uh, whatever, that they probably won’t be telling you about, but they’re just trying to go on with their normal working day, trying to deliver what they deliver. And you’ve got ah, a, you’ve got to I think you’ve got to have empathy for them. And B, you got to remember they might say something to you today, but it’s a different answer tomorrow, because there’d be a different mindset or there’d be a different head speakers because of what they’re going through. And I think we touched on it just before we started it’s, you know, with staff. I used to be very sort of, come on, we’ve got to do this, delivered it, but now it’s like, okay, let’s understand. Why did you want to turn up late today? Or why didn’t you fancy work in that shift? Or why did you make that phone call? And it’s almost like, let’s understand a bit more of the problem so we can help you get through it, rather than just going, oh, you’ve let us down and all, you’ve let the client down, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that probably comes with age as well. But, UM, UM, yeah, I think you’ve just got to be open and learn every day. That’s the key for me.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I think age, it’s wonderful. I’m going to put it out there. I love my age. I love your resilience, by the way, and I love the childish wonder that you have. And I think that’s really something that we both have I ask the question as well because I want to know. And I’m obviously inspired by my daughter every single day. And if she doesn’t know, she says, why is that? So hence the why is why. Why? But I love, I just love your resilience. So, yeah, an age. Wow. I love the fact that I am my age, that I am m of an age. That I am, UM, you know, menopausal. I am old, as I said the other day, an old crone. But the wisdom that that gives me is incredible because it does allow me to go, you know what, I’m not going to get stressed about that. I am going to get stressed about that. But I can choose because the emotions are a little bit, I don’t know, more in control.

Chris Jones: Definitely. And I think it brings a calmness as well. I now think my life is calmer because I don’t want to get that stressed about things. There was an old adage we used to say in the Its business, uh, when it was sales guys, it was like, you didn’t get a deal. And it was like, hold on a minute, I’m not saving lives here. We’re just selling it stuff. If you’re a doctor huh, or a surgeon and you’ve got that person on the bed and you’ve got to operate, that’s saving lives. That’s stress. Not selling a, uh, PC card or a three hub or a hp switch, that isn’t stressful at all. So, with age, I think the calmness comes, which is brilliant as well.

Kirsty van den Bulk: So, we’ve had Hayley join us, which is just beautiful. UM, and she’s I love Hayley. She’s just brilliant. UM, he said she’s really excited to hear everything about you. UM, so and she’s finally here for the full one, which is even better. And she said asking my first scary ask, ah, was in the sales training session 20 years ago. The trainer said, sales are, ah, cyclical now, good luck for that one because I’m dyslexic and I didn’t know that word, so asked. I saw some relieved eyes around the table. That was the day I realized simple explanations have their place and absolutely. And I love simplifying jargon, I really do. uh, this is where the tables turn. You get to ask me a question that I’ve got no idea what. It’s going to be so far away. I kind of love this and dread it.

Chris Jones: Yeah. I was going to ask, what’s been your happiest time in life?

Kirsty van den Bulk: That’s a good question. I’m, UM, going to say that it has been since I met Dennis. And yes, we have had our ups and we’ve had our downs. We’ve had some massive heartaches along the way. But Dennis is absolutely the moment that my life turned around, the moment that I found roots it’s the reason I rooted in Oxfordshire, because I was very transient before that. UM, I didn’t know how to build roots. And this man came along, UM, who is a lot younger than me, I hasten to add. He’s, ah, seven and a half years younger. And I ran away and didn’t want to go out with him because I was an old bag and why would he want to be with me? And he chased and he was there six weeks later because I used to have a rule that said nobody’s going to get under my skin. I was divorced at this point, so, UM, I was that, ah, kind of not bitter, but very defensive divorcee. And somehow, 14, maybe 15 years later, UM, I look every single day, and I have dentists. And so, yeah, UM, the last 14 years have been absolutely the best, the happiest. I’m so grateful. And I’m going to continue to respect and love my husband and my daughter and my beautiful little life, because it really is what makes me happy.

Chris Jones: The great thing about that, all the way through, while you were talking, you were smiling. uh, if everybody could be like that when they’re doing something, you speak to some people, it’s like, well, yeah. uh, but that answer you gave then, every moment you were smiling. So that was brilliant. Thank you.

Kirsty van den Bulk: It’s all right. He changed my life. And it really is that simple. He changed my life. I wouldn’t be here doing this loving every Friday morning, hearing about other people’s stories if it wasn’t for him. UM, I wouldn’t have my beautiful, amazing camera that I use because he bought it for me. And it’s that support, that belief that he had when I was setting up. And I was like, why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? I’m never going to succeed. I look now back and go I’m doing really well. But if he hadn’t been the first person, he gave me the first two grand, the seed money to set up, and he went, off you go. And, UM, play. He gave the gifted me the time to build the brand. And there’s more than that. I can hear him in the hallway because we’ve got, uh, a day off today. And it’s just yeah, he’s brilliant. UM, I’ve got to say thank you so much for joining me this morning. UM, we’ve got 39 minutes, so I’m always trying to wrap it up around the half now, but this has been an, ah, absolute blast. Thank you for your time.

Chris Jones: No, thank you. Thank you for inviting it’s great to talk sometimes just to talk about life. But thank you so much. And I’m, UM, sure we’ll do other things. Hopefully we both have, UM, and the list as well. Hope we’ll, ah, all have a great 2023.

Kirsty van den Bulk: We are going to have a great 2023.

Chris Jones: Good stuff.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Good morning, and welcome to the Wise Why. We’re a bit late this morning because, as usual with lives, we had some technical difficulties. And I love that about going live. Now, this morning, I am joined by the fabulous Gloria, who is currently sitting in a car and moving the phone around, as you can see. Now, Gloria is is incredible. She’s known as Glow. We have got so many crossovers, as we were just discussing in our lives, that is absolutely incredible. Her journey is powerful. Everything that she has achieved and Pivoted, my goodness, she is just an awesome lady. So enough about me over to Glow. Please introduce yourself. I’m hoping she can hear me. Can you hear me? Oh, we’re on mute. That’s okay. As I said, lives go wrong. And it’s really good not to panic. And it’s really good to take a breath when things go wrong, because they will. And I know what’s known as, infinite spaces. We tried to get Gloria’s microphone to work. We may actually have to log, um, out and log back in again. And this is one of the things I really want to talk about, about going live. Everybody has a fear of it going wrong. And actually what you have to do is you have to lean into it and breathe. And you have to accept that things will go wrong, because if you don’t, you’re going to end up panicking when they do. As you can see this morning, Gloria is trying to come in. She’s trying to go out. We may even have to stop the live and come back in on another stream. We don’t know yet. And, that’s the thrill of it. Here we go. I’m going to let her back into the studio. And, fingers crossed, we are all ready. I’m just going to wait and see. OK, let’s press that button. Are we ready? Here we go. Are you ready? Just speak for me, Gloria. No, you’re still on mute. This is the beauty. So let’s just talk about why the why’s why didn’t happen last week as Gloria’s getting ready. are you ready? Still no sound. Okay, so last week, I had a family emergency, and that’s actually why I canceled. Now, Caroline will be coming on the show shortly. It’s just life, and you have choices in life, whether you go and put work first or you decide to go with your family. In my case, I decided that family was far more important and it had to be my priority. Now everybody knows I set up this company, which was opening doors and is now KBB. And I set it up, so that I could have work life balance. I set it up so I could collect my daughter from school. And in this case, my husband needed me. And you know what? That is what I did. So that is where I went. Now I’m about to release a new video. I haven’t done it yet and I’m debating what to do now. I thought I would do it on body language, but, as we’re waiting for Gloria to join us, I’ll talk about body language right now. So a couple of things that you need to do when you’re on camera is you mustn’t take over the whole space, because if you do, and that means that you’re looking directly back to camera, you’re not giving the camera an angle that it really likes. And let’s see if Gloria is going to work. So that’s just a tip for this morning as we try to get Gloria into this, into the studio. Fingers crossed. It hasn’t given me a mute yet. I love it when things go wrong. There’s nothing better. No, still not working. Okay, so, Gloria, you can hear me. You should be being asked for to give access to your microphone before you come in the studio. Are you being asked for that? Nod your hair, shake your head. So, I don’t understand why this isn’t working.
Gloria Wilkinson: Oh, I heard you.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Awesome. Well, how was that for a start? For the Wise Why and infill and not panicking, everybody. So I hope the people who are watching this and enjoy the fact that things went wrong will actually applaud and go, Yay, well done. Enough about me. I’ve been talking now for a whole two and a half minutes. Enough about me. Gloria, take the floor.
Gloria Wilkinson: Thank you so much. I mean, my chewing gum slipped. I couldn’t hear you. anyway, that’s what happens in life, isn’t it? You’ve just got to pick it up and go with it. So, my name is Gloria. Thank you for having me. Thank you for waiting for me. a little bit about me. I am 56 years young. I’m a mum and a grandma and a mum of three grown men. And I don’t know how that happened, because when I see them come through the door, I’m absolutely amazed that they’ve got beards and everything. They’re 35, 33 and 27. I’ve got two grandchildren coming up to eight and the other one is six and they’re all boys. So I’ve had to be a pretty strong person because I’m the only girl. Although I do have a girl dog now. So, yeah, so that’s a little bit about me. I teach fitness and I work full time at Canal Boat Firm in Watford. And that’s why I’m m sitting in there oh, no. Right now. And pressure washing, and it’s very loud.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Yeah, I remember you saying that you just read something that was, really key there. You said you have to be a strong woman. And I know that’s a scene that’s gone all the way through your life. And I wondered if you could expand a little bit, because, I mean, in Dutch, everyone knows my husband’s Dutch. It’s called straw frau. Hopefully I’ve got that correct. And I absolutely love strong women. Ah, there’s a song from I’m getting my act together and putting it on the road called Strong Women Number. So strong women, we are powerful I’d love to explain you expand a little bit more on why you are such a strong, powerful, amazing lady.
Gloria Wilkinson: well, powerful, amazing. Well, thank you very much. I think you just got to keep going. I tend to launch into different piles of, shall we say, poo at various points in my life. So I think from the beginning it may be just an excuse, but I always feel that from the beginning it was quite a struggle. So I was a child that was abandoned on a doorstep. And although you don’t think it affects you, I think in the back of my mind it does. Because I’ve always thought, who am m I good enough or am I good enough? So the biggest thing I have is am I worthy? And I know it’s a thing that a lot of women go through, but I really feel that sometimes because I was an abandoned baby, that somewhere in the back of my head I think, if I’m not good enough for my birth mother, who am I good enough for? And I try not to hold on to that, but I think somewhere along the line I projected that. And then I then get myself into awkward situations in relationships, trusting people, and just being taken advantage of because I’m quite a nice person and sometimes I’ve had a lot of wolves and sheep’s clothing. So I think then coming out of those situations, I’ve had to be strong. And then the other things I’ve had to be strong is when you’re working in an environment where it’s mostly men and you’re the only woman, obviously, then you’ve got to be very strong as well. And it was very hard for me to get thick skin when I worked in distribution. So I worked in John Lewis for a long time. I’ve been the only woman in the warehouse with twelve other managers. It was hard. I had to, you know, grow very thick skin and it was kind of against my nature to do that. so I guess from launching from bad relationships and working in very male environments, you then tend to become strong. And then having three boys, that made me strong because I did the majority of that as a single parent as well.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Well, thank you so much and respect for you for that, because we don’t necessarily look at the impact of childhood trauma. Everyone knows that I have had, traumatic things happen in my life and the impact of that trauma we try to push down. So thank you for sharing about that. It’s really important being the only female in a male dominated parent. I identify with that completely and I know that a, ah, lot of people who will be listening to this do and it is hard, it is challenging. You do have to be strong and you do have to hold yourself up. I can’t identify with being the mother of boys because I’ve got a girl, so I get to do pretty dresses. Although she is very much a, while she’s not at the top of the tree. But thank you so much for sharing and I know the challenges. as I said, I’m not going to touch on the abandonment because I can’t imagine what that is like. I can see from people I know who were adopted and, adoption is very passionate and something I care about very passionately. I can see the impact of that. So I can see it from an outsider. and I think sometimes with adoption we get it wrong. ah, even if you’re an adoptive parent, you might get it wrong because we project what we think. I don’t see from that.
Gloria Wilkinson: You know what I have to say, I’ve had an amazing childhood. So I was a brown baby in a white family, which obviously I was born in the 60s. So a being a brown baby in the 60s wasn’t a great idea. My dad was one of the first black barristers in this country. He was sort of gone ain’t and he met my mother. I have never met her. She was blonde, blue eyed, Scottish. And I don’t know how they met. I don’t know why they’d parted. But I ended up, being left at a place where he was renting and she walked away, obviously, in the sense of men don’t really look after babies. For me, luckily, the landlady was very liberal and I am everything I went through. I’m everything because of this lady. She, had two daughters and the youngest was 18 that just got married. And she took me in and became my mum. And when my father sadly died when I was five, she legally adopted me. So I’ve always been in that household, with those people. For me, being a brown baby in a white family was never really a problem. It was other people’s problems. you know, the name calling at school. There wasn’t many brown faces in my school at that time. But it never really affected me badly. It’s only recently that I kind of started to think, hold on a minute, I need to see where I come from. It sounds really bad that it’s taken me all this time to really get to grips with not being embarrassed that I was adopted or not being being embarrassed that I was brown, or not being embarrassed that I didn’t know my family. and now during COVID I just had this feeling that I need to kind of find these things out before it’s too late. Because obviously my mother will be in her and I have never been to Ghana. People go, but that’s your home.
Kirsty van den Bulk: But it’s not you’ve just frozen on us, unfortunately, gloria, hopefully you’ll come back in. And that was a really important point.
Gloria Wilkinson: I was born in Essex. I think I disappeared then, so I was born in Essex. So I feel I’m really English.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Honestly. Thank you so much. I hold that really dear. Well, you know why I hold that dear? So I hold that really dear?
Gloria Wilkinson: Because you’ll hear me, you’ll see me now.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I hold what you just said really dearly. I, hold it in my heart and I hold it in my heart and you know why I hold it in my heart and, I obviously don’t share that. So thank you so much for sharing that. I hope you go to Ghana. I have been to Ghana. I’ve got friends who are out there. I, have been to The Gambia. That’s as close as I’ve been. So go. and then tell me all about it, please.
Gloria Wilkinson: I do plan to now, and I plan to kind of dig a little bit into my path. My mum will always be my mum. I mean, she has had to put up with oh, was that, one of your one night’s terms? Because I have a white brother and a white sister, which now in a blended family in this day and age is not that unusual. But obviously back then, I was the oldest, so maybe it was just a little bit odd. But for me, it didn’t affect me too much, I have to say. And I just had a happy childhood and I was always just scoria. But what you mentioned about maybe how we have parents project, I was always just Gloria to my mum as well. And sometimes I think she feels maybe that was not the right thing to do because maybe it needed to be discussed a bit more about why I was discloriger. but it’s made me a strong person. Sometimes you have to put up with some kind of comments. But we blended family. It doesn’t matter who we are, we’ve all got a blended background. and so I think we just have to be kind when we’re speaking to people and just be aware.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you.
Gloria Wilkinson: That the background of people. You have no idea who you’re talking to.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you. And again, you have no idea how you could trigger somebody by just saying a innocuous. Ah. Oh, that’s a good word for me this morning. A comment that you’re not even aware that you’re going to say. so thank you so much for absolutely sharing that how which is what I’m really interested in is you’ve pivoted. So you’re now doing Gloria Fit and 50. Is that right? Gloria Fitz and 50.
Gloria Wilkinson: And you’re also doing the Glow Fit and 55.
Kirsty van den Bulk: There you go. And you’re also doing this is really I’d like you to talk about this because I love the fact that you use you run the rose and pose. I hope I’ve got that correct. Ah, retreat. And I love the way that you take something that’s broken and you bring it back together to show something of beauty. So I wonder if you could expand a bit more about the rosemposed retreat so people can understand what the whole concept of bringing over an art together is.
Gloria Wilkinson: So my good friend Luisa Katado, who is an artist, she was a participant of mine when I used to teach in the gyms and we linked together because I loved her sculptures of roses and they’re made from paper, from just torn pieces of paper that kind of signified if your life is in pieces, you can then put those pieces together and make something really beautiful. And we just thought to blend it together with yoga, which is very meditative. It can be energizing, it can be empowering. There’s lots of different ways you can do yoga. so we do a yoga session, we make the roads, we have conversations with all the people. There’s only ten maximum in and they can share as much as they want to share with us. And then we eat, and then we do a gong bath so that you’re very nice and relaxed. And they take their own home and they are really surprised that these torn bits of paper something beautiful.
Kirsty van den Bulk: But that is life, isn’t it? You get chucked some really bad, horrible bits in your life and you take me last Friday and you do just have to put it back together again. You do have to make something beautiful. In our case, I had to make sure that our daughter was happy and content and it didn’t impact on her. And she had the best weekend, she had a play dates all weekend, so oh, we’ve lost Gloria, which is a real shame. I’m sure you’re back. Yay.
Gloria Wilkinson: you did.
Kirsty van den Bulk: So, I was just explaining about how last Friday I think it’s because there’s.
Gloria Wilkinson: So much equipment here in Yard, it’s just interfering, interfering with the connection. Anyway, the sculpture and the yoga, you put that together and it makes a, great afternoon.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you. So.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Along the way can you still hear me? I’m loving this one this morning. I can see you and I can see that you can hear me. Can you hear me? You’ve gone very quiet. Can you hear me, Gloria? so we’re having I was asking yeah, just about who’s inspired you along the way on your journey?
Gloria Wilkinson: I think I have to say my NAN, who is the landlady, of the house where I was left because she was so open to everybody. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. My mom, who has obviously been there the entire time, whether I’m good or bad, whether I’m successful or not. And then obviously there’s people that I teach zumba so I’m very inspired by Berto Perez who invented Zumba because he was told, no, no, this is never going to work. You’re nothing. And now look at Zumba. Over 200 countries in the world, everybody knows what Zumba is. Well, pretty much, anyway. It’s 20 years old. And that is something that I always look back on and think, you know what? He was told no. But he still went ahead and did it. And don’t get me wrong, this ties. And I think, oh, my gosh, I just can’t do this. I’m going to give up tomorrow. Like, COVID has had an enormous effect on selfemployed instructors. It’s been really, really difficult. I’m just trying, as you say, pivot, into a different direction.
Kirsty van den Bulk: Okay, we’ve gone again. I’m hoping Gloria will come back in. This feels a bit like an episode of the news where we’re trying to bring in a stream, and it’s just not very stable. It’s not anyone’s fault. Gloria is coming from the car in a working Marine. oh, my goodness. They still have one, in a working marina. I’m hoping Glory will come back, and if not, we will get Gloria back on the show in March next year, because that’s where my next face is, because we were actually booked up till the end of February. So I’m really sorry Gloria’s gone this morning. That was a fabulous conversation. Thank you for joining us. Sometimes tech lets you down.

In this episode:

00:00 Hello and welcome to The Wise Why
00:25 Chris Jones says hello
02:15 Leaving a salaried job
04:13 Gloo and Boys and Girls
06:28 Accidental Entrepreneur
07:57 learning to adapt
09:23 The hidden events staff
10:42 Stoner House, Blenheim Palace, and Hillary Clinton
12:29 Life in events
14:28 Covid-19
21:00 Getting back to normal
23:48 Clubhouse and forever learning
25:35 feel the fear and do it anyway
26:16 Inspired by people
30:38 Always ask the silly question
32:01 You are on Your own journey
33:58 Resilience
35:23 Audience comments
36:15 Question to Kirsty
37:51 You smiled all the way through that
38:42 Seed money
39:32 Close

Connect with Chris:

Facebook: @boysandgirlspromotions
Instagram: @boysandgirlspromotions

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