A testimonial from my long-time client Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors, United Kingdom
Paul’s training and all of the strategies contained within his new book, It All Matters, have had such an impact on our company over the last 10 years that I almost don’t know how to put it into words. I actually had the privilege of reading this section of the book prior to its release, while on a plane to a family vacation. I must say that it was truly a wow experience for me, as I felt a mixture of both remorse and exhilaration. I began to realize, as I periodically do, that my most productive times are when I have absolute personal clarity of what I must do.
The best personal example I have that exemplifies the principle of clarity goes back a few years, to 2006. The company that I had worked for at the time had been taken over and I suddenly found myself out of a job. My wife and I had two very small children at the time and we did not want to move. Over time I realized that my best opportunity might be to try and venture out on my own and create a new automotive retail business in the United Kingdom. I had very little money at the time, but what I did have was a great idea and lots of supportive people around me.
The new group that I envisioned was “real” in my mind, before it was created. I mapped out in great detail what it would be like. I could clearly envision what the company culture would be like, the people who would work there, and lots of very specific details. I could see it all in “my mind’s eye.” Visualization like this is a very powerful tool for you to have and utilize. As Henry V once said, “All things are ready if our minds be so.” Starting a new business is not easy. There will always be moments of doubt and disappointment. You have to pay the price. Visualization will help you create the urgency that you need and it will strengthen your belief. I remember experiencing moments like this, and telling myself, “Just keep going. You only give up once!” Besides, giving up wouldn’t have solved anything anyway, because the problem of not having a job would have still remained.
During the course of 2006, my plans for creating a business were worked out. We held meetings and drank lots of coffee during those meetings. We also identified our target acquisitions. Then, on December 21, 2006, Vertu Motors LLC, a company with no actual business, floated as a cash shell on the AIM market of the London Stock exchange, raising £26 million of equity. By March 28, 2007, an additional £26 million of equity had been raised, and the 13th largest automotive retailer purchased us to start us off. My dream was a now reality. It’s now been 10 years since then and the group currently employs over 5,000 people and it’s the fifth largest automotive retailer in the United Kingdom with a turnover of nearly £3 billion.
My productivity as the leader of the business is clearly important. Sometimes I get busy “running the business,” and then I realize the need to focus, get back on track, and gain some clarity and perspective. Clarity for me is all about setting both business and personal goals.
My personal goals are largely about creating balance in the areas of health, spiritual, mind, and relationships. When these areas of my life are all balanced, it provides me with a fantastic platform on which to drive the business forward. Clarity in the business is also vital, because a management team and all of its colleagues will flounder without clarity of goals and objectives. In Vertu Motors, we are big on having clarity and vision. We set time aside to clearly define what the group will look like in four years’ time and we look at all of the specific areas that we need to focus on. We put target numbers on each focus area so that each colleague knows exactly what needs to be achieved.
This vision, together with our core values, provides us with total clarity on where we are going and what is required to get us there. Clarity is something you will always need to work on. Sometimes it will burn clear and your productivity and creativity will accelerate. At other times it will get fuzzy, and you won’t be as effective, because you are too busy and you are allowing the sands of time to simply slip away. At times like this, remember to ask yourself, “What am I here for?” Are you here to make a difference and to create value, or are you simply wandering throughout your days. When you have clarity in each area of your life, you can truly focus on moving forward with a purpose.
—Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors, United Kingdom