The Most Important Thing I’ll Ever Write, Even if No One Reads it…
If you’ve read any of my previous posts you may have been wondering who’s really behind them. Well I do when I read other people’s blogs anyway!
So I thought I’d write something that quite honestly is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written.
It’s because this is my story. My fight.
I promise I don’t spend the whole time banging on about myself!
Before you roll your eyes and click away, I realise this is a little self indulgent. But if you’ve never done anything like this yourself, I highly recommend it.
We should all get stuff out of our heads from time to time!
I’ve included some high level insights on marketing that I wouldn’t have seen without my experiences.
While they are wound into parts of MY story, if you understand and apply them, I truly believe they have the power to change not just YOUR business or marketing results, but to change YOUR life.
The importance of an external perspective
This was actually inspired by a very good friend who pointed out to me a few things I’d done recently that all too much reminded me of who I was, not who I am today.
Thanks mate, you know who you are.
Now I’m not sure I believe in manifestation or ‘law of attraction’, but the importance of doing this literally ‘punched me in the face’ after I went to an excellent event last week in London put on by Dan Meredith (@, and check out his Coffee with Dan Facebook group if you’ve not heard of him. Comes with a warning, he loves plenty of ‘F-bombs’!).
But the theme I took away from the event was the importance of dropping the B.S. we all tell ourselves. About being true to ourselves. About being honest and embracing our own story, not hiding from it.
So in the words of Mr Meredith, I thought f*ck it!
If I want others to trust me to help their business, they should at least know what they’re getting themselves into!
So let me introduce myself properly…
Hi, I’m Adam King.
Nice to meet you. I’m a “Born-Again Marketing Geek”…
I can single-handedly cure a lifetime of insomnia when I get going about the latest marketing strategy I’m currently excited about!
I’ve been in this marketing game since 2002. I sort of ‘fell into’ it’ really. It wasn’t part of some kind of grand plan that’s for sure!
Back then I had no idea what to do with my life after finishing University at Loughborough and then a gap year travelling (Thailand, Australia, New Zealand & America if you’re interested…). It was made harder as a few weeks after getting back from the travels, my parents split up after 28 years of marriage.
So I moved back home at 22 years old to be there for my Mum. She has Multiple Sclerosis, which at the time had not totally taken her mobility like it has today, but she still had struggles that she needed help with.
I got a job working for an events company who put on internal marketing and product launch events for big companies such as Microsoft, RBS and Coutts Bank. It was ok, it was a job, but I didn’t love it.
At that time I was just happy that it gave my mid-20s-self enough beer money!
The forgotten years
For a couple of years this was ok. But I wasn’t handling my home life very well and was lacking a direction or passion for much. I’m pretty sure I had 2 midlife crisis’ before I turned 30!
I’m also fairly certain this was the reason I spent 11 or 12 years slightly depressed and angry at the world, along with everyone in it. I was selfish. I ran away three times.
First to Chamonix in France to snowboard for a season, the second to Banff in Canada where I did the same. I let people down, lost friends and destroyed relationships. Or at the very least the strength of relationships I once had.
I hit a real low point about 3 or 4 years ago after returning from my third attempt to run away from my reality. I tried another extended period of travel I thought would sort my head out (it didn’t).
This time I’d miraculously found someone that could put up with me to come along for the ride.
Yep, I’d somehow managed to find a wonderful, patient and beautiful girl (now my wife I’m happy to report!), to travel with me through South East Asia and Indonesia. No snow this time! (Well I did manage to sneak a month in Banff in on my own… Another selfish act that saw me abandon this wonderful girl at a time of struggle. (I’m starting to paint a lovely picture of myself aren’t I…!).
Even though she put up with my selfish attitude and “woe is me” view of life, I’m pretty sure without what happened next, I was one argument away from losing her…
…The teacher appears
After we got back, I drifted into a situation where I allowed someone else to make my life hell. (Keeping details out as they’re not important, but I no longer blame them for this, in fact I’m grateful for it).
There must have been something in me that felt I deserved it at the time to let it happen. Looking back I must have been on the brink of some kind of breakdown.
It was here, at the end of a really crappy week, walking along Holborn Viaduct in London on my way to the Tube station (and for no particular reason that I still can’t figure out why they did) some words of advice given to me over 15 years earlier popped into my head…
“Son, just know that people, what they do, why they do it and the basic things that drives them will never change in your lifetime. Figure out what those are and it will be the nearest thing you’ll get to understanding the apparent chaos in this world. There’s a pattern in people’s behaviour that’s clearer to see than your own, you just have to pay attention to it. Only then can you change yours”.
Those were my Grandads words.
He’d died a little over 2 years earlier. He said this to me back when I was a 14 year old moody teenager one Christmas (I was probably upset about unreturned affections, or not being one of the ‘cool kids’, I honestly can’t remember now).
I don’t actually recall thinking much about them at the time. Maybe those aren’t even the exact words he said, but I’m sure this was the message he was trying to tell me.
When the student is ready I suppose…
A paradigm shift
How could I apply this to my current situation? Am I hearing voices in my head? Am I actually going mad…?
I mean, I felt hollow. I pretty much hated myself. But with these words in my head, I slowly realised all my problems were of my own making. I was so closed off I couldn’t see how lucky I really was. That all I needed to do was stop focusing on myself. Instead consider the other people in my life and how they needed me to be strong.
It became clear that by being being genuinely interested and curious about others, seeing both the good and the bad, that I could learn more about how they see the world, how they deal with it, and use this to understand myself.
To me this was a paradigm shift. But it still took a while to really accept this and start to make changes.
Around this time I was also diagnosed with ADHD. I’d had it most of my life without realising.
It’s been through the combination of this ‘moment of clarity’ and learning to see my quirks through the glasses of ADHD, that I’ve turned things around. I’ve turned what I thought were weaknesses into strengths.
I’m no longer embarrassed or ashamed by the parts of my character that make me unique, different, even a little weird at times.
I’ve rebuilt relationships (I’m most grateful for the new start with my brother, who had every right to hate me. He and his new family are now some of the biggest sources of support I have in the world). I’m more present. I have a purpose and a passion for what I do.
And I’m genuinely happy for the first time since I was 22.
So what does this have to do with marketing?
Despite this new found perspective, it wasn’t for another year or so that I started applying this to my career. I was still in marketing because it was all I could get a job in with the experience I had and I was good at it.
I thought what I was doing was just about winning business, growing a client base, improving profits or bashing people over the head until they did what my company wanted, or doing what I was told so I could get a bonus…
I was totally wrong.
A second ‘moment of clarity’ hit me when I saw that marketing can be so much deeper than that.
Boil it down to basics and you’ll find that marketing is the discipline of interpreting the basic truths that drive people.
And people are fascinating.
Marketing is about people. It’s about understanding human behaviour and the reasons why people make decisions.
It’s about motivation, apathy, fear, greed and all things in between. It’s old fashioned storytelling that creates an emotional connection, allowing us to provide an authentic solution to a real, deep and emotional problem someone else has, not just an external one.
It’s understanding that behind every lead, prospect, click, Facebook account, tweet, client, etc. is a living, breathing human being.
We all share the same desire to improve, to have a better life, to make more money, to have a happy family life, to feel safe. We all want to avoid trouble, sickness, sadness, poverty or pain.
Only when you truly understand that these are the kinds of problems your business exists to solve will you start to transform your business.
Change the story, change the outcome
Like I’m sharing here, we all have our own story of how the world treats and sees us, or where our place is in it.
This story impacts every decision we make, whether that’s what we buy, the friends we choose or what career to pursue, all communicates something about our internal world to others outside.
It’s scary as hell!
Every time we do this we show a little part of ourselves that others can (and will) judge.
When you really think about it, every decision we make forces us to come face to face with our own flaws and vulnerability. Which is why we so often make decisions that we ‘think’ others would approve of, or to avoid others seeing the real us and the pain we’re in, even if they aren’t completely aligned with our own beliefs or values.
You can see this play out in my story.
I didn’t want to admit I was struggling. I was too proud. So I dealt with things by running away, not taking responsibility or being there for people. I was fearful that their pain would reflect onto me so much that I couldn’t hide from my own any longer, and they’d see it.
I simply wasn’t strong enough. So I chose escapism. I told myself the story that freedom and independence mattered more than taking responsibility.
And plenty of snowboard and travel businesses benefited from that I can tell you!
I still love snowboarding and travel. But today I’m more likely to notice the make and model number of a pushchair or buggy being pushed through the high street. My story is now about the importance of taking responsibility. That’s because my wife and I are going to become a family of three in June!
I’d never have got here without changing my story. I’m still scared at times, worried the demons are still there just waiting to come out, that I won’t cope. But that doesn’t last long because I know today I’m stronger. I’m the kind of person that stays, not one that runs away.
And plenty of baby businesses have benefited from that!
Learn from my mistakes
I’m still a work in progress. I still screw up, act selfishly and get lost in my own head. Old habits can die hard. I’m not going for perfect though. I’m simply going for a little bit better, every day.
Today I think that a life lived well is like great marketing; focused more about what you can give, and less about what you can get.
I’m not the first to think this, I didn’t come up with it. It’s what I’ve learned from observing others. This is one of the core values you see behind the most successful people in the world.
It’s “The Pattern” I think my Grandad was trying to help me see.
Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions
I think Zig Ziglar that said that.
I’ll be pretty amazed if anyone has actually made it this far to be honest!
But if you have, then all I have to say is a massive and sincere thank you. It’s a big thing to read a stranger’s story, especially to the author!
I’ve shared my story. I’m ‘out of the closet’ so to speak. It’s done and there’s no more hiding or running away.
My hope is that this leads to the creation of something valuable that can benefit many people, that we strengthen our communities, and it goes some small way to finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.
It’s a grand vision perhaps, but it all starts with one person. One individual. But it requires a little help from our friends!
Who in your life today could you offer to help, even in a small way, that could make a big difference to them? Reach out and see what happens…
And if something in my story has connected with you, if you’ve travelled a similar path to me, or have any specific challenges that you would like to see future posts about, comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and send me a message.
Or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to help you change yours or someone else’s life for the better.
Of if you think someone else needs a cure for insomnia, please share this with them…