I spent my primary school years causing mayhem swearing at teachers and getting myself excluded on countless occasions. Amazingly, still quite young, I turned my life around. Not only am I the CEO of Xplode Magazine, a youth charity I established, I am also a trustee of a national youth social action movement and various local organisations. I may have had a lengthy public profile but only a decade ago, I was a self-confessed nightmare.
Living on a social housing estate with an incredibly unstable background, the staff at my school had their work cut out with me and their solution to the problem – giving me responsibility. Simple things from collecting milk cartons to helping out at the tuck shop showed that I was believed in.
It was when I was 15 that the route my life took was signposted. It was one day when I spotted negative newspaper headlines about young people:
This, coupled with my motivation to prove a point, culminated in the establishment of Xplode Magazine – a nationally acclaimed youth charity helping thousands of young people with media and employability skills.
When I was doing my GCSE’s at school, I remember being pulled out of a physics lesson by the head-of-year who scrunched her face and proceeded to tell me that I was to stop editing the school magazine and I was to focus on my GCSEs – the school magazine was the responsibility that kept me out of trouble and at 15, I thought ‘f**k it – I’ll set my own up!’
Weeks later after research and planning, I was ready to submit a funding application and contacted O2 through the Think Big programme. Some people thought I would fail including teachers – these people I class as toxic people and there are no two ways about this point – get rid of toxic people – be fake to them if you have to – just don’t take any notice of them.
The excitement of the unknown and the fear of the unknown where two things that really kept me and my team going – our project could either go fantastically well or could die really quickly but if you don’t try, you’ll not get anywhere.
Whenever anybody asks me the one piece of advice I’d give to someone starting out, at the risk of sounding like Nike’s PR Manager,
“Just Do It”.
Just get on with it – if it fails, it fails. So what? – every great entrepreneur hasn’t got to where they are by not trying things. I doubt Richard Branson thinks “oooh it’s a bit difficult that – we’ll leave it”.
“When X Doesn’t Mark The Spot is for those who have ideas, those who want to make a difference, those who want to learn. It’s for you.”