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I was recently asked to muse on the influences of having a life partner as a business partner

Q.Tom McKaskill – What are the most significant turning points in choosing a business partner. What happened?

I had a long career (18 years) in corporate marketing before I decided to show the lot of them how to really run a business and run my own show. Totally arrogant and egotistical really. And in hindsight not quite as simple as I thought it would be. But when I did get a little bit of success the first person I turned to for help was my life partner – now business partner. I reflect was that a good choice?

I remember when I worked at the airline in the late 80s one of the first things I had to do as a product manager understood how many points of contact a customer had with the business before we could roll out Business Class…I came back and told management that the most customer contact points were potentially 23. (reservations, ground staff, baggage etc.) I had a full report….My manager said to me?Do you realise that we would have to deal with 11 unions to get your suggestions through?? I excitedly answered?Yes of course but won’t it be great? I was told and I quote exactly?You go and worry your pretty little head about something else?. I was devastated and embarrassed as the tears flowed. I was in my mid-20s desperate for a career in marketing, passionate about the business…and quite frankly management I worked for couldn?t give a damn.

I have countless more stories of senior management just not listening, hearing ideas, or understanding my commitment to making a difference. It took leaving corporate life and starting my own show ? to prove to them that I knew it would work, that a company could be built on listening to customers and nurturing young people? allowing contribution from all.

But without the 50 or more times that I was knocked back, ridiculed or mocked? they all added to making me who I am. (Every time I thought ?I?ll show them?) Without them, I never would have had the privilege of creating RedBalloon Days. I would never have discovered my purpose in life ? to fundamentally change gift giving in Australia and New Zealand forever ? to simply give great pleasure. So thanks to all those people who said? No?.

As I commented to another entrepreneur friend of mine…I was probably a right royal pain in the behind…100s of ideas, totally enthusiastic, ready to risk it all to try something new, always on to the next bigger brighter idea. I had to invent my own business…Was I basically unemployable? I just never knew how to tow the company line.

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