This is the third in a series of posts featuring Ashton Bishop, the Head of Strategy at Step Change Marketing.
In my previous post I talked about how I went from underdog to predatory marketing top dog due to a couple of mentors who stood out in my life.
Most people would agree that one of the important things about being in business is having the right people around you. The people who have the skill sets, track records and the like that compliment you.
When we started Step Change, we broke all the rules. We hired somebody who had no track record and more issues than a New Idea magazine! He was so jam packed full of talent we just couldn't let him go.
Forced to change step
Step Change actually started in 2007 in its initial incarnation but it was a little bit of a false start. We were meant to run workshops coaching small business owners and we fumbled around with this for a while. As for the company becoming a going concern, well that's another story.
It was forced upon me by the company I was working for at the time. I had been working in this particular company with one of my mentors, Gavin Larkin. Gavin went on sick leave and a series of events that followed left me in a position where I felt that the only appropriate thing for me to do, in service to Gavin, was to leave the company.
It wasnt planned, it was mid GFC, we had no clients, no money and frankly I had no idea what I was doing. But as this was thrust upon us, in a manner of speaking, we reinvented the company.
We hired a General Manager, Jeff Cooper, who was 26 years old and just packed with potential. We all took a big pay cut and gave our new GM all the coaching and support he needed. We put just enough rails and safety around the business so that it could at least survive.
Who's heard of Gavin Larkin?
Gavin was such a character and a really amazing guy. He was six-foot plus and had an incredible presence. When he walked into a room everyone went wow and they hung on his every word. He was incredibly successful at business and actually became quite famous. Whatever he touched... turned to gold.
The flip side of this incredible talent was that Gavin was diagnosed with depression which was interesting because his father committed suicide. In spite of this, Gavin was the most successful man I'd ever met. He was my mentor for around 10 years.
Are you Okay Day?
Gavin's depression made him very unhappy and miserable. He only came to terms with his illness when he was forty. Once that happened he set about making sure that depression was not ignored. He wanted to help people open up and talk about it.
That's when Gavin and his colleague Janina Nearn started Are you Okay Day or R U OK? which is the more familiar term for it. It's all about suicide prevention.
Are you Okay Day is an annual day in September dedicated to reminding people to ask family, friends and colleagues the question, "R U OK?", in a meaningful way, because, as Gavin put it, "Getting connected and staying connected is the best thing anyone can do for themselves and for those who may be at risk."
Not long after deciding to create Are you Okay Day, Gavin got cancer and died. His son who was only fifteen also got cancer and he's just passed as well so there was tragedy and glory all wrapped up into a very short space of time. Gavin was an incredible man and he left behind an incredible legacy.
I didn't intend to leave this post on such a sad note but in a lot of ways Gavin taught me that life is a story of tragedy and glory, and adversity can often be the step up we need to build our own legacies.
You might want to go back and read my first post in this series to fully understand what I mean by this.
In the next post, Ashton dives deeper into the business of Step Change Marketing and what makes it tick.
Click on the video below to watch Ashton's entire story.