Overcoming the Learning Curve — Garreth’s Journey

The Company
11 December 2019

We sat down with Wes recently and had a talk about his journey through discovering and recovering from his brain tumour. In his article, Wes mentioned how important it was having you as his support system around the business while he was gone.

Would you mind telling us your side of the story? How did you take the news of Wes’ tumour, both as a friend and as a business partner?

[I] still remember when Lauren told me Wes had a car accident and then called to give me an update post the accident. When Lauren told me, I wanted to be strong for her and not break down, but my first thought was for one of my closest mates. Once the realisation set in, the fear [of the] unknown started to consume my mind. Will he recover? How long will he be gone? Will he be back? Could I do this without him? How will I tell the team?

Over the next couple of days, I really had to dig deep mentally and be positive about Wes getting back to full health. These thoughts led to continually reminding myself that I will do whatever it takes to not only keep the business ticking over but do my best to improve it while he is gone.

I started by calling up our team in the Malaysian office to tell them about Wes, the position of the business, and how to work through what the next couple of months might look like.

I jumped on the phone and ramped up the numbers and purpose of my conversations. This was fine with new customers that didn’t know Wes, but the conversations with existing clients were really tough, at times very emotional.

What were the biggest challenges of stepping into his shoes?

Since we started the business, Wes has always taken ownership of the team and internal strategy around our own marketing. Understanding and executing on our clients’ work to the required level of detail and structure was also a challenge. Wes has a lot of marketing and growth strategy experience with a good eye for detail.

I think all that aside, the biggest challenge would be the mental side. Not having our daily discussions, self-doubt about whether I could get everything done and if I was up to it, along with worry for my mate and the business.

What were the biggest lessons you took away from managing the business practically solo for a while?

You will quickly realise who you can rely on and who you can’t. Our leader in our Malaysian office was an absolute rock for me. Someone to run ideas by, someone to share concerns with, and someone to help get things done.

Positivity was the key to pushing through the hard times. I spoke to myself quite a bit (the others in the office thought I was going insane) to reassure myself that we would get through this and be stronger as a result.

As individuals, we all actually know more than we think, add more value, and are far greater than we might give ourselves credit for.

Life is short…it can literally change with the blink of an eye. Wes and I were having lunch and heading off for the weekend the day he had his accident. Within an hour, our lives had changed.

As a father, how has this experience changed the way you manage your work-life balance? Has it changed much about your perspective on the important things in life?

I think when we started the business, we both wanted to have flexibility to spend time with our families. This was a good yet real reminder to do that. Don’t put off going to the playground after school, make sure you attend events and be involved, and always make your kids feel like they are the number one priority.

I also think that this reminded us that our business, although being our livelihood, isn’t a matter of life or death. Enjoy what you do, do it for the right reasons, and don’t lose sleep over the small things in life.

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