Continued from Part 1
So I quit my jobs working on the construction sites and nightclubs, sold up what I could, bought a ticket to London and packed my bags, said goodbye to everyone I knew.
I remember being at the Cape Town international airport and my Dad saying to me “What are you going to do for work over there?” I honestly didn’t know but I knew I HAD to go. I sort of shrugged my shoulders and looked away. He laughed at me and said “Boy, you’re like Dick Whittington, on his way to London, where the streets are paved with gold…!” I thought to myself, “hold onto that comment, Paul.”
Getting to London, I checked into a hostel in Earls Court – as you do! 😉 I only had £400 that I had come over with so I had to get busy quickly again getting some work. So, in that situation, you go back to what you know. I went back to working the night clubs and construction sites.
Things were going well and I was enjoying working London’s clubs. We had some of the greatest people I have ever met working together at that time, particularly at Tiger Tiger in Piccadilly.People who I am still so lucky to have some of the greatest relationships with, all over the world. These people became like family – and that STILL holds today. It’s a crazy thing when you go through adversity, challenges, pain and chaos and all the highs too, it builds INCREDIBLE friendships.
Whilst I was loving working the nightclub scene, there was something else that was chewing away at me and that was basically that I needed to move forward. I needed to see if I could further things in my life and I wanted to make more money than I was.
I felt that, with no disrespect to the AWESOME people at the night clubs, I felt that I wanted to get a “normal job”. I wanted to work in an environment where I could wear a suit. It’s kind of crazy but wearing a suit was a big thing to me at that time. It was my goal that I was able to return to SA for holidays etc as a “different person” , a “better person” than who had left SA. I needed to see progress in myself, I know that you reading this, can relate to what I mean…
This all culminated one night when I was standing in the Club at Tiger Tiger, shooting the breeze with Kevin, an old school doorman who was as wide as he is tall and he said to me “We’ve gotta watch ourselves tonight, Paul. The City lot are coming down….!” I had never heard about this “City lot” but Kev explained to me (not sure if he was being serious or blagging it) that they were basically the UK’s equivalent of Wall Street (a very rough comparison, but there you go! ;-))
I decided, at that moment, that I wanted to work in the City! I wanted to work in the financial markets and wanted to make a lot of money…. And that was that!
So that Monday morning, I started applying for jobs. I wanted a job where I could wear a suit, make lots of money and be very proud of myself. There was only one problem: I had no qualifications, no London experience and no contacts or connections to get me even an interview, let alone a job.
I am not sure why this is but that didn’t register in my mind as a huge problem but it soon became evident that it was thought. I managed to go through the next 2.5 years and received more than 3000 rejection emails for jobs that I had applied for…!! In hind site, this is where I was grateful that I was an ugly teenager and NEVER good with the ladies, so rejection was nothing new to me…! 😉
I remember once getting an email back that said “Please contact us for an interview”, so I called up with my best telephone manner voice only to be met with some confusion and then explained to that the recruitment consultants had 3 “auto-respond” buttons 1) Thanks but no thanks 2) Please contact us for an interview 3) You’ve got the job…. My consultant had pushed the wrong button….!!
Ugly teenager or not, going through 2.5 years of getting rejection after rejection for job applications is tough. Looking back on it now, if I knew now what I knew then or had someone to mentor me, I would have stepped back and taken a different route which would have got me to where I wanted to go in a much quicker time – but as they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. Looking at it now though, I HAD to believe that the experience is something that will serve me for the rest of my life and not give up on the goals I was striving for.
I was literally working nights at the clubs and telling people that I was “keeping my days open” to be able to go for interviews. Not they really did but I guess wishful thinking is not a bad thing…
Part three (“The BREAK-THROUGH) to follow ASAP 😉