Martin Summerhayes (martinsummerhay) wrote,
Martin Summerhayes
martinsummerhay

What were you doing at the age of 22?

“As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed as ignorant as you were at twenty-two, you'd always be twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It's growth.” ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Yesterday, I received in my personal inbox an update from LinkedIn. Not one of the normal, “congratulate so-and-so”, or “Thinly veiled adverts for companies”, but rather something that sparked my interest and flood me with memories.

What might it be you ask? Well, it was a e:mail asking:

“If I were 22? 50 plus Influencers on what they wish they knew at 22!”

Check out the link below if you want to see what sparked my interest:

http://blog.linkedin.com/2014/05/20/if-i-were-22-80-influencers-share-lessons-from-their-youth/

Wow, I thought, what on earth was I doing at 22? What even was the year? I don’t know about you, but sometimes, unless it is a significant event, it is either the year, or the age that can trigger where I can remember events, but not often both.

So what was I doing at the age of 22? Well it was 1987.

I was living in Wood Green, North London, in rented accommodation with a very old lady who had no heating. I remember the winter that year and the levels of snow. Why? Well, that January, in fact, Monday the 5th January to be precise, I started a new job with a company called Hewlett-Packard Co. The job was based at their Winnersh Cross Roads office, near Reading. So that Monday, I got up early, travelled by tube to Paddington and caught the train out to Reading. A Change at Reading station and then to the office.

My job? I was going to be the specialist 3rd party field engineer for the local area. I got a company car, a company credit card, tool kit and was told to report to the training centre the following morning. The Tuesday morning, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. I drove from Wood Green, North London round the North Circular, to the A4 / M4 turn off. Then out on the M4 all the way to Winnersh - a 60 mile one way trip. Why do I remember the credit card? I used it to scrap off the snow from the car, thats why!

I did that commute every day for 6 months - a two hour drive in and then out from London - 120 miles every day, 5 days a week. Combined with my work as a field engineer and I did over a thousand miles per week. My patch as a field engineer covered customers north of Banbury - don't forget the M40 motorway was not build then. As far west as Swindon, as far south as Winchester and into Uxbridge, just outside of London.

I don’t remember how I found the place to live in Crowthorne, Berkshire, only that it was 15 minutes from the office - yipee. I rented a room from a car salesman and paid for room and utilities. I had to get my own food and clean up. My girlfriend at the time was a legal secretary I had met in my previous job in London. She lived all the way round the M25, in Gravesend, Kent. Unfortunately, she did not have a car, so I would visit her. So every weekend, it was finish work and pack myself off round the M25 for the two and a half hour drive to say at her parents.

i remember listening to the radio a lot whilst driving, enjoying the time out and about on the road. Such hits from the Pet Shop Boys, Eurythmics, Erasure, Mel and Kim, and Madonna. I remember the joy of doing a great job, with some great customers and colleagues at work.

What did I want a 22?
I wanted a well paid job, with a car - tick.
I wanted a girlfriend and a relationship - tick.
I wanted to save for a future - I started to do so

Oh, and I started to smoke. I was influenced by going out with an engineer called Chris Etheridge and picking up the habit from him.

Did I honestly think about the future? Long term goals and ambitions?

Did I realise that some of the things I did by accident, like being asked to put a proposal together on how to increase the revenues in the department, would have such profound effects on my life? [That was the £20 million opportunity report, I will write about in a separate article]. That I would continue to work for Hewlett-Packard Co for 19 years?

No, I did not. I turned a job, into a set of careers that has taken me all over the world; given me skills and insights that I would never have dreamed of. Was it planned? No it was not. But I had ambition, passion and a drive to succeed. Other engineers that joined at the same time as me, stayed as engineers. In fact two of them continue to this day.

I took the physical toolkit that I was given on that very first day, adapted it and turned it into a virtual toolkit I carry all the time and have continued to fill it over the years. That is my metaphor for how I have developed my career. What is yours?

I leave you with the following highlights from 1987 on this Friday, after the election results. That I also remember……

Events from the year 1987 in the United Kingdom. At the beginning of the year, the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy Terry Waite was kidnapped in Lebanon and remained a hostage until 1991. The major political event of this year was the re-election of Margaret Thatcher in June, making her the longest continuously serving Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in the early 19th century. The year was also marked by a number of disasters — the sinking of the ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise, the Hungerford massacre, the "Great Storm", the Remembrance Day Bombing in Northern Ireland and the King's Cross fire.

For more details, go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1987_in_the_United_Kingdom#August

Tags: $20m opportunity, age 22, linkedin, memories, toolkit
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