Athazagoraphobia !

I bet some of you have just googled that, but if you haven’t yet, you will soon get the idea.

aaron_art_LISo maybe now you are getting the idea of what this latest blog might be about. I have been thinking about this for such a long time now and have decided it is time to lay my cards on the table and say just how I feel. What I need to do first is to paint a small picture.

I spent 35 years working in the Direct Marketing industry, namely at the clever end of course, not the flowery creative crap. I was a specialist data expert in my heyday and evolved into direct mail, print, digital, analytics, oh shit, you get the picture. I’ve been there seen it done it and helped make a lot of companies and individuals richer and more successful. I, with my colleagues, built one of the biggest and best data driven marketing businesses in the UK, and my name still goes on today, though Lloyd James Media is nothing to do with me.

I entered the world of DM back in 1979 and exited in 2015 after having to make some painful decisions and bowing down to financial pressures including those placed upon me by greedy dodgy dealers and bankers. It is a very strange thing to find yourself suddenly alone, to go from salaried to unsalaried overnight, to go from having your PA clear your daily cascade of emails to receiving none, to go from toast of the lunching set to scrambled eggs on toast alone in your kitchen.

Oh I know that some of you reading this will be clicking your heels knowing that I hit rock bottom and of course some of you will know that I had a hand in your success but you won’t say anything because we all know that loose lips sink ships, and let’s face it when the ship goes down and the captain is screaming out for a life jacket most of you would (did) turn your back, for fear that you might be tarnished with the same fate. You and I know that in the game of DM, you are only ever as good as your last job and your business survives on the tightrope of billing the right amount at the end of each month. In other words, each and every one of you are as unforgettable as I am.

I decided, with no offers or interest, phone calls of support, emails of encouragement, knocks on the front door, that I would take a few months out to assess my life and decide what to do. Those few months turned into a year and although I put it about that I was available as a non executive, or to entertain at weddings and bar mitzvah’s, the interested parties were few. Those that did want me in their businesses for a couple of days a week/month balked at my fee which I eventually halved to around £350 a day!!!!! and I was still considered way too expensive. As Catherine Tate’s Nan would say “What a crock of shit”.

Then I had the weirdest accident five broken bones and a displaced femur which was life threatening. I had emergency surgery and a metal rod permanently fitted in my leg and spent eight months learning to walk again. Not a single get well card or a visit from one of the DM crowd, (Lynn was the exception)  Bastards!! it’s OK I am not bitter, not fucking much!!

Then on my hand painted walking stick I finally accepted a non exec role (company shall be nameless !!!!!) and attended required meetings and show cases where I entertained their clients. I could not stand the way that the sales director thought I was a threat to his position, after his job, on yer bike mate !! I’ve fried bigger fish than you and I most certainly did not want your job dick head.  I also could not stand to see an intelligent CEO being hoodwinked by arse licking cohorts and not being able to get to him myself so that I could advise on his business strategy, needless to say it was a very short relationship.

Then I suffered a severe heart attack and subsequent triple bypass, shock horror, not a single bloody card or visit from anyone in the DM industry, (Lynn and Ev excluded) so much for being a FIDM and all that crap. Another few months to recover and still searching for opportunities within the industry that I ‘thought’ I loved and that I definitely helped to nurture, but no not a fucking thing. I have tried and tried to get something but now of course I am considered not only a dinosaur but a broken one on my last legs. Well let me tell you something, my surgeon told me that I now have the heart of an eighteen year old so I should go out and use it, so there !!!!

Why am I writing this, well it is simple. Being forgotten by people that you regarded as colleagues and friends is a terrible thing. Having thirty five years of your life simply cast on to a rubbish heap not only for your DM experience but for your business experience, is heart breaking. When each year passes and it says on LinkedIn that it is the anniversary of my new role as ‘Looking for Opportunities’ and some of you are on automated messaging that sends me a ‘Congratulations on your work anniversary’ it kind of sums everything up doesn’t it. You really could not give two hoots.

Please think on, you are only ever twenty four hours away from losing it. Real friends but more importantly family are the only thing that really matter in the end. Careers, targets, arse licking, budgets and forecasts, three year plans, are all a pile of crap. I don’t know what my rather odd future holds, my life was a deck of cards, when I lost one thing I lost the rest, I don’t have a full wine rack, bankers (wankers) don’t take me to lunch anymore, I don’t go to expensive restaurants and I can’t remember the last time I shopped anywhere but ASDA but at least I am surrounded by honest and sincere human beings that genuinely care about me and my uncertain future.

Oh one piece of advice that I did take a year ago was from my sister actually,  to write a no holds barred book of my life, my experience and what it’s like to have to try and get back into the world of work. She, my sister, said that I should really not hold back, be honest, name people, talk about the Royal Mail scams, the homophobic Charity fund raising director that took bribes so that he could entertain his mistress, what really happened to the burning building society share certificates, who was screwing who, who I was screwing, tell the lot and make it a black comedy, well my life is a black comedy really and some of you reading this are in the script ‘lol’………….. that’s laugh out loud and not lot’s of love. So the book is almost finished and it’s the truth about everything from the day I was born. It is called ‘From Rags to Ruins’ and you might even be in it, you won’t know until you read it, and no I will not give you a signed copy for free, what did you ever do for me?.

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