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The First Monthly- Weekly Founder's Blog Of The Year

The First Monthly- Weekly Founder's Blog Of The Year

It's about a month since my last weekly blog which I agreed to write to show our staff I still had the mojo to deliver something interesting. Of course, for those that bothered to read it a month ago, on the positive side, you will have noticed that my caps lock key is now working, so that's a plus. On the negative side, a week has turned into a month and I am very late with this so I have proven nothing. 

Its now the start of a fresh year and I have to say the last month of 2015 since I wrote my last was fairly cataclysmic with nothing going to plan, pretty much one to forget both personally and professionally - more explained below in my top 5. 

Having had time to reflect over the Christmas period and employing one of my regressive coping strategies I have to face the New Year in the position not only as founder but also for the first time in years as CEO of Planet X. I guess I will have to try to work in a more structured world where staff who require process and systems struggle with the chaotic nature of my mental workings. I am disorganised, unstructured and have a 45-minute attention span.   

In the festive period I have been digging into my mental box of tricks and trying to get clarity on how a CEO can get inspiration, for me it came from a trip down memory lane to 1987 when I was living in Manchester at the back of end my mechanical engineering degree and as a Smiths obsessive it occurred to me that the ultimate CEO guidebook was indeed written by the 'daffodil in his pocket' rebel leader himself- Stephen Patrick Morrissey .

So here's the top five for this month. 

1./  Back in as CEO -  "I started Something I couldn't finish"

Yes after a good few years lurking around in various roles in the business I started 25 or so years ago its back in the hot seat for me, at least for the time being. 

I never started this with a plan or a structure, I started because I didn't want a job and I loved my bike riding. The responsibility of having, and being accountable for, 100 or so staff and their families is not one I ever planned for or wanted.

So it's a new year and a big test for me, it's going to be a big ask:

2/ The December Cataclysmic Clanger - "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"

If only Morrissey was working in our customer service and financial department then December would have been a whole lot better. After literally 25 years of fighting off the world's scam artists we very nearly succumbed to a very large yet very basic scam involving dodgy cheques and large refunds. Without going into too much detail, it was pretty much a Phonejacker level fraud that we should never have fallen for and absolute schoolboy errors on our part - the fact we did was such a shocker. 

This sent stress levels through the roof and it was only after a 12 day wait we finally recovered our funds.


3/ No form, toothache, and huge amounts of garlic - "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"

To make matters worse, apart from stress through the roof, sales through the floor, and huge payments out to dodgy scammers a longstanding root canal problem flared up and any semblance of running form disappeared, A quick visit to the dentist confirmed probable extraction but we could try antibiotics for the last shot - fearing abstraction like a hole in the head  I opted for the antibiotics but these failed so, with a dental appointment still days away, I tried the last bastion of hope to see what the options were and that is, of course, Google.

So one morning at 2 AM with tooth throbbing like a good-un a quick scan of Google revealed that rubbing raw garlic on the offending area and then eating copious amount is the guaranteed cure-all for tooth abscesses.

On the positive I can definitely concur that it worked, quite amazing really, 5 days of garlic rubbing plus consumption of 8 cloves of garlic (best in Greek yoghurt by the way as it doesn't burn) certainly absolved me of a toothache, of course, it also absolved me of all friends, all social life, it cut staff meeting times down by half, all interaction with my children ended and finally even the dog was staying clear.  

Regrettably as soon as the garlic eating stopped the pain returned and thus on New Years Eve I had my rear molar out and that was not a pleasant experience, in reality, this is indeed a hole in the head which I was trying to avoid. 

4/ What's New and The Best Cycling Commentary Ever - "Bigmouth Strikes Again "

Back to July 1987 when I was a 21-year-old piss poor student with Morrissey singing in the background and Stephen Roche trying to win the Tour de France and Giro double I was somewhat into gambling and my entire summer vacation rested on my last 200 quid on the Irishman to win the Tour de France at 6-1.

For those of you bad at maths, if Roche wins the tour that's 1200 pounds of cash winnings to pay, for me to ponce around Europe on a train, and if he loses it is 4 weeks living at home working at British Steel in an underground hole descaling pipework, hence I was somewhat "engaged" with the performance of Roche. 

That Tour is of course summed up in what is regarded by myself as the best ever finish to a Tour de France stage and certainly the best spine-tingling commentary I have ever heard from Phil Liggett.

One and a half minutes down on Pedro Delgado in the yellow jersey it appeared Stephen Roche was certainly losing his chance to win  the Tour on the final climb to La Plagne and it was game over for the Irishman and my holiday. 

Watch it here at 2 minutes in, turn up the volume full blast if you fail to be inspired check your pulse - you're probably dead!!!

The immortal words of Liggett as Delgado rides across the line to secure his overall victory with Roche long dropped are almost poetic 

"Just who is that rider coming up behind.

Because that looks like Roche.

That looks like Stephen Roche. 

It's Stephen Roche - he's come over the line. 

He almost caught Pedro Delgado.

I don't believe it."


Roche went on to achieve a unique (I think ?) Giro - Tour - Worlds triple riding his Battaglin bike and sent me on my summer holidays, not down a hole in Rotherham.

Now, of course, Roche is a father to Sky Pro Nicholas Roche who some will remember we had over at Planet X a few years back and is a real quality act.In a very long-winded way, I guess I am using this to announce that we are going to be supporting the top Irish Development team "Nicholas Roche Development team " of which Alexis Roche son to Stephen and brother to Nicholas is one of the up and coming  riders. Bikes are being sorted early January as soon as the first  EC-130 aero road bikes have landed and it feels good that finally, after almost 30 years, to give Stephen some payback because busting his balls in 1987 paid for my 6 week holiday. 

5/ And finally -"Panic" versus "Were still fighting "

Yes, there's panic on the streets of Rotherham, in advance of me being the worst CEO of the year I would like to take this opportunity to apologise in advance to all staff, customers, suppliers, friends, family, for the faux pas that will inevitably happen in the next year.

In the past 25 years, the cycling industry has been transformed from one run by individuals and families whose hobby was their business and pleasure  to one that  is now  a bloodbath run by corporates intent on market share and domination. 

We are still independent, we are still rider and family owned, one of my responsibilities as CEO is actual to remember that and re-enforce and try to keep some passion and pleasure into Planet X, so  maybe my management style should be more Kevin Keegan than Morrissey "because. and I'll tell you one thing, I will love it if we get a result in 2016."


We're Still fighting 



4 January 2016

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