A TALE OF DISCOVERY & REINVENTION
Life delivers its fair share of curved balls; for Andrew this was a series of calamities which ultimately led him to a new career as a consultant, coach and storyteller.
I’ve always had a fascination for communication and the connection between performer and audience. And I got my storytelling gene from my mother, that’s for sure. But I applied and developed it in an unusual context – working in the golf & leisure industry.
With a brother as a golf pro and growing up in Lytham St. Annes on the Lancashire coast it was hardly surprising I ended up playing golf to a reasonable level. Unlike my brother I went to university and emerged with a good degree in social sciences. But I reverted back to what I knew and for 22 years worked in a variety of roles in the UK golf & leisure sector – as a referee, pro tournament organiser, commercial manager, coach, consultant and journalist.
A life-changing experience led me to change direction in my early 40’s and I essentially reinvented myself as a speaker, writer, consultant & trainer. One of my business mentors taught me a profound lesson, during the time I was teaching people to play golf. We were sitting in the Lowry Hotel in Manchester and he came out with this gem:
Andrew, you’re like a champion jockey on a donkey!
That was enough to set me on a path of personal and professional reinvention. Looking back on my years in the golf industry, the thing I enjoyed the most was working with an audience – be it making a speech or teaching a group of golf beginners! I was made for marketing rather than general management, so the idea began to form that I might make a living as a consultant/coach with a dollop of public speaking thrown in.
At first I helped business people to present better but I soon recognised a more fundamental issue – they didn’t have anything interesting to say. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but for the most part they relied on a rather dry, factual message which was delivered without passion – but plenty of PowerPoint.
The occasional presentation that was more engaging invariably featured stories and a more entertaining style of delivery. At the same time I was introduced to TED talks and I set myself a personal goal to speak at the main TED Global conference by the time I was 50. At the time of writing this that’s an unfulfilled ambition, although I did deliver my third TEDx talk (the smaller version of the TED concept) in November 2016.
As I coached people to present in this more engaging style I was asked to help more and more companies craft their business story and this led to the birth of ‘Verbal PR’ as a concept – have something interesting to say and say it well.
“Andrew is a great professional and an inspirational speaker, who effectively integrated coaching techniques into the development of already highly skilled PR people and corporate storytellers.”