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If you knew then what you know now, would you have done something differently??

My guess is that certainly in some cases the answer will be ‘Yes’.

If we knew how some decisions we make will affect our lives we wouldn’t have made some of them but still gone ahead and made others.

As my mate Bill Ruffell regularly reminds me, “John, son”, he will say (Bill is even older than me so has even more worldly experience than I have), “We all have degrees in Hindsight”.  How apt, I always think.

It’s true, most of us are much more worldly wise after an event and quite mystifying why everyone isn’t.

This invokes another maxim because, ‘some people never learn’.

At Solar Solve we are motivated to be learning all of the time in many different ways that include; asking customers for feedback; getting as much information as we can from our suppliers about their products;  attending training courses; visiting exhibitions: staff training in H&S, Fire Fighting, First Aid, Product Development, Customer Care, Sales and Marketing….; the list can be absolutely endless or appear to be so.

Solar Solve employees will often attend a seminar to meet other people, not necessarily listen to the speaker or have a significant interest in whatever the subject is.  We are encouraged to circulate and network with other delegates, who are often much more interesting and sometimes a whole mine-full of information, especially if they do the same kind of work as we do or have the same interests or hobbies.

When an opportunity arises to attend a business event that we have some sort of interest in, if it is not too expensive and reasonably convenient, one of the team will arrange to go.  We always learn something either directly from the presenters or from the delegates attending.

Often we learn what not to do and sometimes we don’t learn anything new about the subject under discussion.  In such cases though, our employee rarely returns to work feeling that they wasted their time and didn’t learn anything, because a conversation will have been struck up with another delegate and almost certainly something will have been learned from them and we like to think vice-versa.  We are always happy to give a advice and information to others, as long as they are not direct competitors, of course.

I mention this subject because Lilian, my good-lady wife of more than 50 years and I were reminiscing lately after watching a programme on the TV.  I cannot remember how or why, but I made the point that if I had not married her, or to be more accurate, if Lilian had not decided that I was the man she was going to marry, I would almost certainly not be the successful person I am lucky enough to be now.

Our wonderful family and very happy marriage are our main successes by far, thanks mainly to Lilian’s matriarchal skills and indeed our business success hinges on a decision Lilian made in 1971.  At the time, her profession was secretarial, shorthand and typing (I’m wondering how many readers – assuming I do have some readers – do not know what a shorthand typist is).

Lilian’s ex-boss was Bill Embleton OBE, Vice Principle and Head of Marine and Mechanical Engineering at South Shields Marine School, later to be known as South Shields Marine and Technical College.  He retired not long after Lilian and I got married in 1967 and we remained friends through the College Cine Club.

Bill’s son-in-law had a small window blind factory in South Shields and needed a part time secretary, so Bill asked Lilian if she wanted a part time job there.  She did and a couple of years later they needed a factory manager, which I applied for because I was a Hospital Engineer but didn’t enjoy the work.

The factory was very busy, manic at times, producing 1,000 blinds a week of all types during peak periods.  We also cleaned and repaired venetian blinds and roller shutter doors and I learnt everything about window blinds and shutters during the 12 months I was there.

I left in 1975 to take over the factory franchise showroom in Sunderland and became self-employed, a risky move with a wife and 2 young kids to support.

Thirteen years later, in 1988, my marine industry skills combined with my window blind industry skills and the constant support of Lilian gave me the confidence to create Solar Solve Ltd., trading as Solar Solve Marine.  The rest is history but the question remains,  “If I knew then what I know now, would I still have married Lilian?”

JHL MBE SSL Co. Chairman