But it is also a happy day for me, for on 11th November 2004 I did my first day's work consulting as Corylus Business Systems. At the time I was still in the notice period for potential redundancy from my then employer. My expectation had been to find another IT Management position and was talking to my suppliers to see if they knew of any going, but instead a couple said "weeeeelllll, if you're going to be free, we could find you useful for a couple of things...". Those couple of things expanded, many more contacts were made, more clients came about and 10 years on I am still going strong.
It's been an interesting 10 years with good and bad highlights (what else would you expect?!) but some that come to mind:
- Somehow making enough profit so that within 12 months of starting I was in New Hampshire taking my MCSE certification at a 9 day boot camp
- Managing to keep finding work without (yet) really engaging in marketing or selling activities - the power of the informal network. Referrals and personal contacts are king.
- Making the decision to fund myself every year for Microsoft Tech*Ed (now sadly extinct it seems) despite the double whammy of not being able to work, whilst still shelling out for the training
- VMware going mainstream and getting my VCP training and certification more than once.
- Annus Horribilis after 5 years - 2 good friends, both our Fathers, and my wife's brother dying.
- The magic of working from home.
- The magic of working for clients who value your work so much they actually pay you for it (sometimes it still seems like a miracle).
- The day the exchange server died because of a bug I found and the horrendous 3 or 4am finishes for a week getting it all sorted without affecting client data.
- The client that nearly didn't happen but a brief, well crafted, email led to months of work - including work many miles away in Edinburgh, and Kentucky.
- Finding the space and time to go on the 2008 North American King Crimson tour (no employer would have let that happen!)
- And many many more
But today is more importantly about remembering the fallen. In the last few years I have turned my regard for the armed forces into something far more meaningful, and fund raised for Help For Heroes (they only started 7 years ago!). Next year I will be embarking on my 5th major bike ride for them; and will be posting details before the end of the year on how you can help me do that; but to date, and thanks to many friends and family, I have raised over £10,000 for the blokes. Being with the blokes on the ride and seeing their forbearance against what seem to us overwhelming problems is salutary and quietening. Chapeau!
And finally, my own remembrance act, taking place at 11am every day from August 2014 to November 2018 - my blog giving the daily casualty lists for the First World War: