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This week we cover two topics with our guest Richard Bland – limiting agency growth and grief.
To begin with we chat about his involvement with WordPress and his passion for the project. We then begin a discussion about why Richard has chosen to keep his agency small.
Some of this was accidental, but much of it was very deliberate. You see Richard takes the approach that whilst work is an important component of life, it’s certainly not the component. Richard wants to make sure that he has adequate time to do the things that he really loves, like spending time with his family.
We talk about the pressures to grown your agency and how this is often presumed to be the only model. Grow and then grow some more. After that’s done, grow a little more. There is no end it, unless you never go down that route.
Richard works with local clients and is happy that way. He knows them and they know him and that works well. He knows how many clients is too much and sticks to this limit.
We also get into the difficult subject of grief as Richard talks very openly about the loss of his brother.
Richard and his brother were very close, more like father and son and so his passing was a really difficult time. We talk about how Richard coped and how it affected him.
It’s a very honest conversation and present some different perspectives.
Interviewed by Nathan Wrigley.
And remember… Together we can #PressForward
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Richard Bland: 00:00 Loss and grief manifests itself in many different ways. I look at some of the other family members around me and it seemed to almost pass them by. I had a period of about two weeks where I was bedridden. I literally, I immediately developed tonsillitis. I lost two stone in weight and I kind of really physically and mentally deteriorated.
Nathan Wrigley: 00:44 Welcome to episode 20 of the PressForward podcast. I’m Nathan Wrigley, and I’d like to thank you for joining us again and if this is your first time with us, I hope that you like it and you find it useful. If you want to make listening to this podcast a regular thing, you can subscribe to us on your favorite podcast player and this can be done by going to WP and UP.org forward slash podcast dash feed. The PressForward podcast is created by WP and UP. We’re a nonprofit working in the WordPress space to help you, your colleagues. In fact, anyone, the work is just beginning, but it’s already demonstrating that it’s much needed. For example, WP and UP have provided roughly two and a half thousand hours of companionship and mentorship. We have over three and a half thousand members. Our volunteers have donated approximately $5,000 and there have been over 6,000 event attendees.
Nathan Wrigley: 01:52 We’d love for you to get in, so although Richard is deeply connected to WordPress, it’s not always been that way. Andy has been developing other skills throughout his career. I asked him what proportion of his work he would say was related to WordPress in one way or another, whether that be in terms of hours or revenue or slash contact. All look for the social links in the website’s footer. Perhaps you just like to explore the content that we’re creating and if that’s the case, then there’s the blog over at WP and UP.org forward slash. Blog it’s always getting fresh content and it’s a great place to go for a quick review. The PressForward podcast is brought to you today by Green Geeks. Green geeks offers an awesome managed web hosting platform that’s built for speed, security and scalability whilst being environmentally friendly. Enjoy a better web hosting experience for your WordPress website backed by four seven expert support and we thank Green Geeks for helping us put on the PressForward podcast.
Nathan Wrigley: 03:20 today we hear from Richard Bland. He’s been using WordPress for many years and his story comes into parts for most of our chat. We talk about working with WordPress and growing a business around it, but it’s not the usual talk. You see, Richard has taken a very different path. He’s decided not to grow. He wants to stay small and focus upon a limited number of local clients and to be able to serve them better. This anti-growth is no accident but a very intentional step that Richard took to make sure that he has time in his life for other things. Towards the end, we talk about how Richard has coped with the loss of his brother. Richard and his brother were very close both as children and as adults and as you will hear, he felt the loss deeply. We also discuss what steps he took to overcome his grief. And so this is a trigger warning that we will be talking about for bereavement. During this podcast. I started off by asking Richard to tell us this story, the story about how he got started working with the web and WordPress.
Richard Bland: 04:38 It’s quite a long story, so I’ll keep it very short, but basically, I mean I’ve been working with websites now for well over 17 years. It’s something that I actually started to do straight out of school. Um, I used to have this fantastic art teacher when I was in school and he used to try and push me down the artistic route. But what I always ended up doing was basically taking out a sketchpad and drawing screens, right? So I guess you would now call those user interfaces, but that’s what I used to do. And he kind of kept asking me like, what are you doing? What is this? And at the time, my brother and my, my father were both heavily involved in it. Internet was obviously and uh, web design was suddenly starting to make a massive break. So I used to sit there and say, well, I’m designing pages for businesses.
Richard Bland: 05:28 And he was like, oh, okay. And I used to talk about this amazing idea and I love telling the story about, you had this idea that one day everybody would be connected, right? Everyone in the planet would have their own webpage where they could, uh, showcase their photos and videos and so on and so forth. That was over 17 years ago. And we have something, yeah, we have something very similar to that today. So I was kicking myself about that one. No, I mean, I’m nowhere near what, but obviously, uh, what’s available today. But yeah, that’s pretty much how I got started. My brother, my older brother kind of recognized that I had this kind of flair or IFA design and understood technology, I guess in a way that he fought. It would be prudent for me to start learning html. So he, uh, my, one of my first books was a html for dummies, one of the, one of the very original ones.
Richard Bland: 06:19 And that kind of sat in my bedroom next to my, what was a massive computer at that point. And I used to start tinkering around with html and then, um, he came along again one day and sort of said, oh, have you seen this, this new thing? And I was like, oh, well what is it? And he said, oh, it’s something called Flash, right? And so I was like, okay, I’ll take a look at that. And I suddenly started getting into flash animation now. Well, I didn’t do at that point is take that any further than literally making buttons honestly Nathan. That was pretty much all I did. I made buttons and, but it was enough for me to start understanding the basics of how to create harvest states, for example. So when I went back to html and when CSS came out, so course did a book get plumped onto my desk, CSS for dummies by my brother yet.
Richard Bland: 07:06 And that was it. That was, that’s kind of where we fell in love with the idea of creating websites. So, yeah, my backstory is I’ve been doing this for a very long time. I’ve obviously watched the evolution from very basic web pages right free to what we used to bolt on texts that it is, I don’t know if you ever remember doing that. Yeah. Into the service and creating edible regions on a html page. So he used to do that and then of course WordPress came around. But you know, I kind of watched it initially come out and roll out as the blog platform, you know, and the, and this whole idea of putting pieces of content out on a regular basis and, but I saw past that, I saw past that straight away I was like, no, no, no, no, this, this is going to be huge. This is going to be something that you can build whole websites on. And that’s exactly what happened. I guess I am one of those kinds of guys that were there right at the start building websites with WordPress.
Nathan Wrigley: 07:58 So Richard has been using WordPress for a really long time. I wondered if he’d worked with any other cms’s since he’d started working with the web, or if WordPress had been his tool of choice since the day that he’d found it.
Richard Bland: 08:14 It has, but obviously the clients of those early days, you know, friends and family, those kinds of people who had their own businesses, they had no idea of what WordPress was. They had no idea of what blogging was at that time, so it was still very much coding websites from scratch hadn’t built, you know, again, I saw the evolution of that. So we started having the boiler plate and frameworks suddenly start appearing, so I started to use more of those. But a, as soon as WordPress really started to move away from blogging as a, as a platform, that’s when I really jumped on it and that’s when I started to learn how to customize themes.
Nathan Wrigley: 08:50 For me personally, WordPress is very important. I’ve my entire business upon it. Without WordPress, there is no way that I could earn a living. Perhaps this is the same for some of you too. Because of that, I’ve ended up becoming completely immersed in the WordPress community and ecosystem. In fact, I sometimes forget that there is a world outside of WordPress that said, if I were to ask a random stranger to tell me what they know about WordPress, the chances are that they would not have even heard of it. I asked Richard if this was the same for him too.
Richard Bland: 09:31 I still come across a lot of people that that don’t really know what WordPress is. You know, unless you are a business owner and more particularly, sometimes it’s the small business owners that tend to be the ones that actually know what WordPress is because they’ve obviously tried to use it themselves. But no, it’s not the end of the world. For me, if WordPress wasn’t around, and I think that kind of comes down to just the, the additional skill sets that I’ve built up over those 17 years. So you know, I don’t just design and build websites, for example, there’s, there’s all the stuff that he was social media and marketing. I’ve had various different agency roles over the years, working in a whole host of different job positions. You know, social media marketing manager. I’ve worked for clients specifically as their website manager and that’s, that’s obviously it goes beyond WordPress itself.
Richard Bland: 10:16 And then I’ve also got all the graphic design expertise as well. So I also worked for an exhibition company designing and building exhibition stands. So you know, anything to do with print, anything to do with social media, anything to just generally do with websites and management of those websites. And I guess through some of the website management roles, I also had to learn quite a steep learning curve of how to connect websites to what we would now call third party platforms. So there’s a lot of that that still happens with my clients connecting their websites up to the CRM systems, for example. So I mean all of that kind of stuff doesn’t require WordPress really. We could build from scratch still if we needed to. But you know, WordPress for me, like you just said, it’s, it’s a platform that I, I chose over some of the other platforms that are coming about at that time and it’s the one that I’ve kind of just stuck with because it has become such a massive, massive platform for us. And like you say, a lot of us do rely quite heavily on WordPress as a platform to make our living.
Nathan Wrigley: 11:17 So although Richard is deeply connected to WordPress, it’s not always been that way and he has been developing other skills throughout his career. I asked him what proportion of his work he would say was related to WordPress in one way or another, whether that be in terms of hours or perhaps revenue.
Richard Bland: 11:37 I mean, that’s a really good question. I’ve never really thought about it like that. Certainly in terms of my highest paid job roles, they’ve always been WordPress based and they tend to be sort of the, the bigger corporate kind of style websites that have all the things for third party connections. I mean that to me is pretty much where my bread and butter comes from. It’s the management of the websites, typically WordPress based. But looking back over the years, I mean initially you know we’re talking a good 10 years, it was various different agency roles and it was all very much just hand coding. So it was hand coding, it was, it was creating graphics from scratch. I mean I was working as an email marketing manager for two years, so I never touched WordPress at all during that, that period. But WordPress was always there and it was always something that I was tinkering around with in the background myself and continuing to learn. But certainly in terms of the last, you know, let’s go back now, six years, I think WordPress has been at the forefront of all of the major projects that I’ve been working on.
Nathan Wrigley: 12:32 So I wanted to move the conversation on to talk about the specifics of Richard’s business. To begin, I asked him just to give us a brief overview of what he does and where he’s based.
Richard Bland: 12:45 Well, I’m, I’m based in Wellingborough in North Hampton share, so we’re pretty central in the UK in terms of size. I attempted to scale and took some people on and then I, I kinda scaled back again because I wasn’t quite happy. You know, running, running a business, it’s difficult. Uh, I think we all understand that, you know, the stresses and anxieties involved in that. So I, I made a conscious decision quite early on in my life in general that whatever I decide to do, and I knew I wanted to be a business person. I knew I wanted to run my own business, but whatever I decided to do, I didn’t actually want to get that big. I’m not in it for the money often us. That’s such a catchphrase that people, you know, we, we’re not, we’re not in for the money. I mean, obviously money is important.
Richard Bland: 13:24 But for me, yeah, it was more about time. So my business specifically now, there’s two of us, it’s myself and my buddy Kiril, who is now working with me, uh, as my website manager. So he’s kind of managing the day to day sort of project, um, maintenance and management. And then I get myself, um, heavily involved in the sales, the marketing, the general day to day Admin side of things as well. And we have a, a relatively small office which is actually situated within one of my largest clients buildings because they use us pretty much on a day to day basis. So it’s a case of, you know, it was very useful and the fact they were based in my home town right while in Bro. So it was very useful for us to actually have an office in there so they can knock on the door whenever they like.
Nathan Wrigley: 14:05 It’s really interesting that Richard has made a conscious decision to keep his agency small. We often hear about the need to grow your portfolio to make your company larger, But, there is another way. It is possible to decide that you’re going to remain small on purpose so that you don’t have to do some of the tasks that growth requires. Clearly this path is not for everyone, but I wanted to know if Richard had done anything specifically to stop his business growing.
Richard Bland: 14:39 Actually No. I mean, I guess one of the main things that I’ve not done in order to not scale is actually appetize. You know, I don’t really put myself out there that much. I mean obviously I’m trying to do a little bit more these and that’s really kind of been spurred on by the fact that, you know, I’ve taken on Kiril, so I do have those thoughts in the back of my mind that I, I need to try and grow the business a little bit more than what it is. But it’s just that I just, that made that conscious decision that, you know, I didn’t want to go out there and chase this massive agency. I just wanted to remain quite humble and small and, and local. You know, my big thing is about supporting local businesses. That’s what I’m really about. I really want to help local businesses.
Richard Bland: 15:20 So all of my clients and I’ve, I’ve got about seven monthly paying clients and I have capacity to take that up to 12 which is basically where I want to get to by the end of the year. But the idea there is that these clients have been with me now for, well, most of them been now three years. Right? So these, these are people that I’ve got to know in those for years and, uh, I consider to be more than just clients. Now you’re the, these, uh, these are people who are almost friends in a sense who, who looked for me for guidance and support. And that’s, that’s kind of where I really thrive. When I tried to scale. I just met with a lot of resistance from, dare I say it, the universe, you know, I’m, I am one of those kind of guys that, that, that believes in the power of the mind. I mean, this is one of the reasons why I was so keen to sort of, um, put myself forward for this because of the mental health awareness that we want to try and Bri, you know, try and raise and, and, and yet, you know, the power of the mind is extraordinary.
Nathan Wrigley: 16:17 Staying on Richard’s theme of deciding not to grow his agency. If all of the messaging that we receive is about the need to experience perpetual growth, then it’s easy to imagine that this is the only path to a successful business. I asked Richard if he had had to adopt a different mindset in order to become content with this proposition.
Richard Bland: 16:42 It’s a level of satisfaction isn’t it? I think you’ve got to get to that level of satisfaction in your own mind. And that’s, that’s kinda where I was kind of trying to go with that power of the mind because at some point you need to take stock of where you are. And um, who was all listened to the other day? I think it was a speech by Steve Jobs, one of the last ones that he did. And he, he mentioned in the, that he wakes up every day and asks himself, you know, is this something that I want to be doing? And if he gets too many no’s in too many days in a row, he changes. So a lot of that was happening when I was trying to scale. Right. So a lot of that was waking up and going, do you know what? I’m not happy. I’m not happy.
Richard Bland: 17:19 And after a few months I kind of, I just went, you know what, I’m going to go back to where I was, which was just helping the people that are around me and trying to make people become more aware. I mean, yeah, I completely agree with you. We are absolutely bombarded with it. My timeline on Facebook is like every other posts, it’s how to increase your conversions, how to grow your business. Beyond that, how to scale, how to boost. Now I have no problems. We’re seeing that kind of information because it is very, very useful and very exciting. But I’d got to the point now where I’m kind of bored, you know, I’m bored of seeing that kind of stuff because actually I live a very comfortable life. I am. I’m truly blessed that no other way that I can say it. I don’t earn huge amounts of money, but I’m certainly comfortable, you know, materialistic world, if you’d like around me is, is lovely.
Richard Bland: 18:06 You know, I can’t complain. So why, why try and change that if you’re happy where you are? You know, let’s be honest, there are some things that I would still like to do and still like to achieve. I don’t think any one of us would go into business if we didn’t have some kind of ambition or desire, right. To be more, to be better so that that always is there. But yeah, I think you just kind of have to at some points backing and find yourself. If you’re finding yourself in that position where you’re going, I’m not sure if, if I can do this anymore, we’ll just have a look around and see where you are right now because the chances are that you probably in a really good place and you just gotta accept it.
Nathan Wrigley: 18:43 It’s a really interesting position to take, limit your growth and focus upon the good things that you already have. I wonder though, if this position was always easy to maintain, were there ever times where seeing other people’s growth caused Richard to pause and to rethink moments when you temporarily regret not pursuing growth,
Richard Bland: 19:09 but you still want to correlate to it? You know, plenty, a little bit. You know, I have a very specific goal in mind and a very specific place that I’d like to get to. Really the only thing that kind of drives that is actually my desire to help others. Right? So part of what I actually like seeing about some of these courses that pop up in the timelines is the fact that they are willing to give away so much value for free because they generally will appear to be genuine, that they want to help you. Now obviously I’ve also come across the other ones that are not genuine at all. And as far as I can send a, I’m literally just selling you the idea of, of scaling because that’s how they’re doing it, right? And then when you sign up to their course, they literally turn around and go, well, that’s how I’ve just done it. And you’re kind of left going, oh, right. So, yeah,
Nathan Wrigley: 19:51 I don’t know how to word this correctly, so forgive me if this comes out the wrong way, but there are so many pressures in the modern world trying to tell us what success is. Success is being big. Success is standing in front of a private jet or a shiny new car. These messages commiters from all angles and they’re very persuasive. So persuasive in fact that you’d be forgiven for thinking that unless you’re aiming for the private jet, your well not successful enough. But the world is not made up solely of these people. In fact, I’ve never really met one of these people. Most people are just like me, somewhat ordinary perhaps. It’s okay to want modesty to have humble ambitions regarding your business and to be satisfied with a life that is more straightforward to attain.
Richard Bland: 20:51 Absolutely. And that’s the reason why I wanted to do it. I, and you are absolutely spot on, but it goes way beyond that and we know this, right? You know we are, we are living in a world where we are constantly put down, you know, and we understand that. I mean that’s the market industry as a whole, right? You know, it’s selling us lifestyle imagery that none of us really in the ordinary world can. I’m not saying you can’t achieve it because of course you can and the possibilities are endless, but I think the world is skewed to the negative side. Right? I think you would agree with me. I think everyone who listens to that would probably agree with me that right. We, we do seem to be skewed, you know, here have all of this, but you’re going to look time, you’re going to let money, you’re going to like this, you’re going to let up because these are the kinds of messages that always seem to be pumped out towards us.
Richard Bland: 21:37 But as I, I’ve sort of been saying to my friend Kiril, sometimes one of the, okay, let me put it this way. With my own personal experience, one of the best decisions I ever made was to stop chasing what was up there, right? And start looking around to me, uh, literally around here and, and going, what? I’ve got a really nice life. You know, I’m very, very fortunate and, and start giving back some of that gratitude, you know, and try and like you say, just build that awareness that yeah, you know, the world is skewed and we are constantly kind of being battered with lots of, you know, do this, do that kind of messaging. But ultimately it does make us feel depressed.
Nathan Wrigley: 22:15 So it’s getting quite deep now, and I’m certainly not qualified to talk about psychology, but I do have recollections as a child sitting with my friends and talking about what we wanted to do in our futures. I was always quite interested that some of my friends knew that they wanted to earn lots of money. They were explicit about this goal and it motivated them deeply. Now, I don’t know too much about what came to pass, but I recall that I never really had that motivation. It just never really worked that way for me. I wonder if Richard had had similar experiences when he was young.
Richard Bland: 22:59 I’m very similar to you. I very distinctly remember being at the age of about nine years old. So we go right back into my childhood. Okay. I distinctly remember being nine years old standing in the playground with the playground assistant at this time. And this was in Scotland and I was an English young lad. Just moved into this school. I had no friends, no one wanted to talk to me cause I was English. Unfortunately, no offense to any Scottish people out there. I love Scotland as far as I’m concerned. That was my, where I grew up in my home where I first put my roots. But I did struggle a lot in school because I moved quite a lot due to my father’s job. And I found myself in this playground looking around at groups of children and you could see very clearly the structures of what, where I guess society being formed in front of my eyes. So yeah, like you, from a very young age, I kind of started to realize that I didn’t quite fit in, in, in any one particular kind of group or place. And that was quite an eye opening experience. I mean, I remember very vividly, you know, and, and coming to that conclusion in my head thought the life that’s going to be ahead of me was for me to choose not for the external world to kind of push me into one particular group or the other.
Nathan Wrigley: 24:13 I think that it’s easy to equate the acquisition of money with happiness. Now clearly I’m not the first person ever to espouse this thought, but it’s worth repeating. I don’t think that money is a guarantee of happiness. I’m not naive enough to think that it cannot bring any happiness because of course it can. I asked Richard what makes him happy,
Richard Bland: 24:39 what makes me happy? Seeing my wife and my two children, I’m really blessed to have two young girls, one to five and one just turning to, you know, running your own business does get in the way sometimes. I mean, I used to work from home, uh, and so, you know, the, the cutoff between family life and, and business wasn’t there. And so there were times where I felt a bit stressed, but it is the little things that I look for. You know, money doesn’t really play a massive part in the happiness scenario, shall we say. Obviously it’s there to provide us with opportunities to do nice things. Like for example, taking my kids to Peppa pig world, uh, later next month to celebrate my, my youngest daughter’s birthday. That kind of stuff brings me real pleasure and it’s the cutoff from, from the business side of things as well.
Nathan Wrigley: 25:28 It would be nice to have a life which revolved around doing only nice things all of the time. Things that really spoke to us and gave us enormous pleasure. But sadly that just isn’t reality. Most of us need to work and depending upon where you are and what you’re doing for work, it can be enjoyable or not so enjoyable. And so I asked Richard if he found pleasure in his work.
Richard Bland: 25:56 Yes, I do. You know, I’ve been doing this 17 years, I think that says it all. I funny enough, I mentioned this to cure yesterday. You know, I don’t get up in the morning and think, oh my God, I don’t want to go to work today. You know, I actually get up in the morning, I go for a long run, I clear my mind and then I’m going, let’s get on with the day. You know, once I’ve done the school rents and a yeah. You know, why I kind of attack each day as it comes in terms of client projects and so on and so forth. You know, we, we tend to be quite relaxed in terms of our schedules and timelines. So yeah, I do, I very much enjoy it. I, I, I just, I, I get a lot of pleasure and, and a lot of enjoyment from obviously creating things, especially when you create stuff for print for example, or a massive, or just recently I did the whole shop window fit-out for the offices that we’re in right now.
Richard Bland: 26:47 So walking down the street or driving past every now and then and seeing your work on the windows is just amazing. Yeah. It makes you see like, wow, you know, websites also give me that kind of feeling as well. When I put a new website out for a client and they turn around and go, that’s brilliant. I’m so happy. That makes me feel really happy. But even if they weren’t, I’m still happy in the fact that I gave it a go. Right. All that I’m trying to help others, you know, better their circumstances. I mean, that’s, that’s something that’s really quite big for me actually. I, I tried to spend a lot of time with the people that are closest to me and not so, you know, not to come across in an arrogant way, but kind of given them my life experience so far and in terms of what I’ve done and how they can potentially apply those, those same kinds of things to their life so that they can get themselves into the position that I’m in. Unfortunate to be in today.
Nathan Wrigley: 27:36 Being happy with the work that you do does not mean that you’ve got it all under control. In Richard’s case, he’s his own boss and it’s easy to let the enjoyable things become the priority. You get to choose when to work and when to stop and you have to be careful that work does not seep into times when you should not be at work and vice versa.
Richard Bland: 28:03 Well, of course, you know, we’re business owners, right? Uh, at as business owners, I think, you know, that seepage will always be there. Um, you’ll always have clients who are going to try and contact you outside of hours unless you’ve specifically said to them, don’t do it. But I’m not one of those kinds of guys, so I don’t mind taking the odd phone call or email. But if I’m busy and I’m, I’ve got plans with my family, then I’m very much straight away. You know, I’ll respond. But I am busy. Um, in terms of the work life balance, you’re right. You know, when I was working from home by myself, that did skew a little bit. It became a little bit too negative, which is one of the reasons why I decided to take myself into an office. Although it wasn’t necessarily the most financial, uh, beneficial thing for me to do as business.
Richard Bland: 28:41 But in doing so, yes I’ve lost a bit of money cause I’m paying from office. But actually I now find myself strolling in just after nine o’clock and most days I, I’m going to pick my child up from school at half to, you know, the, you know, 10 pass free kind of thing. And then that’s me done pretty much for the day unless I’m working on something pretty big, you know, I try to balance it that way. So if I have got a specific project that’s, that’s running, like I’ve, we’ve got a couple of big projects on at the moment, e-commerce projects, then what tends to happen is if I do need to leave early for the school runs, I’ll work at work a little bit in the evening once they’ve gone to bed. Now my wife is very supportive of that. So, you know, I’m lucky to have a wife who is so supportive and understanding that that’s, that’s the life of a, of a small business owner, you know, you will need to, you need to do put that time in when you need to.
Richard Bland: 29:29 But it’s rare or at least I’ve made it rare these days because for me, like I said, it’s not about being the business owner and, and having this assigner of, Oh look at me, I’m doing really well. For me, I don’t care about that. It’s the time I’m looking for time. Right. Like I say, from a very young age, I just recognized that the nine to five thing for me was not for me. I see my, it comes from looking at my family life, right. Growing up, you know, my, my mom and dad divorced when I was 18 but they had a troubled existence mainly because of the nine to five life and the kind of jobs that my dad was doing. Interviews, a very high level project manager for military and so on and so forth. So you know, the stresses and strains that were placed upon him through his job role obviously seeped into our family life growing up. And I just kind of vowed to myself that, you know, I’m going to break that cycle, which was something that was very deeply important to myself and my brother as well.
Nathan Wrigley: 30:28 I don’t know if you can remember back to the beginning of this podcast, but Richard mentioned his brother a couple of times and the fact that his brother bought him some books to help him learn some new skills. We now move the podcast onto the discussion of how Richard coped with the early death of his brother. As you will hear, Richard and his brother were very close looking out for one another, caring about one another.
Richard Bland: 30:56 My, my brother, my brother. Well, let me just start by just making everyone aware. I lost my brother to cancer three years ago tomorrow he had lymphoma. So it was a very sad situation. But yes, you’re absolutely right. Growing up, uh, me and my brother were very close. Um, we were pretty much father, mentorl, you know, uh, trainee, as I used to say, I mean, I was his trainee. There’s only four years between us and suddenly he died at the age of 35. Now he managed to achieve a hell of a lot in his life because of his desires and his ambitions to break the cycle of our childhood, which was sadly usually centered around money. Right. Which is probably why I was, I guess subconsciously driven by the idea of trying to make money in the beginnings. You know, he went out there and they did actually do that, you know, so he joined, he joined the army, uh, and it is four and a half years and served in Afghanistan and various different places.
Richard Bland: 31:53 But he built up his knowledge of it, project management and the installation and became an absolute guru for it. But he’s always featured very prominently in my life. There wasn’t a moment where I didn’t turn to him for advice. You know, he liked to think that he had the answers and nine times out of 10 he did, which was great. And he’s always, you know, even from a young young kid, you know, he used to stand by me when I had troubles at school, you know, he would step in, triples, getting onto a bus to go to school. He would step in and allow me to come and sit with the older kids at the back of the bus. You know, he was very much a cool character. He was very popular. He was part of the basketball team. You know, he managed to do a hell of a lot, uh, in a very short space of time.
Richard Bland: 32:36 He gave me a card and when I turned 18, he first bought my first business, right? So the first set up of a limited company, he bought that for me because he understood, he knew me well enough that this is something that I am destined to do. That’s how we used to put it. And the card is one of those little poem cards that you get and you simply write it on the back half the 18th. Love you big Bro. And it says on the front, don’t quit. Now, there were lots of those moments during our lives where he would give me stuff like that. Or he would say certain things almost in preparation for him passing, which is a very odd thing to say, but he actually, I don’t know, it’s a very weird spiritual thing. We were, we are a kind of a spiritual kind of family.
Richard Bland: 33:21 Uh, we’re not religious in any shape or form, but it was almost like he was kind of gearing me up for, for the loss. Grief is, is it’s a very hard thing to do with anyone out there who’s lost someone who’s specifically close to them. I mean, losing a sibling at such a young age, it does hit you very hard, especially when that sibling, it was your best friend, your father figure your rock. You know, I used to call him my rock because he was, and still is to some description, you know, like I say, he put planted seeds in my mind that have just cemented themselves there, that have enabled me to crack on because that’s what he wanted me to do at the end of the day. That’s, that’s precisely what he asked me to do.
Nathan Wrigley: 34:04 The loss of a relative can be devastating. We can experience loss in many different ways. Some people might try to move on. Others may prefer to be more contemplative about it, and although this was a difficult subject, I asked Richard how he had coped with the loss of his brother.
Richard Bland: 34:26 One loss and grief manifests itself in many different ways. I look at some of the other family members around me and it seemed to almost pass them by, which I found a bit a bit hard for me. I had a period of about two weeks where I was bedridden. I literally, I immediately developed tonsillitis. I lost two stone in weight and I kind of really physically and mentally deteriorated, but it was, you know, it chokes me up thinking about it, but it was very much a short period of time. I had some, again, I’m going to touch upon a spiritual aspect to this because the spirit world, if you like, has touched me in many ways over the years. Growing up, I had a dream within those two weeks that my brother came to me and he spoke to me about various different things. I won’t go into too much detail about it, but it was very vivid.
Richard Bland: 35:17 Uh, but one of the things that came out in the back of that was that, you know, we were all gonna be okay and it was set in such a way, it was almost prophetic, you know, he was like, no, you literally will be okay. And that’s how my brother used to talk. I mean, when I talk like that, I hear my brother’s voice, we actually sounded very similar. You’re going to be okay. And that of snapped me back out a bit. That, and my wife, I’ve got, I can’t forget my wife or my kids for that matter, you know, my second daughter wasn’t born unfortunately at that point, but my first daughter was, and she had a very short, brief loving relationship with my brother, which was lovely and sad at the same time. But my wife, you know, she’s so supportive and she helped me through that time and I was back to work within probably three weeks.
Richard Bland: 36:02 And the thing that really kind of got me back out of bed and back making contact with my clients at that point, obviously they were all very understanding, which was lovely of them, was basically what my wife was saying to me and what my brother said to me the few days before he actually passed, which was in a jokey way, don’t sit around and mope around. I have to me, all right, just crack on with the business. Yeah. You got to make it work now for you and your kids, you know? And that was enough that you know, when, when Selena kind of presented that to me again and I had this kind of dream kind of reiterate to that, and it just lifted my spirits. I just, I just suddenly went, wow. Yeah. Do you know what? Okay, death is inevitable. We were going to face, it doesn’t matter when. Aware. So life is short. Make the best of it, you know? Do you can,
Nathan Wrigley: 36:55 it sounds like Richard has a very supportive family who were able to back him up and assist him through this trying time. This is wonderful. Some people though might rely more on professional services for support people who they don’t perhaps know, but who are able to help them through times like this. And I asked Richard if he’d made use of such services.
Richard Bland: 37:23 I did my proper again, you know, when we sort of found out within those last few weeks that that was pretty much here, that they can do much else and to prepare. He did say to me, look, here’s a, here’s a bunch of places you can go to mind is, is a, is a nice organization, which I’ve used in the past actually when I was suffering with depression after my family divorce. And I actually didn’t receive any help from them. When I did approach them this time round for grief, they started to point me into some very specific grief counseling groups. Um, but the ones that were local to me here in North Hampton share and I will be damning over them right now. You know, I find them in my darkest moments and got a voicemail just saying we’re not taking anybody on, you know, and it was terrible.
Richard Bland: 38:05 So I’ll tell you what I did. I went back into my work and I started to basically link up with people groups specifically. And in the past few years since my brother’s passing, I’ve made more friends online than I ever did previous in the whole of these 17 years of me doing this right. And actually I reached out to various different groups. I call them my peer groups, you know, and my mastermind friends, you know, I, I’d love to drop names in there. Right. You know, some of the most influential people of late have been, you know, the lead Jackson’s for example, if the world leaders is a cracking guy who lives literally down the road from me and has helped and supported my business and my mind state. I’ve also have some mastermind sessions with Dave. To me, the lovely Mr Paul Lacey. I’m giving these guys a specific shout out because they are the ones that I’m in contact with regularly. And it’s not just, it’s not always just about business. It is about just generally, hi, how you doing guys? You know, and in having these kinds of conversations about the same things that we’ve been discussing because we all go through him. So if anyone’s listening to that and you’re about to go through some of that, what you have been caring for, free seminar that you know, reach out to me now we’re all human beings. At the end of the day, if we don’t help each other, no one’s going to
Nathan Wrigley: 39:45 one of the purposes of the PressForward podcast is to lift the lid on topics that don’t get talked about enough to allow people to share their stories so that other people might listen and by listening they may gain an understanding that they’re not alone. There are other people out there who have faced the same situations that you are facing. They have found a way through and can offer support to you on your journey. Maybe that person is already in your life, but they might not be. And that’s what WP and UP is here for. To connect you with the support that you need.
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Nathan Wrigley: 41:16 that’s it for this week. Please let us know if you’re enjoying the podcast. If you’re finding it useful and helpful, you can reach out to us at WP and UP.org forward slash contact and don’t forget to have a look at the headto.org website as well. There’s a serious point to all of this, and that is the WP and UP is here to provide help and support. And that help is available for you or people you know, and it can be easily accessed at the WP and UP.org website. Please spread the word about this podcast, tell your friends and subscribe on your favorite podcast player and remember that together we can hashtag PressForward.