Technically I only knew Cec for a few weeks but he clearly knew me long before he came to my rescue with the question WHY?
Whether a word or a letter it was a symbol of a man who had also faced down adversity.
The why question was with regard to why was the school, police, social workers and a teacher all trying to put a bedraggled teenager into social care.
Why had I broken out of a children’s home after the previous night being found freezing in a car in a scrapyard.
He halted a societal process which was likely to have completed a situation that would have prevented me accessing the 6th form, subsequently winning offers at Universities, a Sponsored Commission from the RAF - 1 of only 4 available through a national competition.
Cec knew of me because I had stood my ground on the rugby pitch against much bigger and tougher, even when targeted by another teacher who did not like my tardiness or ability to answer mathematics questions even after missing school for weeks whilst out of the country. Not only did this teacher physically assault me he made it his mission to ensure my life was hell on and off the pitch.
Cec asked why? I have lived by that ever since. It has helped me - Ask HOW.
Prejudice comes in many forms - We all need help at some point in our lives.
Without the help and support of others I would not have built a team that can help so many.
Do not underestimate what a small British company has done to help business and society at all levels.
In the hurdles of life there are many decisions which have to be made in an instant which can change the course of subsequent decisions.
Our chance to be who we are now and who we will be in the future is made up of many factors.
Cec showed me that as tough a time as I was having and was going to have it was a journey everyone is on and along the route there would be choices we all get to make.
At 19 he could not read or write, I was - 15 and had a chance life was not over.
Everyday is a new challenge and I get to help people, businesses and the country everyday through the company and team I and my colleagues are building.
A Decade later I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, the damage in the brain had first been detected during an X-Ray after a cycling accident at the age of 19 but never looked into.
An asian flue brought about another chain of events that knocked me off my feet and into another decade of struggles.
Giving up driving - was not something I was ever expecting to do. Cars were a great motivation for me and necessary to make a living.
But that experience means that even when snow bound the lab still has functionality.
Storms, floods, earthquakes and calamities the world is constantly under strain, we are all coping with our own challenges on a daily basis.
My company helps hospitals, doctors, nurses, consultants, professors and just about every aspect of data loss from a failed encrypted memory stick with important information for consultants to a SAN with tens of Terabytes of scans needed for consultant surgeons to make decisions on the course of invasive life extending operations.
I cannot begin to grasp the scale of the NHS or the problems it has, but without it many of us would not be here.
The health system has been slow to catch my health problems but it works through and helped solve various problems from duodenal ulcers caused by a bacteria to a couple of heart attacks caused by a leg injury causing blood clots to travel into my pulmonary system 20 years ago.
Then 10 years ago when being prepared for the removal of the tumour the consultant also made me ask myself WHY was I taking handfuls of medications and being told I may no longer be me after the operation to remove a benign cyst / lesion / tumour - piece of junk that has been there since childhood.
I came to the decision to forget medications, forget surgery and get on with re-building my life.
Eventually building Security House into a data recovery lab.
Competitive tendering taught me a little about Time Minute Values, meeting a contracts specification.
I had the choice to follow a career in the RAF or to do something else. As my friends from school went on to University I made the decision to find my own way. Within a few years I was managing a contracting company winning bids and gaining commendations for best kept towns and villages. Understanding how mainframes and data were changing the delivery of council and military contracts.
I also learned that competitive tendering does not mean “fair” and being able to deliver high standards at a contract price would mean running head on into established corporations who had the reserves and finances to undercut themselves and others just to win a contract.
The problem comes when competing and undercutting something has to give - decades on we see the achievements of what became “best value” but also the failings.
As a contractor to large organisations who subsequently went into administration owing me money I learned to live with day to day cash flow struggles.
If it were not for that experience I would not have built a real data recovery lab, R3 has saved many from disasters including picking the wrong DR Lab.
Running a data recovery lab is like any business, there are fixed costs, variables, marketing and it is relatively straight forward to calculate the real cost of a task.
The problem comes if your base cost is affected by unfair competition.
#unfairenrichment this is where my naivety tripped me up again.
ISO 9001, Government backed, world class. I have no problem with competing for business, I do have a problem with fairness - and it clearly was an achilles heel to me. Developing a data recovery lab for the Nation and Internationally I was in for a rude awakening - I knew a lot about the market and the individuals but it had become a wild west of “web developers” I knew I did not just want to build another one man band operation as so many were.
In my push to expand I found I was not competing against a “normal” competitor but a #cartel.
One that has figured out “sector domination” and how to make more profit not delivering a contract. At first I thought there was a chance to be a sub contractor, I quickly realised I had stumbled on their scam and between 2007 and 2010 I was their target.
A hard drive broke my back - quite literally and I my life was nearly ended because I asked a man at my door to identify himself..
Everyday of the week I hear the data disasters from across the country & worldwide.
Asking questions Why.
This weekend a film crew, 7 hour drive from their base camp in the wilderness of Siberia and accidentally formatted SD card or a Call centre SAN with corrupt VMs and corrupted cloud backups.
R3 see it all, but we also have become familiar with seeing what we should not have to see. And as a business and personally we have to invest more time and money trying to help those affected by the #fieldsdatarecoveryscam.
Exposing a scam is not something I thought I would have to do. But when I was first told about such things over a decade ago and over subsequently years had it confirmed it was a reality check.
What do you do - give up and join the crowd or fight for survival knowing that your profit margins are squeezed and any commercial or competitive advantages you think you have will be lost because you cannot win against those have already planned your demise.
Fortunately despite everything I survived and built a stronger operation which is now Britains best data recovery lab.. but it is still a work in progress despite more than 10 years of development.
In the last 3 years we were #trustjacked with fake reviews.
Cec came to see me 24 years ago - I had just been through a scare where I had been given 1 month to live if a brain tumour was malignant - I was lucky it was benign.
He visited and he told me about his book and we caught up on a few details of the 10 years since we had last spoken.
For a teacher to travel 200 miles to see a past pupil might seem unusual.
I would recommend anyone to read his book, nothing exciting but a real story of life that shows we can all have a chance regardless of our challenges.
I listen to the lives and circumstances of people needing help everyday - some find me blunt when I will not offer a discount to everybody and others appreciate what it takes to build and develop the UKs best data recovery lab.
If it was not for good teacher helping me in my hour of need I would not be building a company that helps others.
If someone says your data cannot be recovered - ask WHY and HOW do you get a second opinion.
The first opinion of a sports teacher was I should not be allowed into the 6th form - thanks to Cec I also did so much more.
Saying NO and asking WHY and HOW can lead to a YES
NO to fake reviews
WHY is it unrecoverable
HOW can you be sure
YES we too have been #trustjacked
The BIG I (eye / aye)
I talk about me but really I am talking about what makes me and why being me is helping others.
Like Cec and many reading this I could look at someone else and pass judgement on who they are to in my eyes.
Long ago I had decided I was not going to run with the tide, the tide led to conformity and not necessarily for the good.
Chaos although frustrating at times can create something new, different in todays buzz “disruptive” I can see that when we are young we see the old as set in their ways and what appears new to the young may or may not condition them for good or bad.
Most of the people who have come on the journey with me to build Security House are still with me.
Some have died along the way, some have retired, and others have moved on.
But the core of the company is rounding off a hard 3 years of challenges and we are now planning for the next 5 years.
By the end of 2018 we will have completed the evolution of the FME lab effectively making Security House our main R&D centre and FME will have the capacity to Bring in more work from Europe.
This means planning ahead - more work will need more staff, and just adding staff does not work.
Additional sales staff with Languages might.