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Building confidence - from call centre to business owner

Young student male looking into the camera, surrounded by books

Through his studies, former Kaplan student Jack Swallow overcame personal challenges and developed a confidence which led to his current success. Discover more about his journey.

For me, my biggest challenge was not having enough confidence.

I wasn’t particularly ‘bright’ at school. I was more interested in sports, and later I worked in a call centre.

It took a long time to build up my confidence. Even just speaking in front of people was a struggle. I remember not being able to physically speak in front of the CEO in my first finance job. It wasn’t until I started studying CIMA that things started to change.

Studying with a provider like Kaplan gave me the skills to get through the exams. I passed all 15 exams, as it was then, in just 22 months - and this was the catalyst for me.

From here I started noticing that when I spoke - people listened. This led to me having the confidence to lead teams, present to senior stakeholders. I wouldn’t have dared make eye contact with them previously. But over time, my confidence grew and I started to really enjoy it.

Launching a new business

Following this I launched a new business - Lead the Disruption. The company specialises in the borrowing of business books. It was inspired by the executives I met, and my interest in how they got their C-Suite positions.

Luckily, everyone I approached was very forthcoming and although I did not realise the significance of it at the time, they all gave me a list of books to read! It was later I realised the correlation between books and executives. Soon after, I spotted a potential gap in the market.

Memories of Kaplan

My favourite memory of Kaplan dates back to being in Neil Da Costa’s class, when he was teaching us deferred tax.

The textbook had around 100 pages on deferred tax, the lecture notes had about 20 pages on it. Neil came in after lunch, ginger beer in hand, and told us not to worry about the lecture notes.

He then drew a single mind map that we needed to learn. One proforma and one page later – that was it! Neil was also noticeably confident – never was I in any doubt that he had not taught me what I needed to learn for the exam – and his confidence gave me confidence.

This was especially useful during the ‘nervy’ period heading into the exam. But after this I knew I was going to pass before going into the exam.

Jack’s key take-aways for other students

I used to run a lot, but I always trained better than I raced. This bemused the university enough to send me to a sports psychologist. We found out that I was scared of racing my best, in case my best was not good enough. In other words - being scared to fail.

This was an eye opener, and it started a process where I began to work on not being scared to fail. By embracing failure and not running away from it can allow you to see things differently.

When you are scared of failing, almost any sign that something will not work is enough to get you to stop. Self-doubt gets in the way. When you are not scared of failing, you stop paying attention to these minor things and you start seeing solutions instead of problems.

Final tips

So, four things you need to take away are:

  • Do not be afraid to fail (easier said than done).
  • Start with the end in mind. You need to know where you are going.
  • Build your network. By knowing people who can help you, you are more likely to be successful.
  • Read lots and read widely.

Model the success of other successful people. Subscribe to leadthedisruption.co.uk.

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