Last Thursday, I found myself agreeing with a pair of jeans. I should explain: the jeans in question had a statement stitched around the inside of the waist that read ‘these are the days my friend, they always were’. I think the jeans are right.
We live in interesting times for sure. Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media, recently wrote – of his challenge to keep Forbes relevant – that: “The worlds we write about move faster than ever, producing stress, disruption and opportunity.”
Too often we focus on those first two. I want to focus on the last. Like DVorkin, I want to “celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurialism”.
Just over 17 years ago I founded GDS International to explore the opportunities offered by a newly ‘open’ China. That company has changed. We’ve grown in numbers, products and – most importantly – skills. At the start of last year I made two big decisions:
1. I needed a new CEO to run GDS International on a day-to-day, giving me time to focus on our future.
2. I had to close one of our founding divisions and drive towards what we do best now – because that’s where I believe the opportunities are.
In both these things, I have been fortunate. GDS currently employs over 450 very talented, hardworking people. Those people grew the company by 40% last year, taking our annual turnover to around $63 million – a long way from the six friends and $50,000 that started day one.
We have a cracking new CEO, who has been with us for seven years and worked his way up; and we were in a solid position – financially and culturally – to close our publishing arm. Today, GDS is 100% focused on producing incredible business-to-business events. Our value proposition is simple: we deliver real results. And we’re very good at it (yes, I would say that – but don’t just take my word for it).
But this blog isn’t really going to be about those things. We want to be the world’s No. 1 business-to-business events company, and I want to run the London Marathon. This blog is about belief. Oh, and the company is in far better shape than me…