Life tips to a 30-year old Chris

Well, it’s time to for me to start a new blog and (inspired by a recent conversation with a friend on Facebook) what better to start it with than a list of some of the things that I really should have done differently over the years:

  1. Try to make sure you feel ready before having children - Let’s start with this as, in some ways it’s the toughest one to explain. You see, I love my kids dearly and, obviously, I would never wish them away however I can honestly say that having them only a couple of years after starting a very ambitious business venture and not feeling emotionally ready for it at the same time was one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever faced as a human being. I’d like to think that they’d say I’m not a terrible father but I feel like I could have performed better if I hadn’t been under so much pressure and felt more prepared for it.

  2. Don't be a clown if you want people to take you seriously - I’m still figuring out what this one means exactly and it might be an issue that’s quite specific to me as I have always had a tendency to act like the class clown. You can kinda get away with it in your thirties (particularly if you work in games) but as you progress and the stakes get higher people expect a certain level of seriousness and awareness of the right time and place for frivolity. Unfortunately if you’re the boss you kinda have to act like it.

  3. Have regular medical checkups and go to the doctors if you’re sick - Sounds super-obvious but I can tell you from experience that it’s easy to let slip. In my case I suffered from untreated acid reflux from about 1999, let my health seriously deteriorate due to the pressure I under while running Kempt/Burke & Best, suffered from high blood pressure in the latter years, took Asprin to help with that and then - after rashly buying a skateboard at the age of 40 - had to ply myself with lashings of ibuprofen in order to cope with the resulting beating I took. Undoubtably some or all of these factors resulted in my cancer diagnosis in 2017 which - needless to say - I would strongly recommend avoiding if you can.

  4. Get critical illness insurance - Hopefully you’ve already got life insurance but do check that it also covers critical illness. Mine didn’t, if it had I would have been sitting on a tidy sum right now and it would have made the process of going through treatment and recovery A LOT easier.

  5. No, the housing market will not inevitably crash - As a child of the 80s I witnessed the effect on my parents and other people of the huge fluctuation in house prices we saw at that time. Unfortunately this made me very risk averse with regard to investing in property which has meant that, over the last couple of decades I kinda missed-out. In hindsight, it’s better to be investing in your home than paying a landlord but, that said, I would still advise against mortgaging yourself to the hilt - life is for living and you never know what’s around the corner.

  6. Trust your instincts - another conversation I had the other day was around this, that your instincts are always right. In reality though I think there’s a subtlety here - that we tend to make our instincts right. Belief is they key to the success of any venture and if you don’t have it then your efforts are almost inevitably doomed to failure. That doesn’t mean you can’t try a few things along the way, sometimes belief grows, just be careful of betting the house on something you’re not sure of. Remember that there’s an important difference between being brave and being foolhardy.

  7. Cash out occasionally - When you’re young and you don’t have any real commitments it’s easy to take a few risks but as you get older it gets progressively more difficult. On top of this there can be a temptation in business to keep doubling down on your investment and, when things get tough, this can end-up with you being backed into a corner financially and having to act out of necessity (instead of your best interests) in order to solve the problem. To help with this make sure you cash-out occasionally during the good times, make sure that you have a decent financial buffer against the inevitable tough times - particularly if you’re planning a significant change in the business.

Well, there you go! I’m sure there are more things that I could share but that feels like a decent starter for now, hope it’s of some use to someone.