It is quite hard to believe that a little over 10 years ago in 2003 Tim Fuller and I sat down and had a chat about going into business together. We had both recently been made redundant from the leadership roles in the central IT division of Barclays and had in the past ‘joked’ about setting up a training and development company. This was not completely far-fetched as we had both been in people management roles with responsibility for training, coaching, performance management etc so we had no lack of knowledge. We had also been lucky enough to have been thoroughly trained both in management and leadership and as qualified trainers so we also felt we had some relevant skills. Both of us could have probably landed another employed role without too much trouble. Tim was a qualified accountant and I had a technical IT background but it just felt the right time to take the plunge and go it on our own.

Of course the first thing to be agreed was a company name and looking back Tim and I were as ineffective at this as the worst bunch of Alan Sugar’s apprentices on week 1. Should we use our names or initials (can you imagine FF or 2F Training) or some pun on personal development (Unlimited Growth Ltd). Thankfully we eventually had the common sense to take a look at our perceived unique selling points and started to focus on the word Reality. We felt strongly that we came from the ‘real’ world and had ‘real’ experiences of good and bad management whereas we saw other training companies coming from theoretical and academic backgrounds. And then one of us said “Do you know what? When it comes to training we are in the reality business”. And that was that: The Reality Business Limited was born.

And that’s when it got both exciting and quite scary. All of a sudden we became acutely aware of knowing what we didn’t know. They say ignorance is bliss and I can vouch that not knowing that I knew nothing about sales and marketing was a lot more comfortable than that realisation that I was responsible for getting us some work and was at the bottom of a very steep learning curve. The only thing we could do was to work hard, learn fast and hopefully develop the right networks and approaches to get us going. It was a bit like learning to drive a car, every stage felt awkward and not at all natural. Of course over time these things become habits and things feel a lot easier. The final challenge, and one that we continually monitor, is to ensure that we stay fresh and focused and avoid becoming complacent, predictable and ultimately back where we started – “not knowing what we don’t know”.

We know the model below as the ‘Personal Effectiveness model’ and it certainly captures our company journey over these 10 years and our individual development challenges every time we try something new.

Personal Effectiveness model