Working with an Apprentice: Lessons learned

I first met Claire Young earlier this year at a networking event. I was vaguely aware of the Wakefield girl who had been “on telly” but that was all. Claire took part in one of the biggest reality TV shows on television – The Apprentice. In Lord Sugar’s words, she went through the “interview from hell” and survived long enough to become runner up in the 2008 series.

On the day I met Claire she stood and gave a 15 minute presentation about herself, her experiences and her ambitions. Like the good networkers we are, we exchanged business cards and I emailed her the following day.

Fast forward 6 months and we’re now business partners in a brand new venture ‘School Speakers’. What started in Claire’s spare room is now a thriving business with 4 employees and smart offices in the centre of the city. Our aim is to provide all schools throughout the UK with the most inspirational speakers.  I have learnt more in this last year than I could ever have done in any classroom, workshop or seminar.  So let me share my knowledge with you.

Have no shame

If you need something, ask for it and don’t be afraid to go to the top. Similarly if you don’t know something hunt down the person that can give you help, preferably for free!

Eliminate the word procrastination!

Don’t dither, learn to make decisions fast and stand by them. Commit to any project 110% and give it 110% of your energy and time.

Suss out the time wasters

As your profile rises you’re bound to attract a number of ‘stalkers’ as we call them; people who see your business idea working and want to be in on the action.

Don’t waste time in meetings that are just chit chat and of no real value. We’ve all fallen into the networking trap of “we must have a 1-2-1” but get something out of it, even if it’s just sharing a contact.

Share, share, share

Claire has an enviable address book but she’s not precious about it. If she can put you in touch with someone who can help you she will….there and then, in the meeting.

Finally, always be open to opportunity and you will always be in business. Keep thinking ahead and planning, taking every chance you can. Working with Claire has shown me that anything is possible; you just need to have the right mindset.

Someone recently referred to Claire as a black widow spider, weaving her web right across all boundaries – here in the School Speakers office we still fondly refer to her as the Rottweiler!

About the author: With a passion for words and a love of all things social Cat Yaffe is the lady behind Cat Creative Media – a creative copy and communications company that includes professional copywriting for web & print, see for more details.  She is also one half of School Speakers

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.


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