But what will you do?
This seems to be the usual response when I tell friends and colleagues that I have taken the enormously difficult decision to ‘step back’ from the role I have held for the past 15 years as a Director of MAXX.
Most people will realise immediately that this will be a rather big change in my life! MAXX has been so much a part of my daily existence that the thought of existing separately to the business almost feels like cutting off a limb, or several limbs.
When I look back to the days, 15 years ago, when Dermot, Jackie and I threw our caps into the ring and decided to go into business together, it’s easy to be nostalgic. Although now we can see that it was a jolly good move, at the time, it felt like a leap of faith for all three of us. But even then we could see a glimpse of what could be achieved if we pooled our experience, knowledge and talents.
For those of you who don’t know the story, Dermot had established a graphic design business, MAXX Design, that had a great client list, a string of loyal customers and a skilled team of designers, but lacked a way to help clients take their business online – a digital offering. Jackie and I had been working together in a web agency and were considering our next step when Dermot suggested that we three may be ‘better together’! After running MAXX Design and MAXX Digital as separate businesses for 12 months, things had gone better than we could ever have expected; mutual respect had been developed between the creative designers and the developers and culturally we had a team that worked well together and was consistently delivering the best possible outcomes for our clients. So we merged our two separate businesses and MAXX was reborn! Over the years we have added digital marketing, marketing strategy and video to our offering and now are proud to promote ourselves as ‘the perfect extension of your marketing team’ – something said of us by one of our lovely clients (thanks for that, you know who you are!)
I know that all three of us are enormously proud of what we have achieved in the past 15 years and if we add the 11 years before that when Dermot ran MAXX without Jackie and I – MAXX has had a total of 26 glorious years in business! None of this could have been possible without an outstanding team of people, some of whom have been with us for most of that time. We have been truly blessed by the calibre of staff we have. It is no coincidence that we also have the most superb set of clients – I really believe in life you reap what you sow and MAXX has the clients it deserves – individuals who are skilled, loyal and importantly – good people who are fun to work with.
So it’s easy to see why people ask ‘what will you do?’ when I step away from day-to-day work at MAXX.
Those of us that run our own businesses know (and so will our partners!), that it can be all-consuming. Running a business is often described as riding the world’s biggest roller-coaster and, oh my goodness, in my experience, it is most definitely that! We feel elation, along with our team, as we hit the highs of gaining new contracts, a client takes time out of a busy day to praise the team’s work, we hit profit or revenue targets or we celebrate a personal achievement with someone who has worked really hard. But we also share the challenges of business – the insecurities (whether due to external factors or not), the heartache of trying to support valued colleagues through exceptionally difficult personal times and those days when suppliers or clients are just a little difficult!
This rollercoaster is amazing! What could be more thrilling, or rewarding than riding this extraordinary experience with all its many highs and lows?
But there comes a time when everyone needs to get off the ride and explore the rest of the theme park. For me, I am stepping away from the park altogether for a little while to focus on my own health and those I love. It’s something I was planning, with the support of Jackie and Dermot, long before we had a ‘corona coaster’ to add to the theme park experience. But with MAXX looking to a rosy future, the time has come to take that step.
As individuals we are composed of many facets – we have many roles in life and there are depths to us that we can never explore – because there is never any time! I suspect that sometimes we need to take a leap into the unknown and just see where we land; to create space in our lives and just see what appears! And I guess that is where I am right now.
My time at MAXX has been incredible – I am so very proud of what has been accomplished – what the team has produced. We have been recognised with a string of awards and nominations for exceptional design, brilliant websites and some awesome video production as well as consistently good marketing advice, client support and our work in the wider community. I have made lifelong friends with some extraordinary people – colleagues, partners, suppliers and clients; some of whom I have had the privilege of working with for over 20 years – it’s a lifetime!
I need to make a special mention of James, our Head of Digital and Ruth, who manages our company administration, who both came with Jackie and I from our previous agency during our early years at MAXX – what loyalty! Or craziness (I’m not sure which!). Also Matt who has been a Creative Director at MAXX since well before Jackie and I joined the business – with his exceptional design capabilities, he has taught me so much about design and has been a very patient tutor! I have also appreciated the power that design can bring to a campaign from Stephen and his awesome concepts and individual approach. And of course, Chris, our Head of Marketing – Chris and I have been on our own special journey as he was the poor soul who had me managing him for most of his time at MAXX and, despite this, is still very much with us!
As I think through the ‘gifts’ that I have received from each of the individuals I’ve worked with at MAXX, just by working with them on a day-to-day basis, I am a wealthy woman. Each one, both past and present, has shared something of themselves with me that is unique and that I will truly treasure for the rest of my life.
But the closest and dearest working relationship has to be that which has been developed over 15 years of working with my co-Directors, Jackie and Dermot – and in Jackie’s case, a further 5 years before that! What a team we have been! What a journey we have been on!
I can’t thank you enough for letting me share the experience with you both. We have laughed, cried and celebrated together in times of hilarity and of despair and have supported each other throughout it all. It has been an unforgettable honour and a privilege to have worked with you both.
I very much hope that part of me and my contribution to MAXX will remain, even though I will have moved on, like a good foundation stone that provides part of a sturdy basis for a superb edifice! I shall watch with much interest to see where the business goes now – although with the strong team that is being built at MAXX and with Jackie now taking over the helm, I have a good idea!
For now, I just want to thank all of you who have been valued colleagues, clients and friends, for all your support of MAXX, and of me personally over the past 15 years in business – it has truly been the ride of my life!