Last Updated on October 8, 2020
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- 1 Tell Us About Yourself And Your Background!
- 2 Tell Us About Your Company! How Did You Start It? Why Did You Start It?
- 3 How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
- 4 How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
- 5 What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
- 6 What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
- 7 What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
- 8 What Are Your Favorite Books?
- 9 Anything You’d Like To Plug?
Tell Us About Yourself And Your Background!
I am a 50-something straight white woman who has worked incessantly to create an organization that changes the lives of others – and is successful too!
I am the classic kid from the wrong side of the tracks who was bright at school, and bullied mercilessly to the point that organized education just didn’t do it for me. By 15 I was more interested in writing, producing, and directing plays than I was applying myself to learning in the classroom. By 16 I had left school and went into sales. By 19 I was running an office in London with three staff. Now, everyone who works at PDT Global is far more qualified than me – but, as the poster girl for socio-economic change, I am proud of where I began and the fact that lifelong learning (which, in part, is what PDT creates ) is not only found in a formal setting.
Tell Us About Your Company! How Did You Start It? Why Did You Start It?
Initially we began by accident. I met my co-founder more than 23 years ago and her expertise was in selling training courses – mine appeared to be in the design and delivery part. So we offered our services locally to a limited number of customers – in some cases going door to door delivering our very basic brochures. We resisted investment and built organically, client by client.
We started the company as it worked for our lifestyles. As single mothers, we needed something flexible that would pay the bills. I didn’t even know major training organizations (as we are now) existed. But, as someone who was bullied badly at school, over the years I became determined to prevent others going through similar toxic experiences in the workplace – and that’s why PDT Global is focused on diversity and inclusion training. We enable our clients to create inclusive workplaces where everyone with the capability and desire to excel can do so.
How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
Our first clients were initially small enterprises – bacon packers, cabinet makers, local authorities – but by great networking we secured a contract that lasted well over a year with what was then Guinness (the dark stout drink) to run management training during the closure of one of its major sites. We were thrilled with the contract. It meant security and stability for months and the chance to hire more people.
A week after we signed the deal, I attended a conference that the British Government was running – Women in Business in the Arabic World. I was gifted a ticket from someone I had networked with. The after-lunch speaker let them down and I was asked to step in. The reaction was fantastic and, as a result, the sponsor (Barclays) had us do a tour of Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, sharing women’s development and business workshops in some of the most plush venues I had ever seen. Only months after we had started our business, we were being flown around the world, and running workshops in places that had bathrooms with gold taps and cut-glass sinks. I can still remember the excitement now.
So in one month we went from three small local contracts to being a global business with our first step into the diversity arena having been made.
How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
We cover all bases. These days our reputation goes ahead of us. More often than not, people who need to know us have heard of PDT Global. We are often published in the right journals and have a regular social media presence, too.
But recommendation is our core basis for new clients. We make that easy to do by ensuring our literature is up to scratch and we are easy to connect with. We get recommended because we are different and because what we do actually works – and also because we are efficient and easy to deal with. Drop one of those and the others don’t matter at all. We are tough on ourselves on all of these measures because doing that is sooooo much easier than running huge campaigns or paying for advertising.
What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
Network like mad and, whatever your size, network above it. In other words, go to your local business groups to gain support and some clients to get started – but aim higher and get yourself along to wider events with people bigger than you. Not everyone you meet will introduce you to new business – in fact, most won’t. But one person at a time you will add to your knowledge.
Grow the people who follow you on social media, and have the right things to say when you do meet the next potential client. I have always networked to learn and grow – and to share what I know. Helping others is sometimes as easy as just being a sounding board. I promise you the person you did that for – even if inside you are thinking you don’t have enough expertise/age/wisdom to share – will help you in return one day. I am more selective now about where I go.
But when I think of those first breaks, they were ALL about who we knew. You have to be there to win. Building on the last point – being in the room is key. That means saying “yes” to as many opportunities as possible. But you also have to create your opportunities. People often advise start-ups not to give things away for free. We would not do that now – we don’t need to – but in a world where you do not have the reputation, I would always advise you to let folks sample the goods. If that is a free sample/free consultation – or in our case, a free workshop – it’s a great way to showcase. People buy from people they trust is true. But they will trust you a little more if they can touch your work.
From the first $1,000, keep your eye on the cash. I am dreadful with numbers and am thankful each day that my co-founder keeps such a close eye. Without that, we would have gone bust a thousand times over. It can feel infuriating – but it’s essential. If you don’t have that partner, use a board member or pay a contract finance director – but someone has to do it from that first $1,000.
What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
To do good work, you have to be hard on the bottom line. In the diversity profession, it’s easy to think that just being passionate about creating a world where everyone with the capability to excel can do so is all you have to do – that following a cause close to your heart will build a robust business. But I have often been accused of putting profit over “the heart, the cause”. I have always believed that a business like ours – founded and run by women and driving diversity of all kinds into major corporates across the globe – is one of the most powerful change agents possible.
But only if it was well run and fiscally safe. I still believe that if we had not taken some of the tough decisions we have made on the business side, we would never have created change. Don’t get me wrong, it is the testimony from delegates and clients that drives us each day, knowing we have made a change. But to have been around as long as we have in a volatile market – and thriving through the COVID-19 pandemic – takes a tough business approach.
What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
We seem to have encountered – accidentally – people from our past throughout our journey. At one of our first major presentations, we asked for comments from the audience and a man’s arm shot up and he immediately reminded my company director of her pet name at school!
In the old days, we ran huge conferences and often I dressed as a janitor – cleaning around the feet of the delegates as they drank coffee and made their way into the auditorium, generally provoking their biased thoughts and drawing often less-than-complimentary comments. With a hotel uniform on, make-up free, wearing a blank expression and carrying a vacuum cleaner in Amsterdam, what I had not bargained on was a past client bowling across to me and saying how thrilled he was to see it was ME who was giving the keynote and how did I want to be introduced! Clearly internal comms had not worked. Cover blown on that day and I hadn’t even had the chance to change into my regular clothes.
What Are Your Favorite Books?
Being a bit of a workaholic, I feel free to read most when I am learning, and it also serves my work. And I love reading about other cultures.
Right now, I am deep into A Fine Balance: The Epic Modern Classic – just layer upon layer of information about Indian values, caste and religion during the past 50 years, combined with wonderful storytelling and a study into good/evil and where these two things collide. One of my favorite sayings is “never judge someone who sins differently from you”. And this calls us to reflect on just that as you feel for characters who deal in seeming atrocities and sympathise with their plight. Quite a journey!
The Island of Sea Women – is a divine walk through the lives of the all-female deep-sea divers of Jeju Isaland in Korea. It speaks to a matriarchal society where the women do the dangerous physical work and the men take care of the children. It’s a fascinating, beautiful and heart-wrenching story of how we construct difference and the complexities of what that means – another story that teaches on so many levels.
Finally, Girl, Woman, Other is a book of our time – a walk through the lives of 12 characters over several decades. They are mainly black women in the UK, and it interweaves their experiences, the reactions of others and, at times, their lives. It’s a study in otherness and connectedness, all at the same time. Should be compulsory reading on any diversity list.
Anything You’d Like To Plug?
PDT Global’s new Escape Room experiences are transforming training through gamification. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Book summaries, notes, interviews, and more!
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