1996 was a really significant year for me. It was the year I left my local IT Managers job in Ipswich and started my role as a Technical Trainer in London. A Microsoft Technical Trainer. It was a year of discovery for me. A year of really big things.
I became an MCP, MCT. MCSE, MCSE+I. I learned how to present. I learned how to properly present to very large audiences, to captivate and engage, inform and train. I developed a new set of friends too. Colleagues that also spent over an hour commuting into London to get together and share their knowledge. And I discovered the delights of the sausage pub, where Gary the barman (who still works there 14 years later), served dubious sausage sandwiches for lunch and a break in the training sessions. I made some great techy friends, 3 of whom are still in touch even now. I discovered the London life, deep technology, and found out that I was good at my new technology career. Really good.
And now, in late 2009, after 5 months of emotional upheaval, I’m working for myself. I’ve had several great conversations with clients, some good prospects for my new company, some purchase orders “on the way” and on Friday, October 30th. I received my first client cheque for the work I’m doing for Teched Berlin.
So now, I’ve started a tradition.
I’ve decided, that for each different client who pays me for work I’ve done, I’m going to buy a bottle of champagne that I’ve never tasted before, some cheaper, some more expensive, depending on the value of the contract I get. But an opportunity for me to create a champagne bottle bank of client memories. And I’ve started with the champagne that I’ve coveted for years.
Cristal Champagne. I’ve always loved the story about why the bottles were clear and the fact that it was specially produced for the Russian Tzar back in 1876.
The bottle is also different to all of the other champagne bottles I’ve ever seen before – its got a flat base which is really thick. No dimple in the bottom. That’s really unusual. Apparently the bottle is made from Lead Crystal, to give it the extra strength it needs, so I now know that’s one bottle that will never be making its way down to the bottle dump.
I went down to the Food Company to buy it. I’d been in there weeks before, asking the manager if they actually held it in stock. The Food Company have a great collection of champagnes, and the wine manager is really knowledgeable about the fizzy stuff. There were 2 bottles of Cristal there, one white 2005 vintage, and one rose 1996 vintage. Which one did I want?
Of course it was more expensive. Much more expensive.
Of course it wasn’t the bottle I’d planned to buy originally.
But as soon as I heard the words 1996, all of my old IT and London memories came flooding back to me and I realised that that was “really” when I started the new, the exciting, and the best stage in my career.
So I thought it was really appropriate, that with my first client cheque, that I should buy a bottle and share it with all of the people who have helped me, supported me, believed in me and encouraged me when I started my company, and have been with me every step of the way whilst I got things going. These friends have kept me going when I wasn’t sure, they’ve guided me, and they all made me believe that I could actually do it for myself.
And 6 of us carefully sipped a glass each of this amazing drink – along with another 1996 bottle of Winston Churchill from my business mentor Jon, and supermarket bottles of Veuve Cliquot and Banrock station. We toasted my success with my first client bottle for my bottle bank, and invited themselves round for many more “nice” champagne tastings in years to come.
So special thanks go to Kim for helping me to start off this amazing tradition with such a special bottle of fizz. And thanks to everyone who just knew I’d be successful. The taste of success is definitely Rose…