10 years…and counting. Reflections from our MD, Duncan Cawdell

Pure Blue Ocean (PBO) turned 10 this year….. Every milestone or anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect backwards, but provide the energy to drive forward.

If I reflect back, there are 5 points that draw my attention:

  1. Starting a business is a scary thing, and that is healthy – it didn’t feel like that at the time, it felt exciting and challenging. I started with simple milestone – can I get paid, can I win a new client, can I generate cash flow and income, can I really make this a business? At the time I didn’t worry about getting to 10, I focused on the here and now.  Once I reflect there was some good advice from my younger self to be present in the moment
  2. Be genuine and honest. It's tempting in the early days to say you can anything, the need to build revenue and cash flow does drive a pressure.  However, the more honest I was with clients about what I could, and more appropriately what I shouldn’t do, drove more interesting conversations with clients.  The same is true in your own business – don’t do the things that you really aren't skilled for.  Get people who know what they are doing to work with you.
  3. Back yourself. If you really believe you have the intellectual and emotional horsepower to drive your business, back that up when you deal with customers.  Recognise your real value and anticipate that value being recognised.  The early ‘discounts’ that are tempting to offer to get going, in the long-term cause damage.  If you don’t see your value, it's unlikely that those around you will see it too.
  4. Surround yourself with capable and challenging people. I have been fortunate.  I found some challenging and capable individuals to work with.  They are my priority in every client engagement – making sure they have the space, the time, and are afforded their genuine value is really important.
  5. You don’t need all the answers, you need all the questions. Curiosity is woefully underrated.  Being genuinely curious, allows you to ask questions of client, customer and colleagues to understand and get under the skin of issues and challenges. Never provide an answer until you fully understand the gravity of the question. We can all act – but if we can act on the right thing, in the right way, at the right time – that is the magic.
When I look forward, I do so with 3 lenses

  1. Where is our passion taking us – if you find the things that stimulate you, and drive you, usually you have skill and focus. The next 10 years will take us where the passion is for the PBO team
  2. If you’re gonna fail, fail fast. We need to try new things, and we can’t anticipate that everything will be successful.  If something’s not working – we will call it fast.
  3. Everyone has a story – we just need to find it. In every engagement we look for the story, something about the people, products, performance, passion that makes it unique.  We need to search for, and help guide the organisation to find their story – so they can share it with the world.
Here’s to the next 10 years.

If you want to know how we can help you find your story, then contact us at
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