In a previous life, between being made redundant from ‘big’ journalism on December 31 2009 and having my stroke almost exactly four years later, on December 16 2013, I was a freelance journalist. I edited British Naturism magazine for those four years, most of which saw some of the most memorable days of my working life; I wrote articles and press releases for businesses as diverse as computer software providers and life-coaches and I ghost-wrote books.
Two of the most memorable were 'Grandad Was a Sailor', the autobiography of the late Ed Dickinson, who spent his career in the Merchant Navy and whose son, Simon, approached me to produce the book as a gift to his father and ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ for Steve Paterson.
Steve was a friend who I met through networking. An ardent marathon runner and Liverpool fan, he ran at least 11 London Marathons to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Having prematurely lost my mother for the same reason over 30 years ago, I could see where he was coming from.
Steve was almost the archetypal Scouser; Ridiculously tall, he dominated any room he walked into. He lived for most of his life in the West Midlands and spent much of his time over the last two years in Saudi Arabia, training insurance people. Yet he was a Liverpool season-ticket holder and spent many a Saturday on the M6, travelling to Anfield.
The idea for the book came about via a series of short videos which Steve made and put online, explaining how the principles he used in preparing to run a marathon could also be used to build a business; principles such as planning, collaboration, attention to detail, having dreams to fulfil and the importance of celebrating success.
The videos can still easily be found on YouTube but Steve wanted to say more than could be said in six three-minute films, so we collaborated on a book. Steve had the ideas, I used my experience of a lifetime in journalism to put them into words.
One of the sayings Steve used in the video and the book has stuck with me and always will: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing." It was intended to encourage the would-be marathon runner not to be put off training by rain or cold: if you want to do it, you'll find reasons, not excuses.
The same applies in business (or politics, come to that); if you are prepared for problems, you'll deal with them but if you aren't, you won't. Will someone please tell our Government that?
You may have guessed what this is leading up to. Steve Paterson died last month of a heart attack while working in Saudi Arabia. His funeral was held this week. Unsurprisingly, for Steve was a man who seemed to know everyone and be friends with everyone, it was 'standing room only.'
Steve came to visit me in hospital while I was recovering from my stroke. He cared. He made a huge impression on me and plenty of others. It won't surprise you to know that 'You'll Never Walk Alone' was the final piece of music played at his funeral.
Nothing could have been more appropriate for a man who could make friends with anyone, was such a devoted Liverpool fan and did so much to inspire so many. Including me.