80 Comments

A personal message


We talk a lot about transparency and being open, the need for it in this social world, and why if you’re not telling everything to the world then someone else will. We also talk about personal brand and corporate brand, and why you need to be authentic and honest. I agree with these points mostly, but sometimes it is not so easy to balance the branding with the transparency. I have certainly experienced both sides of this during the last 12 months, which have been the toughest of my professional and personal life.

Up to September 2008 I ran a successful and profitable training and consultancy business for recruitment companies in the U.K. and mainland Europe. We didn’t have a lot of customers but we did have customers working with us all the time. We employed 5 associates who were interim managers and largely enjoyed the lifestyle that came with it.

 From September 2008 the work started to stop quite dramatically as recruiting businesses felt suffered from significantly dropping revenues. They were cutting their own staff, so there was no room for spending on outside consultants or trainers. Up to this date we had won all our business on reputation and had done very little selling. (I had always had plenty of exposure in the UK recruitment press up to this point.)

The solution to this was to increase our spend significantly in marketing activity and change the offering. I also went out and met with lots of recruiters, as well as speaking at a whole range of events. With more time available, I also ventured in to social media channels via Linked In.

With cash tied up in unpaid invoices, on the advice of the bank we moved to factoring. This released short term cash but had later implications. Going in to 2009 I remained positive that with the right marketing and sales activity we would be able to hold out till the market turned. We did lots of different things that generated interest but little that generated anything other than survival revenue.

Towards the last quarter of 2009 it was clear that we could no longer fund the business. We had a couple of clients go bust. We were also involved in a profit share agreement with a client who wrote a 5 year old C.V.A. in to this years account, writing off the profit share we were expecting.  The downside of factoring is that if you have invoices that go beyond 3 months then you have to recover the sums paid out. This means in effect that all you are trying to do is play catch up, working, invoicing but receiving no real cash.

In January 2010 we had no choice other than to take personal and commercial bankruptcy and close the business. This has taken a strong emotional toll on everyone involved. My wife has had a period of time in hospital with the stress of the business. I have had to keep a positive outlook while seeing a business I built over 4 years disappear. There’s also the strong feeling of personal responsibility and helplessness about what you can do about it. Behind every business failure, and there have been many over the last 12 months, lies a human story that few consider.

I’ve had to look at the schools my children go to, we’ve cancelled holidays and lost all of our assets. Our family home has been under threat and you become fair game from anyone who enjoys spreading the story of someone else’s misfortune.

Over the years I have known quite a few businesses that have used this route as part of a tactic, they call it pre-packing. This enables companies to close and start again without meeting their liabilities and has become a common tactic where acquisitions and mergers are involved. We did not choose to employ this tactic during the year and although we eventually went under, I still believe this was the right thing to do.

My creditors, (those I owe money to), have largely surprised me. The majority have recognized that they have earnt well from us in the past, and whilst any loss of revenue is painful, understand that it was not intentional. I have been overwhelmed by the help and support they have given me with words of encouragement, support for what we are trying to do with #tru and recognition that things will turn around in the future. I have always had the same generosity of spirit in people, and hope this is some kind of payback. Only one creditor has chosen to go on the offensive, threaten to be all over twitter and taken to e-mailing contacts and being very public on-line. I understand this reaction, and desire for some kind of retribution, it’s just not the route I would take.

I’m thankful that most people recognize that with a family, I need to work and recover the situation. I can’t just crawl under a stone and never come out. I’m entitled legally to operate a business and that is what I have done.

 The contacts I have made on-line and in person have also been tremendously supportive, and I’ve made no secret of my plight. I have been able to rebuild things through #tru, and hope that I give as much to my network and connections as they give to me. Everyone deserves the opportunity to rebuild and start again. My on-line network and friends have enabled me to do that. I hope that you will continue to support #tru, and what we do. I still believe I understand recruiting; HR, social-media and networking as well as most people, and have plenty to offer.

With everything in the open, I understand and respect those that may wish to stop being associated with me, to avoid the events that we do or get involved in any of the on-line activity. You may choose not to follow me or be connected with me and I understand that. For those that stay, I thank-you and think that you recognize that a friend is not just for facebook!

Keep being ambassadors in all you do,

Bill

80 comments on “A personal message

  1. Bill,

    I respect your openness and honest. If I can be of any assistance then please let me know.

    We should have that beer you know.

    TheHRD

    • Thankyou everyone that has replied, called me or left messages on twitter and facebook. I’m overwhelmed by the response. Both myself and Fran are grateful to you all that took the time to leave a message.

      The HRD: I’m going to enjoy that beer and talking H.R. Hopefully we can disagree on a few things and have some healthy and amicable debate.

  2. Bill,

    Wow, this level of transparency is brave and admirable. I don’t have any advice except for this: don’t waste a crisis. When you’ve hit rock bottom, don’t get up and repeat the same mistakes. You have no money, but you have dignity and great ideas.

    This time around, make sure to slow down, think, pause, and only take action when it benefits you and the world around you. I’ve learned something in my life: when I am at my lowest, I am really in control because I have nothing to lose.

    Good luck. I am rooting for you.

    • Laurie,
      I intend to use this crisis properly. I’ve learnt what is most important, and that the rest is just “stuff.” I love what I do now and will continue to build #tru, while remembering what is really important.

  3. Don’t worry mate, you weren’t the first and you won’t be the last; it could happen to me or any of us. As long as you have your health you can bring it all back around again.

  4. There before the grace of god go I…

    I don’t know you, but I admire your courage in posting this blog. I am a business owner who started her staffing consultancy the day before 9/11. I always tell myself that if I can survive that – I can survive everything. This last year has made me wonder if my arrogance in that statement will be my downfall, but I digress.

    No risk, no reward. You’ve been hit and hit hard as many have. I hope you find additional courage to pick up, dust yourself off and find something new and exciting to do with your life and career. Or, perhaps, coming back into the recruitment business… either way, I wish you luck, additional courage, forgiveness and much clarity to move forward.

    And even though I don’t know you, I’m giving you an e-hug regardless. Because no one gets enough e-hugs!!!!

    • Knoxymamma,
      Thanks for sharing your story. Launching on 8/11 and surviving is a great story that you should share, and you’ve survived the last year again.
      I love what i’m doing now, it’s just been a tough ride to find out what is important and what I want.
      Bill

  5. Bill I truly admire your openness and determination. These have both been evident from you in the past 9 months, and I am amazed at what you have accomplished with #TRU in that time.
    I will always want to associate with you, as you are honourable on business, and a good friend. To me, people shouldn’t be judged by the times they fall down, but rather by the times they get up again- and you are doing it with style. These are the circumstances when a wide network of friends and business contacts really comes into it’s own, and I fully expect you to be swamped with support for what you are doing, which on itself involves helping so many other people and businesses.
    If there’s ever anything I can do to help, consider it done.

    • Stephen,
      I count you as a friend too, and enjoy the times we meet or talk. I’ve had the fall and I’m on the way back up.
      I will enjoy working with you on #truNORA’S, which I’m sure will take us all in a whole ne direction. Your support and vote of confidence is worth everything.

  6. Bill-
    I truly admire you for your honesty and sharing such a personal situation with all of us. I wish you and your family nothing but the best. You are a supporter of so many causes and people. This has been a dificult year for me as well. I am presently trying to figure out my next move now. So I understand. I am looking forward to meeting you this year. You are so giving of others, now it is time to pause, reflect, and focus on what is most important. your family.
    Blessings!
    Shennee Rutt

  7. What a powerful post. Good luck.

  8. Bill, my response is to go back and read Laurie Ruettimann’s comment. Again and again if you have to, because it is perfect.

    I’m rooting for you, too, and I know there are many, many more – even if they don’t comment on your post.

    BIG e-hug, and I hope you can still get to HRevolution in May, because there will be lots of real hugs waiting. Trust me on that.🙂

  9. Bill,

    These have been difficult years for virtually everyone involved in the recruiting and staffing industries, particularly those of us who eat what we earn and aren’t merely afraid of losing a paycheck. I feel for those people, but those who haven’t owned their own livelihood simply can’t understand.

    The banks and others with whom you work will stand by you as much and for as long as they absolutely can if you continue to communicate with them and not just in good times. It is clear that you understand that they don’t want to hear bad news, but would prefer to hear the bad news from you today than be surprised by it later. Be proactive and let them know the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your credibility is priceless and you have none if you are less than completely honest.

    Bravo, Bill. We’re all rooting for you.

    • My Bank and my Accountant have been amazing in their support. We keep talking, and they are happy to work with me rather than against me.
      The ashcloud prevented us from meeting at #truUSA. I hope we get the opportunity to address that soon.

  10. I’ll be rooting for you and your family Bill. I look forward to seeing what you’ll do and where you’ll go next. In time, I’m sure you’ll be able to share what you’ve learned through this and it will be of real value to others. Good luck to you!

    • Jennifer,
      I’m concentrating on #tru and a few new projects. I think focus and working with everyone in the community. It is the ay ahead in the future, and I take a lot from the global connections I make daily.

  11. Bill, kudos for sharing such a personal struggle. My love to you, Fran, and the kids. Your honesty and ability to work hard is what will pull you and your family through these times.

    Make no apologies for what got you here. You’re one of life’s greatest students. With that comes the ups and the downs. As someone who has gone through my share of downs, I can assure you that you will not only get through this, but you will someday look back and see that these are the days that make you a stronger person. All your friends love you and will do anything we can to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. xoxo Trish

  12. I know of what you speak. After a successful career in organization development, I opened a pet boutique, barkery (gourmet treats) and spa. “Where Rover Goes For A Complete Make-Over.” Dogs are my life, and I’d always wanted to have a business where I could be with them all the time, particularly after my life-long commitment to canine rescue.

    The business closed right at the beginning of the recession. I knew I wanted to get back into Human Resources, but I wasn’t sure how to make that transition. It was you who lifted me up and gave me hope for a brighter future. You, Alan Whitford, Paul Paris, Steve Levy, Animal, Jeff Lipschults and others empowered my search.

    Never take away a person’s hope, it might be the only thing they have…and to that end, hope is alive and well.

    I’d lost the business, my Mother, and Brother all in the same year. I thought it was going to crush my soul, but I survived.

    My life has transformed, I have an incredible job, I’m paying down my debts, and I’m committed and 100% devoted to helping others. I started Compassionate HR on blogtalkradio as my homage to people like you who demonstrate steward and servant leadership.

    We are in your corner. You paid it forward, and now it’s your turn to lean on us. We love you Bill Boorman.

    Remember the saying “It came to pass…” it didn’t come to stay.

    Your twitter pal,

    @HRMargo

    • Margo,
      Thanks as always. You have done great things in landing a job, building compassionate HR and #HireFriday. I have been impressed by this growth and believe the place we are now will be far better than the place we have been.
      Bill

  13. Thanks everyone

    Fran Boorman

  14. Bill – I share the sentiments of others here. A term we use in NZ is “Kia kaha” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kia_kaha .

    Of course money is important and provides us with security and shelter etc, but an emerging currency on the social web is reputation. The wider online and offline networks you’ve worked hard to establish are invaluable.

    I’m richer for knowing you!

    @pauljacobs4real

    • Paul,
      The feeling is mutual. You are doing great things with Deloitte NZ. I too feel richer and my connections from NZ and Aus owe much to you.
      I look forward to #truNZ and building the community.
      Bill

  15. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family. You know that I am on your side and will do anything at all I can to assist. I am sure you will emerge even stronger and more successful that ever before.

  16. Keep your head up Bill! You have a friend in me. All I can do, I will do.

  17. Bill, one of the most honest, and best posts I’ve read this year. You’ve got a lot of people rooting for you – and as you can tell we’ve either all hit the bottom, or will at some point. My thoughts are with you and your family – keep doing what you have passion doing, be yourself, and good things will happen.

    Jason

  18. […] Boorman wrote a personal message on his blog today that moved me profoundly. He wrote candidly about his experience during the recession with bravery […]

  19. I just wrote a post that you inspired. Please read it, it is my way of saying thank you. http://hrmargo.com

  20. Bill (& Fran!),

    As a ‘lurker’ (thanks for the terminology btw Bill!), I seldom add my personal voice to things but couldn’t not to this…

    I very nearly went under (in every way) myself last year (due to big bad debt & shoddy treatment from tech – not rec – client!) and from that PoV, ‘how’ the debtor handles this makes all the difference to the impact it has – as others have said above, keep communicating and keep honest (just as you are doing it seems!). There are sensible & fair legal routes the creditor you mentioned can take – tempting as it is to get angry and voice that anger, this situation must be seen as, and treated as, ‘business’. I’m so proud now that I managed to do that.

    As someone who has finally come out the other side, there is no doubt that these trying times can and do impact on every single aspect of your life – on top of all the practical matters, keeping the faith in yourself, business and the whole of humanity turns into a Herculean task. I got through by finding those rays of sunshine – my family, the lessons I’d learned, the understanding and support I got from those I explained my situation to, the kindness of ‘strangers’, the realisation that I do, am and deserve to be valued – and the fact that the world actually doesn’t stop turning even when you think it would or should.

    I wish you all these things and more. You yourself are a ray of sunshine Bill & you bring so much to the table – laughter, joy, knowledge and support to name a few – so now your job is to have a taste of everything others are ladening that table down with.

    Humanity is an wonderful thing, and we’re lucky to live and work in the warmest, kindest community I’ve ever come across. Because of you, and because of them, I know you will get through this, and I also know, like so many others, I’m there for you too.

    Very best to you both,
    Holly.

    • Holly,
      I’m moved by your words and i’m glad you stopped lurking. The tough year I had, has, if nothing else, given me time to move in a new direction. Without time I would never have developed the blog, the radio shows and so much more. I have made some great contacts and friends around the world. I count you in that number. Look forard to meeting again soon.
      Bill

  21. Hi Bill,

    Wow, that is transparent. congratulations on practising what you preach. Can’t have been easy.

    Whilst it saddened me to read about your plight. Your strength and persistence, optimistic view on life (and the market) and the way you have really put yourself out there in the past year or so are a credit to yourself and something your family (especially kids) can get a valuable lesson from in the future.

    You obviously have many friends across the world. Know you have another here! I’d stand shoulder to shoulder with you mate.

    Goodluck!

    Cheers

    Dan

  22. Bill .. my heart goes out to you. You will learn so much about yourself and your business associates (I was in the same situation 5 years ago). Many will touch your heart. I wish ou and your wife every success. I learned much more about business and myself from failing than I ever did from succeeding. Good luck!

  23. You know my take Bill, same as many other thier by the grace of god.

    You have worked hard to build what you have, you have an event in Amstedam that I will support as will others.

    On and upwards.

    Keith

  24. We are connected via Twitter. I also read your blog occasionally. But we’ve never really connected. I haven’t been able to attend a TRU conference & I live in States, so we’ve not had a chance to meet face-to-face. The closest we have gotten is when you called in during HR Happy Hour when I was a guest.
    Nevertheless, your recent post is quite surprising. I never had any sense that you were stuggling in terms of having a growing, profitable business. In terms of other types of success, I know from being involved in certain social media outlets, you are highly regarded by your peers. I’m sure you see this from the comments.
    What you aren’t able to see is how much further your reach goes. For example, a few months ago, you created a video about balancing the four aspects of your life: work, home, online and you. This has been the most inspiring piece of advice I have heard since I jumped into the social media realm last year. I have also cited it many times in conversations with my peers. I’ve never taken the time to mention any of this to you. But I think it’s important to mention it now and say thanks.
    I hope the best for you and your family. I’m sure you will eventually come through this.
    I also hope we have the chance to meet face-to-face at HRevolution.

    • Paul,
      Thank-you! It means a lot to hear a video post I had almost forgotten had the right impact. We never know where the message will end up, but we hope it gets there all the same. Not wishing to sound corny, I take as much if not more from the communty as I put in. We all contribute.
      I look forard to sharing in person at #HREvolution.
      Bill

  25. You know my thoughts Bill – here’s to a period of time where social media in recruitment establishes itself to the degree that it becomes a significant area of required expertise, and that companies and individuals recognise the need to pay for this level of knowledge and commitment and don’t take advantage of perceieved intangible input. At the same time you obviously have to manage this yourself. I don’t think that now is a bad time to start. I for one have started a working, paid agreement with Bill, and I’m sure many others will follow.

  26. Bill

    We’ve never met but I read your blog and we follow you on twitter. That won’t change.

    We started Storm 9 months ago in the middle of the recession and off the back of my wife being diagnosed with cancer.

    Everyone said we were mad even though we knew we weren’t and we are getting there and everyday we are stronger and louder.

    The pain you must have been through will make you stronger but I know you know that and your post indicates that the shoots of recovery are there already. Business is all about people Bill and you my friend are one of those people who will keep getting up know matter how many times you get knocked down. Your post is testimony to that for all to see.

    Take care

    John

    • John,
      Thats a remarkable story. I hope your wife is well and the business is prospering. I’m on my feet, the #tru events go from strength to strength, and best of all, I need to communicate in social every day. At last I’m doing somthing where sharing is critical rather than desirable.
      What a great way to make a living!
      Good luck to Storm 9!
      Bill

  27. Bill – You inspire the rest of us daily with your wisdom, your courage and most of all, your honesty. If only the rest of us could learn such valuable lessons in life. You are a true mentor and shall always remain so!

    May you live a truly grateful life for the value that you have brought others is immeasurable.

    Always yours – Queen Schmooze aka Mischa

  28. Thank you Bill & Fran for a profoundly moving and personal post. Hundreds of thousands of families are facing exactly the same situation as you, and struggling with the same emotional, financial, and personal issues, and your openness and honesty will touch and inspire more people than you can imagine.

    It is human instinct to want to hide in the face of failed dreams, and to mistake a business failure for a personal failure. As we can learn from Rembrandt, Phineas Barnum, Mark Twain, Henry Heinz, Oscar Wilde, Milton Hershey, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Donald Trump and now Bill Boorman, bankruptcy is a road bump that can be overcome.

    On a separate note, I pity the one creditor who has chosen to go on the offensive, because, as the saying goes, Karma is a bitch.

    • Karen,
      Thanks for your comments. There is no hiding to be done, and I will continue to build #tru and share the recruiting message. I value your help in this, and your support in our bounce back!
      Bill

  29. there is much to be said for dignity and character and authenticity. you have them all Bill.

  30. Life does seem to keep the waves crashing into the board, the trick is to grab those deep breaths and hold on while swimming forward and ones’ character always gets you there! Many thoughts for you and your family. -Bryan

  31. Well done Bill. With the move to #tru, you’re trading very much on “brand bill” and in my eyes, this strengthens that brand. Takes guts and determination to come through these kinds of things and from what I see, you have plenty of both.

    You know where I am should there be anything I can do.

    James.

  32. Wow, that is truly awe inspiring amount of bravery you have shown Bill being that open and honest, I have nothing but respect for you, that must have taken a great deal of courage to not only decide to write about your recent plight but to “actually” write it.

    If there is anything that I can help with here Down Under via your #tru efforts or any other new ventures let me know, more then happy to help.

  33. Bill,

    Wow. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said. It’s clear you’ve shown a tremendous amount of courage just putting this personal information out there. You are truly an inspiration for those who may be in a similar situation. Anyone who follows you would agree that you’re doing fantastic work with building out #TRU.

    I wish you continued success this year as you continue to regroup and rebuild.

    All the best-

  34. Bill, this is a bold step and I commend you on this. It is one thing to read your honest and heartfelt post and another to make a comment, and I choosed both, to add my own voice of support and encouragement.

    You have build the #tru brand and am sure it will be a great success. I am more than happy to support your efforts.

    Wishing you and your family the very best!

  35. Bill,

    That is extremely honest and brave of you, and something that not many people can do.

    Take strength from this bravery, and use it to your advantage.

    I have no doubt that you will be back, although the priority has to be the health of your wife and family. For everything else, you have the support of the people you have worked with and consider your friends.

    Wishng you all the best, and please let me know what I can do.

    “What doesn’t kill us, can only make us stronger”

    KP @ Pan Eight

  36. Bill,

    very few of us have what it takes to do what you’ve done in this post. I just wanted to echo your other commenters here and say that I admire and respect your honesty.

    Results don’t always follow intent in our lives. Shit happens. I think it’s true that what we do when we screw up is what defines the quality of our character.

    The longer we live the more understanding and less judgmental we become. I’ve learned more from hitting rock bottom than at any other times in my life. I’ve suffered bankruptcy (and worse things) and can only tell you that it all works out in the end if you don’t give up and change your future actions.

    Bankruptcy is a fresh start. Go get yours.

    /julian

  37. Thanks for sharing your story, Bill. I am sure there are many that have had to face a similar plight over the last couple of years but most would not feel ready or strong enough to share the details.

    We hear so much talk about transparency and authenticity but how many of us truly live it? I, myself, battle two unsuccessful marriages in my past. This has, for sure, marred me and drives how I interact with almost everyone.

    Fear from “being found out” – whether it’s a less than stellar credit history or a battle-scarred heart – fear motivates, drives us toward or away from certain people and decisions that have the potential to alter our lives considerably.

    Right field (baseball analogy), though less busy, also breeds the greatest plays (think Ichiro throwing a runner out at home-I’ve seen it, live, and it was incredible to behold.)

    The high road – though less traveled also carries less risk. I guess it depends on what you want to achieve in this profession/life.😉

    Best wishes always.
    -Rayanne

  38. Rayanne,
    Your comments mean a lot. Its been hard. You wrote an extra track a while ago that said “stuff was only stuff!”. I took a lot from that, as i do with most of your work. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time. i to can do without stuff!
    See you soon,
    Bill

  39. An extremely personal, honest and open blog post, which I totally admire you for doing.

    I can only say positive things about our interactions, both online and in person, and I hope that this will continue long in to the future.

    I am sure, unfortunately, that I will get a lot more out of the relationship than you, so please don’t stop sharing your invaluable views, news and original takes on what we do – day in – day out.

    Keep it up Bill and all the best wishes to you and your family.

    Regards
    Rob

  40. Bill,

    I was signposted to this blog by someone I follow on Twitter and I’m really glad that I read it. I had no idea of the difficulties that you have been through – and that is testament to your positive thinking and clear energy.

    So well done for writing about it all and particularly well done for so clearly keeping your spirits up and transmitting your enthusiasm to so many thousands of others.

    All the best.

    Tim

  41. Bill,
    When I linked in with you last week I had no idea about the difficulties you have been through. I am very sorry to read about your plight. In the 1990s I lost 4 years of my career through ‘burnout’ then another 2 in 2001/2003 through the same thing, so I know what stress is all about. I am still here doing what I do. Nobody died. The tru stuff you are doing looks great and I wish you and your family all the best.

    Dean

  42. This is an amazing post and an example of the many posts in #blogchat last night that testified to the power writing from personal experience, from the heart. I echo Dean in his April 29 post above, “Nobody died.” I don’t write that lightly as my first husband did die and my daughter and I somehow survived.

    I wish you well, Bill, and am very glad that you re-posted this piece. You have an extraordinary presence online and I hope that your current business reflects its strength and vigor.

  43. Bill –
    By your own words you have acted honestly and with integrity. If only others could learn by your graciousness and humbleness.

    I don’t know what I can do for you here in the US, but please feel free to let me know if I may be of service.

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