This October we celebrate our 10th birthday at White Water. So, we aren’t going to share our usual deep thoughts on leadership. Instead, we thought we would give you the small birthday gift of our own learning. These are 10 reflections not the 10 commandments … 10 things we learned in our 10 years of The White Water Group 1. Starting a business in a recession isn’t particularly easy but it really equips you to survive the next one. Key lessons we learned? Not to have all our eggs in one basket. Not to assume anything. To keep the standard as high as we could. To trust people to come back to us when they could afford to think about development again. 2. Love people to bits. They are the beginning and end of everything- colleagues, customers, family and random passers by. Treat them all better than you would expect to be treated yourself. It won’t always guarantee your business success but it will make your life a very good and happy one. 3. If you know your topic well, write a book. However, no matter how many books you have written ( 5 in 10 years, by the way, if you really want to know) if you don’t get a contract in place and a set of scary deadlines it will never happen. Look out for our next book… 4. Only work with people whom you like and respect. That motivates you to check that you are working as hard and smart as them but it also makes each day a joy. If people do things you don’t like, have the guts to talk about it. Your best investment in people is the faith you have in their potential and their capacity to be even better than they are. Give them the opportunity by learning how to have that difficult conversation 5. You can be highly professional and a bit funky too. Play to your strengths in all you do. Not everyone will like you. Those who see your authenticity will value you for what you stand for and how you do it. If you want to have your offices red, acqua, purple and lime just have the confidence to make it work. (Come and see how we did it) In the end everyone loves it, even if they do go back to tasteful corporate grey afterwards. 6. Ensure that everything you do is sound and robust – in our case it means that all interventions have to be well researched. You can’t always do the big academic projects that you might fancy but you can always ground your approaches in the best science available. Your clients deserve it. 7. Understand that although it sometimes feels like you are stalking clients, actually you are just working on the relationship and when they are ready for you the work will come. 8. Appreciate the bad times too. Nothing is wasted. Every challenge helps you grow and broaden your repertoire and resilience. Whatever you go through, it gives you the chance to be more empathic with colleagues and clients. 9. Believe that what you do has more meaning in it than anything else in the world: this is what you want to be doing right now and, leaving all modesty aside, you really are very good at it. If it isn’t, go train as a ballet dancer, brain surgeon or whatever you wish you had been instead. You only get one shot at life. 10. And above all, be grateful every day for the life you get the chance to live. Thank you for being part of our journey. We hope you have had just as much fun as we have had with you over the last 10 years.