Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

It was 20 years ago this week…..


Wednesday 6 November 1990. The day I picked up the phone in my living room in Carshalton to make my very first prospecting call as a self employed training practitioner.

I had never run a training course in  my life before.

I’d been been made redundant and shuffled my way out through my employer’s revolving door for the last time just the day before. Something inside me had made the decision that, from that point on  I would work for myself.

Within a couple of weeks I secured my first job – a three day sales programme for a leading IT recruitment company.  Upon completion of the programme, two delegates approached me, independently of each other to tell me how useful and enjoyable the programme had been. One of them was a man in his 50’s who had been selling for almost 30 years, the other, a girl in her late teens who was in the first week of her first ever job.

I couldn’t help but interpret that as a sign that I had made the right decision.

Within weeks I set up Maestro Partnership with my friend and ex-colleague Julie Bricker and we threw ourselves into picking up sales training assignments. Unfortunately, Maestro Partnership didn’t last more than six months when Julie decided that she needed to move on to other things, so from that point on I became (and still am) a sole trader.

There have been many ups and downs along the way. Whilst training has been the core activity, I also took on sales projects when times were tight, including the selling of shares in a Czech golf course and selling outplacement services on the phone – during that project one of the phone calls I made earned me commission of no less than £18,000!

I’ve also managed to earn an income  at times  from writing. There’s even a training video on negotiation out there somewhere that I co-wrote with my great buddy and colleague Astrid French which at one time  pulled in a few hundred pounds every half year in royalties.

However, my heart lies in training, facilitating, speaking and coaching.

I often refer to the training room as being my second home. Put me in a brightly lit, well aired room with a flipchart and group of people (enthusiastic or otherwise) and, I’m in the flow.

I have lost count of the number of people and organisations that I have worked with over these two decades – my last considered estimate put it at approximately 20,000 people from well over 100 organisations – and I worked that one out about three years ago!

Just yesterday morning I read a blog produced by one of my co-practitioners, Simon Horton. The piece touched on how, in our roles we can overlook or forget the contribution that we make to others’ lives and the world at large.  As a freelancer I can easily get caught up in the fear based drive to secure business, in order to earn money to provide for myself and my family. In so doing, there is a risk that I lose sight of the true value of this work –  when sat at my desk prospecting for business (especially during these tough times) I need to remind myself of the buzz I get out of seeing people have insights and subsequently grow and perform better in their roles and daily lives.

Sadly, it is often impossible to maintain contact with all the individuals who have attended my programmes. I occasionally hear back from people further down the line, such as the woman from Ernst & Young who tracked me down about four years after attending a Persuading & Influencing Skills course with me. She contacted me from her new role in San Francisco to say how things she had learned from my programme had helped her secure this new, more senior position.

That leaves me with a kind of warm feeling inside.

There are times when I need that warm feeling. Yes, I’m still here after twenty years. I have supported myself and my family off the back of what I do. However, I have also made foolish business and financial decisions at times which have resulted in a perceived lack of success in some ways. My eyesight has deteriorated and this can’t help but have an impact. So, there are times when I get down and demotivated.  I therefore need to remind myself of that awesome buzz I get when I am in the training room or on the coaching call and things are just flowing so, so elegantly. There’s nothing to touch it.

Although I have worked most of my time alone, there have been pockets of activity where I have enjoyed the company of others in my professional life. There was Julie at Maestro, all those years back. There was Conflict Resolution (UK) which I set up alongside friends Hoda Lacey, Frieda Stanbury and John Ryder. I also gained hugely from my involvement in the Turning Point personal development courses through the 90’s. I later studied and worked with Non Violent Communication (NVC) as devised and taught by the extraordinary  Marshall Rosenberg (now, there’s a man who deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace!).  Last, but by no means least the workshops I ran along with Ingrid, my life partner. The Money Play Days in the mid 90’s through to the Selling from the Heart workshops more recently.

As I write this, I realise that being a freelancer is an incredibly rich experience and I still relish the freedom to have an idea and try running with it.

So, what of the next 20 years? I’ve always pictured myself still doing this kind of work well into my 70’s. I doubt that I shall ever fully retire, but would certainly still enjoy putting in a few days a month, to help myself stay on my toes as well as finance a comfortable later life!

So, where to from here…..

  • Work more with colleagues – operating as a sole trader can be mighty lonely. I need more sharing, the camaraderie whilst maintaining the independence that I enjoy
  • More facilitative, deeper work with groups
  • Develop my coaching skills and practice – still need to further build the confidence even though I know I have the skills!
  • Continue to acknowledge my skills and true worth – in some ways I still feel like a “new boy” at all this!
  • To write
  • Get fully to grips with new technology and social media as a business tool – technophobe or what?
  • Use my later years as a marketable asset in order to share my acquired wisdom with others.
  • Become unstuck and retrieve some of the drive and motivation that has brought me so far
  • Above all, look after myself, enjoy life  and provide for myself and my lovely family.


100 people

This is simply a list of 100 people who have “been there” over these past 20 years – whether colleagues, clients, or other individuals who have been inclined to support me in some way, whether on an ongoing basis or with tiny, simple one off gestures that made a difference. Thank you to all + any number of others outside “the 100”!


Adam Markiewicz

Aleem Islan

Alex Ressort

Andre Boucher

Andrew Ferguson

Andrew Pullman

Andrew Stolagiewicz

Andy Turek

Anita Peace

Ann Cook

Astrid French

Beauchamp Bagenal

Bernie Ryan

Bill Burton

Bridget Belgrave

Caroline Schofield

Chris Prier

Chrissie Wright

Christine Nugent

Clara Markiewicz      

Colette Johnson

David Hartley

David Sales

Feliks Godowski

Fiona McKenzie

Frieda Stanbury

Gail Wilson

Geraldine McCluskey

Gerry Kelly

Gina Laurie

Graham Browne

Graham Elder

Greg Kemp

Harry Chambers

Hayley Mogridge

Hoda Lacey

Ian Bryant

Ian Carter

Ingrid Stringer

Israr Ghafoor

Jane  Kershaw

Jane McArthur

Jeremy Francis

Jill Freinberg

Joanne Butcher

Joanne Quarterman

John Cummings

John Farrer

John Peck

John Ryder

Jon Arthur

Julie McInally

Julie Montgomery

Julie Sparrow (Bricker)

Keith Robinson

Keith Taylor

Kerel Mason

Lee Cass

Liz Rivers

Lydia Dunnett

Mark Godowski

Marshall Rosenberg

Matt Taylor

Matthew Last

Maureen Fraser

Melanie Holland

Michael Lassman

Michele Rosenberg

Nigel Alphonso

Nigel Hawker

Patricia Adams

Paul Dunne

Paul Hughes

Paul Jackson

Paul Riches

Paul Stephens

Pearl Tyrrell

Perry Whitley

Philip Brew

Pippa Basan

Richard Boon

Rick Zajac

Rob Keller

Roy Stevens

Ruth Benson

Ruth Mills

Ruth Smith

Simon Horton

Stephanie Ressort

Steve Bentley

Steve Garland

Stuart Lowry

Susan Foran

Teresa Stolagiewicz

Tereska Turek

Tim Ridge

Tony Pearsall

Trevor Kerr

Tricia Cusden

Trish Barber

Vicky Kollnberger

Vicki McAllister

3 Responses to “It was 20 years ago this week…..”

  1. Hi Chris, what a superb piece, so well put, I trust you were about 15 when you started 20 years ago! I am sort of retired now at almost 67, (a woman who will tell a man her age, will tell a man anything!) Oscar Wilde. But you are so right about how we touch peoples lives, so many, so easily forgotten. What struck me about training, was how at almost 5pm it was a room full of motivated souls, then how quiet it felt at 5.30. I always wanted to go out and throw a party every night after training, such was the high for me, let alone the delegates. I would love to partner you in an event suitable, and I would love to see you again sometime. All good wishes for the next decades love and best wishes Val

  2. THank you so much Val. You hit the spot re: the quiet at the end of the day – we build up that close, temporary community and then it dissipates, never to come together again (unless its a modular course or follow up sessions). Sad in some ways. I’ve lots more to write in future posts so will keep you in the loop! Thanks again!

  3. Hi Chris,

    I always read your blogs and remember when you started them about 5 years ago!

    I am honoured to have made the list of names and remember vividly our customer meetings in Hackney and other areas and the sheer energy and humour you always injected into your training.

    Thanks for the experiences and for the advice you gave a young whipper snapper back then.


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