Mark Underwood




"Only Connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer." E.M. Forster, Howard's End, 1910 You can connect to others interested in NLP in Business at The Business NLP Club You can connect to others interested in Poetry at The Poetry Club You can connect to others interested in Hackney and East London here My story: I was born in Peartree hospital, (no longer there), in Welwyn Garden City and was brought up in Hatfield on the Old Great North Road. This became very quiet when the bridge across the main railway line from Kings Cross to Edinburgh slumped and was never repaired, leading instead to the present A1 by-pass which I felt privileged to watch them build. I enjoyed school including "grammar" school in Welwyn Garden City overlooking the Stanborough open air pool. My first challenge was learning to live with asthma from the age of 5 and although not a top sportsman I excelled at Athletics and x-country and even ran for the school in county championships. My next challenge was when my father was asked to move (eventually) with his company to Plymouth & I did not want to go, I was halfway through my A levels. We all went anyway, although for the first 4 months my younger brother & I had to live in the YMCA as the building strike of '72 had delayed completion of our new house. At that time there was no National Curriculum and only one suitable co-ed school in Plymouth where the headmaster advised me to get my hair cut. Three weeks later we left for a boys school after he told me not to return until I had. My father defended me"If anyone is going to tell you to cut your hair it will be me!" A very proud moment for me. I had ambitions to study Geology at University, having grown up a big fan of "The Troubleshooters" & Mogul Oil on telly and applied for the best courses I could find. My next challenge was to get the grades necessary whilst seething about the change to Plymouth and the boring or abusive teachers in my new school. In Hatfield I had been working part time for a supermarket chain which helped fund my first skiing trip with the school. They arranged to transfer me to similar work in Plymouth. They forgot to mention that Plymouth did not pay the same rate. I challenged the status quo again and then left to work in a very successful hairdressers which was far more fun and improved my social skills dramatically. I scraped 2 A levels, (Geography & Maths, failed Physics),and did O level Geology in 1 year, so after applying through the clearing system & working on a building site all summer I took a brief hitching tour of Scotland before starting at University College, Cardiff doing General Science including Geology. The following 3½ years were some of the happiest of my life. I continued to fail at Physics, enjoyed Geology and left without a degree but learnt so much more about life. It amazed me how many students were there for their parents not themselves, although many were happy to let their parents fund their lifestyle. I was there because I wanted to be, and was funding my studies myself without parental contributions. An important lesson for me and my first taste of independence and freedom During this period I passed my driving test and spent 8 months driving a Hospital truck before coming back to London. All the oil companies had turned me down, but being in London was where I wanted to be and working for an importer of Potash gave me another taste of business. However, it only took a year for me to realize that to enjoy London I needed to earn far more than I was likely to earn as a shipping clerk, so I went into Sales where my income was far more closely related to my real abilities. Rank Xerox trained me and allowed me to sell their Copy shop services where I eventually succeeded and even broke a few records over and above my targets, a tremendous feeling. I also learnt about applying technology to solutions versus selling print capacity, a principle I carried with me into the IT market in 1980. For the next ten years I worked for a variety of IT suppliers and like many in the industry changed jobs on average every 2 years. I did stay with one major supplier for nearly 4 years in the late 80s, although I worked for 10 different managers in that period and had my first taste of managing others too, which was another challenge and success. I had learnt about accounts and finance by selling systems for these functions which were also my best profit makers too. One of the critical success factors I realized was that the FD had to involve his users in any buying decision to ensure a successful implementation. The few who decided on their own, or worse, left it all up to IT people inevitably caused problems, another valuable lesson. Late eighties and early nineties I made a few more mistakes working for companies who sold me jobs to sell products that were not ready for market, (twice) or who were entering the software market as "the future" and then making the support person redundant within three weeks! Older & wiser? probably. During the eighties several other challenges had occurred to change my life… eventually. Once back in London in 1977I had been a regular visitor to my Grandmother in Hatfield, who even gave up smoking after much family and GP nagging. In the mid eighties her health deteriorated and although admitted to hospital for a minor illness, eventually had her leg amputated to stop gangrene spreading. She was then transferred to a home rather than her home and lasted a while longer, always cheerful and cheeky as ever, until, unattended, she managed to fall down a staircase in her wheelchair. She never fully recovered and died in her sleep aged 86 in 1986 She is much missed. During that year I also started another journey having woken up one morning with a pain between my shoulders which I could not shift. The GP, & the NHS were not very helpful apart from pain killers and anti-inflammatories. My then private health allowed X-rays and then only when sent for physio did the physiotherapist inform me that at least one vertebrae was twisted out of line, (the "Consultant" had not spotted this either). After exhausting my cover I renewed my swimming on a daily basis and started searching for specialists. Chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists etc. In 1987 I learnt Transcendental Meditation & have been practicing most days ever since. In 1988 I also started attending Holistix health classes which one was only allowed into after an in-depth interview covering nutrition, work and family issues, a truly holistic approach. The physical exercises were a combination of yoga, ballet and others that had been drawn from many years of our teachers' experience. My flexibility improved along with my posture and muscle tone. I started to assist and then teach full classes and carried on for two years when teacher left for America. I still practice some of these most mornings & also "Hang upside Down", which might also explain some of my views on life, love & business. In the mid-eighties my father had also developed a cough he couldn't shift. The NHS proved, as for me, fairly limited in response. I paid for his TM instruction and passed on whatever advice I could from my new holistic approach including diet. The NHS steroids were only having limited effects and some side effects. While still living in Plymouth my parents had started looking to move locally to reduce the walking challenge he faced even to go up the hill to the car. I asked mother where she really wanted to live for the rest of her life, an emotionally charged question that they did not like then but later thanked me for. She is now happily in Peterborough near my sister and not far from her other 4 sons, (& Neil still lives at home). My father helped them choose the new home before he died in July 1990, sorely missed. My next challenge was when I was made redundant (again) from another IT company that had failed to deliver and therefore so had I. It was time to go Independent. Even then I knew I wanted to write more as I had already written poetry for girlfriends and family. I still don't do enough for me, although you can find some of my efforts at The Poetry Club with many others' more talented contributions In autumn 1992 I attended my first ANLP conference and was fortunate enough to find a Practice Group meeting every week in London. I went every week for two years. I also joined a Consultants network and went Independent with my new found toolkit and confidence that I could make a difference. One of the differences I made was to be part of the team that established The Business NLP Practice Group aimed at those who want to know how to apply the NLP toolkit to Business contexts. I now organize an evening most months. You can join the Club here: I have now spent over 15 years as an Independent. I have learnt to raise money for companies from Grants, debt, including Loan Guarantee Scheme, and Private Equity Investors. I have trained many companies in Customer Care or Total Quality. I have worked with individual Directors and top teams. They have called it Coaching or Training or Facilitation or Speaking or Consultancy. I have also continued to invest many thousands of pounds in my own personal & business development as I like to practice what I preach. In 1979 I moved to an unfurnished flat in Dalston, Hackney and in 1982 bought a house in Stoke Newington that needed doing up. In 1992 I moved into the house and let the flat out whilst continuing to do the house up. I am a capable DIY er although I always feel my father's presence as he made it all seem so easy. Preparation is everything and it always takes longer than I think it will. In addition to NLP, I have studied various aspects of Universal Laws and have been fortunate enough to work with various people on some major projects. As a result I have been able to develop "product" both as an author, and producer of a CD, the former as a Chapter contributor on"Risk" to a Business NLP book, "Business NLP Masterclass" by David Molden and the latter a double CD of meditations, "Journey to Infinity" (more below). My leisure interests have always revolved around music and film. One benefit of the Plymouth move was that The Guildhall was often on the band tour circuit and I was fortunate to see Tom Paxton and then Genesis doing their "Foxtrot" tour in spring 1973. I also was allowed to travel to Torquay to see Bowie do his amazing Spiders From Mars & Aladin Sane tour before retiring at Hammersmith the first time. University also provided similar opportunities both at the students union, the theatre and even Cardiff Castle, (as a steward no less). Musical influences: Beatles, Stones, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Jarrett, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Doves, Snow Patrol, Damien Rice, Kenwood Favourite films: Witness, Serpico, The Usual Suspects, L.O.T.R.(x3) Favourite Books: The Aquarian Conspiracy, Conversations with God, Are You the One For Me?, Holy Blood Holy Grail, Bloodline of The Holy Grail & of course "The Invitation" Our CD "Journey to Infinity" is a double CD of meditations that even my mother has managed to listen to in preference to the TM that she never got on with. I helped produce this for The London Fire Brigade and their leadership programme which continues and has expanded into other Brigades and companies. In 1996 I passed my motorcycle test and now ride a YamahaFJ1200, & will eventually repair the classic BMW RT60 I have enjoyed so much since 1996. I have enjoyed help from many people over the years and shared my journey with some wonderful women, my family and close friends. I am gradually achieving many of my ambitions including more writing from semi-retirement and a few more material aspirations. Our parallel journeys may share the same path for a while and they will all meet at infinity, go well on your path


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