My Column

Learn new skills to give business a boost... Thats Muay advice

  • Date: Monday 20th February 2023
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The steps to success are actually quite simple when you distil them down.

Learning applying new skills can be a challenge, but it’s doable with a bit of grit and determination.

Success comes through hard work and a commitment to achieving growth. The first step is believing in your ability to become better than you were yesterday.

Recently I challenged myself to learn something new by travelling to Phuket, an island off the coast of Thailand, to learn the ancient sport of Muay Thai kickboxing. The martial art is the national sport of Thailand.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I was determined to do it. I’ve visited the country before and I knew there was something special about it, and that it could help be reboot.  

The first stop on my journey was Fitness Street. It’s exactly what it says on the tin. A street in Phuket dedicated entirely to exercise culture. It has gyms, stores and restaurants as far as the eye can see, all marketed on the virtues of health and fitness.

That’s where I found the space I called home for four weeks. My gruelling days started at 5am with some cardio work. I ran for an hour then at 7am I began work with my great kickboxing personal trainer, Mr Kru Marn.

He’s a champion kickboxer with over 180 fights under his belt. Think of him as Thailand’s Tyson Fury. He would train with me for an hour before giving me some time for breakfast, then I was back for another training session with him.

There were lots of things that surprised me along the way. I’ve got to say, the biggest learnings of the whole process came from the moments when I chose to completely switch off from technology.  I didn’t realise just how much that would take me out of my comfort zone – I had tech withdrawal.

However, with the help of Kru and the rigid structure to my day, I realised that I actually work best when I compartmentalise my time with tech.  I do realise that this isn’t always possible because when you run a businesses, multi tasking comes with the territory.

But it also made me realise that if there’s a big deadline looming or a task that really needs your undivided attention, it’s ok to build in some barriers with your phone and emails.

As strange as it may sound, setting myself the challenge of learning kickboxing took me back to my experience what it was like starting my own business.  Many SME start-ups and established entrepreneurs will know exactly what I’m on about.

You work up to 14 hours a day in order to make headway with your passion project, and that’s what kickboxing was like.

If you fall down, you get back up. People might laugh at you, but so what? You learn from your mistakes.

My trainer instructed me to record my training session using my phone, and watch it back. Another synergy with what successful businesspeople do – they analyse past performance in the name of continuous improvement.     

What made the challenge more achievable was the great teamwork I enjoyed along the way. I blogged my progress online and the words of encouragement and support from connections working across a host of different industries was amazing.

And while I didn’t head out there with the intention of networking, I met loads of inspiring people.

I trained with footie legend Iain Dowie, a former football manager, professional player and TV pundit.

I met entrepreneur Dan Smith, a business owner based in the north of England who has an incredible level of fitness, focus and determination – so I wasn’t surprised to learn he’s heading back to Thailand for an amateur fight later this year.

And I rubbed shoulders with other business owner who, although there to train, still had one eye on the future of their companies, scoping out new markets and eager to share ideas and grow.

They include Ali Tabatabaei, founder and MD of SoftwareQ in Kuala Lumpur which provides scaleable software solutions. He’s been living on Fitness Street periodically for the last year. Over dinner one evening, Ali mentioned he has a couple of restaurants and is expanding his hospitality business. It sparked a discussion about crowdfunding and he’s now planning to start a campaign to fund his next venture.

At the end of the day work life balance is important. This gave me a new regime to focus on, a new skill, and a reminder to dedicate time to myself.  And it has taught me that the strength and discipline I’ve gained will, in turn, enrich my business focus.



I’ve always been a firm believer that you should practice what you preach.


It’s not enough to say the right thing if you don’t back it up with your actions, it could throw your credibility into disrepute.


As common-sense as this sounds, it seems a few our country’s political parties could do with a wee reminder.


In the space of a week, both the SNP and Scottish Greens have found facing accusations of hypocrisy and facing questions on their ability to stick to their own agendas.


We’ve seen the ‘Yes’ campaign attempt to sell branded bottles of whisky, gin and vodka - despite the Scottish Government considering a crackdown on alcohol advertising laws. Meanwhile so-called eco-warrior and co-founder of the Scottish Greens, Lorna Slater, has been exposed for spending £10,000 of taxpayers’ cash printing out campaign leaflets.  

While a public consultation on stricter advertising rules remains open until March 9, I’m not sure people are buying the Greens’ excuse that leaflets are a “democratic tool” which “allows legislators to keep their constituents informed about what’s going on in Parliament.” It has given opposition party ammo to question whether saving the planet is still the top priority for the Scottish Greens. 


Let this serve as a reminder to anyone in business to do as you say, and say as you do.


I’ll be interested to see how things pan out for Greens and SNP on the back of this – though I daresay, given last week’s resignation announcement form Nicola Sturgeon – that SNP has even more pressing matters to address first.



Bonnybridge might be the UFO capital of the world, but all eyes have been on the US after a series of mysterious objects – including an octagonal one – were spotted floating in North American airspace.  


I was tickled when President Biden and White House officials felt the need to clarify the unidentified aerial objects were in no way related to extra-terrestrials.   


But what was even more incredible was the sheer number of people online who were arguing over what an octagonal shape looks like.


Of course, we all know it’s an object with eight sides - but the number of people online who were convinced otherwise was baffling. Let’s hope the future president of the United States wasn’t among them.  



Despite my mixed feelings towards The Apprentice’s candidates and their business acumen, I was disappointed to see Scotland’s hopes of finding Lord Sugar’s new business partner were once again quashed.


Glasgow entrepreneur Reece Donnelly made a rather abrupt exit from the show, citing health reasons…thought it’s been widely reported that he was kicked off the program by BBC producers after having a bevvy on a flight en-route to a challenge in Dubai.


The 26-year-old won’t be completely disappearing from the limelight though as he’s announced he is launching his own podcast, offering “an honest insight into life as a CEO”.


excited to see the next generation of Scottish business leaders sharing their knowledge and I wish him the best of luck with his new venture.    









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