By Spencer Lawrence
Having recently enjoyed a few weeks out of the office for the first time in many years, an opportunity presented itself to pause for thought and reflect on the past. Very much a local boy, I’m staunchly proud West Hampstead has provided four generations of my family a wonderful place to live and work. Although I’ve now moved out of the area, West Hampstead holds a very special place in my heart and I continue this journey with the growing team at Paramount. What was abundantly clear during the process is how much has changed, West Hampstead, West End Lane, our professional landscape and without question my private world.
Much is owed to Robert Lazarus (as he often reminds me) who arranged an interview after a chance meeting in 1998. I arrived at Paramount as a young lettings negotiator with much to learn but with a steely determination to succeed; although in hindsight I had no idea what success looked like or meant to me; it took many years to find an appropriate answer.
The magnificent Jubilee restaurant on Broadhurst Gardens, Sushi Gen on West End Lane and The Boring Old Hardware Store were all favourite stomping grounds but are sadly long gone. Today the eclectic mix of commercial units provides the residents of West Hampstead with real choice and the Saturday Farmers’ Market a sense of community. I believe, despite the arrival of the ‘big guns’, West Hampstead has largely managed to retain a village feel. When it comes to transport links I can’t think of many places that can beat it.
Professionally there are too many to thank as I look over my shoulder, but Shirlaws and the current team at Paramount require special mention. We engaged Shirlaws in 2012 immediately after a conference from which I left mesmerised with the content provided by Darren Shirlaw. I’m very excited to hear Darren speak again at the EA Masters event on the 22nd September 2017. Shirlaws taught me how to re-engage with the business at a high level, to fall back in love with what we do; and to provide clarity around the next chapter of my career. After a whirlwind start and an eagerness to embrace change a few ripples appeared, perhaps being guilty of trying to change too much too soon. Coupled with a personal crisis in 2013 my professional journey stuttered. Major back surgery put my life on hold for almost twelve months. Facing a very uncertain future, pre-op was the most frightening time of my life but with the unrelenting support of my long suffering wife I managed to get through. The entire period following the operation I view as my second chance and embraced all with full gusto. The current team at Paramount is the most incredible bunch and I feel privileged to be a small part of it.
A few months ago I witnessed a very close friend hear the devastating news that his brother had been tragically taken; a few days before his 21st birthday. To experience this raw pain first hand had a profound effect but to watch the resolve and strength of my friend and his family following this tragedy has been nothing short of inspirational. The news was received at our offices by Dexter who heads our team of negotiators. Not only did it provide a stark reminder of how fragile life can be but also a reminder of what a team can achieve when they really pull together.
We move forward with a togetherness that is all empowering.
The period following this adversity has seen the business go from strength to strength with records continuing to tumble and we are currently expanding across all departments. I’m delighted to announce that Reagan Bradley has been promoted to Operations Director of both Lettings and Management, following a very successful stint as Head of Property Management, while I enjoy a new role in Landlord acquisition and expanding our refurbishment division.
While appreciating Robert’s input in those very early days, I’ve concluded that his prognosis of being solely responsible for setting me on my way is somewhat wide of the mark but worry this news may burst his bubble! We look forward to very exciting times ahead while we embrace Reagan’s vision for the future. The renewed energy in the office is palpable and the buzz is back with a bang. In 2012 Shirlaws wanted my commitment to what I wanted to feel about the business. Without hesitation it was to feel proud of Paramount and of what we do. I now do on every level; although we continually strive to improve in everything we do.
Dexter continues to be an inspiration to us all.
After many years of seeking the answer, success for me looks like spending quality time with my family; something I have very recently been able to achieve on a regular basis and have committed to ensure this continues in the future.