When I was 13 I wanted a job. Not so much because I wanted money to buy things (although I very much wanted that), but because I wanted to learn and because I thought I would like working. I was right - I do like working, probably a bit too much.
I already did a paper-round, and I worked at an ice cream factory carrying boxes around. But I wanted a proper job, and ideally something to do with computers. I loved computers and I was good with them - building them, programming them, I loved it. No programming was on offer at school, and in the end I was banned all school computers for hacking and generally causing mischief. So I clearly wasn’t going to get an education from school, and I’d exceeded the level that family friends could help me with. So some on-the-job training seemed in order.
I wrote some letters (maybe even CVs) and dropped them round local computer stores. RAM Computers was my main target - about half way along the 3 mile bus route to school. I guess someone from there called the house and we scheduled an interview. If I’d owned a suit at the time then I would have worn it, but I probably wore school uniform instead. I can’t remember what we talked about - the situation must have seemed bizarre for the guy who interviewed me. But they were courteous, even if I think we all knew they couldn’t hire a 13 year-old. I didn’t get a job.
I apologise for the long backstory there, but I thought about that this morning. I’ve got a presentation to give in Serbia tomorrow. On Monday I go to London for a meeting with a client. A couple of weeks ago I went to a meeting in Amsterdam. I just wear normal clothes for all these meetings, and that’s something that has definitely changed in my lifetime.
Over the years, and multiple totally different careers, I’ve gone to work work uniforms, full business suits, casual business attire, building clothes and more.
But I miss wearing a suit. As I’ve become older I probably move among more senior people now, and that means it’s even less appropriate to wear a suit most of the time. In 2009 when I had a meeting to sign a contract to sell my company I wore an open-necked shirt and suit. I suspect the next time I’ll be in jeans, a jumper and shirt.
But then who knows - the world of fashion is pretty cool. I’d never have thought men would be dressing as lumberjacks again but hipsters have kept that going for almost a decade now.