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Alex Jenkins - A Conversation with Alex Jenkins

Finding out about a person is never easy, and that's why I decided to be interviewed.  This medium is an ideal way of finding out a little bit about a person, and what makes them tick. Hopefully, you'll agree.

I encourage you to read the interview below – it was quite a surprise even for me how it went, and you can see who I am, and how I work – and you're certain to find a few surprises!

Alex. We know you as an IT expert; someone who seeks out problems that need solving, and someone who's a master at your craft. But what we don't know about you is how you got to be this person; what made you this way. In other words, what I suppose people will want to know is who the real Alex Jenkins truly is. Who is he?

Oh! You start with the easy questions! [laughs] Who am I? Well, frankly, I'm the person who's made it here – in the here and now – and is still alive! But seriously, I could say that I'm a success; a winner – someone who's achieved his life's goals – but that wouldn't be strictly true – that would just be bluster.

So who are you? What has made your life take the path it has, and where are you now?

Well, I suppose that I'm a product of the life that everyone knows – but that wouldn't be the full picture. Who I am is the result of a successful business life, for sure – but my personal life has made a significant impact on my business persona.

So what's your story? How has the personal life of Alex Jenkins impacted on the business side, and vice versa?

It's a tough question, but I suppose on reflection, that there have been some major influences from my personal life into my business life. We could start with the military – it was a great start for me and taught me not only the skills I worked on later down the road, but it was the feeling of camaraderie.

How so? What did the military offer you?

It began with basic training; I felt so comfortable there, and the friends I made back then have stayed with me a lifetime.

So friendship is important to you?

Oh! It's essential! You know that the thing the military drills into you more than discipline, is the idea that you're there for the others, you know? One of the first things I took a liking to was the water; I loved the idea of working with scuba. You know you develop a love for a particular activity fairly quickly, but the people I was with – they just made the transition to scuba training feel so completely natural. Do you get to explore parts of the world that many don’t get to see, have a place to escape the daily grind of technology that you're taught in the labs, you know? It's a form of Zen almost – you get to experience the world that exists beneath the surface of the water. It's the nearest thing to being an astronaut. You experience weightlessness, and you also get to visit the history that has been lost to time and sits waiting under the waves. You get to be a 'team-player' where the meaning of a team isn't just a smart word, but actually is the thing that can save your life!

I went a long way with scuba – I quickly progressed from open water diving that I did with my team-mates and quickly became a Master Scuba Diver Trainer.  And funnily enough, most people have the thought that Master Diver is the highest level of training you can do – but actually, I'm three full levels above this! Today – and I've spent many years working on this -  I can teach more than 18 speciality courses.

So you've developed the skill of team-player?

Oh, absolutely! While I've built this skill steadily from childhood – I was a scout and an air cadet, by the way! -  so being part of a unit has always been the core proficiency I've developed; my life experiences have taught me reliability, how to communicate constructively, the art of listening actively, and being an active participant who likes to get his hands dirty and solve problems for everyone who's involved.

So problem-solving comes naturally?

Well…yes. As far back as I can remember, I've been involved with teams – and that kind of environment rubs off on you, I suppose. I took the challenge and made it a thing I came to relish.

So diving is a major part of your life – what do you do these days?

Well, my first love, so to speak, is motor paragliding.

What is that exactly?

It's a form of paragliding, but with a contraption that has an engine attached to it, so it's essentially a mini-glider which is a combination of parachuting and gliding. You know, you get the feeling you're flying, as the engine and the cage you fly in are attached to the body. It's a bit of a trick, but you do get the feeling that you can fly!

I've always loved flying and gliding – right since I was an air cadet and the gliding I took part in all those years ago. You know, the Zedburg gliders were something else. Initially a training element with the RAF, they'd been given over to the cadet corps, and each time you flew, you were literally catapulted from a standing start! Remarkable!

So you do that exclusively?

No. These days I work on a raft of pastimes that include walking – desert walking is quite something else; you walk out in the desert, and you've got much more than a walk. You have to consider water as well. Then, I suppose you have cycling – which I've always enjoyed, and possibly my most passionate sport – kayaking. It's a matter of getting back in the water, it's with friends who put their lives in your hands, and it's cool in summer – essential in this part of the world.

So how would you say that your personal life has most influenced you in business?

Hmm…it's hard to say, but recollecting, it's clear that the same sense of being ahead of the game is essential in what I do and how I do it. I am rather what you'd call a linchpin – the 'go-to' guy. I think that it's the state of being concerned and ready to make changes. You know, there are many occasions where we don't have a plan about what to do, and you have a bunch of people who stand around, look at each other and have no idea what to do. I'm one of those people! [Laughs] – but give me a moment, and my brain starts ticking over responses – I hate to be stuck on a problem. In the end, I'm lucky. I can find the answers to problems that people can't address because they don't address them as part and parcel of what they do. For me, being in the environments I have, it's easier for me to pick up the slack and give ideas that usually work.

I'm what you might call a 'MacGyver' – you know – the TV detective hat always finds a solution to the world's problems with a tube of toothpaste and hair clip! It's funny – and my friends often call me this – but it's a plain fact. I'm good at solving a crisis that others can't!

So if you had to choose an element of your personality that has the most traction, what would you choose?

Well, I like to think that I'm always one step ahead of the game – but I'm not. One thing that I do have is a commitment to others. I develop teams, and often I become attached to the teams that I create. I think that this is a lot to do with being able to listen and deal with people fairly. I believe that there's always an element of wanting to help others to achieve their goals – there's no better feeling than when you contributed to someone else's success. It's like Christmas – giving rather than receiving is a wholly different approach – and one that makes a real difference in business. You know. You never get back if you don't give – and giving makes me happy. It fulfils a whole branch of who I am and makes me a better person. So, I suppose, the element that gives me most pleasure is being the person who gives. After all, if you don't give to others, people won't give you what you need when you need it most.

Alex Jenkins, thank you very much for this fascinating look at your life.

My pleasure