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  • Writer's pictureTerry Fisher

I wasn't "qualified to work in travel".

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

It's not often that I create a piece of content that I genuinely hope inspires and motivates, but this blog is one of those.

It's only recently that I have been proactively thinking about content at all if I am honest. Over the years I have had so many people say that I should do blogs, articles, podcasts, radio, TV, press etc. but I just do what I do, never really giving too much consideration to the fact that my day-to-day activities might act as some sort of education, information or even, dare I say it, inspiration.

But over lunch with a Brand Strategist friend of mine a few months ago I had my eyes opened to the fact that the knowledge, experience and, in some cases, battle scars that I have accumulated over the years could well act as guidance, a plan or a blueprint for the next generation of successful entrepreneurial change makers, hence my recent proactivity with posting some of my biggest learnings and lessons.

Some insights might need more unpacking than others, but I hope today's simple instalment hits a nerve with as many people as possible...

My first big success was driven by a (big) chip on my shoulder that was the result of a painful rejection.

As someone who has enjoyed the opportunity to run some of the biggest and best-loved businesses in travel you might not know that my career in the sector nearly didn't get started because I was kicked off the Travel and Tourism course at college!

According to those running the course I wasn't "qualified to work in travel" which, as a young kid who was seriously passionate about the industry, was a hard thing to hear.

Now, to be fair to them, I had been 'creative' with the factual basis of my school grades - in fact, let's be real here, I had downright lied, I admit it, but surely they could see that this was the desperate attempt of a man committed to a life of brilliance in the sector... apparently not! So that was it, Terry Fisher was off the Travel and Tourism course, sent packing with a flea in his ear about how he would never amount to much.

In that moment I had a decision to make; would I let this verbal bashing send me into a spiral of low self-esteem and abject pity or would I utilise this moment as a pivotal foundation to prove myself to myself.

I chose the latter!

Now, the shelves of personal development publications at the book shop might tell you (probably with good reason) not to hold on to negativity, forgive and forget, reject bad vibes etc. but I'll be honest, that 'you are not good enough' conversation lit a fire in me. I had a point to prove, and I was determined to prove it!

I left college that day and never returned to formal education - I was committed to making my mark in the travel world (see what I did there!) so I decided if I could not get an intellectual education in the industry, I would get a real-world one instead. So I went and got a job in a small independent travel agency at 19 years old and - as overconfident as it may sound - I could very quickly see where they were missing opportunities, how things could be more effective and what needed to change in order to improve. But, who was I - the recent college dropout - to start dishing out advice to the owners who had been in the space for years.

Long story short, I probably should have tried to push harder with my ideas as that business that I joined as a junior Holiday Consultant went bust shortly after I joined - the two things aren't linked I promise!

I had a second big decision to make soon after; if I couldn't trust a job to give me security then I needed to REALLY back myself, it was time to set up shop, literally.

So that's exactly what I did.

I won't go into the details behind how a 19 year old kid who 'wasn't fit to work in travel' ended up growing one of the most disruptive brands in the leisure sector but what I will end on is this; that day, in that college, I was hurt by the words that I heard from my tutors. I was offended, I was embarrassed, I was wounded. But I was also empowered. I took my frustrated annoyance and turned it into fuel. I vowed that I would have my f**k you moment to those who doubted me.

Please let me state that this is not the mindset I have adapted since, but it did get the job done at the time, so I'll let you decide if using 'failure as fuel' is a good or a bad thing.

So, the next time someone tells you that you're not suited, you can't do it, it’s not possible, you won’t amount to much - just you remember what your friend Terry told you about ‘not being good enough’.

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