Greg Secker asks: Are you still having fun?
Greg Secker is founder of the multi-million pound trader coaching company Knowledge to Action. The sessions teach the basics of FOREX trading and open attendees' eyes to the world of Foreign exchange.
In the past seven years, more than 55,000 people have attended Knowledge to Action seminars in the UK and Australasia. Work is a passion for this vibrant entrepreneur, who says: "Aspiring executives and entrepreneurs should define a success path early on, take massive action to achieve it and continue to be visionary in their own right."
He started his career at Thomas Cook Financial Services, developing trading systems for foreign exchange markets. In the mid-1990s he developed a real-time Foreign Exchange trading system, the Virtual Trading Desk, which won the British Telecom Award for Innovation in E-Commerce, 1998.
Two years later, he became a vice president at Mellon Financial Corp as head of eStrategy Foreign Exchange and Capital Markets. "I was asked to write a foreword to the book, 'Leaving the Mothership', by Randall Craig. We'd worked together previously to create the Virtual Trading Desk at Thomas Cook and he was hugely instrumental in my own move from working in the City towards starting Knowledge to Action," he explains.
Secker is a big fan of people taking control of their lives: "I want people to excel professionally yet still attain a life/work balance," he says, offering a quality checklist below from Randall Craig, to help people clarify when it's time for a career change.
- Are you still having fun?
- Are you being challenged intellectually?
- Do you like your colleagues?
- Are you reaching your career goals?
- Are you achieving life balance?
- Is your compensation close to your worth?
He says if you answer no to more than two of these questions, then it's time to leave. Secker came up with at least four negatives back in 2003 and decided that it was time for a change.
"Armed with trading skills I'd learned from working on trading floors around the globe, I set up a trading floor from home - and kissed goodbye to a whooping salary and investment banking bonus. In retrospect, it was pretty ballsy stuff for a 27-year-old to do at the time."
Six weeks later, Secker (and his wife) had 19 people camped out in their living room, all being mentored by him and watching him trade. "That's how Knowledge to Action was born. It's quite a unique approach to setting up business since I had no need of external funding and the trading activity was the business cashflow in the early years."
However, Secker says he takes the same systematic approach to building the business that he applied to building trading systems and strategies.
"A systematic approach enables traders to rely on reproducible results. So, we created a blueprint for all our business functions and that enabled us to set up the business quickly in Sydney where we moved into profit almost immediately."
Secker undertook full training and examinations in Australia to become RG146 ASIC-regulated and further exams in Options, Derivatives, Securities and Foreign Exchange to become a Responsible Manager.
He setup the Oz operation and recruited a team of RG146-regulated advisors, trainers and operatives and the Australian business was launched in March this year, showing profits of (Aus) $1.5m by May 2010.
What are the current role and responsibilities of this energetic CEO? "I oversee the strategic direction of the group with centres in UK and Australasia. Also I run the international trading floors and set the trading strategy for our fund investments."
He says his top piece of management advice is to approach the business and people from a very results-driven perspective.
"In order to enable people, you must reward them and equally important, have them recognise their potential through guiding principles. I think that we achieved the fast growth by focusing primarily on doing the right thing.
That means encouraging people to be the best they can and showing them you care. These principles allow everyone in an organisation to focus on being the best they can be while respecting their co-workers."
The business issues that are currently front of mind are familiar ones for all business people and he says managing cashflow in the training businesses is a constant challenge, at least in the UK.
"Success however is about setting clearly defined goals then taking immediate, persistent and massive action towards achieving them."
Secker says he uses a four-step process for all goals, listed below.
- Set a meaningful goal
- Plan it with surgical precision
- Schedule it and lock the door behind you
- Get around the path walkers
"The first point about setting meaningful goals is key. The goal must be exactly what you are after. It is the full bloodied deal with no punches pulled.
Next, you must interrogate, often via experts, exactly what steps must be taken from where you are now to achieving the goal.
Three, when the plan is drawn up, scheduling is crucial, making it difficult to let yourself down. That's the locking the door behind you part.
Last, spend time with people who are already achieving at the level where you've set your goal. Those people will give you two important things – namely, shortcuts and a belief transference, that-it-is-possible."
In 2009 Secker incorporated a separate educational product - Live Trading Floor - into a separate business, mainly for the purposes of applying for full FSA authorisation, to facilitate arranged dealing on behalf of clients.
Greg explains: "We now want to launch a public fund. To date, we operate a private fund but given the performance from our trading floor, we've received enough requests from the public to provide a trade my account service so we've applied to the FSA for an Investment Management license. It's exciting!"
The ebullient Mr Secker's next career challenge is no small-scale adventure. He says: "Easy! Expanding Knowledge to Action into the US and then building the largest and most successful trader coaching company in the world."