Such were the words of encouragement a couple of weeks into my career as a mortgage adviser in Lloyds Bank back in 1996.
I had taken over from a good pal, who, in his foresight (and the fact that he knew we were changing jobs well ahead of the five minute notice which I was given), had ensured all of his business had moved to completion. There I was, no business in the pipeline, not much of a clue as to what I was doing, but nevertheless armed with a clear understanding of being able to monitor things (I just had nothing to monitor).
Every sort of graph, spreadsheet, interpretation - you name it, I had it ready to go. What ever figure the Senior Manager asked for, I was ready to supply it. The trouble was, the answer was always the same - zero!
A few years later, I was able to impart the same wise knowledge to others - 'telemarketing night' where staff sat around, armed with lists of customer data, trying to book appointments for us financial advisers. There were of course those who cracked on, booked their five appointments, and moved on. Others however (and I bet there is a snigger of recognition now), had to have everything just perfect - a pen, a spare pen in case that ran out, a highlighter (and probably a spare), a coffee, fresh water, a snack, the list was endless. Eventually, when everything was perfectly in position to start, everyone else had finished - nil points!
A key lesson learnt, monitor and prepare all you like, but you need to take action to move forwards. When you have started, and have something to monitor, that is a different thing altogether.