Stevie Kidd is an impressive man on a large scale. With his bald head, he looks like he might be a tough character - but there's no doubt about it, his kind eyes, his broad smile and his infectious laugh give the lie to the look. He has a broad Paisley accent, which John La Valle playfully mocked at the seminar and which Stevie took with characteristic good humor. As I sit with him now, I notice how calm and concentrated he is across the table from me in his smart clothes - and how comfortable he is with himself.
When I ask about his background, he tells me how, from 2004 to the start of 2009, he built up his distribution company from one man with one van to a thriving operation in Scotland with 42 employees. Already a success by any standards, Stevie decided that he wanted to take himself and his business to the next level. Never one to do things by halves, when he was told by a friend about the work of Richard Bandler, he decided to book in for the exclusive 3 day Personal Enhancement Workshop with him in May 2009.
Since then, he tells me, his life has changed gear completely.
The number of sectors in which he works has expanded, the new initiatives and ideas he comes up with have increased massively, and more importantly, his levels of happiness, and enjoyment of life have gone through the roof. It is this new energy that Stevie has harnessed to push his company's interests into new areas that a year ago he wouldn't have expected.
Despite having left school feeling like an academic failure, Stevie is now partnering many different agencies and corporations to bring his upbeat message of possibility and opportunity to as many people as he can. His interests have branched into training, and his company now helps the unemployed, the homeless and prisoners to achieve more and get on in life. He has addressed major conferences in Washington DC and in the UK Parliament. And for someone with little formal education and a bad taste left in his mouth by the educational establishment, it is ironic that he is now being asked to address universities to talk about the work he does with the disadvantaged.
At the Master Practitioner seminar, many delegates were touched by Stevie Kidd's frank admission that he had felt so held back at school that he never had the confidence to learn joined-up writing. A technique demonstrated by John La Valle taught him hypnotically how to do it, to everyone's satisfaction.
He is a fascinating figure who has a complete commitment to whatever it is that he's doing. So it is that I am pleased that I have finally managed to interview him.
- So, Stevie Kidd, thanks for giving me the time to interview you. Here's a big question: how has NLP affected you?
It's made me understand who I am. I never did so well at school. But I had a lot of drive and determination. Because of that, I was very successful from a practical point of view - just from being creatively driven. Going way, way back, I always felt like I was watching everyone else in slow motion. I was way ahead. But from an academic point of view, I just distanced myself. I now understand what happened in the education system. They weren't communicating with me in the right way. And it's since I've done NLP, first the Enhancement Course, then the Prac Course, and now the Masters - that all the jigsaw pieces have been put together.
Where I thought I was not intelligent, where I thought I couldn't learn, where I thought I wouldn't be successful - I now know I was wrong. And you know - people have always told me I wouldn't be successful all my life.
I only got introduced to NLP a year ago. Somebody came to me and said: listen you've got to watch this guy. His name is Richard Bandler. I think he can take the bad emotion away from your memories. I had some stuff that I wanted to deal with. That was the only reason I wanted to go on the Enhancement Course.
But after working with Richard for the three days on the Enhancement Course - well imagine a catapult. When I was a kid I used to carve wood into the shape of a 'Y', put a bit of elastic round it and ping chestnuts. That's what happened to me.
- You said you had stuff to deal with. So what did you ask for on the Personal Enhancement Workshop?
I went to see Richard to be happier. I had lost a couple of people at the time. It was amazing. I didn't realise that I was focusing on the death rather than the life. He helped me cope with the trauma, and the memories by taking the emotion away from them. And when he did that, then being more happy, that was easy.
Did you ask for more than this?
Yes. In fact, before the workshop, Richard kept sending back my list to get at what I really wanted. There were my global ambitions, and my belief system. I had a belief system that I was limited. I felt like when a lighter runs out of fuel. I kept flicking the switch because that was my drive. But it was out of fuel.
Well, after I left the Enhancement Course I flicked the drive on and it wasn't a lighter any more. Suddenly it turned into a Bunsen burner. I found I was becoming far more creative. I mean really creative. One idea would turn into 20 ideas. I guess the trainings my company do are proof of the pudding, there. I was only doing unemployment academies before the Personal Enhancement Workshop. Now we're doing primary schools, secondary schools, non-academics, academics, corporations and prisons. In fact, I'm going to train in prison next month.
It has been amazing. We're onto three different sectors. When I first started off we were doing distribution. Now we're doing caring and hospitality and we're currently in talks with construction. I've even got a marketing consultant who is looking into building a care home. I've got so many sides to what I do now. It's like it's grown arms and legs, now.
- That all happened because you went on the Personal Enhancement?
Aye. The training has. The driving ambition to be successful, that's always been there. But Richard's got me to look at things in myself in new ways, and utilise that ambition. I've got some really big corporate clients now. And you know, since the Personal Enhancement Workshop, the biggest buzz I get is when I get a corporate client look at me and they can't understand my company's behaviour. I mean it: they come into my work place and they say: Why is it that 42 people are so f***ing happy!?
And do you know what else has happened? It's the Law of Attraction. I put this positive belief into everyone, even Joey the cleaner. So, I've had this happen too: People come into the office to visit us, and when they leave, after a while I get a phone call from them and they say I'm walking about my house or I'm walking about my office after being in your place and I feel like I have to do something. Can you tell me what I have to do? I don't know why I'm feeling like this. You see, motivation, it's infectious!
Well, that's what Richard passed on to me, and I've put my own mark on it, and it's made me a much more powerful figure. People say they can feel the energy as soon as they come in through the lift on the second floor. And that's not even in my offices yet! So, my business has increased by 60 per cent since I met Richard.
Don't get me wrong here, let's be clear here. The distribution company, it was me that empowered that to happen. But I would say that Richard made it go further by changing my frame of mind - and by my realising the Law of Attraction - and by my being happy. And you'll be amazed how happiness draws people in.
I'll give you an example. One of my customers is a major High Street retailer. So I started off looking after three shops five years ago, and over the years I turned that into 50 shops. But after Richard primed me with positive belief and attitude and being happy - well, I've got one direction, and that's all. With this frame of mind, what happens when I go into stores now is that I do my meeting with the senior level management - and then I say Can I go for a walk? and I'll go to different parts of the store and introduce myself and be happy and motivated and driven. And I empower their people with my example. And then, when I leave the store, and I'm away doing other things, they're still in the store talking about me. It's the energy that you put into the store. That's how I increased the stores I was looking after to 150 stores. So, with that retailer alone I went from 50 stores to 150 stores, handling their distribution. And that's during a recession.
- And is this an approach that grew out of your time on the Personal Enhancement Workshop?
Oh, aye. Fedex is another one we do. Even one of the ops managers, he sees a development change. He's a guy who has watched me from a business point of view for some time, and we went to a Manchester United game, and on the whole journey on the way down he says to me: Stevie you've got to remember I've known you for five years in business now. The language you're using now, your mentality. It's all changed. Of course, I'd been taking him along with me, in my motivational way, and he says: You know I'm sitting here and my feelings are spinning. I'm away. What is happening..?
Another time, I went to Disney and I bought a whole load of Disney plates and glasses and things for one ops manager. And this is an NLP technique - it's a visual technique. Because every time he sees those plates and his kids having fun, I'm constantly in his mind in a positive way. And it means that I'm constantly getting his business. That's one way to keep the good feelings going in everyone you know! There are so many techniques you can use in NLP for business.
- So, Stevie, how do you maintain that positive energy in yourself?
If I'm honest with you, one of the things that's empowering is that the creativity comes second. It really is the happiness that comes first. I'm not bullshitting you. So, one thing that I do now is I stay away from people whose names I put in red in my mind. I mean it, really. I put my name in a circle, and I put some people's names in red. Because after being with Richard, I realised - why spend time and energy on people who you're going to be wasting your time and energy on? It's a bit like I worked with somebody yesterday, who got angry when they got behind their wheel. And it's the same as the story I was going to tell you. When you actually realise the amount of energy that you're using to calm yourself down. If you disassociate and look at yourself and realise that instead of being angry you can think about the things you want to do in your future - you can do that instead of thinking of someone that's cut you up on the motorway.
Well, now he's gone off in a different direction. And that's the same with me after I left the Enhancement course. One big thing to do is I just make sure I am very clear about who I'm running about with. Hence the names in red, and being sure about where my focus is!
The point is this: if you become completely focused on your future, and you get to where you think of your past, your mistakes, your present in just the right way - then your future will stretch out in front of you just how you want it. It's Richard that's got me doing that. And it has really made a change.
In part 2 of this interview, Stevie Kidd talks about his plans for the future.