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Skin in the Game - From X Factor to Exit; 5 lessons I've learned

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

I haven’t exactly walked a traditional path in life; I didn’t go to Uni, I’ve never been on someone else’s payroll… I’ve kind of just followed my heart and learnt as I go. As a consequence, I’ve been lucky to work with some incredible people and create amazing moments. From X factor to exiting my first company, it’s safe to say - it’s been a journey. I wanted to share some of my most important life lessons with you.

I spent the formative years of my life in a band, touring the world with my best friends and taking part in one of the biggest shows in the UK, the X Factor.

We started singing together at 11, became professional at 18 and spent a memorable few years doing what we loved together. Being part of the tour, meeting and spending time with Simon Cowell and working every day at your craft gave me a strong basis of what it takes to be the best at what you do.

4Tune - Ant, Phil, Mike, and Simon

But like all good things, it came to an end and it was time to start a new chapter. When I was 27, I moved to London. I couldn’t get a job for love nor money. Times got tough, I signed on to the dole and moved in with my Auntie whilst I figured out what was next.

I can so clearly remember discovering one of my now favourite quotes; ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’. With that I went back to the only thing I knew - music and began organising live music events. This was one of my first big lessons; no one deserves anything, sometimes in life you have to make your own opportunities.

Through that live music night in Clapham, I met Matt Thorne - little did I know then, that we’d go on to become business partners. Since we have worked together on GRM Daily, created the Rated Awards and build and sold our social marketing agency Disrupt (you can read more about this here).

Rated Awards Co Founders
Matt Thorne and Phil Kemish
It’s safe to say it’s been a roller coaster 7 years. My intention for this website is to give back my learnings to someone starting their career, experiencing change or looking for some much needed motivation. I’m not a trained coach, nor do I claim to be - I’m just here to share some of the mantras and philosophies that have helped me over the years. So, here goes…

Lesson 1- There will be many versions of you, welcome the changes.

Believe it or not every cell in our bodies regenerate every 7-10 years, we essentially are evolving constantly, whether its shedding skin, renewing the lungs, liver or growing new hairs
- the human body is in constant flux.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are in motion, regenerating cells daily the human marvel working it magic in the background while we sit and binge Netflix. I look at my life in chapters of 7, so being 35, I’ve just started by 5 chapter. This idea helps me reflect on my story and also plan on what chapter I want to write next; as there isn’t any author for your life other than you.

7 years can seem like a long time, but for me at least these chapters seem to line up with moments of growth. Each step is big enough to see real change 14-21, 21-28, you can really reflect and look at your transitions, from the people you hung around with, jobs, relationships - maybe this is why the call it the 7 year itch?

I don’t do New Years resolutions I do New You resolutions, this is long term goal setting and habit forming that helps me achieve my potential and reach my 7 year goals. I feel like setting small changes that you fail at is just a way to demotivate yourself. So instead, set your ambitions on a big prize and take small daily steps to become that version of you, because I can guarantee year by year you see the growth and become more motivated as a result.
Here's me at 24 and 34, just over 7 years... Not sure where the cheek bones went?

Lesson 2 - People are here for a reason, season or a lifetime.

This was introduced to me by Jay Shetty, but comes from a deeper spiritual philosophy on letting go. Letting go had been something I was not always great at but this sentence made me re look at how I approach friends, business and relationships. Once we come to terms with the fact people will come in and out of our lives, it’s much easier to deal with the flow and emotions of others on your own energy.

The mantra is simple. First you have the reason people; these are people you connect for moments of time, usually it happens around a need you have expressed or felt. You attract them with energy and they can come out of the blue to aid you, spiritually, emotionally physically then suddenly they are gone, their work is done.

Some people come for a season, you may meet them at work and become good friends but then move job or it may be a fleeting relationship over a summer for example, but they are there for just a period of time. Usually it’s an exchange of value; you grow and both give. These seasons can be quite intense and like the weather it can switch so be aware that these exchanges won’t last forever.

Lastly, some people you meet will be there for life. You will learn real life lessons together, the type of people you can leave for months but when you come back together it seems that you never left. They can be family, your best friends or sometimes even someone you meet at a bar who you just connect with but they will have foundational, transformational changes to your outlook, values and beliefs.

Your job is to accept the people who come in and out of your life for what they are. Treasure it for what it is, be thankful for the interaction as even with the tough ones you learn a lesson and always, always cherish the lifetime people in your journey.

Enjoy the moments but understand nothing lasts forever

Lesson 3 - Beware of the energy vampires.

I work hard to protect myself from those who drain my energy. As soon as you give yourself back the power to make decisions over the people you hang around with, you'll live a happier life. Stay close to those that give you energy, and stay clear of those that suck you dry.

We've all dealt with someone that is negative, complains, uses you or is just generally hard to be around. I understand, we all have ups and downs, but these people specifically consistently have a negative effect on your life. My advice? If you have an energy vampire in your life, cut them out - simple. As hard as it is, remember - you may have just been a season or reason person for them.

We all know a few energy vampires

Lesson 4 - We all have issues.

No one is perfect, and yes that includes you. It’s easy to judge people by your own ideals and experiences but remember you are totally unique in every aspect of your being.

I used to ignore a lot of my own issues but over the last few years I’ve faced up to areas of my life and have done some “deep work” on the areas I needed too. The first step of admitting you have faults is quite hard, but once you come to terms with it and put time and effort into working on them, you will start to heal.

It's easy to distract yourself with other people’s problems; shifting blame, pointing fingers and not taking responsibility for your own issues. When I look back on past relationships, it's clear to see the underlying issues were unresolved issues we had personally. Not being at a point of understanding with yourself, makes it next to impossible to be in a growing, healthy relationship.

I am now a lot more honest with the people in my immediate circle about where I am with them, because I know how to articulate what I'm feeling. People are scared to go to the deep, dark places in them, it’s easier to avoid, but I’ve learnt it best to tackle them straight on.

That could mean professional help for deep rooted physiological damage or just talking it out with someone who will listen and help guide you. Either way it’s important you take the steps to understand your own mindset, emotions and triggers as it will greatly effect the level of success and happiness you will be able to achieve throughout your life.

Lesson 5 - Trust your Gut.

Once you understand how to use it, this will be your most important lesson yet. You know that feeling you get when something is scary and your body warns you off it? Or that feeling you get in your tummy when you step close to the edge of a cliff? I talked about it how important I feel it is on a recent interview which you can check out below.

Your gut E-motion or “energy in motion” is a pre programmed evolutionary wired signal to your brain when something isn’t right, it’s instinct and something that guides you in all areas of life. We all know it, but for some reason most tend to ignore it. Over the last few years, through meditations and trying to listen more to my body, I’ve tried to trust my gut in situations where I feel it.

It’s probably the most human reaction we have and its hard wired into our biology, so if you feel something in a situation, take a moment to try and work out why your body is reacting to it. It could be a stomach knot that you constantly have when you think about a person, it could be a feeling when you head into work, a signal when you first meet someone. Whatever the emotion, take time and listen to it and then act on it. You have to trust your own instinct, it’s your internal guide, all of your pervious life experiences are there to help you make decisions in just a single feeling.


I hope some of these lessons have connected with you, if it has don't forget to share and let me know your thoughts. You can follow my latest journey via social media, and be sure to stay tuned - I’ve got a so much more to share!

Peace out,

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