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Strategy - BLOG

My First Job: Delivering Doctor Who's Daily Newspaper

Steve Knight, INSEAD Adjunct Professor of Business Communication |

The Linkedin Influencers Editorial team asked 150 Influencers "What was your first job and what were your key learnings?" My first three paid jobs all started around the same time, when I was at the tender age of 10.

One was starting up what became a very successful car cleaning round, simply by knocking on doors with a bucket, sponge, chamois leather and a bottle of washing-up liquid; the other was helping the postman deliver the mail and the other was as a paperboy, delivering newspapers very early in the morning to houses in my local area.

In England we don’t have the luxury of throwing the newspapers from our bikes, we have to walk up the front garden path and physically push the paper through the letterbox in the front door.

I can proudly say that I delivered Doctor Who’s daily newspaper, but it wasn’t to his TARDIS.

As a child, I absolutely loved the BBC’s science fiction series, Doctor Who. I still do and I now watch it with my kids. It was relaunched in 2005 and it's spectacular, in case you’ve been living on a different planet! It first aired in November 1963 and the BBC has announced a raft of programmes to mark the 50th anniversary of the first episode.

The actor who played Doctor Who at the time of my paper round was the late Jon Pertwee.

He lived in a flint cottage with huge, tall trees in the front garden that were constantly swaying and whistling in the cold, winter wind. It was always freezing, dark at 5:30am and I remember being petrified every morning as I cautiously opened the creaking iron gate and crunched up the gravel path to the front door; through those whistling, swaying, tall trees; to push the newspaper, with extreme caution, through the letterbox in his front door.

Why with extreme caution you might ask? Well, apart from it being “Doctor Who’s” house, the Time Lord who attracts exterminating Daleks, Cybermen, Sea Devils, The Master, man-eating plants, maggots the size of houses, etc (any UK kid who grew up in the 70's will tell you how they used to hide behind the sofa to watch Doctor Who!) apart from all that; plus the creaking gate; the tall, whistling, swaying trees; the crunchy gravel path; the cold; the dark, it was because he had what I can only assume were two small dogs (something like Yorkshire Terriers or Jack Russells) that would be totally silent until the very moment, holding my breath, heart pounding, I gently pushed the newspaper through that letterbox. At that exact point, each and every morning, without fail, just as I thought I’d got away with it, BAM! They would explode into barking, howling, lunging and scratching action as they tried to jump up and get the newspaper.

The front door was made entirely of wood, so I never actually saw the dogs, which is why I used to jump sky high in the air every single time and turn around and run back down that gravel path with the tall, whistling, swaying trees; in the cold and the dark; back through the creaking iron gate; with my heart pounding even more and trying to catch my breath; as I launched back out on to the pavement; cursing those flippin’ dogs and promising myself I would not be so jumpy tomorrow. In fact every day I jumped more and more!

It certainly feels like being an entrepreneur is in my blood, but there's no family history of entrepreneurship for at least three generations. If I want to find out beyond that I'll need to travel back in time. Doctor, where’s that TARDIS?

Lessons learned from my first job aged 10:

1: Doctor Who is real and I know where he lived.

2: He really does have gnashing, snarling monsters around him.

3: Even when you’re scared witless it can pave the way for a good old story later in life.

Photo 1: Still image of Jon Pertwee as Dr Who with Daleks and aliens: from Dr Who and the Daleks (as shown in YouTube video)

Photo 2: Dark path Shutterstock, andreiuc88

Photo 3: Tardis image

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