It’s December. Where has the year gone?! And what a year it has been! If you have taken a fifth of the joy reading these blogs as I have in writing them, well – it might subtotal and succeed Christmas levels of merriment. Now, steady yourself before you topple off the merry scale, as this blog is all about Mark.
Mark is the beating heart of Jam. As business owner, he sets a strong and steady beat so all of us can find our flow. Mark’s actual heart rate is 45 beats per minute, which isn’t far off a professional athlete’s! The rest of us sit somewhere between 70 and 100. The reason why Marks heart rate is so slow is because he is a runner and a seriously good one. There are a few that boast a marathon or two, but I think there are fewer that consistently average 100km a month and fewer still that can take business meetings during mile 18 to 20! Mark has endurance like no other member of the team. He can work 10 days straight without tiring and not only that, but he manages to keep giving in abundance to everyone around him.
He says he wouldn’t have it any other way. Mark and Andrew are always in a shop. They are working this weekend. There has never been a glossy head office for important meetings and there never will be. Mark doesn’t have a big padded office chair with flashing wheels he slides around on. To be fair, that would probably set his heart rate off and if it gets above 45 then he gets stressed!
Mark claims he’s not the creative one but I’d say he has to get pretty creative when it comes to fashioning a workspace. I’ve seen him perched on the harbour wall in St. Ives at dawn powering through admin with a coffee and sunrise. I’ve seen a set up where he’s had his laptop propped on the car dashboard as he has worked from the passenger seat on the frequented journey between city and surf. Mark even finds focus in the middle of a building site where Andrew has the electric saw on full blast fitting out a new store and there’s so much sawdust in the air it’s basically a snow globe. This phenomenal work ethic means that when the shop doors open at 10am Marks attention can be on the person that walks in. If that has been you then you’ll agree with me, that he has this way of making you feel at ease. It suddenly feels less like being in a shop with Mark around and more like being in the heart of a home.
Mark is first and foremost, brother, son and grandson. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were the family favourite! He confirms: he is definitely the favourite along with his cousin and best friend, Louisa. Mark has just surprised their grandmother (Lynne’s Mum) - with flowers he delivered in person to her door. It is now a decade ago that JeJe lost her beloved husband and Mark lost his grandfather; his ultimate hero. But, in a way, Iain is far from lost. As Mark describes him I can feel gentle warmth in the room. I learn how he was old school, super stylish - a true gentleman. How he had his own shop, an ice cream parlour, that he ran and worked 7 days a week. How he would do anything for his family. Mark might not have a handkerchief about his person at anyone time but it is clear that he is fast becoming the man he has always aspired to be.
Like his grandfather, Mark is a man of few but powerful words. When he speaks, you listen. But Mark is not interested in having the spotlight on him. Besides, any person who knows Mark can attest to his character and that shines brighter than any spotlight can. Even though Mark was the one that really pushed for this blog, he was happy for others to go before him. Mark is understated like that.
Andrew has asked Mark to be his best man but the thought of giving a speech fills him with dread. He’s tried it once before and safe to say, the experience was enough to deter him from ever being a best man again. Andrew and Mark were the best men for their older brother Chris. They had the speech rehearsed and all typed out but when it came to it Andrew ended up going completely off piste and Mark found himself, brow jewelled with sweat, alight in spotlight, tearing through the print out trying to follow Andrew as he leap frogged back and forth over paragraphs. He had no idea when to come in! That would probably be enough to put anyone off public speaking forever.
I must stress, it’s a very rare occasion that Mark embarrasses himself. Mark doesn’t like doing things that he isn’t good at and he is pretty clear on what that is. It startles me how self-aware he is on the things he can and cannot do. I wish I knew myself that well. I suspect Mark knows me better than I know me! He has this way of assessing the talents of others around him too. No doubt, it helps make him the incredible leader that he is. He knows exactly where to position everyone in the team to be on the winning side.
If you hadn’t guessed, Mark is incredibly competitive! Mainly with himself - he sets himself incredibly high standards to meet and works incredibly hard to reach and maintain those levels. But what he finds most satisfying are the victories of his team, however small. Mark is always the first to say well done, the first to ask you about your weekend, along with Lynne and Andrew too. Mark’s favourite time is when we all get together at Jam, or time spent with all his siblings together. Family time. It’s in those times, it really doesn’t matter about the end score, the ups and downs of a crazy year, what we can or cannot do; we can pause and be loved.
So though this Christmas is different and we wont be able to come together. Marks older brother Chris won’t be able to come over from Singapore with his family. Louisa and Mark are not going to be able to pester Jeje on who’s the favourite. We can all rest knowing, that wherever we are, Mark will be leading us all into the New Year with Iain-like style and grace.