Part 1 of 3
Winston Marsh: WM
Pam Warren: PW
WM: Pam Warren, welcome to Business Marketing.
PW: Thank you for having me.
WM: Pam, it’s amazing! I met you first of all in Washington and then I received a copy of your book – how good it is and I thought I have to talk to Pam and find out her story. Particularly how she turned, what I might say a fair disaster into triumph, business wise. So would you like to tell us your story Pam and I will try not to interrupt because I think it is very compelling.
PW: Okay, well I will give you the summarised version of the story. Back in the 1990’s I was a business women, I was running my own financial services company which I had set up in 1993 and by 1999 it was turning over £1.5 million, so I was doing pretty well. One day I had to go up to London for a meeting. I went to my local train station and caught the train, minding my own business and carrying on with what I was doing when just outside of Paddington the train crashed. It met another train coming out of London at 130mph. I was in a first class carriage which was the one behind the engine, unfortunately the fuel tanks ruptured and a fire ball ensued that swallowed the carriage that I was on – a lot of people died – 31 people died in total. I was one of the luckier ones in that I survived but I was very badly burned. In fact I was so badly burned that I wasn’t expected to live, they took me to hospital where I was moved to a different hospital because of their feeling that I had no chance of living, but for whatever reason I fought back.
Of course when I woke up I then had to take in what had happened and also the injuries that I had sustained. I had lost all the layers of skin to my face, my hands and my legs but that wasn’t what bothered me the most. To begin with, what bothered me the most, was that where I had obviously been screaming during the crash, the fire had gone into my throat so it burnt my vocal chords. I tend to be a bit husky now and sometimes my voice wears out, but I have vocal zone which tends to keep me going and for a little while, about a month I couldn’t speak, as in I could try to speak but no sound was coming out. It wasn’t easy to communicate with the Doctors, the Nurses and my family and I therefore had a lot of time to sit and think. Particularly how I was going to cope with this.
I couldn’t change what had happened, I came to that conclusion very rapidly. I had two choices as far as I could see it. One was to give up and say “woe is me”,” why did this happen to me”;”I am so angry” or the second choice was “right, I am going to fight back!” Where the Doctors were telling me things such as you will get 50% usage back in your hands, I was saying, that’s not good enough, I want more and where they were saying okay, your face will be permanently scarred for life, I was saying you will have to think of something else as I am not prepared to be heavily scarred for the rest of my life, bearing in mind I was only in my young 30’s then.
Really I went through a big thought process and also I found that I reassessed my life. My life up until that train crash had been very much about going into work, working hard sometimes, which I am sure some of your listeners do, 12 hours a day – 7 days a week, but I was making a lot of money. I was going on 5 star holidays, I was changing my car to the latest BMW every year and I suddenly realised when I was sat in that hospital bed that that is not what is important. Because I could have died that day I thought I wouldn’t have been able to take any of that with me. I then started thinking about what I call the “softer” area, things such as my relationship with my family.
When I was working I was lucky if I saw them twice a year and I thought that is not what life’s about, you should be able to enjoy your family and show that you love them. Same with friends and also the balance of life – the work/life balance. I suddenly realised I was working so hard with just money in mind that I had forgotten about how to enrich my life and make my life worthwhile. I then decided, again during my hospital stay – I was in there for just over 3 months, that I was going to make some changes. If I was lucky enough to survive and recover I would make fundamental changes to my life and never allow myself to go back to the person I was before the train crash.
WM: Wow, that is a big decision Pam.
PW: It was a major life shift, but one that I am eternally grateful for. It was one that I feel now has enriched my life a lot more but also we don’t always want to be at the work stone grinding away and then lifting our heads occasionally and looking over at someone surfing or climbing mountains and wishing ‘I could do that, I just don’t have the time’.
Whereas now I am allowing myself to experience life, to go off and have new adventures and to think about how I connect with people and money very much falls into the secondary.
It is nice to have money, it is nice to be able to afford things but it doesn’t have to be your “raison d’etre”. I think that is the most important thing to remember.
Before I left hospital the Doctors had fitted me out, to keep the scarring down where they had grafted my face, with a very hard, clear Perspex mask. What that was designed to do was push down on my scars, on where the grafts were, really hard with constant pressure and because it was clear Perspex it would get very hot and sweaty underneath and that had a greenhouse effect that then made the scarring not bubble up quite so much. I had to wear that mask for 18 months, for 23 hours a day, but to be honest Winston I thought if I have to wear this 23 hours a day there is no point in taking it off for one hour so I used to leave it on. Because of this, in the UK, I became known as the “Lady in the Mask survivor” but I am pleased to say the mask did its job.
When I have got my camouflage make up on it is very unlikely that people will notice I have scarring unless they look very closely.
WM: That’s how I saw you Pam, hardly noticed.
PW: Good, and for that I have my Doctors to thank, not only did they save my life but they made me come out looking the best I can look.
WM: So that is Pam Warren, setting the scene on what began a change in her life, a change in her career and really a very interesting journey. Not just about recovery from terrible injuries but how she resolved to make a difference. You will find it inspirational and Pam will be back soon with a continuation of her story.
Speaker, Business Consultant and Mentor, Winston Marsh is acknowledged as being “probably Australia’s best and most experienced marketer, communicator and motivator.” Winston has over thirty years of richly rewarding business experience in the management, marketing and motivation of people in business. With his track record of achievement, he is just the person to stimulate and inspire you to take away action information that gets results.