How did you come to do what you do, thinking in the way you do?

Benjamin P. Taylor
3 min readApr 9, 2024

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Something starts for me with reading my dad’s Sci-Fi collection — I was a voracious, early reader but I don’t think Saberhagen’s Berserker books, Asimov, Heinlein, Bester, Niven, Clarke, and the many apocalypses of Wyndham were susposed to be read by pre-teens. Those — and my mum’s books from her time at Sussex University — Fly and the Fly Bottle, Stokely Carmichael, and all the fiction of the anti-apartheid movement — warped my tiny little mind. And Star Wars.

I was an outsider at school, bullied, sanctimonious, academically strong (a swot). Mr Davey in Junior 4 was inspiring — he set us maths puzzles in base x, and said ‘by ‘eck, lad, we’ll make a footballer out of thee’. I went to sixth form in Manchester during the Madchester scene, but spent my time walking around in the rain listening to Del Amitri on my Walkman.

I had such a particular view of life that, having accidentally got into an Oxford college, my gap year wasn’t the Trans-Siberian Express, Khaosan Road or Hindu Kush, but providing personal care to a spinally injured man on 72-hour shifts, in Stechford, Birmingham.

So far, so self-indulgent — but these things shaped my thinking and career massively. It set me up to focus on the ‘philosophy’ part of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and to use that prestigious degree to start as a low-paid charity administrator in London — where I first learned the thrill of rethinking an organisational system and making it flow better. That job made local government look well-paid — and spending several years working directly with (very decent) politicians thankfully put me off involvement in politics entirely.

Along the way, I joined a Buddhist Yoga cult, (mostly benign but caused a suspicion of gooroos), my parents divorced just before I went to uni, and I got deeply into music, then eventually let it go. (The bottom dropping out of your world in various ways is an important developmental experience).

The thrill of catching an insight, discovering a new way to do things, the thrill of learning — ‘everything I know is wrong/everything is connected’ insights — have never left me.

The complexity and fascination of public service — especially close to the ground — has provided both opportunities and frustration, which kind of suits my Northern miserabilist tendencies.

And the opportunity to be to perform, to be free, to have to think, as a consultant, trainer, facilitator still excites me, even if I have become a little jaundiced over the years.

So I guess that’s my story — what’s yours? That’s a big ask for a LinkedIn post — so maybe just one pivotal influence that has shaped who you are and what you do?