The Z to A of Life Skills

Hello there, and welcome to the Future Toolbox’s Z to A of Life Skills. We’re excited to launch this brand-new blog alongside our first-ever podcast, which we recorded at Revolution Radio in Northampton.

Each week, we’ll explore the Z to A of Life Skills. Each letter stands for a topic and essential tools to help you get ahead in life, but this week we’d like to begin with some background on us and how the Future Toolbox began.

We’re quite unique in the fact that we are a married couple running a business, and we met years ago whilst working in post 16 education.

(Mark) Yeah, I had a job. I absolutely loved working as a recruitment consultant helping young people get their first jobs. However, I found that I was actually becoming more like what we call a life coach today. A teenager would come from school or college looking for a job. I’d help them get ready for their first interview by preparing questions to ask, like how to build their brand and sell themselves to the employer. Once they had a job, they’d begin apprenticeship training, and I’d get asked questions like, “what is a bank account?” or “why do I have to pay National Insurance?”. What I was doing was really worthwhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

(Jules) My role in post 16 education was within training and delivering apprenticeships. This was an absolutely fantastic job to have in terms of job satisfaction. I was able to help people once they got their first job to continue their education and achieve their career goals. It was a great role to have. 

We came up with the idea of Future Toolbox whilst walking along a beach and said, “How about we become our own bosses?”. For us, it was about having the freedom to be in control of our destiny. We had some innovative ideas on delivering personal development life skills in the style that we wanted in our business.

One day, Mark was delivering a careers programme in a school and the day started with a motivational speaker. “I was really captivated by this guy, who was wearing yellow shoes, and everybody was eating out of his hands. I just thought, man, that’s amazing, I wanna do that.” So, we sat down and began to make a business plan. 

We started MAD4Life (Making a Difference for Life) in 2009. It was scary at first but definitely the right move. The early days were spent as a freelance presenter, visiting schools over the country, and Jules continued her full-time job within post 16 education. Those first three years were totally amazing, basically all we dreamed it could be. But then, what the hell just happened?

Well, you know sometimes when things are really going well, but then you get tripped up? That’s exactly what happened to us. We’d booked a holiday to the Canary Islands and Mark blacked out and hit his head. We found out later that over 90% of people don’t survive the head injury he’d sustained. However, he went back to working pretty quickly, but the long-term effects were debilitating to say the least.

We were trying to come to terms with it and work out our next steps when, unfortunately, Jules’s mum suddenly passed away.

Jules said, “It was devastating! I’d almost lost my husband, and now I’d lost my mum. I sat in the garden just after and decided to give up my day job. As much as I loved it, after working almost 10 hours every day, I realised that there’s gotta be more to life than these long hours. But then, boom, I got diagnosed with stage three metastatic breast cancer. I had to undergo many operations and almost two years of chemotherapy, injections and blood transfusions, plus many scary hospitalisations.” 

We had chosen to get our lives into a position where we could be in charge of our own destiny. So we went back to the drawing board following these challenges and created the Future Toolbox as it is today.

Now, these were some pretty challenging times, but the greatest strength we’ve got between us is from the personal development tools we’ve gained and deliver within Future Toolbox. 

So, what is the Future Toolbox?

It’s a multi-award-winning personal development company that empowers young people, families and communities and equips them with the tools to cope with life challenges. For example, how to set yourself a goal and achieve it, how to create positive habits and growth mindsets whilst building resilience through self-care. We even have a program to show students how to make revision and study easy and fun. Yes, we said easy and fun!

We’ve come a long way in our journey, and we want to share these simple tools with you. And yes, they are simple! We don’t confess to being millionaires with flash celebrity lifestyles. We’re real people who’ve created a successful life that’s achievable for all. These tools are available on our weekly blog, through our brand-new podcast and via our website Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletters and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, and we have a YouTube Channel, of course.

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Looking Back to Look Forward

A phrase that we’ve used for years is, “You live your life forwards, but you learn it backwards.” Many of us are