Reviews||

Radio Heaven by Dr Sam Collins

5th Jun 2015

★★★
radio heaven
Dr Sam Collins has been crowned one of the “Top 200 Women to Impact Business & Industry” by HM Queen. Through her company of Aspire, Collins has helped to develop over 20,000 women business leaders, and her Aspire Foundation has provided mentoring to over a million women across the globe.

In Radio Heaven Collins straightforwardly charts her path from her childhood on a council estate in Hampshire to; California, motherhood, and becoming the CEO of an award-winning global business. The subtitle of the book is “Journey to Grace”. Conversely from what you might expect, Grace is not a state of mental poise and serenity; rather, she is a girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo who Collins seeks to adopt. Grace was Collins’ motivation for writing her book but, she also hopes it will “inspire others to aspire to ever higher goals in life”.

The book opens not with happy, humble beginnings but, death:  the suicide of her mother. Collins is the one to identify the body, reasoning that out of her remaining family, she will handle it best: a foretaste of the woman to come. Grieving, working to support herself and her younger sister, she completes a BA in business at Liverpool University.

Metamorphosing her loss, and despair into layers of focus and self-reliance, Collins galvanises. Released from her “dream job” training staff on cruise ships, she returns from the Caribbean to London, and creates her company. Aiming to be a successful business woman, wanting to develop a business model based on “a female way of being: collaborative, democratic and people focussed”, she throws herself into building her business, her way.

The road to success is never pot-hole free, and Collins has had her downs; divorce, loneliness, a cancer scare. And, on top of them, there’s the PMS. The “Pale, Male, Stale” crowd. Pouring her energies into her work was, Collins acknowledges, also a way of avoiding marriage to a man whose profession was casino gambling, and losing. The road to success is never pot-hole free, and Collins has had her downs; divorce, loneliness, a cancer scare. And, on top of them, there’s the PMS. The “Pale, Male, Stale” crowd. Heading on stage for a business panel discussion with other CEO’s, all male, a voice in the audience says “I see they were looking for a pretty girl, so they put you on the panel.” “Maybe you’d rather say I’m pretty smart?” There is no angst here, just determination and independence.

Radio Heaven is, fundamentally, a linear exposition of Collins’ rise in the entrepreneurial sector. Each chapter concludes with lessons learnt, and the reader being encouraged or, asked directly to consider how they would deal with such situations. Structuring the book this way gives it a heavy twang of the corporate empowerment session.

Collins’ prose is simple, effortless, its tone conversational, making Radio Heaven an open and easy read. Yet, upon finishing the book, Collins as a person rather than Collins the trainer and motivational speaker, feels somewhere off in the distance having only shown us some of the signposts in her journey.

Luck, opportunity, and tenacity appear in all tales of success, what makes a story truly grab the reader is the colour and depth ascribed to each. Radio Heaven reads like a dot-to-dot where the lines have been drawn on but the picture has yet to be coloured in.