Saturday, 21 November 2009

Sugar-coated dreams

I went to a seminar the other evening where a bastion of our business establishment was speaking. People came up with the usual questions: "how can I be a successful entrepreneur?"; "what's your advice about investing in property?"; "do you think we're out of the recession yet?"; "what is the best piece of business advice you've ever been given?" - and the less usual: "how can I resolve the fact that I've under-priced my product?"; "I'm setting up a company at 50..."; "I sell solar panels but all my retail partners have pulled out"...

Nothing new under the sun, really. And the answers given to most of these questions were also pretty much what you'd expect: nothing new under the sun. Including the one about solar panels (tip: we're in the UK. Along the lines of : certain 'trendy' trends just don't work as expected!...)

Until I asked a question which would seem to be a pretty bog-standard-business-school-essential-information-gathering-cum-personal-curiosity-one: "Have you had mentors in your career?"

The answer was surprising. When starting out, he'd has his Uncle who'd had a shop. And other people he'd looked up to. But the people he most looked up to were those who had "contentment" and they, he said, are people "you in the audience will have never heard of", nor will ever hear of. People, therefore, who are contented in their everyday lives despite not having achieved either fame or fortune. He envied them, said the moghul businessman. He said: "I've amassed more money than anyone can spend in a lifetime...than even my wife [audience chuckles!] or family can spend." Then he talked about it being "a disease", not being able to stop, never being contented. So, his greatest 'mentors' are those who have the luxury of contentment in life. Who are able to reach a point where they are contented. Contented with life and what they have - but most probably and most importantly, also with what they don't have.

Forget all the business talk. As this multi-millionaire success story told us: "It's not Rocket Science!" Almost every answer he gave to every business question was based on pure common sense. They should have called the seminar: "Business Success De-mystified!"

But the one thing I came away with was his answer to MY question. That's what I learned that evening. Don't wish for what others have, unless you are fully aware of what's involved. Unless you are fully aware of the consequences. Of the road you'll have to travel to move in the same, or a similar, direction. And sometimes, even if you do end up getting there: you may not be happy. Even if you're the type of person who can't but help taking the journey in the first place, because you're born with the urge to travel (by the way, entrepreneurs are born, not made, and if you don't get it, you aren't one - apparently. Lord Alan Sugar was showing the Mayor of Hackney around his local school at the age of 11...)

Oh. Did I forget to mention? The name of the seminar was: "In Conversation with Lord Alan Sugar..."

1 comment:

  1. hi there,

    maybe it's not about amassing more, but giving back . . . . Acting on your own truth and intuition, as we are all on different journeys. It is indeed an interesting topic. I often struggle with these sentiments myself. Knowing that whilst I want 'more' in certain areas, i also want to be part of the revolution that helps heal this world for a better place . . . .

    I have just done a post recently discussing 'how do we measure success' on a similar (but different!) note.

    Do visit some time.