I am a very lucky man. I always have been. Don’t get me wrong, things haven’t just fallen into my lap, I work hard, but some people work hard and never achieve what I have. I was blessed to have a great childhood, with parents who never struggled for money, they loved me so much and I remember my childhood as such a happy time. Don’t get me wrong my parents didn’t spoil me.
I had to work for my pocket money and I was brought up with manners. My parents had a saying, ‘trade expectation for gratitude’ and you won’t go wrong in life. So that is what I did, I didn’t have a sense of entitlement and I was not afraid to work hard. My parents brought me up to respect people, cherish life and helped me to understand what was important.
So when I became an adult and built my own business, this is the attitude I had. The words of the great Sir Richard Branson stuck in my head. Employees come first, treat them well and the customers and clients will take care of themselves.
I became a property developer. There was something magical to me about taking an old dilapidated property and turning it into somewhere that could become an amazing home to someone, a family, a couple, a business man or woman. I loved the idea of creating something beautiful out of next to nothing.
I had a great team around me. It didn’t happen overnight. I worked hard and built the business up over 10 or so years and my team grew from just me to a team of 30. We headhunted people we thought would be the perfect fit for the business and were very selective in recruitment. I was very particular that the people who worked for me should know what they were doing in and around property and were happy and courteous people.
My interview process was always the same. I would take the candidates out for a meal, usually breakfast or lunch. I would speak to the team at whichever restaurant we were going to and tell them to mess up our orders and make the service poor, in exchange for a good tip and then see how the potential employee during the meal would deal with the situation. My business can be cutthroat and stressful and I expect my team members to be respectful and courteous, even under extreme pressure.
There was no excuse for bad manners and rudeness, it was something I would not tolerate. This recruitment process never let me down. Seeing how people treated guys in the service industry was always an interesting social experiment anyway. For some reason, somewhere along the line people forget their manners and think waiters and waitresses or servers of any kind are not human and you can say or do anything to them.
It was a real test of someone’s character when you are served the wrong meal or receive poor service.
I recruited every member of my team this way and I wasn’t disappointed by the results at all. I had a great team around me, I trusted them with my business implicitly and the business was going from strength to strength because of it.
My wife was an amazing woman. I met her at a property forum. She is intelligent, smart and funny and I am a hugely lucky man to have her as my wife. It was love at first sight, we fell head over heels in love and married within a year of meeting. We merged our businesses as she was a property developer too and we now had something of an empire in property. We soon decided to buy a new home, the house was not a mansion, as we did not want that. We wanted a home and sometimes when a house is too big it can lose that homely feel.
As a present for my wife. I had one of my very talented designer friends turn one of the bedrooms upstairs into a dressing room. My wife was so beautiful and really took care of her appearance. I knew she would love this and besides, she needed somewhere to house all of her clothes, shoes and makeup. I also asked my friend to set the dressing room up with lots of new beauty equipment. With the assistance of some online site, she bought a hairdryer, straighteners, curling irons, lots of hair serums and make up. When we eventually moved in, I took my wife upstairs and showed her the dressing room, she loved it.