When I sold Pacific Direct I became a multi-millionaire overnight, and that was a big adjustment to make. Most people have perhaps fantasised about winning the lottery and “never having to work again.” When I sold I did take my family on a “holiday of a lifetime” where we explored the globe for a few months. Yet, I have still never yet got onto a plane and turned left at my own expense; I travel in economy and several years after selling the business I built from nothing, I am working as hard as ever on new ventures. I love building things and working with great people; I want to keep learning and most of all I love selling. I want to lead an interesting and full life and enjoy seeing products improve lives, performance and wellbeing, perhaps selling the most valuable commodity of all: time.
Until you sell a business, I think relatively young at the age of 40, you cannot understand the choices you might make to keep working. These days it is not unusual for people to live well into their nineties and beyond; if I had thrown my hands in the air and said “I’m done!” at 40, I don’t know how I would have filled the next fifty or sixty years. I have always worked; it’s the way I am made and I genuinely love what I do. I will continue to work until it is no longer fun. I do it because I need to – not because I need the money, but because I need to be up and about and making a difference in the world.
I also think it’s incredibly important to set an example to my children.
When I first sold Pacific Direct I was mortified that it was reported in the papers; I had hoped to keep our newly acquired wealth a secret from my children. I felt they needed still to learn the importance of money and I strive always, endlessly, (boringly, I am reliably informed) to keep reminding them of their very lucky position, which they did not earn. I like the quote very much, “You will not be remembered for the business person you are, but you will be remembered as a parent.”
I don’t ever want my children to become spoilt or entitled, to think that having money means they are better than anyone else. While we did have an amazing holiday when I first sold the business, we soon went back to life as usual, with all of us working hard and none of us wasting money. I want my children to learn the value of work and of money, rather than expecting anything to fall into their laps. I have two wonderful, well-adjusted girls and a thirteen year old who has still to learn more about the importance of hard work. I am proud to say that they each have weekend jobs to pay their way and learn how to budget and work hard.
Working feeds my soul.
I have an innate desire to compete, to innovate and to travel, but also to laugh with others. I would probably achieve all of these things as a “lady of leisure” but I’m just not that sort of person. I love seeing the development of other people; when someone joins the team and blossoms into their full potential it is so much more rewarding. I now have investments in some truly remarkable companies that are innovating and pushing the envelope in design and creativity. It’s exciting to be a part of that and I can’t imagine not being involved to the point where these companies have structure, process and a strategy that gives them stability and a sustained future.
With Activbod and Scentered I believe we have brought amazing products to market that truly will improve lives either through better exercise recovery (Activbod) or taking a moment of time out of a hectic life (Scentered). Gate-8 luggage and Kitbrix bags are uniquely innovative products that are constantly evolving to bring the best possible time saving, and organisational experience to the consumer and dryrobe is an outstandingly versatile product which I love. All these products are related to the importance of wellbeing; enabling individuals in the enjoyment of the outdoors at a time when digital growth can create stress and anxiety, even sleepless nights. These days we do not work hard enough to teach the importance of balance, and the time required to look after our own most important physical engines.
I cannot imagine being a back-seat, silent partner in any of these ventures; I love being involved in every part of the business from product design to sales meetings to recruitment. It is of course easier for me as despite some considerable investment we wouldn’t lose the house if one of these businesses were to fail. I am acutely aware that each of these companies is incredibly important to its founder, and something they have really put blood, sweat and tears into.
I was brought up by parents who taught me the value of always putting back into life, and this has always paid me dividends in experiences. I have always gained so much more than money from my work; it has afforded me the opportunity to travel the globe and to see, do and taste so much more than many people are able to. The wonderful experience of meeting other cultures is something I feel very lucky to have had in my life. This has all come through my work, and it brings extra satisfaction when I am able to make use of contacts and experiences gained through my time at Pacific Direct, to help my new business ventures to grow. I will never forget the value I gained from growing up abroad and seeing the world as a very small and accessible friendly place.
Continuing to work keeps me healthy and fit in mind and body, and frankly these are the only two assets which you cannot replace with money. I choose to look after my economic engine, my body, health and wellbeing.
A positive attitude is vital in this life.
Many moons ago I made the decision to work relentlessly on never being negative, in aiming never to be critical of others, and to have the determination to take all I can from the joy of life. Events across the globe remind us daily that we never know when this wonderful adventure may be brought to an abrupt halt. I know I won’t get another chance at this, so I want to make sure I have as many experiences as possible. There are myriad different ways I could achieve this and everyone has their own idea of a life well lived. For me, a life well lived involves giving back as well as receiving, and that unequalled pleasure derived from helping another to succeed.
Business is not necessarily a cut-throat game; it can sometimes be stressful; it should always be competitive. I still travel a lot and have to juggle to fit everything in – but I wouldn’t change my life for the world. Mostly what I feel I have gained is huge peace of mind and the massive immeasurable ability to make choices for myself and sometimes for my family. My reward is that I live in a home that is heaven on earth but otherwise I am not really into belongings. Oddly I gain a great deal of enjoyment still in the fact I don’t have to worry about my card being declined when doing the weekly food shop. But I still have a lot to give in life, and I choose to do that through working hard in business.
If you’re fantasising right now about winning the lottery, stop. For one thing, people who win the lottery usually end up just as miserable as before, if not more so – many end up squandering their fortune because they don’t appreciate a lump of cash that has fallen into their laps. Having money means that you don’t have a financial need to work, but life is too short to be only working for the money any way. I work for the sheer enjoyment of supplying a product or an exceptional service that I have a passion for, something I love – isn’t that why anyone goes into business in the first place?