At the end of every episode of the Gentleman’s Journal podcast we ask our guests – an eclectic menagerie of businessmen, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and captains of industry – whether they happen to have a personal motto. And, to our great delight, every single one of them to date has said “yes.”
This is always a cause of deep excitement. A personal mantra boils all those decades of hard-earned experience down to its basic essence – a tiny, potent little pill that each of us can swallow in the hope that some of the side-effects of greatness might afflict us, too.
With our first ten episodes recorded, I thought it might be interesting to share some of those personal mottos with you. Chew them over, let them digest, and then decide how they might best be applied to your own daily battles.
And should these little amuse-bouches whet your appetite, then do consider tucking into the main courses, which you can find in their entirety here.
“Just finish it” – Henry Porter, UK editor of Vanity Fair
Starting things is easy. It’s completing them that’s difficult. For Henry Porter, Vanity Fair’s UK editor and a renowned political columnist and novelist, seeing things through to the bitter end is the hallmark of the truly successful.
Don’t put things off till the “perfect moment”; don’t wait for inspiration to strike; don’t quit when things get tough – simply get to work and keep working until the task is complete. Even if you’re certain the project or idea is doomed, Henry believes that simply finishing it can have some unintended consequences and begin to open doors that you never even knew existed. What are you waiting for?
“Feel the fear and do it anyway” – Aaron Simpson, co-founder of Quintessentially
With over 20 different companies under the Quintessentially umbrella – not to mention 60 offices worldwide and more than 3,500 employees – Aaron Simpson’s CV certainly displays a bias for action. But that doesn’t mean the concierge company’s co-founder hasn’t had his moments of fear and doubt.
Shortly after the September 11th attacks, the luxury industry began to splutter and the future of Aaron’s fledgling concierge company began to look very precarious indeed. With 80 employees on the books and just a couple of hundred pounds in the bank, Aaron had a choice – shut the company down, or act quickly and find fresh investments. He picked the latter, and against all the odds pulled in new investors at a time when the markets were at their lowest in just two days. “Fear is a good thing – it makes you act, and makes you get things done.”
“You’re a long time dead” – Tim Jefferies, owner of Hamiltons Gallery
Tim Jefferies has built an enduring career at the forefront of the photography world through a combination of hard work, self-confessed luck, endless charm, and an influential cabal of friends. But the gallery owner also believes that perspective and context are pretty good tools for success – both at home and in the working world. “You’re a long time dead” he reminds us. “Work hard, have a good time, and don’t get hung up on the little things.”
“Never assume” – Paul Smith, founder of Paul Smith
Paul Smith has built his reputation on exquisite attention to detail. But the designer’s exacting eye extends far beyond simply the design room. “Never assume – that’s one of the most useful things you can know” he tells me.
From personally ensuring that packages are delivered on time, to checking that junior designers have understood exactly what he’s asked for, to triple-checking the colour palettes for a new collection – the style guru is as pragmatic and grounded as he is endlessly creative. This, more than anything, is the basis of the company’s enduring success.
“Fear is your friend” – Clive Jackson, CEO and founder of VICTOR private jets
Clive Jackson’s CV is as intimidating as it is impressive – the CEO of a dynamic private jet charter company, the founder of more than 11 successful businesses, the brains behind the UK’s first digital agency. But the serial entrepreneur refuses to rest on his laurels even for an instant.
Clive sticks to a rigorous regimen of both work and workouts, and makes sure to ask himself, every morning, what he should be afraid of that day. “If you’re not constantly worried about your competitors or threats to your business, you’ve had it” he tells us. “Fear can be a good thing.”
You can find the Gentleman’s Journal podcast here. New episodes every fortnight.