First develop a skill, and then add knowledge


REMAIN open to opportunities. Some of the best things that have happened to me have come from oblique angles. Opportunities come out of nowhere and you have to be prepared to open yourself up to them and investigate.

Explore potential leads quickly and ruthlessly and shut down anything that doesn’t have potential. Otherwise it’s a distraction. There are lots of things that merit a quick look, but if you are constantly searching for new possibilities, you’ll never get anything done.

Work hard. Most people are lazy. Most don’t want to put in the last two hours on a project, or won’t wake up 30 minutes earlier to do emails or prepare for a meeting. I’m not a workaholic, but my success has come from a willingness to do the things that many others won’t.

Combine deep skills and wide knowledge. They say that you have to paint a thousand pictures before you can produce your first masterpiece and it’s true; until you have made 30 deals and watched them progress for five years, then you don’t know what can happen.
You have to work hard to develop deep skills, but then marry them with broad experience. English shoe-makers are as skilled as you can get, but they would have more success if they learned about marketing and branding. For example, I always keep up to date with the technology industry, because it is so fast-moving and disruptive. You can’t be an expert in everything, of course, but if you have a wide-ranging curiosity you can add new lessons to your core skills.

I hate “almost”. In business, and certainly in the world of fashion and luxury it’s the final 1 per cent that makes all the difference. At Lodger we made a classic wing-tip Chelsea boot, and it took us a year to get it right. The first one we did was good, but the eighth was perfect.

In order to stand out in a competitive marketplace you have to be 100 per cent all the time. I hate things that are almost right.

It infuriates me to see something that is almost beautifully done, but stopped short. Either do it right, or don’t do it at all.