Pret & Itsu Founder: How I Built TWO Billion Dollar Brands At The Same Time!: Julian Metcalfe | E173 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Pret & Itsu Founder: How I Built TWO Billion Dollar Brands At The Same Time!: Julian Metcalfe | E173".
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I love failure. I fail every day. I don't care about it. Just get on with it. - Now, prayer to naive, but it's who you are, absolutely an entrepreneur at heart. - As all the fish are going in one way, you suddenly look around, you think, "Damn it, I'm gonna go the other way." - When you look back at prayer, at a business, you ended up selling for two billion. - I have no idea what I was doing. It wasn't planned, endless moments of magic, moments of bizarre creativity and confidence. - What was motivating you? - I wanted to make a difference. I suddenly found myself with this responsibility to open a restaurant. From that start, we built 76 of them. We started developing it so it could become the future. - The absence of both parents. - He was quite distant, my father. My mother committed suicide when I was seven. That created a loneliness. - To create something new, you've got to put yourself in slightly uncharted territory. - Business isn't just business to you, is it? It's not just about the money. - No, and it shouldn't be to anyone. I'm far more interested in the relationships with the customer and the staff and the product. I was obsessed by that. I was obsessed. It's incredible what people can do. People don't trust them. People don't nurture them. 'Cause they're too busy being selfish, nurturing themselves. - What's the worst crisis you've ever had in your business? - I don't even want to go into it. - I want to hear it. - So without further ado, I'm Steven Bartlett, and this is the Diary of a CEO. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. - Julian.
Life Story & Career Journey
Early years (01:32)
- Yeah. - I was exposed to a number of hardships as a child. - You said that? What did you mean? - I love the way you start off with a little killer. I can't remember who I said that to. And I was expecting, well, I'm not alone, by the way. A great many people watching this or listening to this were exposed to hardships far greater than mine. But the death of my mother, when I was seven, she, my mother committed suicide on Boxing Day. So I was left, and my parents were divorced. So we lived, the three of us, my brother, sister and I lived with our mum. But that was a difficult thing. That created a loneliness. - Did you realize that at the time, did you realize the impact that incident had had on you growing up? - Probably not. No, I think I, that you don't, when you're lonely, you don't really age eight or nine or 12. You don't really know your lonely. You just, you don't feel whole, I suppose. You don't feel completely whole. Other people seem to be jollyer than I was at that age. That's for sure. - As an adult, did you ever look back and try and understand the significance of that particular event and how it might have shaped you? - I think the event, I don't know if it's shaped me, but it's definitely added a complexity to my character, which has made me, which has helped shape my relationship with people, my relationship with work, my relationship with everything. Yeah, there's no doubt it would be silly to pretend that it didn't. - Reminds me of something that I talk about this guy a lot. A guy said to me, he came on this podcast. He was Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant's trainer. And he talked about how some of the things that happened to us early, that are traumatic, end up being the cause of our, what he called light side, which is the talent, our brilliance, the thing we become known for. But they're also the contributor to our dark side, which can be our complexity, our insecurities, one of those kinds of things. Do you think that event, so early on, or any event early on in your life, that particular event, let's focus on that particular event, hadn't contributing factor to what people would consider to be your brilliance, this incredible career you've had. - Listen, I think people become obsessive and they become successful and they work extremely hard for all kinds of different reasons. They want to become relevant. They want to be, they want maybe to be careful of seek admiration they didn't get, or they have parents who didn't acknowledge them. I really, I don't know. All I know is it must have probably, of course it had some effect on the way I work and the view of my life and have lived my life. - Yeah, but I think over time, over many years, it's waned as I've kind of developed as a person. I'm nervous about even suggesting that, to be fulfilled and to make change and to really contribute to society, you have to come from a dark place. 'Cause I don't think you do. Certainly not as dark as something like that. - You know, I think about, when I meet a lot of obsessive people, tends to be the case that something quite extreme had poked them in their life at some point to make them give them that chip on their shoulder. Whether it's Michael Jordan or Kobe or whether it's Eddie Hearn and that feeling of living in his father's shadow in the insecurity of that. And now these are the sons of billionaires that I meet who've built big fashion empires. They're very dominant fathers have made them obsessive, obsessive by convincing them vicariously that they're not good enough, for example. And so that's why I always tend to go in search of understanding where that obsessiveness comes from. - You're right, too, and there's bound to be a correlation, as you know, from all so many of the people you've interviewed and you're clearly very empathetic that you will find a train, a common denominator there. But it's not everything. It's certainly not for a great many people listening or watching who have not faced, judgingly or sadness like that. They need to know that it's not an essential part of being able to get on and do extraordinary work. - What about your father?
The affect your parents had on you (06:00)
- My father was quite distant, my father. He was kind of old-fashioned. My parents were very, very different. My mother was Ukrainian, immigrant, and kind of wild and wonderful. And my father was really kind of aris posh aris, a kratik, an instrument, rather distant and cold. He then made a mistake of marrying someone for a very short period of time when I was about 10, 11. That ended very, that did not end well for any of us, the three children. So it's not a great time between seven and 16. It was a messy childhood, I think. - Did you live with problems? - Did you ever go in search of answers as to why your mother made that decision? - No, I didn't. I didn't because not that many people knew my mother, actually, we lived alone with her. She was just, she was, just had serious mental issues, that she was just ill and sad and it's awful, you know, terrible, terrible, it's common, I mean, listen, it's common. This happens all the time. This happens too much. Too much, too common. That distance from the absence of both parents, that's kind of what I've ascertained from what you said so far. There was an absence of both parents to some degree. I resonate with that for my own reasons. My mum was working so hard that she decided to end up sleeping in the shop, so I'm the youngest of four as well and typically what you find, I think, is the youngest one gets treated like the older ones, at a certain point, especially if it's a boy. And so by the age of 10, neither of my parents are there or they wake up and neither of them are there when I go to sleep, on one hand that gives me great independence. It means that I stop going to school because no one's going to punish me if I don't. And that is maybe in my case what led me to becoming, in my view, an entrepreneur, there was a void of responsibility or sort of accountability which led to independence, so I started selling things and doing what I liked. That made me very bad at following rules later in life, which I think is I'm going back and connecting the dots and hindsight, but I think that led me to be on the internet. No, I'm sure that showed that would make complete sense. So both of us have that in common. But then, you know, so to a great many others. In addition to my, I had a real problem with authority, I went to really old fashioned schools, who were sent away to schools age seven, and in both cases the schools were really, really old fashioned, and in my opinion, terribly badly run, with all kinds of bad things going on. It was just shocking. So I had a really bad relationship with authority. I felt it completely let me down on every level. I still do actually. So maybe that's why I branched out on my own early to try and, I just, you know, we're so many of us are let down by people in power and authority. I find, you know, sad, irritating. Really, he is irritating, actually. It doesn't matter if it's people who run companies or people in politics or people who run schools. It's just particularly schools. I think people who are in charge of young children need to nurture them and look after them and help them build their confidence and strength, not put them through a meat grinder. That's what happened in your school? The first private school I went to was just shocking. Yeah, really, really, I didn't even want to go into it because it was just up. Upset your view at your view. I'm not going to go there. I'm not going to go there. I refused together, but it was just not a good experience, not a good place. And so that's where I think I learned very, very early on to seriously distrust authority deeply. And perhaps then realize, okay, you've got to forge your own path and work with people who you trust and people who are worthy of your love and people who give back rather than people who you know, climb that ladder into positions of authority. But a great many of us suffer from this. A great many of us are working, are asked for people who don't really support us or appreciate us or want to develop our characters or skills or anything. Commerce is selfish. The people who do well in commerce, if you look at your success, 90% of it is because of your understanding of the way human beings work. It's about giving and taking and giving and thinking long term. That's what really builds success, I think. I really do. I mean, one advantage, I had my father used to spend a lot of time entertaining very, very kind of powerful people, particularly from America. And I realized that in the end, mostly just pretty average human beings, but who had achieved a lot. And I started seeing them with all their faults and warts and realizing, wow, to make a difference. It's not impossible. But you need the right structure, and I think so many of us work in a structure which is simply not possible, whether it be politics or fear or our own insecurities or whatever it is. There's just not enough transparency in this world. A great many of us are working with no transparency at all in our place of work, don't you think?
The importance of transparency (12:01)
I get the feeling you thrive off transparency. You like it. You face things head on. And you like people around you to face things head on. That's the way to build. It's the only way. Yeah, I've been on a journey. I think when I was a bit more insecure, I think transparency felt like a risk. And then as I've developed myself and also in my businesses, transparency felt like a great motivator. And I actually said to my team, some of which are in the room now, at the start of this month, that every quarter, I'm going to show you all the financials of our entire business. So you can see everything. And also, you're going to see that I've never taken a pound out of this business ever because I want them to understand. That's an example of for me, transparency in a business context being a real big motivator. Then one of the younger girls on the team, when I was in the car one day, turned to me and said, "By the way, you're doing that completely change my perception." Because I think they thought that I was making this money from doing this podcast or whatever it is or any of my business, and then taking the money into my pocket as it comes in. So to show them that I've never taken a penny ever, I think, aligns us. No, no, listen, it's transparency and people being open and honest and building trust. It's by far the most important characteristic ever. The day I started my work for the last 40 years, I've now realized it's what you should value and crave more than anything. It's worth everything. Transparency is everything. And so many people work in an environment. We're simply not there. They're just not used to it. They can't expect it. They can't demand it and they're not going to get it. And that's bad. Move job, change. Don't you shouldn't work for people who aren't transparent? And that's... Transparency is a wonderful thing. Can you get some honesty? A truth. Truth is wonderful. Can you define your definition of what you mean when you're saying transparency? Well, well, I mean, to keep it really simple, let's stick to the world of commerce. And the world of commerce is...and probably politics, but I don't know. I have no understanding of politics and I've no inkling ever to be a politician. But in the world of commerce, there's not nearly as much transparency as there should be. So sharing information, sharing truth, saying what you feel, being honest with your colleagues, your teammates, as well as the people who work with you and for you. And just...you can't take that stuff for granted because it doesn't happen in most places. I don't know. You need a collective...you need...you need to...I don't know why. You tell me why. Why do you think 90% of businesses are not nearly as transparent as they should be and could be? We know what they are. So it's all about people protecting their own fears. It's about their own insecurities, about protecting their own pay, their bonuses. There are a thousand reasons why there's not the transparency we deserve as human beings. Because to achieve the truth, so say like I'm just for an example, say I run an organic vegetable store. Yep. I can, on one hand, go to the extra effort of actually being organic, which means it costs me more. I have to do a bunch of stuff in the supply chain, whatever. Or I can say I am... I'm pretending to be. I can get the same return. Exactly. Two decades ago, it would be very hard for you to find out I was lying because the world wasn't connected with the internet. There was no glass doors, social media tweeting, instantaneous communication. So I think the world of business grew in a black box approach where your PR, your marketing, your messaging was painted out on the outside of your business by the marketing director. We're now in a glass box world where everybody can see inside and they can talk with someone in Australia in a second. So I think there's been this, I think, transparent businesses in the last 10 years in the connected world have really won for that reason. Okay, no. There's no doubt. It's much harder to lie with the gut to your consumers. There's no question. But I'm more interested in the lies, the deceit and the lack of transparency and the darkness with the relationships people have with their employees and their employer. Where a great deal of stuff is never said. Like, well, I mean, how many people do you know, what is a percentage of people who wake up on a Monday morning want to go to work? I mean, it's frighteningly small. Why do you think that is? I mean, if 80% of the people who you work with, you find out they didn't want to come to work. Wouldn't you find that devastating? Wouldn't surely, wouldn't you look in the mirror and say, what on earth am I doing wrong? I think if that was the case, I also wouldn't want to come to that place. Of course, you wouldn't. But the thing is, now you've got to ask yourself, why does that apply to 70% of all working people? And what are they meant to do? How do we sitting here around this round table? What do we mean? How can we help them? How can we help nurture a thing where people have got the courage to be transparent and say what they feel? What do you think the answer is? I don't know. But we're living in a times where it's beginning to happen. I mean, listen, just look at the Me Too movement. Who would have thought a few years ago that could have generated the point of the pandemic? Generated the speed and power it did. It's an incredibly good thing. I mean, you know, that went from, I dare not say anything to the whole world saying everything. In just one year, two years. Fantastic. There's a small example of absolutely zero transparency. It's sick. Power. Corrupt. This awful thing to sit. But we know this is true. We know it's true. As you're a boss, you have a position of huge responsibility. You know. I know we all know that.
Affection & self esteem (17:44)
What about affection? One of the things that was definitely absent from my childhood was affection. I didn't even call my parents mum and dad. I still don't until this day. Their absence, I think, was one part of that. But also just, I didn't have affection. So growing up, the thought of calling someone a friend, a best friend, still to this day makes me cringe. It's just a little bit... Yeah. In your case. God, be an affectionate person. I've never been asked that question. I have absolutely no idea how to answer it. Because do I compare myself to other people? I have no idea. You don't know if you're affectionate or not? I think I'm affectionate. In your own way. But I also know for years I struggled with self-esteem. I'm sure I felt completely unlovable for decades, probably. I'm sure. But then, I've had, in my opinion, I've been blessed with amazing relationships with friends and family. I'm just completely blessed. I'm not a baby. I'm 62 years old. I have two of my children work with me. What more could you possibly dream of than that? So I must have some relationship with the concept of affection. How, where it came from and how I grew it. I'm not entirely sure. Because I certainly didn't get it from my mother and father. I also got it from close friends and maybe just looking and learning. There's no point trying to go through life without it. What you give, you get back. Prettomaggio started, you know, it became kind of incredible family. The warmth and love and care which went into the building of relationships and that company was breathtaking. It was like a family. It started with one store and ended up with hundreds. There was a time when it was truly extraordinary extended family. That's where I grew to understand the power of deep affection, love and trust. It definitely came for me much later than for most people. You said you think there was probably decades where you didn't love yourself? Yeah, I mean decades as in in my teens and then in my twenties. I don't know how good you are at reflecting and self discovery. I'm kind of a five out of ten probably. I mean I pushed myself therapy and even doing this I think called the Hoffman. Have you heard about Hoffman? Yeah, I did the Hoffman. He's kind of great. What a genius that guy was. But so I try. What was your question? How long? The decades of self-loathing? I don't know. No, not how long. Just what were the symptoms of that? Just probably just that ongoing feeling of being completely unworthy. That's what you get when you don't have parents. So loving, you're not nurtured. You feel lonely. You grew up with that feeling of unworthiness. And I always believe, I actually wrote it I think in my book on my note power or something, that the things that made us feel invalid when we're younger end up being the things we seek validation from when we're older. That's a complete common sense of truth. What? Did you feel unloved? I knew my parents loved me. I just didn't learn what affection was. So think about it. I don't even call them dad and mum today. I didn't learn what it was. I also because their relationship was incredibly dis, like loud and so I've said this a million times before it's in my book. My mum was screaming my dad for seven hours a day. My mum is African. She can really hit some notes. And my dad would sit there. He's a guy from Coventry. You know, it was a middle aged white man and he would just be totally silent. And that was my model of relationships. If you're with a woman, you are in prison. So I didn't get into a relationship to last 27. So I learned all of those models and then, you know, I would chase women when I was young. I would chase women when I was 14. I would chase women when I was 21. The minute they turned to me and said, yes, I would dissuade them. I'd immediately talk them out of it. But why do you think that's because once you had them, you felt that you didn't deserve their affection? Or was it just the competition of getting them to prove that you were worthy of them? Because I would pursue them because of the reasons why we pursue anyone. Because they're beautiful and I have those hormones and that desire. And I, you know, I have that. Okay. The minute we got to commitment, we're going to be boyfriend and girlfriend. So you were frightened of the commitment? I would immediately felt like my dad trapped in a cage. Okay. So I would dissuade them from it. So it was literally, it took me till I was 25 to figure out what was going on while I was running away from women that I was chasing. The minute we got to commitment, boyfriend and girlfriend, it made me, my skin crawl and it made me feel like I was trapped. So I dissuade them. So in your case, that could have just been because of what you had witnessed. 100%. So over years, you've just witnessed this dysfunctional relationship where in a way your father was trapped. So it kind of, so mine was different to that because I never saw my parents together. Ever. I don't think I barely ever saw them in the room together. That's not quite true. My father used to come down occasionally on Sunday, but I never saw them arguing. So my take on what love was and should be was, it must have been my own invention. I don't know. But I've come to, it's a fascinating subject. When you study people who are in supportive, wonderful relationships, I find it enthralling. I'm in fascinating. Fascinating. It's the most fascinating thing to study. How people adapt their life to be completely in love with someone and live their life just showing warmth and kindness and forgiveness and love is very enriching if you can do it. It's definitely something to, it's a goal. It's a great goal. I mean, it's a goal. There are other goals, but that's got to be the greatest, I guess. I think we admire others the things we don't have in ourselves, right? So people would look at you and go, "How the hell, the greatest goal is to build prep." And I would look at someone else and say, "What you've just said." I'd say, "The greatest goal is to..." "How the fuck did you stay together for 50 years when I'm struggling to stay together for two or one?" Yeah. Yeah, I guess that's what makes life fascinating in the sense that some people can achieve the goals that you and I think are really very, very difficult. Doesn't stop us struggling to get there. What was the consequence then of you growing up being in your early 20s and not feeling like you quote unquote sort of enough? Was that... Well, on the dark side, I guess it made me focus more and made me more determined, I guess. More determined. Just... Where most people packed off and went home, I would... I'd be prepared to stick it out. But you can't... I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day about the use of this expression hard to work. He said, "It's not hard work. It's not... It's a great many people work very, very hard." And they don't succeed. It's not that it's about... It's about the evidence. It's about, "Can you make change? Are you getting better? Is your product better? Is your service better? Is your relationship with the people you work with? Is it better?" You know, it's about proof. It's about real facts. It's not just hard work. Hard work. We just use that expression. I work really hard. I know a lot of people who work really, really hard, but they don't work in the focus way that you and I work. So it's... It's worth kind of thinking, "Well, what is the difference between them and us? What is it?" And if we have to guide anyone, if they seek, if they already are in a rich, wonderful relationship and they want to run a company, their own company, they want to be self-employed, how can we guide them? What is it that we have that they don't? And would we swap their wonderful rich, incredible relationship to have another 500 employees? I'm not sure. I think you can have both. Oh, that's what I... That's my goal. You know, I'm determined to have both. Determined to have both. Don't have to have one without the other. It's not true. I mean, it's hard to have both. But come on. It's got to be worth aiming for, isn't it? Do you have both now? Yeah. Not in full because my career is only half there and I'm... Oh, I'm not running out of steam, but it's so annoying. I'm running out of time. And my relationship with my seven kids, I've got four steps left. Four step kids, three of mine. I've got... How long have we been together? 15 years? Look, I mean, yeah, I'm bloody lucky. I'm really fortunate. I think I picked really well. You know, I'm bloody lucky with that. But I'm like a bloat, I guess. I'm going to do my damnedest not to.
Was money driving you? (27:27)
When you look back at starting prep, we're talking about what's driving you there. Was there any epiphanies around what was really driving you on that day when someone first came along and said they were going to buy your company? Because for me, I thought I was being driven by money until someone offered me it. And then I thought, "Oh, God. There must be something else motivating me here." I don't know about that myself. I've often wondered. Did money and the pursuit of money ever driving? I don't think so. I think I saw enough people when I was young with a lot of money who were absolutely miserable and dysfunctional and miserable. Actually, my mother had a lot of money and obviously lost it all and died. So I had a very good example of someone with a huge amount of money who had nothing. We didn't inherit any of her money, but it was a good example of someone who was miserable with money. Money doesn't. It's awful. When people like you and I say, "Money doesn't make you happy. It's nothing but irritating." There's a statement like that when a great many people don't have a large cash reserves in their bank account. But the fact is we both know that it doesn't. What was most amazing you had? Well, I think I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be relevant. I wanted to be admired. Yeah, I wanted to do something interesting and great. I wanted people to look at me and think, "Wow, this guy's serious. He's onto something. He matters." Then I wanted to create these important relationships that people I worked with. I wanted to see people flourish around me. That really mattered to me. I wanted to try and wipe away all the some of that pain. I wanted that. And then deep down, I really love and passionately creative, the creative process of what I did. So the design and the food and the taste and the look and the feel and breaking down every barrier, which I just, as far as I only saw opportunity, you have to be very resourceful and determined in my particular business. As we were saying before, it's basic. If you want to sell the best cake in the world at the best price, you've got to be damn resourceful. You've got to work with geniuses. You've got to have the best equipment, the best everything. And that doesn't happen overnight. You don't get that by picking out the phone and ordering something. You have to create it. And you have to be unbelievably resourceful. With regard to the food, the design and my belief in what food should be and could be for people. It knows no balance, no end, no end. I'll stop at nothing. Love it. Those dinner parties, your father thread. Oh, yeah. Did they have any lasting impression or lasting impact? Well, no, most of the time I was in the kitchen, actually. So I'd meet these remarkable people. But my love of food started because I used to spend all the time in the kitchen. And there was a guy who used to come and cook. He was really talented, Tony. And I'd spend the night with him, watching him work. From the age of about 14, 13. It was fascinating. And that's really where my love of food started with him, watching him work. So it was a combination of becoming obsessed with what food could be and should be. And at the same time, not being frightened of all these rather dysfunctional but immensely successful people I met through my father. I didn't really get to know them very well but a few. At the time, it's hard to determine.
What was the "specialness" that made Pret successful (30:59)
When you're building a business and it's going well, it's hard to determine at the time what's actually making it brilliant and the specialness as you've called it before. In hindsight, I think it's much easier to look back and go, "That's why we were special and different. That's why we won." When you look back at Prett, a business, you ended up selling for $2 billion or something crazy. A huge number. Yeah. Okay, it doesn't matter. It's a huge number. What was the specialness? What did you unintentionally do? What was the... Well, some of it, it wasn't planned. It happened endless moments of magic. Endless moments of bizarre creativity and confidence. Exactly the same with your business. It's just so difficult. You didn't write it all down and plan it. It just happened with moments of confidence. Endless moments of swimming upstream. As all the fish are going in one way, you suddenly look around and you think, "Damn it, I'm going to go the other way. I'm not going to swim in this direction. This can't be right." That takes guts. It takes bravery. It takes relationships with people. It takes hiring talent. You have to have the guts to hire talent. People's often much better than you. You've got to be prepared to listen and listen until it hurts. You've got to be prepared to fail over and over and over again. I love failure. I love it because it's just a damn journey. I really love it. I fail every day. I don't care about it. I just get on with it. It's wonderful. But with prep, food is a magical thing to be able to do. It's like music or film. It's because when we know it's good, it's wonderful. It's wonderful. In those days in 1986, when we started, it was in the doldrums. It was also boring and awful. It was just a question of... But prep wasn't just built with food. It was built with a combination. It was kind of built with a magical, magic approach to the respect and love. Obsession about creating pride and trust with the team, with the employees. I was obsessed by that. Obsessed by that, actually. How important was it for you that you were naive? Because I think naive... Bloody. It was very important. I have no idea what I was doing. None. Why was that important? I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time, actually, because I spend my life casting myself out into never, never land. I don't know what I'm doing half the time. But you learn. You listen. You talk. You talk to the right people and you learn. Because to create something new, you've got to put yourself in slightly uncharted territory. And then you've got to be prepared to fail many, many times and keep going. That's all prep was just a series of hundreds of failures. That's all it was. Moments of failure. And then moments of glory. Moments of wonderful moments of bravery. Yeah, that was it. You know exactly what I'm talking about. It's moments, endless moments where I like goes on. You think, "Okay, I'm going to take that risk. I'm going to do it." It feels right. Something in your heart says it's go for it. It could be working with people, promoting people or giving them extraordinary opportunity or developing something which no one's ever eaten before or, I don't know, hundreds of different things. Or when systems don't work and you're not getting the behaviors or the warm, or the trust you crave, then you have to think outside the box. You've got to think again. We used to. There was one store after about the 10th, the 10th, I think I couldn't understand why the atmosphere in this store was so bad. Fleet Street. Oh, it was Fleet Street. Bloody hell. And it was the first time I had paid a recruitment company for a top manager. Suit and tie, the whole thing. And yeah, it's true. I met this girl who I recognize who worked in the store, a young, scruffy girl on the tube on the way home and she burst into tears. And she said, "I'm leaving on Monday." Because her manager was a dick. And I didn't need her to explain what dick meant. I knew exactly what she meant. My God, I'd been at school. I'd been, all the teachers were dicks. I knew exactly what she meant. And I hated, I hated the idea of this determined, brave, trust-worthy, trust-worthy, trust-worthy, wonderful, loving, fabulous young lady being bullied by dick. So we fired the dick and we promoted her to manager. I never looked back. I think I learned more from that young lady than anyone I've ever learned in my life, actually. The hope and the joy that you see yourself in. Oh, my God, I've never thought about that. Oh, my God, maybe. But no one ever gave me that opportunity. I had to fight for it. I didn't give her that opportunity. She earned it, actually. She earned it just by being herself. She was a great manager, too, actually. I don't know how I knew. I didn't know she was going to be a great manager. There was something about her. There was something about her. And by the way, there's something about a great, great many people I meet. They all have so much going for them. They just don't believe it. They're just not working in an environment where they're giving the opportunity they deserve. People don't trust them. People don't nurture them because they're too busy being selfish, nurturing themselves. Sounds like you're talking about your school teachers. They were idiots. It was just, it completely idiots. And they're just downright, no one should be, they shouldn't have been paid. But there are a lot of authorities like that. I mean, a lot. And that stores sales doubled or something? Oh, my God, you're double-triple. Yeah, of course. Why? Because there was trust. There was care. There was pride. There was love and forgiveness. There was gold. There was everything wonderful in life. Right there. Right there.
How I run my businesses (37:06)
Business isn't just business to you, is it? It's not just about the money. No, and it shouldn't be to anyone. But it is because we worked short-term goals. So many of us are controlled, but bossed around. We have to work, we're, you know, people's emotions are incredibly inconvenient in commerce. Aren't they? Let's face it. And some people like you and other people have found ways of being, you know, found ways of bypassing all that shit. And you let people be themselves. And you actually encourage people to be themselves, to speak up, to be transparent. That's what you need. That shop was completely transparent. It was beautiful. And that's what builds great, great companies or great teams or great sports teams, no matter what it is, or makes great movies. It doesn't matter or anything. People need that feeling of a sense of purpose and trust and openness, I think. And finally, you talk much more in terms of culture than you do in terms of tactics and tricks and discounting and these kinds of things. Oh my God. It seems to start more with culture with you. Yeah, I think it's, if you're trying to break down barriers and do things new, which I've now spent the last 20 years really taking on almost an extraordinary wonderful challenge, which we will win. We will get there. With it too. Yeah, it's a affordable, nutritious food. And it's just reinventing itself over and over and over again. I mean, it's 20 years old and it's had three reinventions. The latest ones are beginning to be to really pay. I mean, they're really wonderful because the world, the Europe, the cities in which we live desperately need affordable, nutritious food. We are half 40% I think plant-based. Our entire menu is under 500 calories. Most of it is under 400. You know, this is what people need. They can't go on in the developed world being 50% obese or whatever it is now. It's shocking. But this is, we can't blame anyone for this. There's no point even blaming ourselves. There's no one to blame. But it's about my responsibility, I think, is with my team to carry on pioneering the systems and the systems to make it possible to sell really nutritious good food for seven quid. It's possible. You talked about hiring and the importance of people and the right people there. One of the things that I read that you've done very early on with PrEP was to allow the current employees to sign off on an incoming team member. So when someone comes for an interview, the people that decide if that person's going to get a job are the current team members. Yeah, so the office used to pay for, for, we'd interview people. We'd go through the list of the shops which the Pretomage is which needed people coming up and would send them there and they would spend the whole day there, paid. And at four o'clock no one would know. They wouldn't know this, but at four o'clock all the staff would vote on a napkin, yes or no. So they'd go around the whole team. They'd, we'd find ways of getting as many people to spend 25 minutes with them as possible and then at four o'clock they'd vote. And then we'd ring the person up, you got in or you didn't. And why was that useful? Because, I wish I'd been able to do that at school. Because I realized after about seven or eight, perhaps it was dysfunctional, that you only needed a slightly not particularly reliable or trustworthy manager. And what would they do? They'd hire the people they wanted. The whole system would just be abused. And there were a couple of examples where that was happening and it just made me sick. Because it was so bad for the team, it was bad for the culture, it was bad for the manager and it was really bad for the customers. So I just created this simple system which was so beautiful. It was beautiful because young people were voting on other people's lives within a few weeks of starting. That was great, empowering them, trusting them. That was great. Good for them, huh? Really good for them. Small details, you know, when I read through your story of both your businesses, all your businesses, I noticed that there's a real eye for detail. You know, if I think about it too and the orchards you have there, you have real orchards in the it suits, right? It could very well fake them like I do. I mean, I'm pretty sure there's some fake orchards in here. There's definitely some fake orchards upstairs. You went for the real ones. In Prett, one of the things that's ultimately defined the brand, culture at the right time is the fact that the food is all completely fresh. So none of it has a sell by date. It doesn't stay there till tomorrow, ever. These small sort of concerns with detail, how defining have they been for you in hindsight? Because sometimes people are told not to sweat the small stuff. Okay, so quite a lot of this stuff is to me at the time is just going to, obviously in other words, if your product, if you want to expect your customers to be loyal to you, you've got to treat them with respect. You've got to sell them something worthy of their hard-earned money. But people care about the bottom line. You get that cost you more money. No, that's ridiculous. I'm not a very good accountant. I'm not interested in the numbers at all. I'm far more interested in the relationships with the customer and the staff and the product. The numbers are just look after themselves. They really, really, really do. Anyway, I've always been lucky to be, to have wonderful, brilliant people around me who are much better than I at numbers. I hate numbers. They're so boring. I shouldn't say that because without the numbers you can't grow. So I feel very strongly that we have to have numbers which enable us to grow because if we can grow, we can feed more people and then we can give opportunities. Someone told you that after the fact. I can tell that wasn't your default position. It was a bit. Exactly. But I find the numbers awfully boring compared to the product and the relationships with the people. They're just like a school report in a way, aren't they? If you want to give away and refuse to keep all your sandwiches to the next day and what's more drive them in a van to the homeless people who need them, clearly they've got to be delicious. They've got to taste good enough so people will pay 50p more or 30p more. That's just basic common sense, isn't it? I think the whole numbers thing is reasonably common sense. So you never even, you, I'd pray you didn't even throw the food away. You would drive it in a van. Even when we were making no profits, we had a van to take it to the homeless. Of course. Yeah, because you can't expect people to make the food with pride and then throw it away. Yeah, we're obsessed about not throwing it away. You can't throw it away. And then if you take the piss out of your customers, you'll lose them. Don't you find it extraordinary how often you get shocking service where you've spent a lot of money and no one gives a damn? And I'm not going to name big companies, but I can think of some companies where I've spent five or six thousand pounds on something and they don't answer. And it can be shocking and they still don't care. Oh my God, I will answer every customer now today if the customer's right to me. I'll answer them before I go to bed. No question. The other thing that was quite, I remember hearing about thinking, oh, that's cool and different, is one in every 100 coffees or something you would give away to. No, it wasn't that. No, it was much more than that. It was like, okay, so we didn't have a loyalty scheme for years and years and years because we couldn't quite know what to do and I couldn't. But what I realized is very early on, I think in pre-number 12 or something, we said, I know, what we'll just encourage everyone who works there to give whatever they want away to whoever they want to. It was wonderful. We used to do these things called "Buddy Days." The whole office, everyone had a buddy shop and my buddy shop was Oxford, but we used to give away five or six or ten products every single day to anyone, a regular customer, someone who had a long face, someone who fancied, it just didn't matter. Because when you do good stuff, it always comes back. You get it back, you've got to think long term. And so this was a good example of where we begged everyone who worked for us, just be kind, give it away, they exceed the expectations of customers, they'll come back. And you know what? Try to do the most extraordinary thing. Some of the most profitable shops, short time, short time, we find weren't giving anything away. So the manager was saying to us, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no giveaways, no giveaways." Because their margins, their profit margin was better. So we introduced a button on the till called "The Joy of Pratt." I didn't do this, Clive did this. He introduced a system whereby at the press of a button on the computer could tell us every single store which wasn't giving away enough. Because when you gave something away, you had to press, you registered on the till as a giveaway. So we quickly found out all the managers who were running their businesses too tight, they were being a bit mean. They thought they were doing a good job by delivering more profit. What they didn't realize is no, no, to do a great job, you need to build a long-term relationship with your staff and your customers. So give them a coffee, give them a croissant, just do it. Do you have any evidence numerically to support that that worked? No, none, zero. And everyone used to come in professionals and consultants just say, "This is ridiculous. What are you doing?" Your loyalty scheme is a joke. And I just... What can you say? Just... No. Fuck. It works great. But it can't... You know, different... It works great, but you can't prove it. That's the typical CEO thing. It's like, "Can I explain it to a CFO?" It's just like, "Just believe it." The only reason we're sitting here now, you and I, is because multiple times we've just made decisions like this. Half the time we thought to pretend to people we work with and we know what we're talking about, when in fact we have complete no idea. But if it feels right and you think long-term, you do it, you just persuade them, you pretend you know. You justify it in hindsight. Well, of course. You find some study. Find some study or just say, "Let's try it." And then... And then find you say, "We're going to try it." Yeah. I wonder sometimes about how, you know, in your story and in my story, how our traumas and how our experiences with authority or with our parents or with shitty corporate jobs we had ended up shaping the decisions we made in our businesses and defining us. That's why I reference naivety. Not knowing the correct answers and in some cases having a problem with rules and authority and them creating a more modern culture that... I think so. Yeah. I'm sure. I see it over and over again. I bet you all the crap we went through definitely helped us break through and just do things differently. Must do. Yeah. When you know something doesn't work, why not just try something else? That's why Foundalid Businesses, you know, you think about Steve Jobs' perspective on the world to remove that keyboard and to do those small decisions that they made. Maybe it was driven by ego insecurity or whatever, but for some reason it gives people courage of their convictions to create new things. Yeah, of course it does. New ways. And also a never-ending pursuit for the better detail to make something better. And it's endless. That's the thing about the food, it is truly endless. Why did I read that you don't like ambitious managers in your business? I read that you like slow and beautiful growth. Very ambitious people are a pain in the arse. Often very ambitious people, often not always, but often a very short term. And they're really hiding all their crap for their own personal gain, which I understand. They've got their own goals, their own desires, their own dreams of their own house, this car, this house, this school, this whatever the hell it is. But that can be incredibly destructive to someone like myself and my team and an organization, which I take a like a 30-year view to everything I do. I really do, 30 years, which drives, must drive some people I work with up the wall, but I really like to think 30 years. 30 years must be. And if you get someone who's very powerful in your business who's thinking three years, well, look at that. And that's quite common in commerce, as you know. So they can move mountains, but then the mountains crumble. That's boring. It's a waste of everyone's energy and passion and love and everything. In May 2018, you sold your final stake in Pratt.
Selling Pret (50:03)
Yeah. Why? Because I wasn't asked. I had no choice. The new owners of Prussia Monge have nothing to do with me. I've met them once for five minutes. They probably think I'm an absolute idiot. I've never met them. I have no interest in working with me. That's their choice. It's completely... That's their choice. I hope it works for them. So you own the business with your co-founder. That's a long story. Pratt started in '86. I bought a founder in who I met at college. He was much, much cleverer than me, much more disciplined than me. And I had this really strong vision of wanting to do this. But I knew I was smart enough back then to know I needed someone who was respectful of numbers and discipline and the law. So I said to him, "Look, if you leave your job, I'll give you half of this company." And he did. He was brave. He had a good job. And he left his job. And I think probably in the end, after about 15 years, we'd become immensely successful. The two of us. And he wanted to retire. I think the pace that my endless, never-ending pushing on the vision of what this could be, probably driven mental. But he was smart. He retired. He works a bit now. But he kind of retired completely. Which I respect completely. That was his choice. Did it suck at the time when Sinclair told you that he was going to retire? No, no, no, no. I rather admired him. I could never do that. I really admire people who were able to take control of their life like that. I can't. Are you being dragged? What's that mean? Being dragged? Yeah, so take control of their life like that. No, no, I genuinely, I promise you, I think people who are able to take control. I'm going to go walking in the bloody jungle for six months. I have nothing but admiration for people who can do that. So that's why I ask if you're being dragged. Because, like we said earlier, you're admiring something that you don't have yourself for. I don't have it. I don't have it. You don't have control of your life. I do have control of my life because I definitely make the choice to do what I do. But you couldn't stop. And I love it. I really, I'm happiest creating. There's no question. I'm completely in love with what I do. I love it. I really enjoy it. That may sound weird, but it's the truth. I love it. I don't want to be walking in the jungle. I love doing what I'm doing. Every day, I've just had a food meeting now. It was fantastic. We've cracked something we've been working on for a year. We cracked it today. It's incredible. Millions of people will eat this thing in a year from now. And it's because of our relentless passion and hard work to get this thing right. And today, I think we cracked it. And that's wonderful. And then earlier this morning, we cracked a bit of design, which was incredible. I really enjoy it. So I don't want to be in the jungle. He did. He wanted to retire. And I respect that. But it left me in the ship because we didn't have any paperwork between us. And suddenly, different kinds of people came into the business. And they were much more formal and some of the joy burnt out of it. Did he sell his steak at that point? Yeah, he sold a chunk of it. But it really changed. It became professional. And then private equity came in. I mean, we had a very good private equity company, UK One. They were fine. They were very honorable, decent people. But it was definitely the business became a great company. The business became more about becoming a very successful business than developing a very beautiful relationship with a customer and staff. And it was acquired by McDonald's? No, that's not true. No. What happened is for a very short period of time, McDonald's owned a 30% of it. Because I thought that McDonald's, or no, I didn't. The time, the lead, the CEO of the business persuaded me that McDonald's would teach us the disciplines we didn't have for about global expansion. And I, in the end, I kind of caved in. I thought it was a pretty weird idea, but I caved in. But after, it was pretty obvious after a few months, it was a bad idea because they didn't really understand our business. But I tell you what, there was a very, very powerful distinction between a pursuit of real beauty of a product and a relationship with your customers and your staff to running a business and generating sales. Striving at two different outcomes, right? Two completely different. A really clever person can do both. And we did do both. The business was then run by a friend of mine who's, I still work with now, I have a huge respect for, and he did a great job. But in the end, the business was then, of course, sold in 2000. When was it? 18? Yeah. And will the business continue to thrive? I don't know. I hope so. I just honestly don't know, but they certainly don't want anything to do with me. Are you disappointed in the way the business is? No. I'm not disappointed. But do you ever walk in there and go, because I know I did when I left my company, when I resigned my company, gone public and I remember walking, seeing things they're doing and seeing the office and hearing this story and thinking, "Oh, fuck, they've lost the space." No, no, no. I think on the whole for years, the relationship between the company and its members and staff has been wonderful. So I'm often inspired by that. And I've never, no, I never think that. I think, I don't know. You never walked in and gone, "If I was still running this way." No. I don't really. What I think, I sometimes go in and think, "Wow, I wonder what, just think what that could be?" And then I think, "Oh, how complicated that would be to get it there, and thank God I'm not doing both." Because that's what I'm doing on a daily basis now with it too. Because it too will become, in five, ten years from now, a really remarkable home for affordable, nutritious food. That's what it will be. There's no question that's what it is becoming. It's hard to see that right now because it sells too much raw fish. 30% of our sales are a product, which used to be 90%. It's now down to 50, I think, or something. But we're changing and developing all the time now, getting faster and faster at the reinvention of the company.
Starting ITSU (56:14)
I can't quite figure out where the crossover happened between it, Sue and Prez. When '97 the first it's too opened. While you were still the only Prez. I was that Prez. And we had a supplier, a wonderful, the head of marketing at the Japanese center was a young Japanese woman. And she said to me, "I said to her, "Why are you working for this terribly boring company? Why don't you open a Japanese restaurant which is affordable?" Because in those days, Japanese restaurants were really stuck up, really expensive, really boring. And she said to me, "Okay, I'll leave my job if you help, if you pay for it." So I said, "Okay, I'll pay for it. You leave your job." I promised you two weeks later, she rang me up and she said, "I've left my job." And I said, "What have you done? What have you done?" So I suddenly found myself with this responsibility to open a restaurant. So when we found a site and we opened the first it's who, which was very different from what it is now, but it was a start. And from that start we built '76 or something of them. And then about five years ago we started developing it so it could become the future. But we had to open '76 and keep it private. It was a 100% private company I never, ever again wanted to end up in a situation where I owned a minority where the business would take over. In other words, you will do this, you will do this, we will deliver these profits and we don't care about your vision. So I was able to build it to such an extent with the team that we owned it, all of it. And now you have 75 stores in total for something from the UK? We're opening lots of interesting places, really fascinating. Just now in the next 12 months we're opening, I think we open Bromley next week, but it's changing so much.
The hardest day of your career (58:01)
What's the worst crisis you've ever had in your business? Well, I wasn't there. I had left Prett when the crisis happened, when the sesame incident of that poor girl who had food allergies, I wasn't there then. That must have been very difficult for everyone then. And the ups and downs, as you know, as you would have experienced in your business, they're ups and downs every week, every month. So you often think this is a, this is, funny enough, I think most of my job today is telling people not to worry. A lot of people I work with come to me and say that we're in terrible. This is, no, it's not, it's going to be fine. This sesame incident we're referring to is a young girl who had an allergic reaction to a sesame seed. A baguette. In a baguette. She had serious food allergies and she had bought without her mother wasn't there and she bought a baguette and ate it, which was covered in sesame seeds. I mean, it was tragic, really, really sad. And as a result of that Natasha's law has changed, brought in far more labelling food labelling in this country. It's called Natasha's law. Yeah, after her. But it was very painful for her, her family and everyone, her product was awful. But the crisis, they'll come to confess and we'll be fine. We'll be fine. How can you be so sure? Because just stick to the truth. The truth is, you know, the truth is good in the sense that of all the things which could go catch us, struffically wrong, we kind of know about them with regard to the dangers of being on our businesses. Health and safety, for instance, we have a five-star record, the highest record in this country. Every single one is five-star, always. No one else has achieved that before. And that is because the CEO of our company has a fantastic relationship with their head of, say, it's awesome, unbelievable. Our head of safety got up on stage last week and the entire 220 people just completely clapped. I mean, it says a lot because usually those people, you know, so there's culturally, that says something. So, health and safety in our industry is really, really a fear. What else? All kinds of things. Did that incident with Natasha? She, a 15-year-old, dropped a dead on a plane from what I read. Did it change you in any way? Did it make you think differently about, because that's, for me, that's the inconceivable. It almost reminds me of Bob Iger. I read Disney. Yeah, Bob Iger's book about a four-year-old that was playing at Disney and a crocodile comes out of the Disney pond in between the two. Is that of the Disney pond in? No. Yeah, no. And Bob Iger got about to go up on stage in Asia, gets a message from a senior leadership team saying, "A four-year-old at Disney has just been eaten by a crocodile." And I mean, it had a pretty profound impact on him, to say the least. So, well, he was the chief executive at the time. I mean, I know it was terribly hard for the senior team at practice. Although everything they had done was completely within the law. Not that that too cares about that, but it was. I mean, it was, you know, it was just a number of terrible things which took place. It should never have happened. I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. What you do now and how you do it is slowly becoming redundant. That's the case for all industries. But education is the answer. Great teams are only as good as the depth of their combined knowledge. So the more you learn, the more likely your team is to develop and become even better at whatever you do. That's why I've partnered with Vodafone Business because I understand the importance of education throughout the business journey. Their V-Hub has everything you need in order to learn and grow, all completely free of charge. Whether it's information on the latest trends or being able to speak one-on-one to a V-Hub digital advisor. It's a great place to start your learning journey. Go and explore such V-Hub by Vodafone on Google. Go check it out.
Finding out you had a daughter (01:02:14)
A really remarkable thing happened in your life at a certain age when you found out you had a daughter out of the blue. Yeah. I had a feeling you were going to ask about that. That went public, didn't it? Yes. Okay. So my, yeah, that is absolutely true and I work with a stress. Now she's on the board and she sits next to me two days a week and it's incredible. I had at some point in my early life a man walked in, he walked into my mum's shop and he said that he was my uncle. Turns out he was. Yeah. I didn't know I had any uncles in this country. Turns out I did. But tell me about that date for you. How did it happen? How do you find out? What age are you when you find out you have a... Oh, it was about 15 years ago. And she was 26? No, I was about 45. You were 45. She was about... No, she was 19. Oh, 19. She had just started at Bristol University. And her mother called me who hadn't seen for ages. And obviously I had absolutely no idea that her daughter was my daughter. No, absolutely no. I'd never met her. I had no idea. And her mother asked to see me. So I said, yes, me and we met in the Kings Road. And she told me, I sat down. When you suspicious when she asked to see you? No, I wasn't suspicious. I certainly wasn't suspicious of that. I thought maybe she needed help or I don't know. But she was a kind of cool, intelligent, rather wonderful, eccentric, brilliant woman. So I remember her very fondly. I hadn't seen her for ages. So I met her immediately and she just told me, there and then, my daughter, I have a daughter. And she's your daughter. So I asked her, when did you tell her and how has it gone down? And she said, I told her two weeks ago and not well. So then we... Then I tried to contact her. She was a bit standoffish. I was hard to get through to her for a few days. And then I drove up to Bristol University and we met. We met. And I had nothing but an overwhelming desire to... a deep, overwhelming desire to get in there and try my hardest to build her muscle and her strength and her... you know, what had happened to her was incredibly unjust. And I wanted from the depth of my heart to do everything I could to try and repair it. And I will do that and continue that to the day I die. And she's fantastic. And she's really close to my children and my other two. You know, it could be much worse. But I feel this is not an easy thing to go through for her. Not an easy thing for anyone to go through. So she's strong and she's married. She has two kids and a third one on the way and she's really rather remarkable. So the person she thought was her father wasn't. Wasn't. Correct. And why hadn't her mother told her who her father was? Because her mother... I don't... she wasn't... When this happened, they weren't close. The mother and the father, they really weren't close. If you understand what I'm saying, they really weren't that close. And he... the father figure was pretty distant through her life. And when she got to the age of 18, I think probably more distant. And I think the mother realized that this couldn't go on forever. And she... the mother was very brave. She took this hugely brave decision. "Do I tell her the truth or do I not? I have nothing but respect and absolute admiration for the mother having the courage to tell her daughter the truth." And she must have been agony. Agony, all round. But she did the right thing. Was it like arriving to Bristol University that day? Oh, what's it like when you... you find in... you know, when a child's... I can assure you, you know immediately. You just know. So it was lovely. It was lovely. I was really... Funny enough, things like that you would have thought would be completely totally crushing for someone who wasn't that well equipped to deal with that sort of ship. But actually, I found it one really, really, really enriching. And the way my two boys embraced it was incredible. It was really an opportunity to really shine and... and do... and... it was great. It's... it's... You know, I have nothing but admiration for the way she's handled it. Anyway, she... Let's change the subject because she went like this. But you work together now, which is awesome. Yeah, yeah, of course we do. She works in the marketing team. She leads marketing. No, she leads the brand and she's on the board and she's been extremely helpful from day one. She ran the marketing team for four years, actually. She was bloody good at it. But now she has three children, we're about to. It sounds like a really nice movie to me. What are you scared of?
What are you scared of? (01:07:14)
What am I scared of? Oh my God, I'm scared of death. Really? I think. You didn't say you were scared of that. I'm quite a hyper-contrad. I'm scared of that. That's about it. Maybe that's... that's about it. What is death, Skye? No, I think just the whole thing with health and not paying enough attention to your health and... it's completely beyond one's control. I mean, totally. When that goes, you're in... when that... when you're in trouble, you're in trouble. And that can happen tomorrow. So that... it doesn't really scare me. I don't ponder on it too much, but I think we're all hyper. Mischa, my son's a hyper. My wife's book is not a hyper. Shh. I spent my life saying I'm dying. She... she... and then... trouble I've cried wolf so many times. And then one of my step-dorses is quite into medicine. So I refer my illnesses to her quite a lot. Only these illnesses real. So... no, so far we've had quite a lot of... full... we're not gonna go that. But the fact is... yeah, I... I'm not even... I'm not even fear of death. Now I don't fear anything. I fear anything, actually. I really don't. There's no time to fear. It's all time to hope. Hope. And believe and hope. And... and... yeah. The... the... it's incredible what people can do. Not just... not me, but all the people around me. If I had a recipe here and it's the recipe of happiness, what are the ingredients on your recipe?
Path To Happiness
Your happiness recipe (01:08:45)
Listen, I... I... I... I... I don't think about it. I really, really don't. I can think about that. I'm not unhappy. I'm very, very privileged and I'm very lucky to be not unhappy. I have all the material things. I have food, warmth, love. I have everything. So the idea of me... spondering on how I could be happier is kind of... ridiculous. For me, the concept of thinking about how... how I could be happier is kind of... I mean, really? I'm... I've not got enough. I've got everything. I'm so lucky. I'm not unhappy. Are you happy? Yeah, whatever. Yeah. I'm not unhappy. It's a different thing. There's unhappiness and there's happiness. Are you happy? Is it a different? I remember the day my girl... I'm often happy. Listen, get up on Monday and I can't wait to work... to... to race to work with. Same need people. I admire, love and trust. And I leave home surrounded by people who I love admire and trust. Christ, what more could you possibly want than that? I don't know. But it didn't come by accident. So I don't want... I'm not... I'm not... I'm not just saying luck fell in my lap. That's going to be confusing for anyone who's watching this. I have got into the situation through... doing a lot and working and acting on the evidence. In other words, when things don't work out, it's obvious. Change it. Work harder. You know... Same with your personal relationships. This is all within our domain. We can all do this. What advice would you give to me in my... You know, your career is band-long than mine. I'm older. I'm much older than you. Yeah, a little bit. A little bit. A little bit. I think you're on the right track. I mean, that is why you stand out as being... You know, you've had a huge amount of success at a very young age. So if I was you, I'd just stick to what's working. And your endless pursuit of transparency and truth, that is what's got you to where you are today. Actually, you don't underestimate. I don't know who often anyone in your life congratulates you or pats you on the back. But I think you must carry on as you are with showing great empathy and warmth. So even on... I've watched... on Dragon's Den, it's interesting that you... I've noticed you never put anyone down. You're somehow very human, the way you deal with everything. So your ability to work within the world of truth is fabulous. So just don't lose it. Don't lose it. And don't forget, however much, the money's all crap. We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest asks a question to the next guest.
The last guest question (01:11:31)
And they never know who they're asking it to. So in a nice way, all the guests are talking to each other. And they write it in this book and I don't get to read it. If I try and peek, Jack does... He actually, he like, shoes me off with the... Shh! It hits me with the book. Okay. I like this last night so I can easily do that. You don't know what the question is. Oh, God, you're going to ask me the question. Yes. Oh, Lord. But I've thought about my question. Okay, good. So let's... oh, no, I wonder who this was. Ooh, okay. Interesting. You really don't know what it is. On my mother's life, I do not look. And sometimes we have a problem because the handwriting can be an issue. But Jack always checks and I'll say what else happens. Jack will tell me if it's a shit question. So we had one guy who was like, what's your favorite meal deal? So Jack told me about his deal. Good to say. Yeah. So Jack was like, "Steve, the question is shit." I was like, "Fuck." But it only happens once in a while. You can keep that in. Jack made you bastard for an emotional. He's my friend, so it's okay. And he actually knows. He watched the next episode and was like, "You didn't ask the question." I was like, "We'd love to know who asked the question." No, it's allowed to know. Okay. One day you'll be able to find out though because we're going to release them all as... Of course. Of course. Okay. The question that's left for you. What is an inadequacy you admit to that you could work on starting tomorrow? Honestly. I mean, where do you begin with something like that? It's a perfectly good question. But the list is so long. So the only way you can answer a question like that is to choose the biggest inadequacy. I wouldn't know even how to do that. I think what I need to do, and we all need to do, is embrace all our inadequacies and know what they are and accept them and thrive knowing they're there. That's what we need to do. Yeah, I'm not going to answer that question by saying, "I could kiss my wife good night." Or that I do that anyway. Or I could go to the gym more. I could go to the hundreds of things. I'm a very inadequate person. What about in your relationships then? Because you reference kissing your wife. Well, my relationships, there's so much I could do better with all my relationships. That's honestly where to start. But at least I'm aware of that. What are you aware of? I'm aware of the fact that to create the way I do, to work the way I do, comes at a cost. And the cost is? I don't spend enough time nurturing, loving and being supportive to the people I love most. That's just a fact. Do I regret it? No. Do I accept it? Yes. Do they? I pray. And when I'm gone, and if we continue to build something remarkable, they'll know that we're all part of this together. This was made possible by them and myself together with the team. Have you ever had that feedback from them? No. No, they've never actually, I rightly criticized me for it. But I'm aware of it. I mean, I'd have to be an idiot. You know, you don't have children. You're not married, you're in a relationship, right? So this is all stuff for you to face in the future. I get the feedback. That's why I ask the question. Yes, I find out most about myself from my girlfriend turning to me and saying, "It's been a bit of a few years or something like that, three years long enough," saying something to me. And me going, "What are you talking about? What?" and then walking away and going, "Fuck, she's right." No, I, my children, Misha, my son, my older son works in the business and he is fanatical and brilliant and works really hard. Billy, my younger son is a very talented artist and Celeste is there too. So those three are all, they understand exactly what it's like to be completely committed and work really, really, really hard. My four step children equally, the youngest one's just got into an incredible university. My eldest one in S is, they're all very committed and my wife is just the same. I've never known a person with more energy, more determination, who's more supportive and generous and loving. If I've let them all down, they've done a bloody good job of not telling me. When was the last time you cried? Oh, I cry in movies all the time. Brooks says I cry at all the wrong things, like I cry in movies, I cry in this and this, but I don't, she thinks it's weird. She thinks it's really weird to cry in, you know, the voice or something. I don't think it is, it makes me really moved. What about it makes you move? Well, you know, when you see a young, terrified person come on and perform way beyond their expectations and do a remarkable job, particularly when they're young and they have no confidence, but they're just remarkable. Just people who dare, dare take a huge risk. Do you think, do you find it, it's so incredible. The way people dare take a risk, it's what we all need to do. So what everyone listening and watching needs to do more. Seek transparency, take a risk, say it, do it. Just go for it. If something's, you know, and you can do more than you think and you can say more than you do. So do it. Julian, thank you. It's been welcome. Absolutely fascinating, amazing, inspiring conversation. Your personality is just so engaging. Thank you. I feel like I'm getting the truth, which is really, really phenomenal. As a speaker, especially in the medium of a podcast, the passion you have in everything you're saying is so captivating. It really, really is captivating. And I can imagine, now I understand the business. And it's funny that now having met you and I'll ask you these questions and sat here with you, I understand the love and the passion and the attention to detail and the care for the people. All of those things come through so much. And I also think I know where it comes from. And the journey you've had that's led you to really prioritise treating people well. And creating things that are for the long term. Julian, thank you. Do you want to try some? I invested in the company and I'm on the board, disclaimer. And they sponsor the podcast. Yeah. They say, it will come for me if I don't say that. Sure, it's nutritionally complete. It's got all of the goodness, it's vegan, low sugar, gluten free, high protein. I love the design. I love everything about it. I can see why it's captivating. Yeah. Very clot. It's very brilliant. This is banana flavour. God, it's good. It's good, isn't it? Yeah. How many calories do you think this is? I know how many it is. It's roughly 400, believe? Let me check that. Yeah, 400. 400. So it's a full meal in a bottle. It's a perfect solution for every possible control freak in the world because it's... Completely a beginning, middle and end. That's it. Exactly. Wonderful reassuring. There's no grey area with this. For one of the calories, there it is. Yeah. Quick one. As you might know, crafted are one of the sponsors of this podcast and crafted are a jewelry brand. And they make really meaningful pieces of jewelry. I think I've worn this piece for almost a year. It hasn't broken, hasn't changed colour because it's really, really good quality. And it costs roughly 50 quid. I'm not the type of person that has Rolexes or jewelry that costs tens of thousands of pounds. I want pieces that are reliable, that look beautiful, and that hold meaning and significance for me. And that's exactly why I've worn crafted for so long. And when we have the conversation about them sponsoring this podcast, I was so unbelievably keen for them to do so. Check it out if you're a guy crafted London dot com. And yeah, if you get any pieces of crafted tag me, let me know what you think.