Thursday, 30 September 2010

James Caan: My favourite Dragons Den entrepreneur

I don't know how much attention you pay to "Dragons Den" these days. Personally, I've
slightly gone off the main programme and find instead that the follow-up What Happened Next
spin-offs are far more interesting. Sometimes you can pick up a good idea or a useful tip in
amongst the general business chit-chat.

Anyway, I just wanted to talk a little about my favourite Dragon and that's James Caan. He
comes across on TV as calm and thoughtful - "quiet" even, given that entrepreneurs generally
have plenty to say for themselves! And did any of you cricket fans out there hear his interview
with Jonathon Agnew on Radio 4's Test Match Special a few weeks ago? He's a busy, busy
guy with plenty to fill his life but what impresses me about him as a businessman and as a
human being is his ability to show compassion and care about the people he's doing business
with or trying to help through his charitable trust.

James' interview at the cricket was just a few days after the devastating flooding in Pakistan,
the country of his birth, and he was jumping on a plane to fly there straight after the interview
finished. His intention was to go out to some of the villages that had been destroyed; to see
what needed to be done; and to use his own money to help the poor villagers to rebuild their
homes and their lives.

An inspiring and touching story you may be thinking - but why have I posted it on a blog site
dedicated to the spirit of entrepreneurism?

Well the answer to that springs from something I mentioned in an earlier blog on this site, the
piece called “Take A Break: Why doing nothing for a day is good for your business”. In there
I spoke briefly about what happens when you've earnt far more money than you realistically
need so that other "rewards" start to have more value to you than just earning yet more
money. One of these rewards was the opportunity to "buy" time for you and your family by
being able to pay others to do tasks for you. This is a concept that we are all sort of aware of
but the first time that I saw the concept staring straight back at me in black and white so to
speak was in the pages of “How Come That Idiot’s Rich & I’m Not?” and it hit me then how
right the author Robert Shemin was.

Now, getting back to James Caan and his mercy flight to Pakistan, another
entrepreneurs "reward" that Robert Shemin explained and strongly advocated was the
entrepreneurs capability (because of his/her great personal wealth) to "give" to others. And
for grasping and implementing this concept whole-heartedly as a man, and through his
charitable foundation the James Caan Foundation, I believe that James Caan should be
warmly regarded and praised for all his good work.

If reading the biographies of the rich and famous is your thing, then I heartily recommend that
you read James' book “The Real Deal: My Story From Brick Lane to Dragons Den” about the
story of his life. It's my personal favourite out of all the biographies I have read because of
the warmth of James' thoughts and the focus he has always put on people, whether they be
customers, colleagues, friends or family members. So, when you've done your day's work, put
your feet up and "reward" yourself by reading the inspiring personal story of a really nice guy.

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