Good advice is gold dust; the combination of an advisor who knows their stuff and a perennial gem is a rare and valuable thing. I tend to glean advice, rather than ask, preferring to tune in to the knowledge and habits of successful people. That’s how I arrived at these five rules I live by:
1. “YOU NEED JUST ONE”
My father, Paul Vincenzi, was an inventor and a businessman – he founded an advertising agency, magazine publishing company and invented the Tilt Rotor aircraft – so knew all about finding solutions. When I set out, there wasn’t always an easy road when seeking affordable office space or the right investor but my dad would say, “It doesn’t matter there aren’t lots, because you need only one. Keep going and you’ll find it.” It’s my response to defeatists who say the solution we’re looking for doesn’t exist. “Doesn’t it?” I ask. “Not even one?”
2.“NO-ONE IS TOO CREATIVE TO UNDERSTAND A BALANCE SHEET”
Graham Pugh – a marketing agency creative director – is a great friend. We met when I moved from the creativity of magazine editorial to the more financially focused arenas of marketing and e-commerce. His advice has given me confidence to know that commercial nous is not the exclusive preserve of an elite and numerate breed, and in turn I ask the creative people I work with to carry their share of responsibility for the bottom line.
3. “INVEST IN PEOPLE, NOT NUMBERS”
Tom Teichman, who sits on our board and is chairman of leading venture capitalist firm Spark Ventures, told me this was his long-standing formula for success. I totally agree; someone’s presentation counts for something, but whether I like, trust and believe in them counts for everything.
4. “HARD WORK IS YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE”
Malcolm Gladwell articulated this advice in his book, Outliers, which describes the ‘10,000-hour rule’: by practising and learning for weeks and years, the potential of the likes of The Beatles and Bill Gates were turned to phenomenal success. I live by this theory: hard work balances out advantage, privilege, even intelligence.
5. “OWN YOUR MISTAKES”
Nicky Lyon-Maris, consultant PR director at Clarins, showed me the value of admitting your mistakes. Nicky was my colleague when I was editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan magazine. Terrified of messing up, I learned from her that people who are ready to claim their failures as well as their successes inspire real confidence and are the most impressive long-term.