What dog are you talking about?""No dog in particular," I say. "Just that yesterday afternoon, Rory came over to ask me if I knew where he could get a dog. All I could think of was Battersea Dogs' Home."But he's hardly going to be top of their list of desirable owners. After all, he lives in a flat and he's out all day - and most of the night as well. When I told him that, he looked really cross and said he supposed he'd have to borrow one."It is, we agree, a puzzle, and as with so many puzzles we soon get bored with it and move on to more interesting subjects. So it's not until a few days later, when Jaap's helping me sort out newspapers for recycling, that the answer appears."Listen to this," Jaap says, sounding excited. "Apparently, a lap-dancing club owner has applied to have his licence changed so his blind customers will be allowed to break the no-touching rule White stick.Dog.
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You don't think Rory...?" But that's exactly what I do think, and we snigger about itfor hours.To be fair, Rory is embarrassed when we ask him about it "It was just an idea I wasn't going to go through with it. Apart from anything else, only one of my friends was able to lend me a dog - and who's ever heard of a guide chihuahua?"* thetrader hotmail . 1 What single event or person gave you the impetus to succeed? 1 What single event or person gave you the impetus to succeed? While I was at Oxford, Hugh Osmond and I went to interview Richard Branson on his houseboat for the university's weekly newspaper. We'd targeted Branson because we wanted to meet him and thought the student magazine was a good way to get to him.Branson, of course, had started by running a magazine called Student but by 1980 he was the maverick outsider in pop music retail.
He was surprisingly shy and embarrassed, but seemed to be thriving. Branson is a chancer, but he's also created a lot of jobs and very successful enterprises.By some people's standards he's probably cut a few corners. But I think, overall, if Britain had 50 Richard Bransons we'd be a hell of a lot better off. He was definitely a role model.2 If you didn't run Intrinsic Value, which company would you most like to run?The business I feel most emotionally attached to is Belgos. I worked for a week in Belgo Centraal for a TV documentary called Back to the Floor and it was one of the hardest weeks I've worked, partly because I had to do my other job as well.It made me realise what tremendous satisfaction you get from doing an ordinary job well. One of the disadvantages of a job like mine is that it's a bit airy-fairy.3 What was the worst investment you made, and the best?The worst was in Pronuptua, a wedding dress retailer, in the early Nineties.a) I didn't understand the wedding dress market, b) it's acutely seasonal, so you sell dresses only between January and March, and c) white weddings are a declining market.It was inappropriate and riddled with problems. It was a loss-making turnaround before I got involved but I conned myself into thinking it was going to be a great deal.
I can't remember exactly how much I lost, but it was painful.My best investment was in Pizza Express, not on the basis of the financial return, but because that's the one that made all the other things possible.4 Do you wish you'd persevered with Sunday Business, given that it became a success?No, because the money required to do what they've done has been in the many millions The paper I bought had struggled from the start. It not only had the wrong management but it was inadequately funded. I inherited a history of debt and liabilities and a general mess.I only dropped a couple of hundred thousand, which was the extent of my capabilities at the time. Life is about taking risks and suffering losses and exploiting the winners.
If you try to enter the media sector and it doesn't work, your failure is much more visible than if you tried to enter a new form of rivet manufacture.5 Do you have a business philosophy?Not to dwell on mistakes and not to get overwhelmed with regret. When things go wrong you have to move forward and look at each week afresh.6 What's the best piece of advice anyone gave you?One of the best pieces of advice is the one JP Morgan gave to a frantic man who asked him what the markets would do. JP Morgan said: "Young man, the market will continue to fluctuate." It's a great piece of advice because if you're involved in the stock market you should never worry about the day-to-day price of your shares. What's more important is the reality of your day-to-day business.7 Which single task do you hate doing most?Paying tax.8 Are you easy to work for and what makes you lose your temper?I'm much better to work for than I used to be because I'm not so bad-tempered these days. I think it was a combination of getting older and realising that losing my temper and getting angry wasn't doing me, or anyone, any good.