Failure Happens to Even the Greats by Robert Kiyosaki

Failure Happens to Even the Greats

How even the mighty fall and why they get up again to thrive

Think of the most successful people you can think of. As you do so, how many times do you think they were in distress or failed. Now multiply that by 10 and you might be in the ball park.

I recently read an article about the famed English chef Jamie Oliver. You might know him primarily from his cookbooks, shows, and substantial social media presence. But you might not know that he owns a fairly large restaurant empire as well—one that is sorely in trouble.

According to “The Telegraph,” last September, his previously successful Jamie’s Italian restaurants veered on the edge of bankruptcy, with the chef forced to inject £13 million of his own savings into the business to stop it from going bust.”

Anyone who follows Jamie Oliver from the outside would be amazed to hear this. By every account he is a very successful entrepreneur and celebrity. That he would have money problems seems crazy to most people, but it’s not crazy to me.

Understanding how business works

The first thing to understand is that Oliver has many businesses, not just one. So for him, his focus has been on his business around entertainment. This is his books, shows, and speaking gigs.

His first business was the restaurants. Like most restaurants, I assume they were high risk and low margin. But they gained him a lot of notoriety and a platform to leverage, and leverage it he did.

So I’m not surprised that he stopped focusing on that and turned his energy to other endeavors that had much more upside, a lot less risk, and much higher margins.

Most likely, reading between the lines in the article, Jamie Oliver turned his restaurant business over to a management group to run while he focused on his other business. And it turns out this hurt him financially.

The importance of control

“We hadn’t expected it. That is just not normal, in any business. You have quarterly meetings. You do board meetings. People [who are] supposed to manage that stuff should manage that stuff,” said Oliver.

These are the words of a man that turned his business over to another group of people to run and who found out almost too late that they were not doing a good job.

The lesson here is that it’s imperative to always have control over your businesses, even if you’re on to doing other things. As the old adage goes, “Trust but verify.” In this case, Oliver trusted, but seems that he may not have verified, and it cost him a lot of money to the tune of 13 million pounds.

The difference between poor and broke

The good news is that Oliver had the means to step in and save his business, all because of his other business and the income it provided. As he tells “The Telegraph”:

  • When asked by the Mail on Sunday whether he would be willing to do this again if his restaurants faltered in the future, he said: “I haven't got any more money. I tried to do the right thing, I've never been paid by the restaurant group, I've always reinvested. My living was always the other side.

This brings up an important point. There’s a difference between being poor and broke.

In this case, Jamie Oliver may be broke, but he is not poor. Broke is a temporary condition where you don’t have capital needed. Poor is a mindset that holds you back continually. Oliver may have invested a lot of personal capital to save his restaurant business, but he’s not poor. His other business endeavors will soon refill his coffers, but he might not make the choice to save an ailing business once more. Seems like this is a one-time decision. A decision to go broke so that he might later enjoy a good return.

Failure is always a chance for growth

Oliver says, “We're getting on top of it and we’ve learned lots of lessons.”

That is all you can hope for when it comes to a failed business or a failing business. Either you learn or you lose. Oliver is clearly ready to take his loses, learn what he needs to learn, and come out on top. In the process he’s saving a lot of jobs and paving a way for financial security for his restaurant business in the future.

This started with facing reality as it was, taking back control of his business, and finding the right team to take the reins going forward.

Life and business are a team sport

Finally, a great lesson that Oliver is learning and that we would all be well to remember is that in order to succeed in business and in life, you need a great team behind you.

If you get the wrong team, not just you suffer, but also your business and all the people who rely on it for their livelihood. If you find the right team, you, your business, and its employees thrive.

At the end of the day, we all have the capacity to go through ups and downs in life and in business. The quality of character we bring to those moments is what separates us from those who fail and those who thrive. I’m thankful for people like Jamie Oliver who are not only honest about their struggles, but who also set a great example of what it looks like to go through hard times, do what is necessary to fix them, and build great things on the other side.

Original publish date: November 13, 2018