While taking our annual summer holiday last week I had the opportunity to relax, read a book and watch a few TED talks. The book I read was Gerald Ratner’s autobiography about his amazing success in the 80’s and dramatic fall after a speech he made about the quality of his products which was taken out of context. The TED talk was an insightful look into studies that prove the value of great relationships in business.

Apart from the dramatic success and his demise Gerald Ratner’s autobiography places a lot of focus on how he became successful. Granted, some of the business decisions and rapid expansion in my opinion were too risky. But the underlining theme of his business dealings were about the right relationships in his business and personal life. 

From an early stage in his career Gerald Ratner had a network of friends in businesses that were not connected to his own expanding empire, those whom he was able to rely on for advice. They would meet two to three time a week over a snooker table to quiz each other on business ideas. This is something I subscribe to today by being part of The Alternative Board (TAB) where 6 company directors regularly meet to discuss challenges we face.

The TED talk focussed on an ongoing survey project of 75 years, mapping out the lives of 760 people from 19 years up to their death. There are still 70 of the original candidates taking part who are now in their 90s. The survey contacts them every two years and updates where they are, what they are doing and their health. Once all the data has been analysed there is an underlining theme to why there are still over 70 of the 90-year-olds still left.

The survey has found that the key success to a healthy and happier life is the relationships we develop, both personal and in business. The stronger and happier the relationships the healthier and more prolonged their life was. Both the experiences in Gerald Ratner’s life and this survey only increases my opinion for the need to have great relationships with my fellow Directors, employees and our clients.

Working with people who understand your vision and goals both in your own business and the clients you are trying to help is key. How many times have we complained about the difficult client, but not pat ourselves on the back with successful work we do for the others?

My vision is to continue to forge great relationships with clients we want to work with and allow us to let go of ones that we can’t add true value both to Soapy and them.