Meet the International hoteller who lost his millions before ruthlessly clawing his way back to the top...
If you don’t take a risk you can’t succeed
You should be cautious and look at all the angles, and you should also consider what it means to you to fail. Once you find your goal you have to take that big step and start doing it.
Know your business inside out
You need to have a level of ambition that will push you forward, but I think it’s more important to have a very clear idea of what you’re going to do. You also need to understand the business you’re about to embark upon very well – sometimes people go into something and they know nothing about it and don’t plan on spending much time finding out. I got involved in the hotel business at quite an early age with school holiday jobs and really got to know the industry inside out.
Don’t put up with poor performers
It’s always very difficult having to get rid of someone, and you always want to give people the benefit of the doubt. But you need to make up your mind quickly and react, or the organisation can suffer for it. I can think of several instances where I wish I’d acted sooner, but it can be hard. Sometimes someone does a good job but the business moves on and they can’t handle the change – those situations are the most difficult to deal with because in many cases that person has shown a good deal of loyalty.
Find your own style
Leaders are very different. Some are flamboyant, some are conservative, so there’s no rule of thumb for what works other than to be yourself and be consistent with your personality. To be successful you need drive, clear objectives and you need to be able to communicate effectively with the organisation. And most importantly of all, you’ve got to be right – although you should always give credit where it’s due.
There will be times when heavy pressure and external events combine to force you to overwork. The trick, of course, is to try and avoid that happening too often, and allow yourself time to get away and think. The trouble with being under constant pressure is that you stop thinking – I find exercising takes the tensions out of me, but it might not be for everybody.
Don’t become complacent
I think my worse mistake was buying a company called Kennedy Brooks many years ago; it was a business that was declaring profits that it wasn’t making and I got carried away doing the deal rather than concentrating on the nitty gritty. It’s quite easy for that to happen – always keep your feet on the ground and be very objective about things you want to buy.
Get out if it’s not working
If you no longer have belief in your product, either change it or move on. I think being passionate about your business is one of the most important things, because it affects your people and your customers in a positive way. If you can’t be passionate, move on.
If you’re lucky enough to be successful and make a lot of money, I think it’s good to be charitable so that you are helping other people rather than just spending it all on extravagant personal consumption – but that depends on your character. Generally, though, I think it’s good for business people to show that they’re giving something back.
Born in Bournemouth.
Downside School, Bath. “I would work for my father in the holidays, doing things like kitchen work or reception. It gave me a flavour of the industry and I liked it.”
Pembroke College, Oxford, reading modern languages.
Qualified as a chartered accountant.
Joined his father’s company, Forte Plc.
Became CEO of Forte Plc.
Became chairman of Forte Plc. “For the first time, I could really implement what I wanted to do.”
Knighted for services to UK tourism.
Lost Forte Plc to Granada in a hostile takeover bid.
Founded the Rocco Forte Collection, a group of luxury hotels. “This was a totally different perspective – real entrepreneurial stuff.”
2001-2003 and 2007
Represented Britain at the World Triathlon Championships.