Entrepreneur Middle East September 2019 | Built To Last

Page 67



The co-founder and Managing Director of the Dubai-headquartered Solutions Leisure Group relives a few moments from his childhood in the U.K., when he, as a dyslexic child, found his entrepreneurial kicks

D b y PA U L E VA N S

uring one of our many frank chats in the car on the way home from a day on the lake, I told Dad that I thought there was something different about my brain, compared with the other kids in school. I explained that being dyslexic was like having a mental disease. Naturally, he was alarmed that I had said such a thing about myself. But instead of responding sympathetically, he said that I should take an IQ test. His suggestion took me completely by surprise. At first, I thought he was joking. After all, he of all people knew that I’d never passed a single academic test in my life. Despite my hesitation, I thought, what the heck, it can’t hurt. And so, the next day, Dad arranged for me to take the test.

When at last the letter from Mensa dropped through the letterbox, I sat nervously with my parents at the kitchen table to open it. I held the envelope in my hand and closed my eyes in prayer before I unsealed it and removed the contents. The results melted my face from a look of fear to utter disbelief. My score, to my shock and amazement, was 143! I couldn’t believe it. I was in the genius category! The report explained that as few as 1 in 1,000 students are of similar intelligence. My jaw dropped. I was completely lost for words as my parents jumped up and hugged me, giddy with excitement. Until that point, I had genuinely believed that I was stupid. I had believed that my school teachers were right to nark me, but that was all about to change. With my IQ score, I at last had the proof I needed to show them that I didn’t belong at the bottom of the class! When Mum and Dad showed my results with pride to the school headmaster at the start of the next school term, I was moved up from the bottom set of all my subjects.

Of course, it took a while for the change to sink in, and it certainly wasn’t as if my dyslexia vanished overnight. However, with 143 fixed in my mind, I finally had a tangible reason to believe in myself. I settled back into school much better, and Dad began traveling a lot more for work. At that time, he owned a successful sales-and-marketing company, and it must be said, although school was less painful, I probably got a better education from listening to him and watching him work than I did from all my school days put together. I loved it when he worked from home. I would sit on the floor with my ear to his office door and listen to him. I could hear the warmth and confidence in his voice always making his clients chuckle. They never seemed to notice that they were falling for his smooth sales techniques hook, line, and sinker. I would applaud when he used the “rabbit punch,” which Dad defined as “an irresistible offer that comes out of the blue, and hits the client between the eyes, leaving them so stunned that they simply can’t decline.” A salesman’s proverbial kill. >>>

September 2019 / E N T R E P R E N E U R . C O M / 67

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