Insight101 Blog

A strategic consultancy that understands that your success begins and ends with a powerful brand message and vision


Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur: Insight101 welcomes David Holmes

April 17, 2019

“If I’d started planning and setting myself objectives atthe age of 50, I’d be rich by now!”  Yetanother of the unashamed and breezy statements from the fabulous and enigmaticDavid Holmes.


The truth is that David came to talk to the “Secret Diary” audiencethis week armed with his story and some musings on how he’s survived inbusiness, but in fact it doesn’t matter how he explains his success.  Quite simply, he is one of those people whojust “has a go…”


Again, and again and again.


He gives little time to worrying about “should I?”, “shouldn’tI?”, or “what if?” and that’s the real takeout. Because, like Andy Farmer from My Oxygen, who told us his secrets lastmonth, David takes chances.  He ebbs andflows with the times.  Sees, or is toldof, opportunities and takes the plunge. Just like that.  


The result?  A varied,possibly a little eccentric, but never boring journey with thrills and spillsalong the way.


It all started as a child in Yorkshire where he perceivedhimself to be a little bit different from the rest and therefore a likelycandidate to be bullied or at worst beaten up. You see, his destiny was to go down the mines like his fathers andforefathers so a little boy who was “delicate” was always going to attractattention.  For him mining was nevergoing to happen.  “I wanted to be aconcert pianist”.  Not because he couldplay but because the smell of the piano in a pub that he knew had a smell of“stale beer and fags…marvellous”.


He did end up going to the Royal College of Music as ithappens although this didn’t last long as his music teacher quite quickly askedhim “so what is your 2nd best career”.  For someone less committed and doused inself-belief, this may have been a crushing blow but in David’s eyes he triedit, didn’t make it and moved on.  Helaughs at the memory.


And so he moved onto other things.  And successfully I might add.  He became:

The CEO of Dorling Kindersley

The Marketing Director for EMI Publishing, working onSaturday Night Fever and Edna Everage amongst others

The owner of a tea shop in Clapham (bought because a friendsaid he should)

The owner of an antiques business…


And now the owner of Hurds Hill in Langport, a meeting andconference venue, which is based in a Regency style, impressive house whichtotally reflects his personality.


Oh, and throw in being a Lecturer in Leadership &Management at Yeovil , and an Occupational Psychologist and the transformationcoach for the late Anita Roddick of The Body Shop fame and you begin to get anidea…


The main reason for the Secret Diary event is to talk aboutsuccesses and failures in an open and honest way so that the audience can takeaway some insights to apply into their own business.  So, David dutifully pulled together what hethought are the personal and professional characteristics needed to survive inbusiness.  Fundamentally it’s aboutRE-INVENTION.  Easy to say but not easyto execute.  What he did give us however wasan insight into what he believes to be his winning formula:


TONS OF RESILIENCE – he’ll always have a go because hedoesn’t think about failure.  Puttingyourself forward and taking the chance ensures that you’re in the game “life isa game” after all says David.  “I don’tfear failure I just move on and I haven’t failed YET.”  Yes, some things haven’t gone so well buthe’s onto the next challenge.  Never lookback, never beat yourself up.  Trying issucceeding as at the end of the day “it’s a numbers game”.  The more you put yourself forward, the morelikely you are to win.


CUNNING – David can see an opportunity before anyoneelse.  Like the time a company had achange in its Senior Board.  When askedwhat he thought would bring the company back into full health he just said: “Ibelieve that you need me on the Board”. As simple as that and within weeks he was sitting pretty with double thesalary.  “I’m an opportunist” he saysquite simply.


PLANNING – This is a new practise for him.  And he believes that if he’d planned morebefore the age of 50 he would have been rich (his ultimate aim because he’sterrified of being bust).  I’m not sure Ibelieve him though.  Yes, he helps othersto plan but would he really ever have changed his ways himself and would hehave had such a rich and diverse career if not? I don’t think so.


CONNECTIVITY – nothing in life is wasted in his eyes.  Life has a funny way of delivering the goodsin a round about way.  “Never waste amoment or a good idea” and that includes never wasting a contact because moreoften than not the experience or the foundation stones will set you up forsomething else, he says with conviction.


LUCK – sometimes you just get lucky.  As simple as that.  But, of course luck is self-defining.  Feel lucky then your behaviour changes andluck happens to come your way.  Feelunlucky then you shut yourself down to spotting opportunity and staring luckstraight in the face


David has “never had a moment of doubt or self-belief” soluck has knocked quite frequently at his door. The key learning, and there have been many, is that life is what youmake it.  Opportunity and success arethere for the taking if you follow the path. Planning, worrying, saying “no” will not get you there.  But saying “yes”, taking a chance and notover-thinking can take us to a totally different place.


“Life is a game” he chuckles “if you work out the rules and apply them, you’ll win”.  

If you're interested in hearing the secret story in person then book yourself a place at the Mercure Bridgwater here, the event is monthly: