David Gold of Ann Summers on dealing with an east London accent [Video]
East London born David Gold talks about how he broadened his vocabulary in order to broaden his horizons
In many ways, entrepreneur David Gold’s life has been the classic rags-to-riches success story – starting out in abject poverty in London’s East End, he has risen to become one of Britain’s richest men, known equally for his successful chairmanship of Ann Summers as his ownership of two of the UK’s biggest football clubs.
However, as he explains to Startups in this video, his humble roots presented a “barrier” to his accession up the ladder later in life, which he had to work hard to overcome.
Gold explains that as a child and teenager, he faced “no criteria” for making money as an entrepreneur. “I remember selling and buying to make money,” Gold recalls, “but not making money for its own sake. I was driven not just for the need for money but to survive as a family, because we were so poor.”
As the Ann Summers chairman reached his mid-twenties, he shifted his focus to making money to actually raise his station in life – to “move up the league table”, as the football-mad Gold puts it. It was then that he realised his way of speaking and limited vocabulary were going to constitute an impenetrable barrier to moving ahead unless he took steps to change it. “One of the things that became very clear to me early on was that there would always be a barrier to moving up that league if you couldn’t communicate,” he explains. “If you persisted in being a market trader, talking like a market trader, talking with a broad, broad Cockney accent, this was going to be a barrier to moving forward in business.”
Indeed, Gold recalls one particular incident when he met with his bank manager to discuss a business loan, and the bank manager used some vocabulary completely new to the entrepreneur. “He said ‘you do understand the ramifications of this loan?’,” recalls the entrepreneur. “I didn’t understand ‘ramifications’ – but I remembered it – and another word he used was ‘cognizance’. I just kept saying ‘yes’ to him, and amazingly I did get the loan!”
Such was Gold’s desire to improve his vocabulary and move up in the world that he employed a unique solution to broaden his horizons. “You couldn’t take of time and go back to school – you’re now in your 20’s,” he explains. “So what I did is I put words on the dashboard of my car driving to work, and I would use that word in the day. It was an hour’s journey – so two hours a day, six days a week, I would be using them in sentences and broadening my horizons.”