I have never been happier. How about you?
I can’t imagine it’s down to the reappearance of inflation, the economy backsliding, Brexit uncertainty, sterling’s continuing weakness, the condition of our roads or the fear of a Jeremy government and soak-the-rich taxes.
Of course it is none of the above. It only takes a moment’s thought to reveal the probability that it is the old Dalai Lama thing – that happiness is about discovering what you like to do, and doing more of it.
Unearthing this gem almost half a century ago truly kickstarted my life.
When did your life start?
Friends over the years have variously told me that their lives began when they met their current partner, husband/wife, or other soulmate.
“I have no doubt my life started when I opened my first shop in July 1969”
Others I’ve heard say that their lives really lifted off after experiencing, first hand, the miracle of birth, or when they discovered religion, acquired their first home, bought a gerbil, won the lottery, discovered Viagra, took out a mortgage without PPI, won an Olympic gold medal or visited an Ann Summers store.
My pal Big Bob, a West Yorkshire rugby-playing CofE vicar, unshakeably believes that life starts at the moment of birth.
While Patrick, a Roman Catholic priest I know, who has studied and debated the proposition through college, has no doubts whatsoever that life begins at conception.
Jonathan on the other hand, an Oxbridge graduate and rabbi whom I crossed paths with over 20 years ago, more experienced than my other two pals, is absolutely adamant that life begins “when your dog dies and your kids leave home”.
Me? Well, I have no doubt my life started when I opened my first shop in July 1969.
It was learning that fundamental lesson that there are no shortcuts to success in retail. The concept of buy, apply a markup and then sell was simple enough to grasp – but to execute it and make a sustainable net profit was not so easy. Some never get the hang of it.
It became quickly apparent to me that hard work and TLC trump academia in retail most times.
“You need an equine work ethic, ambassadorial interpersonal skills, a ready and easy smile, a love of people and their peculiarities, patience and the ability to listen and learn”
Fortunately, the upside of all that relentless graft is a high better than any class A drug.
Fulfilment and satisfaction of stellar proportions, on a par with successful heart surgeons or oncologists.
Retail does not suit everyone though. You need an equine work ethic, ambassadorial interpersonal skills, a ready and easy smile, a love of people and their peculiarities, patience and the ability to listen and learn. Attitudinal qualities and characteristics that may prove impossible to learn even with the assistance of Harvard or Oxbridge.
If, however, you are lucky enough to possess these qualities and can acquire the necessary compatible skills then happiness is just around the corner – and, as south London retailer Mr Derek Trotter might say, “the world is your lobster”.
“Yes, challenge in retail may often be of monster proportions but the payback can be stellar, too”
There are shelves full of self-help books trying to sell us the secret of happiness. Some include “retail therapy” among their prescriptions.
But I humbly submit to you that there is infinitely more satisfaction to be had from selling stuff than buying it – and that includes selling self-help tomes at a healthy markup.
We are fortunate to have the ultimate retail therapy at our fingertips day in, day out.
Yes, challenge in retail may often be of monster proportions but the payback can be stellar, too.
Mammoth material rewards await the best – but we all know there is much more to life than simply money.
Give me the challenge, the fun, the pain, the pleasure and the fulfilment of retail every time.
Lord Kirkham is the founder of DFS