Episode 137 – How to Have a Relentless Work Ethic with Barry Hearn

Being wealthy does not come overnight, it requires a lot of hard work, focus, and a little bit of luck which is why we feature sports promoter Barry Hearn today. Listen in as Adam Stott talks with Barry Hearn about his relentless work ethic and how he developed his mindset to become a successful businessman.

Show Highlights:

  • How Barry Hearn became a successful sports promoter after working as an accountant
  • How Barry Hearn’s mother influenced him into becoming wealthy
  • Using focus and relentless work ethic to achieve one’s goal
  • How Barry defines sacrifice and why is it important to be successful
  • Adam Stott asks Barry how he turns sports into business opportunities

Links Mentioned:

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Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Adam Stott:

I’m absolutely honored today to be sitting here with Barry Hearn who is a legend in sport. And you know really, really honored. Looking forward to asking Barry some questions and really trying to understand how he’s monetized business and how he’s he’s done business in sport. Which is been extremely successful. Anybody watching regardless of whether you’re a big business owner, a small business owner, or you’re looking to starting business. You need to be hearing some nuggets from Barry because he’s a top character and he’s been very very successful.

The first question I wanted to ask you today Barry, was something that really interest me when, I was looking into your background. Before we had spoken was that your backgrounds actually financial, you were an accountant and then you became a finance director. Now what I noticed about yourself is you’ve got so much character and you’ve become a promoter. I find that a lot of people in finance don’t have those attributes. Did you develop those? Or did it, how did that come about that you went from? Cause they’re almost opposites aren’t they, finance and promotion.

Barry Hearn:

I think you develop in life. I mean obviously, what you start off as in any business, is not the end of your business life. It’s the beginning isn’t it? Now, so with me, you know, coming from a very normal poor working-class family. My mother told me when I was 12, that I had to be a chartered accountant and you know you never disagree with your mum. That’s number one lesson in life. So I asked her what do chartered accountants do and she said I don’t know. She was cleaning houses at that time and she said the man I work for said you never see a poor one. And I think that phrase you never see a poor one, stuck in my mind.

One of the earliest reasons for success at any business person is that 2 very simple rules. 1) You need focus. You really have to focus on your goals so that you don’t get sidetracked into anything. It has to be absolutely clear. And 2 is you need to have a work ethic, a work ethic, that means you’re relentless. Unlike genius, I’m quite successful. In fact, I’m very successful but my work ethic is second to none. If you’re not a genius, put in a few extra hours a day can actually make up for it. It’s about hard work. So, from an early age, my focus was you never see a poor one. I always wanted to be wealthy.

My whole life I’ve spent looking at big people’s houses. I wasn’t nasty, envious, or jealous. I just wanted those type of things. The only way I could see getting them is, I wasn’t gonna go university. I didn’t have rich family or friends, I’ve no connections. I didn’t have the right tie, which in those days was very relevant. The only way I could get around it was by developing a work ethic that was second to none. If they took 25 hours a day to get what I wanted to do, I wouldn’t let anyone get in my way, at any level. I was focused and relentless. I was prepared to put in.

So, once you start establishing that, then to transfer yourself from a chartered accountant, I mean, you’re going back now I qualified in 1970. So, I was the youngest, I think, youngest ever qualified chartered accountant, youngest fellow of the institute, I was smart but I was relentless. I wasn’t a genius if you understand. I learned everything 03:17 I couldn’t fail an exam, it was impossible because I did so much work. You sacrificed. People talk to me today about “oh the sacrifices I’ve made”. You know most of it is total bullshit. They don’t even know what a sacrifice is. Sacrifice is giving up your teenage years. Not going out any day. You know, having that focus to see where you’re gonna achieve your goals.

Then you take that into your business life. Your business life is look, everybody wants to be successful and they’re not all gonna be successful so why should you be different to everyone else. Well the answer is cause I’m gonna go further, I’m gonna try harder. I’m gonna be a bit smarter. I’m gonna make mistakes but I’m gonna learn from them, not gonna make the same mistake twice. These are basic principles. To come from a chartered accountant, bare into mind I was on a mission to be wealthy, which is my target totally and I’m not ashamed to say it. You know I didn’t want to live in a council house all my life. You know I wanted a place on the hill. I ended up, bought the whole hill! Unbelievable! You know, so, when you got that, it’s actually easier to change into different market situations.

Adam Stott:

I just feel it’s such a fantastic way to start for somebody because to get the knowledge of knowing the numbers and then, you know, how do you take that, you now know the numbers and you know you met Steve Davis and I’ve read that you, that’s a massive turning point. How did you 04:42 for somebody out there that’s a business owner, how do spot opportunity and how’d you then take it and how’d you turn opportunity into money or to monetize it?

Barry Hearn:

You know the worst thing about this is, that’s a good question. And there’s no real answer. The lessons in life that you learn as you get older and you look back and you realize “how did I get from there to here?” And you’re trying to put some sense into it.

Adam Stott:

Was it that drive, do you think.

Barry Hearn:

The drive was, was instrumental obviously. But there’s a couple of other things is number one, it’s better to be born lucky than good looking. You need a bit of luck. No matter who you are, no matter how qualified you are, how much money you’ve got, if lady luck don’t smile on you, give you that opening, that, just that chance to get your relentless stuff away. You need to have, and the second thing is of course: right place, right time.

So, these are two things you don’t learn at school. How do you know. In life, everybody, every human being’s different. Every human being is, by nature, better than anyone else in the world at something. The sadness is most of them don’t get the opportunity to find out what that is.

The other thing is, the other sadness is some people find out then don’t recognize that opportunity and don’t drive themselves forward. So, imagine it that you’re in a room and someone opens a door, a little tiny bit ajar. You know, now do you get your foot in it, your fingers in it, I don’t know, one way or another you’ve gotta open that door. So, when you get an opportunity, you’ve gotta take advantage of it.

Having a background in financial knowledge and as an accountant 06:22 is for me was fundamental in understanding business projects. To look at risk-reward ratio, looking at capital required, making sure I don’t overtrade. To make sure I don’t under trade, trying to reach a balance of probability on profitability, realizing that you gotta create sustainable businesses. I’m not interested in a business that makes money for a day or a week or a year. I look at a legacy to hand down to next generations of a sustainable business. That will continue to grow because it’s been built on the right financial situation.

Adam Stott:

Fantastic answer. What I’m really interested in as well, is how you took some sports like snooker and like darts that weren’t mainstream and you branded them essentially. Didn’t you? You did deals with the TV companies and that vision. How did you? What made you? What sprung into your mind and said, you know what, I’m gonna take snooker and I’m gonna explode it. And what made you see that opportunity?

Barry Hearn:

I had nothing else to do that day. It was a quiet day in the office and I thought, what I should I do? I do know I’ll make darts into the second most viewed sport on television. Now, again come back, remember, you gotta be lucky, you gotta be in the right place. the right time then you gotta spot the opportunity. Once you have the opportunity, then. You’re into, there’s no little black book. You’re not selling the 07:38 you know? You’re not, because there you’ve gotta little “oh, that’s gonna be roughly between this point and that point.” There’s no rules, if you’re governed…

Adam Stott:

Make sure you listen to that.

Barry Hearn:

We’re governed in sport by perception. The initial perception change is how you read value and revitalize the sport. So, if you take a sport like snooker and darts, I think boxing to an extent maybe, some of the other sports we do the only theory is to get those sports more in make them more famous. Make the people that play that sport more famous so that you develop characters because all sport is a soap opera. 

All sport is EastEnders, Coronation Street, people want to see regularity, they wanna either like or dislike someone but they want a reason to view. Once you establish that and you’ve broadened your base by more activity within a sport, therefore inspiring the people that play that sport where you can change their lives, then you have momentum. Once you have momentum, it’s a selling job, and it’s a bit like the king has no clothes.

You know you’ve gotta try and convince everyone this is the best thing sliced bread. If you’re successful enough to increase ratings automatically you attract more sponsors. Automatically you’ll spread the the gospel worldwide syndication and the new media, exploitation, opportunities. Then you have a snowball going down a mountainside and it picks up snow as it goes. It’s so easy, it’s unbelievably easy, once you get momentum started. I’m not gonna tell you how easy because otherwise you might be competition and I’ve got a problem with you.

Adam Stott:

So, talking about boxing, I mean, you’re a legend in many sports but boxing massively and, you know, some I’ve admired from afar. And what is it about bo- I mean what is it about boxing that you love and what is it that, you know, that made you wanna be 09:30 

Barry Hearn:

We’re all governed by our own history. Whether we’re governed by our parents 09:35 it was a life-changing experience on a road to Damascus, I don’t know. I came from an area at a time when there was very little opportunity for people from my background. And I got lucky. I got lucky because my mum pushed me like crazy. I had an uncle in a tiling business in South End who managed to get me into a very small firm for accountants. And that me give me a start. That was a massive, massive favor to me and it was against the grain. What we looking at now is…

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