Episode 138 – Giving Value for Money 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’s “I will not fail” mindset helped him surpass challenges in his businesses
  • What is Barry Hearn’s philosophy in all his businesses
  • Running your business the way you would like other people to treat you
  • Doing Networking constantly, 24/7
  • What’s Barry’s advice to new boxers in the business

Links Mentioned:

Big Business Events Members Network


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

Adam Stott:

What is it about boxing that you love and what is it that, you know, that made you wanna be 00:06  

Barry Hearn:

I think we’re all, we’re all governed by our own history, whether we’re governed by our parents 00:11 or whether it was school, whether it was 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 to give me a start.

That was a massive, massive favor to me and it was against the grain. What we looking at now is how do you take advantage of those type of situations; how do you change your life? Well, it did come down to what’s in here. You know, certain people are born to work for other people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re comfortable, they want guarantees as they’re adverse to taking risks. Some people get a calling, they might wanna be a nun or might wanna be a teacher or a doctor. Perfectly admirable. A very small percentage of people wanna take control of their own destiny. And have to believe in themselves that they will not fail.

Adam Stott:

I think it’s amazing

Barry Hearn:

And most of them will fail. That’s life and that’s why the winners that come to the top of the pop have got their extra little bit of energy, that extra bit of passion, that extra bit of refusal to buckle no matter what’s happening. We’ve all have tough times in business when things go wrong. You know, and my business in the late 80’s was owing millions of pounds at banks, I was going for gold and I nearly got it wrong and I just got it right. It’s an essence of of timing. If you have that type of belief in yourself and if you’re prepared to say “I will not fail”, and really believe it, then you got a chance. Once you got a chance, the world of opportunities are so infinite.

There are so many opportunities out there, it’s scary. I’m so gutted that I’m 68 now, I’ve got nine sports and you know what, I could’ve had 19 sports if I had more time, more energy. I mean the Matching Sports is the biggest sports producer in the world or one of the biggest anyway and I’ve got some great people and you begin to delegate and trying to educate through your own ideas of the standards you want, the excellence, the basic principles of business number one: make sure the customer experience is perfect. Now the TV rates, sponsors, they wait. The most important person, the customer that walks in, gets off his backside, buys a ticket…

Adam Stott:

My next question was gonna be what is your philosophy or ethos in business

Barry Hearn:

It’s all about giving people value for money. You know, we can all bullshit. We can all make things look beautiful you know. We can sell a 02:58 a king has no clothes; a naked man is looking as the best dressed man. We can all do that. We’re salesmen. We’re all got, there’s gotta be salesman in you somewhere. Because otherwise, you’re not gonna get any customers. But, as long as everybody that you deal with gets value for money, you will never lose them as a customer. Why should you? You’ve been fair. Been honest. Tell the truth. 03:22 and actually telling the truth is really good because as you get older, you tell lies, you forget all about them. And that can be a real problem.

So, tell the truth at all times, pay your 03:35 run the business the way you would like other people to treat you. Customer experience, whether it’s in buying a product or whether it’s been entertained at sporting events, exactly the same, they have a choice of where to go. I want them all to be with me and I’m aware that without their support, I don’t have a business because an event without a full arena does not televise well. If it doesn’t televise well, the ratings won’t be good. If the ratings are no good, the sponsors won’t be interested and the global syndication will have a lot of people around the world saying “was that supposed to be good?” show me the atmosphere which only fans, live fans can develop and they have got to be treated with respect.

So, the right pricing, the right customer experience, the right level of technical skill on display in some sports, and every sport is different, but in some sports like darts, the right party atmosphere. In some sports like snooker, the right cathedral, silence atmosphere. You have to be prepared like a chameleon to change color daily. And you change your color depending on the market you’re trying to attract.

Adam Stott:

Just amazing advice. I’ve got a question I always ask myself on the show the other day and I think you are the perfect person to ask the question so, I always ask, cause sometimes you put questions out to the audience and if you’ve got questions make sure you write it and let us know. The question I always ask is what is your advice for networking or influencing or helping high-level people in business because I’ve seen in the halls you’ve got pictures with you, with Don King and all the boxers and people that you’ve worked with and you’ve obviously got amazing connections, what would you say you’ve done to really show, to build those relationships.

Barry Hearn:

One of the things that’s changed in our business is the use of social media. This is to be ignored at your own peril. As far as networking concern, that 1 to 1 relationship with people is absolutely essential if you’re going to acquire enough support going forward, across a whole variety of platforms. So again, it comes down to the same basic rules, why should someone really important wanna know you. Well the answer is, either you’re a 05:44 lad and would love to go and play golf with you. Not gonna make any money. Or I quite like your ideas and I’d like to hear more and I might see a way of benefitting from a relationship with you.

Networking is not one-sided. Network is two-sided. But it’s also constant you know. In other words, it’s not things you do occasionally, you do it 24/7. So, yeah, the hundreds and hundreds of people I have around the world, I would consider friends in inverted commas. friends in inverted commas means I wouldn’t take a bullet for him, I will help him out were it possible because I know that they’re capable of bringing something to mine. see you have to be selfish, selfish is also sensible because as long as you appreciate that other people are going to be selfish, then, it’s a bit like going to your dentist.

This is really good advice. What you do when you go to your dentist is you take your hands, you stick it down the front of his trousers, and you grab his testicles and you look him in the eyes and say “now neither of us is gonna hurt each other, are we.” Now that type of relationship with networking is how it works. Don’t expect people to give you a favor for free as there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Nor would you, would you. But if it’s something that’s mutually beneficial, then you have the basis of a long-standing sustainable friendship with a networker that will add valuable millions to your business or some small businesses.

Adam Stott:

I’ve just got one more or maybe two more questions that I’ve got for you Barry. But you’ve been very generous with your time today and really appreciate it. In boxing, in terms of the fighters or something like that, who’s had a great business brain, who do you think spotted opportunities or thought and helped you the most or who was great to work with.

Barry Hearn:

Again, you have to be selfish, you know. Great to work with equals did you make money. Boxing is a little bit more primeval and as far as you actually fall in love with the protagonist because you realize how tough it is for them to do what they do. Boxers are not, or were not, necessarily great business people. And the history of boxing is 07:59 with people that have earned lots and ended up penniless. Today’s athlete, and it involves boxers as well and other athletes, is that they have better advice. They have enough brain to say I want to speak to an accountant, I wanna have a lawyer. And therefore, they got much more chance of retaining some of their hard-fought earnings.

The advice I always give boxers for example is before you do anything else, this game is dangerous. You are gonna be damaged in some way. There’s no question about that. Hopefully, a very small one. The first thing you do is you pay for your house. So, if your career ends today after you’ve actually paid off your mortgage, you have somewhere to live. So, it’s pretty basic advice. But it gives him 08:44 fundamental.

Now when you get to another level, say Anthony Joshua level, my advice to Anthony is every fight you have, you buy a major asset and you lock it away. Because no fighter can be a proper professional boxer unless they think poor. It’s very difficult for a fighter, I remember talking to Marvin Hagler years ago, I tried to get him to come out of retirement to fight Chris Eubank Sr. Marvin said, “you know what, I haven’t got a fortune left, 7 or 8 million dollars. You know how tough it is to get up and do your rope work at 4 in the morning with that type of money in the bank.”. So, they have to think poor and that’s a real difficult one.

People like Carl Froch, the reason why he retired, just stopped thinking poor. You look to the millions in his bank account and every punch hurt a little bit more and every road work session was a bit more tedious. That’s the time to leave. So, the advice to different sportsman depends on the length you think they can operate in at the top level and their personal desire to pay the price of sacrifice that we expect top business people to pay because the comparisons between sports and business are so similar.

You have to be totally committed, you can’t play at it. You have to be focused on your goals and you have to be ready to go through things that normal people don’t go through. And whereas everyone says “yeah, I’d do that.” When push comes to shove, they don’t have the character nor the backbone. Which is fine because people like me, we live off people like him.

Adam Stott:

Well, I’ve got to say, that is just such a fantastic interview. Some of the advice that you’ve given has been absolutely amazing. I can’t thank you enough for your…

Barry Hearn:

Pleasure my friend, pleasure.

Adam Stott:

It’s been absolutely fantastic and you know, I’ve really enjoyed it. Thanks, so much Barry. You’re a superstar thank you.

Barry Hearn:

Thanks mate.

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