Category Archives: ACCUMULATING

What Duncan Bannatyne taught me about getting rich


I used to live in London.  (Along with about 75% of New Zealanders in their 20′s making the most of their visa).  One of the quirks of living in London means you have an elevated chance of bumping into someone who is either a) unfathomably rich, b) extremely famous, or both.  I fondly recall the time I saw Luciano Pavarotti wandering around Soho, or David Schwimmer wearing a baseball cap in a bar, trying not to be noticed.

Before we met, my first (and current) husband went to an acting summer school in 2003. He befriended an older Scottish dude called Duncan Bannatyne.  At the time Duncan was not yet a ‘Dragon‘ but was on the cusp of becoming a celebrity.  His net worth was in the region of £430 million pounds.

He came to our wedding and vice versa.  We had dinner with him and his then wife Joanne at Scott’s restaurant in London.  (Scott’s is the sort of restaurant where it’s totally normal to pass Sarah Ferguson on the way to the toilets.)  We went to his 60th birthday dinner.

I tell you this not to show off, In fact, I don’t know why I am telling you this.  The whole thing sounds made up even to me, and I’m not sure now how it even happened.  During that time we somehow penetrated a intra-universe worm hole linking our incredibly average working lives to someone who’s wealth was in the extremely high altitude nose bleed range of the global population.

His advice to us in relation to creating money (in a thick Scottish accent) was ‘Stay out of the pub for 5 years’ – meaning basically, get off your arse and do the work you need to do, until you get there.  Fair enough.

He also said ‘It’s your choice not to be a millionaire,  it’s a personal choice.  People who are not millionaires, (and take the conventional route of being employees and consumers) are that way because they have decided to do so.’

Other notable points – Duncan has very soft hair, like bird feathers.  He is endearing, stubborn, affable, and sort of infuriating.  He also has an almost palpable machine like drive to do business and create money.  He has a crazy laugh.  Whenever I saw him I felt like I had a 430 million questions to ask him, but couldn’t figure out where to start.

We eventually lost contact with Duncan after moving to New Zealand.  I heard he had a heart attack, and a very expensive divorce from Joanne.  It seems having money doesn’t insulate you completely from life.  I have no doubt he will make it all back again.  I wish him all the best.

Other takeaway points:

  • You cannot become rich by physically standing next to a rich person.  I tried this.
  • You cannot become rich by hanging out with rich people.  You will go bankrupt in 30 seconds trying to match their spending.
  • Extreme wealth is blinding.  The super rich have an aura that coats them like a film.  They are polished by it in ways you can detect but not describe.  The super rich can sniff out pretenders in milliseconds.
  • Stay out of the pub for 5 years if you want to get rich.