What motivated you to take part in the show?
I was a fan of the show from the first series and I actually know a couple of the Secret Millionaires. The show has placed a spotlight on many issues that impact the lives of a great number of people in modern Britain as well as the absolutely incredible dedication and selflessness of many people working in the charitable and voluntary sectors. I was approached to appear on the show at an inflexion point in my life just before my 40th birthday and the birth of my second daughter. Recently I've become actively involved in a number of charities. I'd already resolved to donate to good causes, but, despite the fact that I had no idea about the charities and people that I would be meeting, I was excited by the opportunity presented by the show to get up close and personal with the issues and to be able to work out how to maximise the impact of my contributions. Also, I'm always looking for opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and the show certainly delivered on that front.
How has being on the show changed you?
It was a very personal and life-enhancing experience, which has been difficult to convey to friends and family without pictures. I am looking forward to the show's transmission so that I can share my journey. I also think my show was special for reasons that will become clear in terms of the special access we were granted. Also, I'm the first male Secret Millionaire with Afro-Caribbean heritage.
The experience was a stark reminder that your place of birth, education, health and the social and financial status of your parents can have a profound impact on your chances of achieving your dreams and your social mobility. The show also re-affirmed my belief that individuals that have faced adversity or made mistakes should never be written off by the system or society. The show provided a reality check, which is something everyone living comfortably needs from time to time and it has left me with a number of long-term commitments, which is what I was looking for.
Do people's attitudes towards you change once you become a millionaire?
You don't become wealthy overnight and my friends and family have seen the many years of risk-taking and hard work. They've shared the successes and the failures and usually didn't really understand what I did for a living. As a result I don't think that anyone I know very well has an issue and whenever something came off I've looked after those that matter most. I'm not particularly interested in what anyone else thinks when they just focus on material assets and make assumptions. I am reasonably low profile outside the sector in which I operate and for many people that know me, the show will be the first time that I've been openly placed in a particular wealth bracket.
How do you know who your friends are and that they're not taking advantage of your generosity?
I know who my friends are and one of the greatest pleasures I derive from making money is spending it on and amongst good friends and family.
Have you / will you stay in touch with the people and charities you have met through the programme?
Yes. I have commitments ranging from five years to, potentially, a lifetime. I was never looking to smile for the camera, write a cheque and then disappear.
What was the best/ worst aspect of the whole experience?
The best was that I know my contributions will positively affect lives that I could never have touched otherwise. The worst aspect was the awful accommodation I had to live in, which was unbelievably rented on the open market, although the various insects and other creatures I shared it with kept me company.
What does it take to become a millionaire? Any tips?
If you want to achieve financial security through starting a business then it certainly won't happen overnight and requires years of hard work, risk, sacrifice and uncertainty. However, it means that you are the master of your own destiny as job security isn't exactly what it used to be. Believe in yourself, keep your business and personal overheads low, avoid fixed costs and infrastructure, hire the best people you can afford and ensure that you have a sound yet flexible business plan as markets can now change or evolve very quickly. Many entrepreneurs start out working for others and then go it alone.
Was there a point where you realised, 'Wow, I'm set up for life,' and did you stop there?
It's all relative. You could say that I've been set up for life for some time as I have professional qualifications and skills that mean that I can always earn a good living with a phone and my contacts. If 'set up' means that you never need to work again whilst maintaining a comfortable lifestyle funded by the interest earned from invested wealth alone, then I haven't reached that point quite yet. I'm still very much in wealth creation mode, although whenever I realise value, I park some for the family and the remainder is re-invested. Much of my wealth is still tied up in businesses and I'm now probably more concerned with setting up my children for life than myself. My financial aspirations know no bounds and I'll never stop working as I love the process of building businesses and investment. My core skill set of law, investment and corporate finance combined with my own capital, means that I can do deals into my old age. And I will.
If you could rule the world for a day, what changes would you bring about to make sure that shows like Secret Millionaire didn't have to exist?
Unfortunately ruling the world still doesn't give you the power to change the nature of humanity and rid the world of war, poverty and intolerance. Policies to ensure equal opportunities for all as well as access to quality education would sow the seeds of enormous social change over several generations and break the global cycle of privilege.