Several years ago I was developing a government project on one of the most beautiful islands in the the Caribbean, part of which involved vetting a potential local business partner. I was engaged in discussions with a senior gentleman that I had known for years. He owned a business that had previously been a client of mine. He had diverse businesses on island, was self-made, well respected, very hard working and financially successful. He was thoughtful, measured, had a pleasant smile and in a good mood at every encounter I ever had with him.
We planned a Saturday morning wrap-up before I left so I made my way to meet him a one of his hotels. On the way there I drove past where construction was underway for his latest hotel and convention center venture and I glimpsed him operating a huge truck so went over to greet him. Here is a man past the 65 year old mark with over 110 acres of prime Caribbean waterfront, two resorts, a convention center, the founder of a Bank, owner of the largest heavy-duty equipment and hardware supply company on the island, partner in a pan-Caribbean cement company and on a beautiful Saturday morning I find him at his construction site operating a 6 ton vibrating steam roller, grading a new parking lot. I asked him what he was up to and he said his construction crew had the day off and hating being idle he “wanted something to do to be productive”.
I asked him how he managed to be so successful in so many ventures. He replied that, "I only involve myself in undertakings that I enjoy and that I can personally add value to." "If the only thing I can bring to the table is money, I won’t get involved". "The businesses I started involved things that I needed, that did not exist. I knew that if I needed these goods and services others did as well. I simply filled that need.”
He recounted a story of wanting to buy a parcel of land but the only licensed surveyor was off working on another island and world not return for months. He flew to England and became a licensed land surveyor then returned, surveyed and purchased the land.
That day overlooking the Caribbean Ocean I took a lot away from a conversation on a steam-roller with a self-made man who enjoyed his work.