In the days and weeks after the collapse of Red Letter Days, despite all the bitchiness of the Press (who were taking delight at my failure), along with the betrayal of people who I had thought of as friends (who were enjoying plenty of dinner party gossip at my expense), I received hundreds of amazing messages of support, which came from the most unexpected places.
As a tribute to those kind people I thought I’d publish a few of the messages together with a public thank you to all of you who took the trouble to write.
You restored my faith in human kindness during a very difficult time in my life.
I’ll start with a message from a now highly successful multi millionaire entrepreneur who had experienced his own business failure earlier in his career during which his own so called ‘friends’ evaporated:
“As for the demise of Red Letter Days, I can understand your sadness. I ran a business for 9 years only for it to then go down. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. In the latter years it took all my energy to keep it going, once I was out of it, I was able to apply myself to new opportunities. And, well I guess the rest is just history! The experience of running a business, and learning the pitfalls, led me on to running my own businesses and making them a success. I am sure the same will apply to you, if it has not done so already.
It goes without saying, if there is anything I can do to help you back on your feet, do not hesitate to ask.”
From a start-up entrepreneur:
“I just wanted to say good luck with everything. It is sadly typical of this country that people can’t wait to put the boot in when other’s luck has turned.
I’m in the first year of my business and I have nothing but admiration for anyone that has made a success in business. They seem to forget that you have created something that wasn’t there before.
The fact is you have done it before and I’m sure you will do it again. I am certain you will have the opportunity to stick two fingers up to those that have apparently enjoyed your temporary change in fortune.
All the best in the future.”
From the former Chairman of the Institute of Marketing:
“I watched, with some disgust, the programme this evening [Tonight with Trevor MacDonald].
Disgust at the manner of the content. These types of programmes always find the easy way out – kick someone when they are down. I am a past chairman of the Institute of Marketing and greatly admired your work and your business. I too was corporately mugged some years ago and therefore empathise greatly with what happened to you and your business. Clearly had you not been let down so dramatically then the flotation would have solved everything.
Although I am now semi-retired, if there is anything I can do to be of assistance in the future I would be more than proud to grab my boot laces and pitch-in wherever needed.
I know that you have a quotation from Roosevelt on your website but I am sure that you also never forget Calvin Coolidge – nothing succeeds like persistence. In that, I am sure that you believe.”
From a Dragons’ Den fan:
“I don’t know if you will get this note or even if you will have time being a mum with more important things to do, but I dropped by your web site and saw the sad news about the company.
I had seen you on the Dragon’s Den and had been impressed by your attitude and entrepreneurial skills. Still life can always throw the unexpected and our job is to fight on.
I also saw a lot of very unfair press which was obviously untrue and only put out by those jealous people who love to be negative about anyone who is successful whilst achieving nothing themselves.
The thing you said that made me think we talk the same language was that bit about “I only work with people I like”. You said my words and thoughts.
So with your media profile and business contacts I know you will be back and I know you will not be put off by this glitch..”
From an MBA student:
“I met you briefly during your presentation on the entrepreneurship panel at London Business School. You’ve been a great inspiration to me even before your appearances on Dragon’s Den. I am extremely sad about the fate of Red Letter Days, and I think it must have been extremely tough for you especially with the birth of your boy at the same time – congratulations!
I just wanted to wish you all the best in your future endeavours. I am sure this is an extremely tough period for you, and I wanted to let you know that people like me – strangers – are still in awe of you and wish you the best. And as they say – every entrepreneur failed at least once!”
From one of my Business Development Team at Red Letter Days:
“Sorry to email you but I just had to let you know hot outraged I was this evening by the likes of my so called friends and colleagues, namely Bridget Roberts, appearing on ITV tonight and I would just like to reiterate my support, the fact that I believe that I would have done what you did and if you need another point of view from a PR perspective to give me a call.
After all they all took large corporate salaries, above what they were on, some even being on so-called garden leave, did little or no work and slagged you off when things went wrong.
I am being serious Rachel, if you need me to give another point of view please give me a call.”
From a Yorkshire businessman:
“Had Sunday lunch in the Bingley Arms Bardsey near Wetherby West Yorks. Somebody (female) who worked for you at Red Letter Days was slagging you off loudly she said she had complained to Woman’s Hour for whom she hard worked previously because your version of events was “very far from the truth”. I thought she was rude to the waitresses (unnecessarily) you seem a decent person to me (from what I’ve seen of you on Dragons Den) I think you know who this person is just thought you might like to know.
I imagine bottom teeth knocking out top on the way back up from chin bouncing off the floor when information used to your advantage
Good luck for the future”
From another entrepreneur:
“I am so sorry to see the events of the last few weeks regarding Red Letter Days, and I know you must be feeling the same.
Having watched and been engrossed with Dragons Den, the inspiration that you and your fellow Dragons exude has helped me to fulfil my business dreams, and for that I thank you.
I know many people in the UK will be getting some sort of morbid pleasure from your current situation, but as I am sure you know, in America they have great admiration for people who have built, then rebuilt their business’.
You will be back. In the meantime, enjoy your family.”
From an old acquaintance:
“Look, sorry to hear about the company, but not to worry I’m sure you are out on top. And if not do not worry, you’ll be back.
Old proverb. there are only two things to worry about, if you are alive or if you are dead. If you are alive, you have no worries. Chin up and keep on!”
From a struggling entrepreneur:
“Firstly congratulations on the birth of your baby son Michael. I’m sure you have not had too much time to focus on this in the last few weeks and it does deserve some mention.
I also want to congratulate you on the success of Red Letter Days and the inspiration that you have been to many entrepreneurs. It is an absolute achievement to start and run a business for any length of time and those of us trying to do so at the moment are simply awed by the your strength and determination. It’s a daily battle and there are some wins and as you know some losses, some ups and some downs.
My own very micro business suffered an ‘exceptional loss’ last Christmas and I’ve been steering it through some very rocky rapids since then but am determined to win.
I was glued to the media praying that RLD’s struggle would have the right outcome and thankfully as you say, it is in safe hands. I’m looking forward to your next venture.
Do take good care.”
From a well-wisher:
“I felt that I had to drop you a quick line to express my sadness about Red Letter Days, and to offer a small message of support. Through your work with Red Letter Days and on the BBC, you have inspired thousands of people like us to “go for it” with their own dreams, and that deserves some recognition and appreciation! Business can be a fickle thing, but I am sure that you will put this behind you and be back at the top as soon as you want to.
Best of luck with everything, especially the baby!”
From a fellow business survivor:
“I don’t know you and you don’t know me but that doesn’t matter. I just wanted to e mail you to say that I am sorry things went badly wrong for you recently.
I have watched Dragons Den and I admired the whole team of you on it. You are tough and resilient and I am sure you will come back like a phoenix from the ashes one day. Look upon this as a learning experience and gain from it.
I hit some bad times in life myself around the start of the 90s and some people turned their back on me. The experience made me a better and shrewder person and I now have a good job with a good salary – not in your kind of league but I am stronger and more confident than ever before.
You take care of yourself and I hope you do cherish the time you have now to get closer to your family.
Good luck for the future – but… I am sure you will make your own luck.”
From a company Chairman:
“I’m sorry to see that RLD has come unstuck – I am a Group chairman myself and know that a lot of us are really battling out here at the moment to keep the wolves at bay! The Media love a good story and sticking it to those who have taken a chance – form is temporary, class is permanent!
In the US they say you aren’t a proper businessman before you’ve gone under at least once! At the end of the day, you have to look at it as being the best MBA money can buy and use that knowledge to do it better and quicker the second time.”
From a small business owner:
“I do hope you don’t mind me writing to you, but it is with sadness that I read about your current business situation. I own a small business which is nothing compared to your business, however I can appreciate the hassles and problems you must have gone through recently.
The trouble with this country is everyone is quick “to have a go” when you need the support the most.
Bounce back and show what your made of, I did, not easy but one thing nobody can take away is determination.
All the best for the future.”
Finally, from two Angels:
“We happened to watch the TV show tonight about Red Letter Days and just want to wish you well.
NEVER LOSE FAITH
When things go wrong as they sometimes will
And the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
When funds are low and debts are high
And instead of a smile you need to sigh
When care is pressing you down a bit rest in your family’s love and
Life is strange with its twists and turns
And many a failed man has turned away when with another try
He would have won the day
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow
For you may succeed with another go
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver glint in the cloud of doubt
You never can tell how close you are
The goal may be near when it seems so far
So turn to the Lord when you’re hardest hit
Put your trust in Him and never quit
two very sincere well wishers”
As a high profile ‘celebrity entrepreneur’, perceived to be ‘rich and famous’, I occupy a strange world where everyone seems to want something and I’ve encountered my fair share of ‘takers’ over the years. Those of you who know the statistics understand that 2/3 of all businesses fail within their first two years and of those that survive only 5% make any real profits. Having spent almost a decade in the enterprise sector helping (or trying to help) many thousands of entrepreneurs my observation is that success comes to those who understand that great successful business is about GIVING not taking – great products, brilliant service, amazing experiences, from a genuine desire to create a positive change in the world.
Having been stitched up countless times in business (by people who I absolutely trusted) I have seen the ‘dark side’ of business. But I genuinely believe that we are entering a new era of ethical business – and that the ‘takers’ will collapse and wither under the weight of their own bad karma.
And my experience since the Red Letter Days meltdown is that for every negative, critical, angry person there are another hundred who live life with love in their hearts.
These days I have learnt to only give my energy to the GIVERS and to the POSITIVE people.
God bless you all.
That’s me with fellow survivor Jeffrey Archer – who kindly spoke at my Wealth Wizards event in October 2009