Richard Cook (5 March 2014)

It was an absolute delight to meet a self-taught entrepreneur, with no formal education, who has demonstrated just how far passion, creativity and grit can take you in life.  The most refreshing trait about Richard Cook is his ability to cheekily do things that nobody else would dare try.  He explained how his success has hinged on having a unique differentiator and strategically thinking “out of the box”.

Richard left school with no qualifications: his Mentor of the Year 2013 award was his first certificate after his swimming badge.  He is dyslexic and decided early on that conventional education was not the best route for him.  After starting as a toilet cleaner, he worked his way into estate agency.  In his first year, with little or no experience in the market, he found it hard to close sales, but perseverance paid off and he started making good deals in his second year.  He advertised creatively, such as a newspaper advert printed upside-down which said “we can sell your house standing on our heads”.  The company was sold for the equivalent of £10,000,000 in today’s market, after it grew to become one of the UK’s largest private estate agency chains.

Richard imparted a lot of sensible and unconventional advice that would-be entrepreneurs need to keep in mind in order to succeed in business and in life.  He advised the students to have a strong differentiator, to recruit and incentivise the best people they can find, and to really understand the customer and all the details of their proposed businesses.

(based on an article by Paula Henriette Mugisa)