Where to Begin
When I was first encouraged to write the book that would one day be Brick by Brick: Success in Business and Life, I was in my early 30’s and felt a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable with the idea. I was busy building my businesses, investing in property and focusing on the future, and didn’t think that I had much wisdom to offer at that stage in my life. The subject reappeared once again in my mid-40’s, but I was still unsure. I certainly had more experience, but what could I share that had not been said before?
Fast forward to my mid 50’s and my attitude to the idea had shifted. I now managed a business portfolio of over £300 million, my children had flown the nest, I did charity work to help others in the community who faced the same difficulties I once did; I guess it was now time to write a book? I felt that I had a responsibility to pass on the knowledge and experience I had gathered over the years to the next generation of my family, none of whom had any idea of where our family’s journey had started. I wondered if there might be others out there who were looking to get ahead in their own lives but did not know how, and who might benefit from the lessons I had learned in my 35-year working career. The idea that my profits from the book might be used to help my charitable foundation, the Bond Wolfe Charitable Trust, clinched it for me; I would write a book about my life, and what I had learned about the nature of success.
When I sat down to actually write the book, I thought about what I wanted to share with the faceless reader I had in my mind. I knew that I wanted to begin with my own history, to share where my family had come from, to show how far success could take you, and how quickly. Brick by Brick begins with my grandfather’s departure from the Punjab, and my father’s arrival in the UK, with just £2 in his pocket. The book follows my family through uncertainty, race riots and years of hard work and determination, all culminating in our attendance at Buckingham Palace where I received a CBE for services to business in the West Midlands. But this was not just an exercise in remembering the past or reminiscing over achievements; I wanted to use my story to share what I had learned about the nature of success and help others to reach their own goals. What is the use of working hard and succeeding, if you can’t help others to do the same? It is a responsibility that comes with achievement and success.
As my career has unfolded, I have often been called ‘successful’, whether that be because of my job, my portfolio, my charitable work, family life or any other number of things. And with this assumption has come a great number of questions; people often ask me “Am I good enough?”, “Am I worthy?”, or “Is it someone else’s right or domain?”. But these are not the right questions, and don’t scratch the surface of what success really is.
The main idea I wanted to convey with Brick by Brick is that the concept of success is completely relative to each person’s circumstances. Ultimately, you define what success looks like to you and what it entails, which means that everyone has the potential to be successful, once they have decided how they define that standard.
Of course, then one has to question how you achieve your definition of success. As nice as it would be, there really is no secret formula that can guarantee success, no combination of career choices and life decisions that lead to prosperity. There are however certain disciplines and behaviours that I see displayed time and again by those people who succeed, who get to the top of their game. In my experience, one of the common misconceptions is that successful people follow a cryptic code that only they can read, and that ordinary people can never access. While obviously a fortunate beginning helps people to a quick start in life, the majority of successful people get to the top by following disciplines that are available to everybody.
Golden Rules for Success
The most important idea that successful people commit themselves to is also one of the simplest; mindset is everything. To me, desire and attitude is more important than circumstances or ability. If you believe you can succeed, are dedicated to working hard and avoid taking shortcuts or quitting, you will succeed. As Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, either way you’re right”. There are many talented people who do not reach their goal; it is the determined who make it to the top.
Once you have the mindset that you have it in you to be successful, I believe in the importance of having a concept of success. I have always had a vision of a ‘big picture’ in the front of my mind, an image of what success means for me that has kept me driven. On the way to this end target, I imagined smaller goals, dotted along the journey, allowing me to benchmark my progress and keeping me motivated as I drew closer to my dream. In my case, the ‘big picture’ was an asset-rich business with a great management team, this objective is now achieved, and I have now shifted my ‘big picture’ accordingly, bringing a new goal to mind. It is this adaptability, this constant focus on a goal that keeps you looking forward and trying to achieve.
If a positive mindset and the all-important ‘big picture’ are two sides of a triangle, the final piece of the puzzle has to be understanding your motivations. You have your goal, but you need to know why you want to achieve it. Think about what makes that final target so important to you; why is this the journey you want to take, the path you want to focus on? Once you find your true reason to work hard, your real purpose in life, you will be able to fully believe in your journey. With faith in your goals and your ability to achieve them, there is nothing holding you back.
From his father’s arrival in the UK with only £2 in his pocket, to interests in a £300 million plus property and business portfolio and receiving a CBE for his services to business, Brick by Brick: Success in Business and Life charts the fascinating life of Paul Bassi.
Brick by Brick: Success in Business and Life is more than the story of Paul Bassi’s career as a businessman and property investor; it could be the story of any immigrant’s journey in the UK but it is also an exploration into the nature of success, the secrets behind entrepreneurship, and the importance of work/life balance. Bassi uses his life experiences, from race riots and recessions to family and philanthropy, to share his philosophy on success, the secrets of other successful people and the best way to capitalise on every opportunity. Providing property advice and debunking myths, Bassi shows how to achieve your ‘big picture’, passing on the knowledge he has garnered over thirty-five years in business to show that it is possible for anyone to be successful with the right mindset and principles.
Through Brick by Brick: Success in Business and Life, Paul Bassi provesthat success is not just about money, houses and cars; it’s about personal growth, ambition and achieving your dreams, no matter the obstacles.
Reviews of Brick by Brick;
“Paul’s energising argument is that anyone can be a success in life. Whilst there is no entitlement or magic ingredient Paul offers practical advice built on his years of experience in the property industry. Always a modest man his tips are generously given and sound so natural. The tough bit will be following them!”
Andy Street CBE, Mayor of West Midlands & Former MD of John Lewis
“Through his philanthropic work Paul has shared his success with his friends, neighbours and local community. His generous spirit and belief that everyone – no matter where they come – should be able to succeed as far as their individual talent and hard work can take them is inspiring.”
Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
A leading businessman and philanthropist, Paul Bassi is Chief Executive of property group Real Estate Investors Plc and Chairman of Bond Wolfe, which he co-founded in 1983 and Likewise Plc. Paul served as President of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and was formerly the Regional Chairman to Coutts Bank (West Midlands) and former Director of the Birmingham Hippodrome. He was appointed High Sheriff for the County of West Midlands for 2009, received Honorary Doctorates from both Birmingham City and Aston University, and was awarded a CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List.
Bassi has interests in a £300 million plus property and business portfolio, which includes estate agency, investment property, development land, hospitality, finance and care homes, employing hundreds of staff.
Paul is married with three children and has homes in Warwickshire, Ascot and Marbella.
The rest of this editorial will be published at a later time. Brick by Brick: Success in Business and Life is published by Bloomsbury Business, and will be available online and in bookshops from 25th July 2019; it is available for pre-order now at Bloomsbury, Amazon and Waterstones. All of Paul’s profits from Brick by Brick: Success in Business and Life will go to Bond Wolfe Charitable Trust.