By Dark Angels

Lessons from some of the world's oldest companies

Monday, 5 September 2016

Whatever it takes

Gillian Colhoun – Author of the chapter on The Brazen Head, reputedly established 1198
(likely to have been much earlier)

I’ve got a thing about talent. Whenever I meet any successful person, my first question is usually, ‘Have you always been naturally good at (insert talent here) or was there a moment where you consciously decided to be brilliant?” This question elicits interesting responses. Everything from a puzzled, “You really think I'm, uh, brilliant? I was hopeless as a kid.” To a guilty, “Actually, it was my older brother who was the really good tennis player. Then he discovered (insert distraction of choice here) and I just kept going.”

This mild obsession with talent to success ratio has really only bothered me since I’ve had children. It may be because I have a child with a learning disorder and want to prove to her that adversity really can make you stronger. Perhaps I want reassurance that, should I need to achieve world domination in the field of say, badminton, then I merely have to choose my moment and make it happen. Either way, hearing about a person’s journey from zero to hero is deeply inspiring. After all, there’s infinite wisdom to be found in every before and after tale. 

Enter stage right, Established. The people behind the businesses featured in our book certainly knew adversity. They withstood great loss, faced ruination, were criticised, rejected and even threatened. Historical events circled their worlds, spinning their fates further and further out of control. Yet here they still are. They keep on keeping on. And by the law of averages, they can’t all have been born natural phenomenons, prodigies and improbably gifted entrepreneurs. 

So how did they do it? What made them see opportunity where only challenges lay? What does it take to keep a business alive for the best part of a millennium?

Find out. Buy the book.

Back to project page
Share on social

Top rewards

63 pledges


An ebook edition of the book
Buy now
£25  + shipping
201 pledges


A special edition hardback