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Simon Woodroffe gets “down with the kids”

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What an entrance. Spurning the stage, Woodroffe enters from the wings. His booming voice echoes around the room: “I’m here!” he cries.

He entertains the assembled school children with tales of Yo! Sushi’s genesis, “I thought restaurants were what you did when you ran out of ideas,” he says. “It’s a high risk industry, and everyone thinks they’re an expert because they’ve eaten in one.”

And yet he persisted. The lion-share of this story has been re-hashed ad nauseam, so I’ll spare you the extended version. Basically, his mate told him to open a conveyer belt sushi restaurant with waitresses “in black PVC mini-skirts”. And he did just that – apart from the mini-skirt part. However, among these anecdotes, there were some strange revelations, and one downright hairy moment!

Woodroffe began talking about “the voices that speak to me in the middle of the night”. One was the “bad” voice, (illustrated by Woodroffe’s right hand, moving in speech) which told him he was useless and out of his depth, while the other voice (characterised with the left hand) whispered, “You’re going to be rich…” Apparently the latter voice was just as bad, if only for the sheer greed it incited. Then again, Woodroffe’s never one to shrug off the value of money. “Whoever tells you money can’t buy you happiness is lying!” he informs the audience.

A little later, in what I think was a misjudged attempt to win these kids’ respect, he starts talking about “what makes you a success”. He says, “A lot of it has to do with your parents, I’m sorry to say. They have a huge impact on your ability to be successful.”

And then he does it. He quotes the famous Philip Larkin poem, in front of a gaggle of kids who were, at a guess, about 14 – I’m terrible with ages. They were quite small.

So he begins, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.They may not mean to, but they do.They fill you with the faults they hadAnd add some extra, just for you.”

Cries of horror erupt around the room. I think most of the little rascals were lapping up the chance to make an adult feel like a total prat. As one teacher pointed out, “They’ve heard that word before…” But Woodroffe’s speech was slightly derailed when he had to approach one young lady, looking aghast, and apologise.

“I’m so sorry, I did not mean to offend you.”“Well, you did.”“That wasn’t my intention.”“I’m offended.”“Ok. I‘m very sorry.”

Woodroffe getting taken down several pegs: £2 tube fare.An event to get kids excited about business: priceless.

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