I have never been a betting man, an occasional punt on the national lottery once in a blue moon but that is really just about it. I think that the actual odds of winning anything worthwhile are astronomic, although my brother in laws dad did win £100,000.00p on a scratch card which was not bad. No I tend to think that you make your own luck in life, indeed my dad used to say “The harder I work the luckier I get”. And I have to say that there is a lot of truth in that.
Gambling however does not just need to be about putting money on horses, or into a one armed bandit. Sometimes in life you just have to take a punt and make a decision about your future . By that what I mean is that it is easy to stay safe and comfortable in a particular job for example and to not upset the apple cart as they say. Compared to saying to yourself, no I am going to change course and take a tricky decision, that might work but then again it may not.
I have had two such life changing Damascus moments. The first was when I was 26 and I was asked by my MD at the time Big Ken Mills, of the Midland Red West Bus Company if I would like to be part of a management buy out team. I said yes please I would love to but i have not got any money. He very kindly said worry not we will lend you a thousand quid interest free. So that was what I did and my 1k went onto make 70k in 18 months, and then a bit later care of First group shares another 35k. So not a bad investment to be fair.
The second major gamble that I took was when I decided to leave main stream Corporate employment and branch out on my own. Scary times to be honest as there was no income at all for a long time but we had utter faith in the uTrack product and knew that one day its potential would be recognised. And in fairness it was initially by National Express Coach and today by clients the world over. But and this is the thing neither of these outcomes was ever a certainty, in fact far from it.
I recall that in October about 1988 I had a large share portfolio that I had created on the back of the share windfall of my 5 pence share value shooting up 70 times to a staggering £3.50p. I had a proper financial advisor and it was fully kosher. What neither myself not millions of others foresaw was that on one single, solitary, day the stock market went into free fall. Black Friday cost me personally £9,000.00p gone overnight, never to be seen again.
So, it just goes to show that you cannot take anything in life for granted, and as I look today at the share values of the major transport groups and the humble beginnings that they all enjoyed from their inception to their position of dominance. I never cease to be amazed at what humble acorns have now all grown into mighty oaks, with some respectable share values to shout about.
A quick look at the FTSE 100 tells me that according to todays headlines king of the castle is the Go Ahead Group with a share value of £1761.00p, next is National Express at £378.80p, then Stagecoach at £209.20p then my old chums at First group weighing in at £129.90p and finally my former employees Rotala at 60.00p.
When you think about it Go Ahead started life as an idea between Martin Ballinger and Chris Moyes and then exploded all these years on to become what it is now, it is very impressive. Stagecoach and Sir Brian Souter started with 2 double deck buses in Perth, First was a solitary bus depot in Aberdeen, headed up by Sir Moir Lockhead and now look at them both. Enormous and successful businesses because the pioneers at the time took the big gamble and it paid off.