On fear, entrepreneurship, and wealth: Felix Dennis

Felix Dennis who comes from humble beginnings:

An art college drop out, Dennis left home before his sixteenth birthday, and lived in a number of bedsits. Dennis started his career in publishing with Oz magazine, the Sixties counterculture magazine, initially as a successful seller, through which editor Richard Neville realized Dennis’ potential business acumen. Dennis had earlier contributed to a television discussion on the counterculture, which Oz reprinted; the first magazines Dennis sold had been Neville’s only available means of compensating him for using this material.

Oz was prosecuted for obscenity in 1971. All three editors were found guilty of corrupting children, and given jail terms with hard labour, although Dennis himself was given a shorter sentence because the judge, Justice Michael Argyle, considered Dennis “very much less intelligent” — and therefore less responsible — than his co-accused. It was such a cutting remark that it allegedly drove Dennis to create a business empire to prove the judge wrong.

Revenge empire? Interesting, if true.

Some quotes from this article, which somehow manages to be simultaneously annoying, enlightening, and heartening. Probably quite a bit like Dennis himself, if his writing is a window into who he is as a person.

The key, I think, is confidence. Confidence and an unshakeable belief it can be done and that you are the one to do it.

Tunnel vision helps. Being a bit of a shit helps. A thick skin helps. Stamina is crucial, as is a capacity to work so hard that your best friends mock you, your lovers despair and the rest of your acquaintances watch furtively from the sidelines, half in awe and half in contempt.


If you wish to be rich, however, you must grow a carapace. A mental armour. Not so thick as to blind you to well-constructed criticism and advice, especially from those you trust. Nor so thick as to cut you off from friends and family. But thick enough to shrug off the inevitable sniggering and malicious mockery that will follow your inevitable failures. Not to mention the poorly hidden envy that will accompany your eventual success.

Consider carefully this shortlist:

  • If you are unwilling to fail, sometimes publicly, and even catastrophically, you stand little chance of ever getting rich.
  • If you care what the neighbours think, you will never get rich.
  • If you cannot bear the thought of causing worry to your family, spouse or lover while you plough a lonely, dangerous road rather than taking the safe option of a regular job, you will never get rich.
  • If you have artistic inclinations and fear that the search for wealth will coarsen such talents, you will never get rich. (Because your fear, in this instance, is well justified.)
  • If you are not prepared to work longer hours than almost anyone you know, despite the jibes of colleagues and friends, you are unlikely to get rich.
  • If you cannot convince yourself that you are “good enough” to be rich, you will never get rich.
  • If you cannot treat your quest to get rich as a game, you will never be rich.
  • If you cannot face up to your fear of failure, you will never be rich.

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