A number of years ago, I was holding a senior level management post in a PLC.
During my tenure, the company I worked for issued out several large tenders. The winners of one of the tenders was a company, we shall call “A”. Though I was not involved in the technical and financial evaluation of the tenders, nor in deciding on the final recommendations leading to the award, by virtue of my position, outsiders would have inferred that I was a major influencing figure.
I left this PLC before the final recommendations were made to award to “A”. One of the directors and shareholders of this “A” was, shall we say, Mr. B. During the tender period and process, I had interactions with Mr. B and I liked and respected him, but the relationship sort of tapered off after I left.
About 2 – 3 years later, I received a call from Mr. B. He had sold off his shares in “A” and was about to invest in another small company and wanted me to join him as a fellow director and shareholder.
Whilst I had faith in the business model and prospects of this company, I had no money to invest.
And Mr. B offered me an interest free 5 year loan for the full investment.
This was at that time, the biggest loan I had ever been offered, about 1.5 times my mortgage. This was the biggest monetary amount I would have had in any investment, even bigger than the value of the house my family was living in. And it was the only interest free loan that had ever been offered to me.
I took him up on his offer.
And just look at the returns I received from this investment and what I did with that:
a) The loan from Mr. B was paid back in full, though I went slightly over the 5 year period,
b) My mortgage was paid off,
c) This company, in partnership with others, secured a contract in Ghana and this gave rise to my working stint in West Africa. The first time I had ever been to Africa.
d) The 3 years in Africa was my best ever working experience.
e) The interactions with my Ghanaian colleagues somehow led to me writing a book titled with the long name of “We wish we knew these 20 years ago”. This book was meant to be a guide to my children. Working on this book created changes in me, changes which I consider “paradigmic”, if there’s such a word.
f) When that Ghana contract ended, one of our partners offered me a job which took me to India, where I spent 2 and half very eventful years.
I can go on with quite a few more returns. And it is still ongoing.
The point, I am trying to make is, what is really my best investment?
i) Is it the investment in this company?
ii) Or is it the investment I had made in myself? The investments that given me certain qualities and values. Qualities and values which had made Mr. B offer the interest free loan to me, so that I could be his fellow shareholder.
You tell me.
I have never asked Mr. B, why? Neither has he ever volunteered to tell me. Though I have thanked Mr. B profusely, I guess he may never ever fully realize what a great opportunity and favor he has done me, my family and a host of other people, who have benefited indirectly.
Thanks a million, again, Mr. B!