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January 12, 2022updated 13 Jan 2022 3:09pm

The Spear’s 500 2022 Foreword: Lord Verjee of Portobello

By Spear's

Businessman, peer and founder of the Rumi Foundation, Lord (Rumi) Verjee of Portobello, pens the foreword to the 2022 edition of The Spear’s 500

I am delighted to have been asked to write this foreword for The Spear’s 500 at a critical time for our economy and our society.

Spear’s has for many years celebrated and championed wealth creation and excellence in business, and is a vital resource for the best professional advice in this country and beyond.

As an entrepreneur I was lucky enough to realise from very early on the importance of excellent professional advice. In fact, I still retain the same professional team and firm that helped me start my entrepreneurial journey when I founded Domino’s Pizza in the UK some 35 years ago.

They have been with me throughout my involvement with a range of other ventures including chairing Thomas Goode (recognised as the world’s finest china, silver and glass shop), redeveloping the Royal Brompton Hospital site into luxury apartments and setting up a property business in Brazil before anyone had heard of the ‘BRICs’. I also became the owner of Watford Football Club with Elton John, during a very successful period for the team.

Of course, I am writing this in the wake of the biggest crisis any of us has ever experienced: the global pandemic that has shaped and determined our lives for the last 18 months.

This challenging period has led us all to re-examine our sense of purpose, sense of community and sense of country. It has also forced us to confront our relationship to nature and to our planet. I hope the lessons we have learned in this period will be lasting and not transitory. I believe the most vital lesson learned is the importance of compassion.

I have admired businesses that have demonstrated kindness, compassion and a sense of responsibility during the pandemic. Caring for your employees, the most important asset you will ever have, has been shown to be more important than ever. But so is caring for wider society. We have seen countless examples of selflessness, generosity and love during this turbulent time and have come to appreciate that the hidden heroes of our society are the health workers, teachers, lorry drivers, supermarket workers, delivery people and many more.

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People who know me will tell you that I’m a dreamer – in fact, I believe it’s an essential quality for a successful entrepreneur. Today I dream of a society where we truly value compassion, decency and responsibility to others in all walks of life. Indeed, I hope that Spear’s and other arbiters of excellence will soon find a way to include giving back to the community as part of their criteria for measuring success and excellence.

My personal motto has long been ‘to dare, care and share’. Dare to be bold, be the first mover and do so with courage. Care for yourself, your family, your community and the planet. Importantly, don’t forget to share, bring others along with you, share your knowledge and your wealth.

These values form the bedrock for our family foundation, The Rumi Foundation, which I established some 15 years ago. With a focus on education, innovation and entrepreneurship, we seek to support individuals with the capacity to become future leaders, and organisations capable of building a better future for us all. We support talented people both in the for-profit space through our endowment funds and in the impact space through our grants. We are increasingly working to narrow this gap so that the two worlds of profit and impact can work together as one. To me, this makes good business sense.

I am very optimistic about the future of our country. We should be excited about the great entrepreneurial transformation that is taking place – the fourth industrial revolution enabled by huge leaps in technology – and the passion of our youth to create a better world.

I believe we will be an even greater country if we can lead the world in showing the importance of compassion, decency and love in the way we run our lives, our businesses and our society.

I dream of Britain being a true leader in this new world order of decency, respect and love for ourselves and our planet.

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