Gerald Ratner was the unlikely inspirational speaker at the Kent B2B Show in Ashford this week.
The multi-millionaire, who built one of Britain’s most successful jewelry chains in the 1980s, lost everything when he confessed his gems were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long.”
In an interview with Kent Business Bunker on Channel Radio before the B2B event, Ratner told me and co- presenter Jules Serkin that he spiraled into a wilderness of depression that lasted seven years – watching Countdown on daytime TV.
Eventually his wife threatened to add their marriage to his chronicle of disasters if he didn’t get himself a job.
And that’s when he performed a turnaround every bit as surprising as his downfall.
After being rejected by more than 50 companies for work, he bought and developed a health club, and sold it three years later for £3.9 million. He admitted on the show that at the time he knew nothing about health industry.
With great audacity, he then started up another jewelry business called ‘Gerald Online,’ playing on his notoriety to deliver hits to his website.
“I felt sad to my stomach, but there’s no point in being miserable,” Gerald said. “It felt wonderful to start a business again.”
His ultimate resilience became the starting point on a journey of motivating others.
“My story was miserable but it has a happy ending,’’ Gerald said. “I thought if I can come back from where I was, then anyone can – don’t despair!”
Listen to the interview here