David Giampaolo talks tenacity at Featherstone High School

14 November 2014

David Giampaolo, entrepreneur, leader of Pi Capital and trustee of Speakers for Schools, headed to Southall last week to talk to business and economics A-level students.

Headteacher Gerry Wadwa introduced David as one of the most influential Americans in Britain, who founded health clubs in over twenty countries before becoming an investor.

Speaking to an audience of predominantly South-Asian origin, David reflected on his arrival in London “with nothing but a suitcase – knowing no one”, before going on to become known as the most “well-connected man in London.”

David Giampaolo speaking to students at Featherstone High SchoolDavid told the students that whether seeking to be a rock star, investment banker or CEO, the ingredients for success were surprisingly consistent: “What matters is that you go at it 100%, with passion, tenacity and a tireless ambition to improve.”

Rather than speaking of success as an innate quality, David emphasised that a willingness to keep commitments, and the ability to impress others by being “kind, polite, and hardworking” had inclined mentors to invest in his first gym in Florida, that he ultimately grew into a global enterprise.

During the Q & A session, the students had a range of perceptive questions:

“What do you mean by ‘success’?”

To me, it means looking in the mirror in the morning, and feeling happy with what I see. It means feeling that I’ve made an impact and have been able to help others. That’s what I mean by success – it’s about inner-peace rather than wealth.

“What made you decide to get rich?”

I never made such a decision. Success has to be predicated on passion – and money is only a by-product of that. If you want to make money for its own sake it’s hard to achieve. But try to start a project you’re proud of and you’ll find people will want to help you along the way.

“Did you ever make a bad investment?”

Of course. There is some level of risk involved in investing – always. I still make mistakes, still lose money. The important thing is learning from your mistakes, doing a great deal of research and searching out people you can learn from.

“What made you decide to start businesses in London?”

I didn’t speak any other language! When you start a business it’s important you understand who you’re selling to, and I thought our similar cultural heritage would help. Since then I’ve had to adapt when expanding to Singapore, India, Italy, you name it – but my UK experience has been invaluable.