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He had just helped turn a rundown Georgian mansion in London into a successful private members’ club, and he was being lauded in the business pages for his support of emerging technology companies.
Before he was born, a baby sister had died after drinking bad water from a river close to where the family had camped.
In his brief time with his natural family Richard never knew what it was like to have a proper home, or even live in a normal house.
They travelled the countryside in an old truck with all the children in the back open to the elements.
I’ve often met wealthy people – and I feel this myself – who aren’t interested in what money can buy because once you can buy that expensive car or house or suit, you don’t really want or value it.
What you want is another challenge.”To that end Richard has rid himself of many of his luxury possessions – including a yacht and two Ferraris – and leads a simpler life.
Rodney Smith, who was eight when his brother Richard was born, recalls when the weather was bad they would all sing “rain rain go away, let us live in a house one day”.
A tent was carried in the truck to shelter them all when they next made camp.“I don’t even have a car of my own now,” he confesses.“I bought the Ferraris because women like them, to be honest!I never read a business book or conformed to convention. I don’t follow guidelines; I work to my own rules.”Richard still, amazingly, lacks confidence in public speaking and is challenging himself by appearing at the Success and Happiness seminar at Westminster’s Central Hall on October 15 alongside TV talent judge Piers Morgan, NLP co-creator Richard Bandler and world famous self-help author and therapist Robert Holden.“Most of all,” says Richard, “passion is important.If you are passionate about something, a hobby for example, it helps you to spot opportunities and also means you’ve enjoyed yourself on the journey, even if you don’t get rich quick”“In my experience, the journey is all-important.“The project was risky but it’s turned out well.” You can say that again – Richard sold the club for a hefty profit but remains a life-time member.