Jonathan Rowland –Pursuing Passion and the Entrepreneurial Journey
There are moments in life where perspective is gained – clarity of thought is achieved and an individual can grasp what matters to them and how to pursue their passions. Jonathan Rowland's story is of his remarkable entrepreneurial journey, punctuated and profoundly affected by illness, hope, and Lady Luck. At his TEDx Brussels speech on November 12th, Jonathan shared his inspiring story of chance, tragedy, and retaining his thirst for business.
Jonathan Rowland was born into a family fortune of an estimated £660million. Despite having a highly successful property developer as a Father, Jonathan left school at 16 without qualifications – despite being provided the best in education. He has had two partners – the first ending in a high-profile divorce following 4 years of marriage from the age of 24, and the second (and bearer of his two children) in turmoil. His son was born critically premature and was kept in an incubator for the first 4 months of his life – 'dying' 20 times in the process. But despite these issues and challenges, Jonathan's story is also one of recovery and renewal. His son survived and has grown completely normally. His failed company ResourceWorks saved two people from the 9/11 tragedy in 2001, as his social events when on a business trip to New York meant that friends missed their doomed flight and were late to work at the World Trade Centre that fateful morning. His disappointing educational attainment was countered by his highly successful internet investment company Jellyworks at the height of the dot com boom. Jonathan's life has been an exhibition of brushing ones-self down and being "reborn".
Jonathan's moment of clarity and perspective occurred in the summer of 2013 - when he suffered a brain haemorrhage and stroke that gave him a 25% chance of surviving 48 hours, and just 6% beyond that. With a typical working week taking him to London, Luxembourg, Russia and the Middle East from his Monaco base, his stroke was attributed to both genetic disorder and too much hard work. Following his establishment of Blackfish Capital in 2005, and subsequent 2009 restructuring of the Luxembourg arm of an Icelandic bank, Jonathan's work involved not only long hours but toxic assets resulting in police raids. His stroke left him dying in a hospital bed, paralysed, but he looks back at the experience as a calming event and reflective moment. He was able to see everything that mattered to him; his parents, siblings, partners, children and work.
Jonathan was told by doctors to rest and stay at home, and would have been forgiven for doing so. But tellingly, he says he now feels "reborn" – ready to go again, living for the buzz of the next deal. When discussing the hard work that is said to have caused the stroke, he claims "in some cases that's what led to my stroke, but so did my gene pool, and I haven't reacted to it by cutting off communication to my parents".
Jonathan describes his moment of crisis as driving him on to go again, and to be even more successful. Like a sports-person, business people should be prepared to risk injury to do what they are passionate about and to learn the lessons of their pasts to press on with the future. Jonathan has since established 2 companies in 2014 – one in the social media sector and another in mobile betting. Commentators frequently "suggest that lives are spent filling time rather than using it" – near-death experiences so often have the impact of making sufferers feel like using it. Jonathan's story shows not only his personal passions and individual drive, but the indomitable entrepreneurial spirit that strives for success and knows no bounds.
Jonathan Rowland was speaking at TEDx Brussels. You can watch his speech again here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLBjlewZ1Lo&sns=em
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