Pearls of wisdom that are worth passing on

Liam Croke


Liam Croke

Pearls of wisdom that are worth passing on

Founder of Innocent drinks, Richard Reed picked the brain of various famous people for their single best piece of advice

One of the most enjoyable books I read recently was ‘If I could tell you one thing’, written by Richard Reed.

The premise of the book is that a single piece of advice could change your life. Reed claims it happened to him on at least three occasions so he knew first-hand what you can learn from people who are wiser and more experienced than you are, and the impact it can have.

He says, “if chosen well, a few words can capture and disseminate the main insights gained from someone’s hard years of experience, thereby allowing us all to benefit from them.”

So, about 10 years ago, he vowed that whenever he would meet someone, he’d ask them for their best piece of advice. The advice could be on absolutely any subject matter, he didn’t narrow it down to specific areas of your life like your career, health, finances etc.

And the result was this excellent book.

The great thing about Reed’s book is the advice he received and wrote about wasn’t from random, unknown people, it was the opposite.

The collection includes ex-presidents, movie stars, artists, entrepreneurs, and there were others who may not be household names, but were amazing people nonetheless.

People like Bill Clinton, Richard Branson, Andy Murray, Bear Grylls, Jude Law, Lily Ebert, are just a few to make an appearance.

It is worth noting that Reed is a very successful individual in his own right, one reason he was able to get access to such individuals.

He co-founded Innocent Drinks, and sold it in market stalls before Coca-Cola bought it in 2013 for a reported £100 million.

What I really liked about the question Reed asked of people, was that it was very specific: if you could pass on only one piece of advice, what would it be?

So, the respondents couldn’t give a general, broad answer to the question. They had to give just one piece of advice and it forced them to think that bit longer and dig a little deeper before they replied, which is why I thought their advice was so good. Bill Clinton’s reply was a great example of this, and probably explains why anyone who has ever encountered him finds him so charismatic.

His advice was to see people. He said, he came to realise that the most important thing you can do is when a person, for example, opens a door for you, or the person who pours you coffee in a restaurant or café is to acknowledge them. Show them respect and let your eyes meet theirs. Fantastic.

Anyway, I really liked the book and idea behind it and it got me thinking, surprise, surprise, about money matters. And I thought, I have met thousands of people in the last 28 years of working in the financial services sector, so what are the nuggets of advice they have imparted to me over the years?

With that in mind, over the past few weeks, I have been remembering some of the people I encountered in the past and those I meet today, and if I asked them what their one piece of advice was, what would they tell me?

Because the list I could put together would be so long it would fill the entire paper, I decided to pick just a few for you, the ones I thought would be most helpful for people, and the ones I thought might make an impact, after hearing them. So here goes.

l It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep. Having a big salary doesn’t make you rich and having a low one doesn’t make you poor either. All that matters is how much you save from it.

l Avoid credit card debt like the plague. And don’t use your credit card to buy anything that you don’t have cash in your account to pay for.

l Know what taking on debt means and understand fully what you are signing up to.

l Spend more money on experiences and less money on things. Look at what you’re spending money on each month to get a clearer picture of your priorities. Because the goal is to spend money on things that are important to you and cut back on everything else.

l Write a will, because if you don’t it can be disastrous to those you leave behind.

l Live below your means but within your needs.

l Material purchases won’t make you happier in the long run, the buzz will wear off.

l Start saving as early as possible. If you do you will be able to retire earlier, it will give you more options to choose what you do, and how often you do it. You get to work on your terms and at your pace.

l It’s okay to drive an older car.

l Relax the purse strings a bit more. One client was obsessed with budgeting and saving and didn't leave any room for guilt-free spending or going on holidays with their kids. Go on holidays with your children, it doesn't matter where you go or for how long, just go and spend time with them. Make sure that cost is included in your budget.

l Don’t take out a mortgage for more than 20 years. And don't buy too much house. Don't extend yourself by buying a house that is way too big for your needs.

l Your health is your wealth. So, protect it and make sure if anything did happen, you have adequate insurance in place.

Finally, my own piece of advice is one that’s shared with Heston Blumenthal who was also interviewed in Reed’s book, and that is to question everything. Don’t take anything for granted, no matter who says it.

Liam Croke is MD of Harmonics Financial Ltd,

based in Plassey. He can be contacted at or