Saturday, November 24, 2007

Business first

Originally uploaded by amsterboy
It’s around eight on Friday evening. I can feel the sun of Lisbon on my face. I feel a bit like a Finnish friend of mine once described Finns travelling South: due to the lack of light we spend the first day lurking and squinting like prairie dogs.

Lisbon is amazing. We spent five hours walking up and down the hills, photographing the bright houses and the street art and stopping for an espresso (0,60 euros) and cake (0,80 euros) in small cafes. Now it is time for some rest before heading out for dinner.

For yesterday’s flight I bought the Guardian which is always a highly pleasurable experience. One thing that I truly miss in the Netherlands is the routine of reading daily the paper. The best quote in yesterday’s edition was in an interview with Deborah Meaden, an investor taking part in BBC’s entrepeneurship programme Dragon’s Den. The idea of the programme is a simple one: 5 investors listen to pitches of starting entrepeneurs and then decide whether they will invest their own time and money into the proposal. The dragons (the investors) are harsh, smart to a scary extent and extremely success-driven multimillionaires. Meaden is the only woman amongst them. Meaden rocks:

Hannah Pool: Are you as mean in real life as you are on Dragon’s Den?

Deborah Meaden: Stand in front of me and ask me for a quarter of a million pounds when you can’t be bothered to tell me what your turnover numbers are and I am that person. People try to let me off the hook and say I’m much nicer in real life – but if somebody is asking me for my money, my job at that moment is to establish whether or not this is a good investment, not to win friends and influence people.

H.P.: It mush bother you when the reviewers describe you as charmless.

D.M.: (Laughs) Well, I hope I’m not. My friends don’t call me charmless, people who meet me don’t say I’m humourless. People can call me what they like – fat, ugly, sour – but tell me I’m not fair, tell me I’m not ethical, those are the things that bother me.

H.P.: You are much softer in real life.

D.M.: It’s a different environment. Nobody is like the person I am on TV, surely, only Cruella de Vil, or the wicked witch from Snow White. It’s me, but it’s me in that environment. I’ve got that job to do. It would be worse if I tried to be different, if I tried to be soft. I’m a business person first and I happen to be doing television.

I really admire her. This is true equality. Her attitude reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s comment after last week’s attacks towards her by all the other candidates. She said that people are not attacking her because she is a woman, they are attacking her because she is winning.

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