My Week: Deborah Meaden from Dragons' Den

The entrepreneur and Dragon on combining the day job with her TV and press commitments.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

We’re filming at the moment, which takes up a couple of full days each week. It also means that I’m taken out of it all day, so I have to go on into the evening. I have two deals that I’m negotiating at the moment, and I can’t just put those off because I’m filming. So when the cameras stop rolling about 7 or 8 o’clock, I’ll book a conference call or arrange some face-to-face meetings, to catch up on important stuff.

I’ve been launching my new book this week, so I’ve been doing lots of media and TV. I started off with breakfast TV and then did a few radio interviews: the Simon Mayo show with Richard Bacon, Steve Wright. Because it’s a business book, I get a lot of challenging interviews, which I love. Otherwise you’re just turning up and answering the same questions: who’s your favourite Dragon, is Peter Jones really that tall, that kind of thing... Every interviewer pulls out different things – I can’t guess what they want to know about the book, because it covers a lot of ground. So I pretty much always let it go free-flow, because I want the interviewer to get what they want out of it.

On the days when I’m at home in Somerset, I get up late – I won’t be up before half eight, and I’m not fully functioning until about 9.30. In fact, I avoid any important meetings until about 10am. And I’ve done that throughout my life, regardless of any tuts or raised eyebrows! When I was negotiating with Phoenix Equity Partners, I told them that there was one important caveat: if I’m going to get involved with you, nothing starts before 9am!

I have an office at my home (I’m not a workaholic, I just love business) so I check my emails and my diary first, and then maybe have a cup of tea, wander round the garden, think about what I’ve got to do for the day. Then I head to my local office. My PA will come over and we’ll go through all the stuff I’ve got to go through – sign anything that needs signing, read anything that needs reading – before she leaves me to my meetings or telephone calls or whatever. I’m normally quite loose about these days. Generally speaking I love being very busy, so I like to organise my diary around very full structured days – and then nothing. Or at least, days when I can choose what I want to do. That’s my downtime. Inevitably I end up working, but it’s not stuff I absolutely have to get done.

In the evening I might get on the train to come up to London – particularly if we’re filming in the morning, because then I get picked up at 6.30am (I just fall asleep in the back of the car!). Otherwise I’ll arrange back-to-back meetings – whether it’s TV, book stuff, or the charities I’m involved with. For instance, I’ve just launched the Childline Child’s Voice Appeal South West; I’m the chairman, and I’ve got to raise £1.5m in the next three years. 30% of Childline calls don’t get answered; that’s completely unacceptable, so I’m raising money for extra staff. That means structuring our PR campaign, targeting people who we want to target, getting people involved to help us and so on, ahead of a big dinner we’ve got next week.

Then there are my investments: some need a lot of my time, some need none of my time. They’re all over the country, so I can’t see them often – but I speak to them all on a regular basis (I get very alarmed if I can’t get through!). It’s a pretty varied life I lead, which I love.

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