BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Reuben Singh, Entrepreneur and business angel

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Reuben Singh, Entrepreneur and business angel - As far as I know, there is no equivalent to the German word Wunderkind in any of the 500-plus languages of India. If there were, it would surely apply to Reuben Singh. From buying

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

As far as I know, there is no equivalent to the German word Wunderkind in any of the 500-plus languages of India. If there were, it would surely apply to Reuben Singh. From buying and selling clothes at school, in a few years he built up a business so successful that he was able to sell it for pounds 35 million and earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's youngest-ever self-made millionaire. Singh breakfasts monthly with Tony Blair, who uses him as a touchstone for the entrepreneurial world. But private advice to politicians is one thing. How would this youngster fare giving a setpiece speech on the big stage?

The audience - primarily small business people and their lobby groups - were gathered at Lakeside, Surrey for the first Genesis conference (a cross-party initiative that aims to set down a charter for small businesses across Europe). Singh didn't disappoint them. Clad in black from his turban to his toes, he cut a dramatic figure as he spun his tale.

He knew exactly what they wanted. No management theory, no semi-political hectoring. Just tell it straight. How do you make pounds 35 million before you are 25? Apparently it's all down to smack. This caused a slight frisson, but no, smack stands for Support, Money, Age, Contacts and Knowledge.

He used these headings to guide us through his theory for success. They lapped it up.

Key moment: The revelation that, as a one-man band, he used different voices on the phone to suggest he was head of a much bigger organisation.

Key lesson: He read out his speech. He should throw away the script and talk from notes.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth

Khalid Aziz is chairman of spoken communications specialists the Aziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com.

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