How do you measure your success?

The playwright Sir Arnold Wesker attempted to dissect the character of Sir Alan Sugar, founder and chairman of electronics firm Amstrad and the 'ringmaster' of the UK TV hit, The Apprentice (in which a group of hopefuls go through several gruelling weeks of tasks and interviews until one lucky finalist is chosen to be Sir Alan's apprentice for the year).

by FTWeekend, May 13/14 2006
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

One of Sir Arnold's plays - Chicken Soup With Barley - traces the life of Jewish families in the east end of London during the 1930s, and both he and Sir Alan grew up on the same council estate in east London. Therefore, you'd expect them to understand each other well.

However, what seems clear is that the two men are poles apart. Wesker points out that though he came from a similar background, his family were attracted to the arts, literature and learning, while Sir Alan, he suggests, emanates from a very different Jewish tradition: "What is not so well known is that across this Jewish spectrum there is a surprising group who are identifiably philistines. These are Jews who - hard to believe - hate the arts and find them intimidating, a vague threat. They contemptuously dismiss all artistic endeavours as pretentious, fail to comprehend its purpose or value and view its functioning as a mystery..."

Wesker adds that Sir Alan "seems to imagine that wealth offers a license to be rude, crude and insensitive; that £800m and a yacht bestow the power to bully; that only money commands honour and respect; and that riches possess him of life's verities." At the same time, Wesker acknowledges Sugar's 'rough diamond' charm has its appeal. 

But the article also raises some pertinent questions for business leaders the world over. Which camp would you fall into - the cultured or the uncultured? Do you think money and riches is the ultimate test of success? Certainly, the ever growing number of rich lists the world over suggest many do think this.

Source: "Two sides to the Clapton tycoon"
Sir Arnold Wesker
FTWeekend,  May 13/14 2006

Review by Morice Mendoza

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