Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Some people are just bonkers.

Some, though, need certain thrills. They need a certain sense of achievement that only radical decision making, coupled with a touch of pain, can bring.

Yes, they might also be bonkers, but it's more likely that they actually know it.

David Spencer-Percival may well be one of those people. He made a lot of money by founding a U.K. recruitment business called Huntress.

He bought a 19th-century manor house, classic cars, paintings by famous artists, and built a humongous collection of hair clippings and nose studs from the punk era. 

That last item may merely be on my own wish list.

However, as he told the BBC, something wasn't right. (And, yes, it could have been him that wasn't right.) So he sold everything.

"I became successful quite young and I bought lots of toys," he told the BBC. "But it never really satisfied me."

What is satisfaction? How do you measure it? When you've redecorated your seventh bedroom?

In fact, that's what his wife had just done when he announced that maybe being to the manor made was just not for him.

Once his wife had concluded that what he had in mind might be the right thing for him to do, he felt a lifting of the spirits.

"I felt so free," he said. "It allowed me to be a lot more flexible. When you have got stuff, it is quite complicated to look after. With these manor houses, there is always something wrong with the roof or the garden."

And so he started again.

 Before you turn and tell your own spouse, lover, pets, or children that you're selling everything and starting again, please consider that this wasn't quite so hard for Spencer-Percival.

He already had an offer from someone with bags of money. That someone was prepared to back a new venture, whatever that venture might be.

Of course that venture, a recruitment company in the energy sector called Spencer Ogden, was successful too.

Oh, it had its difficult moments, but Spencer-Percival admitted: "I had this overwhelming confidence I would be successful. I don't do failure."

Everyone does failure, sir. Some just don't admit it.

While you're bathing in the glorious self-confidence that he exudes, I want to tell you about my very good friend Sol (name changed).

A diehard Jets fan (so he understood the tantalizing lure of success), he built a recruitment company too. He sold it. He kept telling me that he'd travel, write, see the world, relax, enjoy his family. He could now afford it.

Not too long afterward, there was Sol setting up another business. Yes, in recruitment.

"Why?" I asked him. I never got a good enough answer. At least not one that made any sense to me. It was as if Sol had decided that this was all he knew. He never convinced me that he loved the recruitment business.

A few months later, I got a call from his wife. Sol was dead. He'd suddenly discovered he had cancer, and it was so advanced that he was gone within weeks. He was 44.

This story isn't meant to depress you, though it's always made me wonder about the essential, insane randomness of everything.

Buying lots of stuff may be a natural reaction for most of those who make significant money. That stuff may, for at least some, provide only temporary joy. So they have to do something work-related again.

But sometimes, however much you say you don't do failure, life does it for you.

That's why it's often better to do the bonkers thing--and even many bonkers things--while you can, as long as everyone you love is in it for the ride.

Carousels have an annoying habit of stopping.