Biz Extra

Published: May 10, 2020 | Updated: May 10, 2020

20 Questions: Joshua Simons, Founder, Chicken & Blues, Elite Living, Tribeca Events & Flamingo

Joshua Simons: “How would I like to be remembered? A family man, that was never afraid to have a go, and had a couple of big wins!”
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Each week we shine the spotlight on a member of Dorset’s business community and ask him, or her, for answers to our part fun/part serious questionnaire. This time…

His favourite place in Dorset is Sandbanks, he names golfers Nick Faldo and Greg Norman as his childhood heroes, loves the smell of freshly cut grass in Spring as it signifies the start of the golf season and chooses roast chicken, gravy, and some tasty side dishes as his last supper. Now there’s a surprise…!  

Joshua Simons, Founder, Chicken & Blues, Elite Living, Tribeca Events and Flamingo (opening soon), takes the 20 Questions’ hotseat.

Question: What is your favourite TV show?

Answer: On the rare occasion that I have full control of the TV remote in my house, it’s either sports, news, or Only Fools and Horses re-runs! I seem to spend quite a lot of time feigning interest in shows like The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills, whilst also catching up on business on my phone or laptop. It’s modern-day multitasking, and keeps the wife happy.

Q: Who would you like to share a car with?

A: Anyone that’s either very interesting or very funny. Preferably a bit of both or I’d be making sure the journey was a short one.

Q: The best bit of my job is…?

A: Being in a position to move quickly on ideas without having to go through what would feel like any bureaucratic process. We have a fluid and agile culture in our businesses and I’m grateful for that.

Q: And the worst…?

A: When people that you have given time to, invested in, and thought highly of, let you down. Never easy, but part of life.

Q: Who was your childhood hero?

A: A mixture of the golfers Nick Faldo and Greg Norman. I spent my teenage years playing golf to a relatively decent level, representing Great Britain and England. I modelled my approach to the game on what I learned from reading about and watching Faldo. He was laser-focused, committed, and single-minded. Greg Norman, on the other hand, was (and is) a flamboyant Aussie with an eye for business. He created The Great White Shark brand and, as a kid, I used to wear his branded golf clothing, including his trademark cowboy-style golf hats, with pride! I read his book ‘The Way Of The Shark’  in my early 20s and found it really inspiring. It mixed golf with branding and building enterprises.

Q: What’s your favourite smell?

A: I’ve always loved the smell of freshly cut and mown grass in the Spring. It signifies the start of the golf season and a nice long summer ahead.

Q: Where’s your favourite place in Dorset?

A: We moved down from London in 1999 and my father opened Café Shore in Sandbanks, where I worked for a while. I have spent plenty of time in that area of the world with my family, in business and otherwise. As such, I would have to give a cliché answer and say Sandbanks is my favourite spot in Dorset with its stunning beaches and scenery. In my opinion it could do with another Café Shore. The area is very much lacking in the type of top-quality restaurant and hotel experiences that it deserves, and warrants, given the press coverage it generates. Whether, in reality, it has a market to sustain this type of high-end establishment is another question.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone starting out on a career?

A: Difficult one. I’m probably ten years away from feeling comfortable handing out advice to people starting out. I feel like I’ve just started out myself in many ways, and you never stop learning – the business world is in a constant state of evolution. All I would say is that if you don’t have a level of dedication that some people would deem an ‘obsession’ then there is a limit to how far you can go. People that I’ve met that have been ultra successful, in sport or business, treat it as a lifestyle. Everything revolves around it, despite what the ‘live life as a balance’ crowd may claim. However, it doesn’t feel like an obsession if you love it, and so loving what you do is high on the agenda when choosing how to spend your working life. My wife often tells me I’m obsessed. I’m starting to realise that not everyone around me wants to talk about business as much as I do. Social awareness upgrade needed!

Q: What was your first record/CD?

A: I went to school in London in the late 90s. Myself and my mates loved US Hip Hop, in particular groups like Wu-Tang, Cypress Hill and Pharcyde. Sacha Baron Cohen’s character ‘Ali G’ was brilliant in its accuracy – that whole scene was real! Pharcyde’s album Labcabincalifornia was my first album purchase, but I also remember borrowing my mum’s Perry Como album and enjoying that too (not something I would have ever let slip at school I might add).

Q: What gets you angry?

A: People that ask your advice, owed to your experience or expertise in a particular subject, take up a load of your time, before doing the exact opposite. They are affectionately known as ’Askholes’.

Q: Do you have a favourite piece of music?

A: We’ve spent a lot of time in Barbados over the years, including opening a nightclub there in 2012, which we ran for four years. Owed to this, my love of reggae music is relatively deep-rooted! Bob Marley’s ‘Satisfy My Soul’ brings back good memories for me although I also love the work of Jimmy Cliff, Third World, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear.

Q: What are the qualities you look for in a new employee?

A: We’re in the hospitality business, so it’s a mixture of a warm personality, great attitude, presentability, solid work ethic, reliability, and a genuine passion for giving customers a great experience. Quite a few boxes to tick!

Q: What’s your favourite food or dish?

A: If I had one last supper, then roast chicken, gravy, and some tasty side dishes would be on the agenda. Not sure where from…!!!

Q: Steamed sponge pudding and custard or a plate of melon?

A: I’m Type 1 diabetic so I should pass on both but if had to choose one, then it would be melon.

Q: Name the best thing about living/working in Dorset?

A: It’s clean, it’s safe, there’s not much traffic, it has incredible beaches, nice schools, it’s not far from London, and there’s plenty of ambitious people that want to do business… I also couldn’t think of a better place in the UK to bring up my kids.

Q: If you were Prime Minister for the day what would be the first thing you do?

A: I’d rework taxation to further motivate entrepreneurship. I’d start with VAT. By all means tax profit, but taxing revenue at 20 per cent is far too high, especially for small businesses on the high street. Unfortunately, with the country being run by bureaucrats and career politicians, the voices of the risk-takers, that are so vital to economic growth and employment, are often ignored. It will be interesting to see what further steps are taken during the Covid-19 pandemic to stop certain industries from suffering for the foreseeable future.

Q: What’s your biggest frustration?

A: Probably allowing myself to get frustrated by situations that I have no control over or shouldn’t matter to me. Lots of energy wasted over the years on stuff that, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t important. We’ve got a limited capacity for time and energy, best to use it wisely!

Q:  Where’s your favourite holiday location?

A: I’ve enjoyed Dubai over the last few years with my wife and kids… but for food, culture and ambience I also have a lot of time for Europe, in particular areas of Spain, Italy and France.

Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

A: I don’t allow myself to think that far ahead. You never know what’s around the corner, as this pandemic has proved. I’ve had lofty visualisations before and have realised that, actually, much of it is led by ego. These days we keep things simple. Myself and my team respect and follow the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen – that is the mindset of focus on constant, continuous improvement – week by week. If we focus on this, and make a number of considered decisions over the next few years, enlisting the advice and consultation of those far wiser than ourselves, then I’m excited to see where we’ll be in ten years’ time.

Q: What would you like to be remembered for?

A: A family man, that was never afraid to have a go, and had a couple of big wins!