“If you learn to accept and deal with the pain, it loses its power to hurt you.”

The Problem: It's war

In 2003 I found myself at the epicentre of one of the ugliest boardroom battles ever to hit London's Square Mile and, as a consequence, learnt what business pain can be all about, and how much fortitude is needed to get through to the other side. There was a tug of war over the internet hosting company I was chief executive of, Redbus Interhouse, a struggle which was ferocious, fanatical, a full-blown war of high-rolling thuggery and skulduggery. The cast of characters – and at times it did feel as though I was playing a part in a fictional mini-series – included Cliff Stanford, founder of Demon Internet (all his phone numbers ended in 666), John Porter, the son of Dame Shirley, plus a Russian oligarch and one of the founding owners of The Cuckoo Club. In particular I had to live with false, embarrassing stories in the press about sexual affairs and mismanagement, all of which were completely untrue but which caused huge pain to my family and pressure on me to call it a day.

Alongside this, the reputation of Redbus was at breaking point. The company had become the laughing stock of the industry. Some of our customers were openly ridiculing us, saying that the situation was so bad it couldn't possibly be true. With the staff well aware of the rumours flying around, at the same time as I was being grilled by the HR director about the serious allegations in the ...

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