Who is David Nickel?
Gosh, that's a question I often ask myself as well. To begin
with, I am someone who, like almost everyone, is looking
for happiness and serenity in life. But I also love adventure,
taking risks and travelling. Professionally, I am a busi-
nessman through and through. I have been working in the
financial and banking worlds for 25 years and own various
companies. Last year I decided to pass on the torch of
CEO so that I can now exclusively concentrate on strategic
decisions. Meanwhile, I have also reached an age at which
I have gained enough professional experience to be able
to share it with others. I coach young ambitious people in
their twenties, thirties and forties and offer them solutions
for problems that I struggled with when I was starting out.
I give them 'shortcuts', as it were, which saves them a lot
Could you provide an example of the advice you give
to young entrepreneurs?
Actually, most of the advice I give them comes in the form
of pertinent questions. That includes the question that you
have just asked me: Who are you? What makes you get out
of bed every day? What drives you? What do you like to do
and what are you good at? The latter is a very important ele-
ment. I urge aspiring entrepreneurs not to fall into the trap
of always wanting to do everything themselves just to prove
they can do it. That happens very often. After all, you are
not a natural at every job. Recognise that, and leave those
things you can’t do well to others. A great entrepreneur or
a successful CEO surrounds himself with smart people who
are excellent at their profession and realises that his job
is that of the leader and strategist. That's it. He builds a
team, provides them with the resources, encourages them
and ensures that they all support the vision and objectives
that he has defined. This means that it is essential that as
a young entrepreneur you clearly know where you want to
go and how you want to achieve your goal. When you have
that in mind clearly, it comes down to following that vision in
an almost slavish way. If you find that things are happening
that are not consistent with your goals, you either adjust
your vision or your behaviour.
How do you approach life?
All the clichés are right: life is short, get the most from it,
be nice, go crazy and do what you like as long as you don’t
hurt anyone by doing so.
You’re someone who is obviously very conscious of
life. How do you achieve that?
By distancing myself from time to time and resetting
myself. Four weeks ago, I completely shut myself away
in Santa Monica for a week. For seven days, I wasn’t
available. No mobile, no laptop, nothing. I just lay on the
beach, cleared my head and consciously considered what
the priorities in my life are in all possible areas: relational,
professional and spiritual. What gives me joy and energy
and what brings fear and stress. It is a difficult exercise and
sometimes even a frightening one because you don’t know
what all this introspection will lead to, but it is something
that everyone should actually impose on themselves from
time to time. I returned with 20 pages of notes in which I
had expressed all my thoughts and I immediately started
work on those action points.
But if like you, you have examined every aspect of
your life, surely that may lead to important conse-
Absolutely. It can involve very simple things. If I have come
to the conclusion that I am not sleeping enough, I have to
go to bed earlier from now on. If I am eating too late or
drinking too much, I have to change that. But if, after reflec-
tion, the objective is: more of the good, less of the bad.
What is the most important thing you have decided
I can answer that question very clearly. I want the next
stage of my life, the years between my fiftieth and sixtieth,
to be the best ten years of my life. I have worked hard. and
I now have the luxury to do what I want and to choose how
I fill my days. So, if I get to sixty and have to look back
on the past decade with regret, that will mean I have thor-
oughly ruined it. I was particularly impressed when I arrived
here just now. I saw the excitement on your faces and the
passion you were putting into your work, and I immediately
felt that this was a special moment. You are so passionate
about what you do and so well attuned to each other, it is
fantastic to see that. I immediately thought: those people
are doing it right.