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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

of time.

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

for yourself?

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.