Dick Smith is positive he can make a change despite his setbacks

There are few people who can see the silver lining to everything they do, and Dick Smith seems to be
via ABC

There are few people who can see the silver lining to everything they do, and Dick Smith seems to be one of them.

The entrepreneur has given a very personal interview with the ABC this week and it’s amazing how positive he is about everything in his life – even his humble beginnings and school life.

“I’m actually quite a coward and I do get frightened on some of the adventures I’ve been on,” the 72-year-old told Jane Hutcheon, on ABC show One Plus One.

He spoke about being bullied as a young child due to a speech impediment, and that he never considered himself to be bright.

“I suppose you’d say I was even bullied,” he said matter-of-factly.

“The teacher put me out in front of the class to say my name and I said Dick Fish and Dick Miff because I couldn’t say Smith. Everyone laughed.

“I was hopeless at school, I couldn’t learn”.

Despite all this, Dick went on to create one of Australia’s most successful retailers, Dick Smith Electronics, which he sold in 1982.

He revealed how his business venture was a success right from the start: “When I was about 25, my accountant said to me Dick, you’ve made more money than the Prime Minister of Australia,” he said.

“I said: How have I done that? I haven’t got any money.

“He said: You’ve increased your stock and you’ve paid your tax and all of these things. I didn’t even understand that. Today I still can’t read a balance sheet.

“But believe it or not, after a few years we started ending up with millions of dollars in the bank.”

His recipe for success?

“My success in Dick Smith electronics and Australian Geographic was just to go around the world and copy the best, pinch the best ideas from everyone I could see,” he said.

“I noticed that each company I went to — I’d go to England, Canada, America — had different ideas, so I took the best of them, and that’s why I made so much money.”

But in the 80s, he had already amassed a huge fortune, so he sold Dick Smith Electronics for $24 million to Woolworths, a decision that baffled many.

“It’s amazing how people don’t understand that. They think if you’re a successful businessman you must want to make more money,” he said.

“I don’t want to make any more money. If I did, I would have stuck to electronics.

“I could’ve become a billionaire, but no, I wanted to spend time with my family, to go adventuring, to put something back in, which I learnt from the scouts, and all of those things I’ve been so lucky to do,” he said.

Sadly the company went into liquidation earlier this year and the last of the electronics retail stores have now closed.

Dick also talked about his staunch view on the Australia population and how its growth was getting out of hand. He expressed concern over our resources.

“To me, we should stabilise our population at about 26 million and we have a chance of having a good quality of life, otherwise most people in Australia will be poor,” he said.

As for his positive outlook, he attributes it to just being a lucky person and appreciating that.

“I was starting Dick Smith electronics and making myself millions of dollars when my friends were fighting in Vietnam,” he said.

“So I’ve had this incredible luck all the way through life and I’m always trying to repay”.

He said his successful marriage is his biggest achievement, despite everything.

“I took Pip out when she was 17, engaged at 18, married her at 19 and we’re still very happily in love,” he said.

Tell us your thoughts below.

  1. Vilnis Mitrevics  

    Dick Smith, an inspiration to all!

    • Annegelina Kiltschewskij  

      Thank you Dick Smith, you are an inspiration. A true Australian with a heart of gold. Love ya .

  2. Perla Knights  

    Sounds as though he might be dyslexic and that is why he had those learning difficulties. Regardless, he is to be greatly admired for his determination and will to succeed. His desire to give back to the community which gave his so little is a measure of the man. A true Australian, whether you agree with his politics or not.

    PS: I love Australian Geographic.

  3. Bev Story  

    Dick Smith for Prime Minister !!

    • glenn murray  

      I don’t think Dick is silly enough to go into politics`

      I agree with your thought though.

  4. Wasa  

    I used o build lots of kits from Dick Smith stores here in Perth when I was younger. Good part of my life then. I have always had a lot of respect for Dick Smith. An Australian with a good sense of honour and thought for others.

    Well done trick Dickie.

  5. elizabeth Hartshorn  

    I have always like Dick. I have never known an Aussie who tried so much to keep Australia Aussie. Bless Dick there are too many dick heads here that didnt support your efforts.

  6. Wayne Rogers  

    Too bad he’s fallen deeply for the great global warming scam, even though rational people see it as a NON ISSUE!

    It’s a non issue.

    Despite endless hype & lies, most Aussies sceptical of climate change pic.twitter.com/iizh834uje

    global warming SCAM DROPPED FROM POLL DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST! pic.twitter.com/uXABhfxAQx

    UN GLOBAL POLL: global warming scam DEAD LAST! Only the gullible fooled. pic.twitter.com/hGHq48oWNG

    global warming about DEAD LAST in Europe as well! pic.twitter.com/FHhjyfxz8S

    Ch9 Poll:69% Australians reject global warming DESPITE UNRELENTING WARMIST PROPAGANDA http://joannenova.com.au/2014/11/nine-poll-shows-69-of-australians-dont-believe-in-man-made-global-warming/

    An INCONVENIENT News Radio Poll pic.twitter.com/cKHaa2blQR

    A wonder climate change scam is even on the list let alone at the bottom! pic.twitter.com/e4YyRUHqAg

    • Henry  

      Global warming is real! What is unreal is the greed of the self-serving pundits making money out of it and taxing the society for natural elements of shifting climate due to the changing influence of the motion of the universe.

    • Alan Smirh  

      Hi Wayne,
      Pull your head out of the sand and start listening to the scientists not the conspiratory theorists.

    • Jude Power  

      Well I’m a rational person, as is Dick Smith, and like many other rational people, I do see climate change as a real issue. Is it a “scam” that some low lying pacific islands are now almost covered with water? Is it a scam that the polar ice cap is melting? Is it a scam that hot weather records are being broken over and over again?

  7. Kay Hill  

    Yes Dick Smith for Prime Minister! Agree with his comment about stabilising our population at 26mill. It is getting out of hand and we should think more about overseas investment in our properties. Too much has already been sold off. Dick you are a true blue Aussie. You make us proud. Keep up the good work and thank you.

  8. Ian gration  

    Dick Smith is a true Gentleman two years ago he gave Lions International 1 Million Dollars for us to help the needy if all big business did this type of thing and gave donations Australia would not be in the position it’s in and if Dick ran for PM and got in we could turn this country around in ten years

  9. Henry  

    Dick Smith is positive he can make a change despite his setbacks. Of course you can Dick, good on you. Hope you still have your own helicopter so when you become MP you can save tax payers $5000 for each flight. Just saying…:)

    • Emily Hardy  

      I so agree with all he says.Australia is a great country. We just have to remind the government to keep it great and keep iAustralia for Australia !

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