What You See Is What You Get is an autobiography of Sir Alan Sugar, one of the most successful British business minds and television personality.
I read this book from cover to cover, all 609 pages of the volume, and not a single word missed and I liked it very much! It reads in the well-known style and voice of Sir Alan, and consequently it does appear that he has written it all by himself. There is mention in this book that his longest serving employee, Ivor Spital, carried out the background research. I hope it was not under a threat of losing his job if it did not become a success. I think he has done a great job.
I like Sir Alan, he sometimes across as a lovable Sid James or David Jason type of character, however he is as tough as old boots when it comes to business and making a profit.
Throughout the book, Sir Alan mentions Jewish festivals and holidays, in quite rightly, a very proud way to celebrate his heritage. In order to figure out the significance of these holidays, I had to read another book in parallel, which I just happened to have, called The Jewish Festivals. Therefore, reading this autobiography was very much an educational experience as well. I like books like that.
I was very interested to read about his experience of racist children, who were anti-Jewish. It was interesting to read how he managed to deal with this abuse (p. 6 and p. 7). His assessment that the children must have learned this behaviour from their parents is very true. Anti-Semitism, prejudice, and discrimination were prominent at all levels of the society back then. I had the very same experience as he did; of children not playing football with me.
It was interesting to read that at his primary school, they did not teach anything about the Holocaust. Only that Britain won the Second World War. I had the same education. I was 30 when I found out about the allied forces, and the contribution of other Commonwealth nations! There was a very clear intent and plan to re-write history and leave out other nations, but as these things go, eventually the truth always comes out in the end.
I remembered my school in the 1970s. The corridors were full of graffiti drawings of swastikas, NF symbols, and abusive words relating to the black, Indian, and Jewish races. You could walk down the corridor and get a real insight into the thoughts and minds of the people, which indicated a fear of change. The swastika is an ancient Sanskrit symbol of peace that is mirror reversed, so I always thought that the people who drew them must be highly civilised. It was after I had my ribs broken that I realised otherwise. -)
Amongst the migrant populations, my local college in Croydon, commonly known as the gas chamber, was not a place renowned for its excellence. Some of the older teachers were highly unfriendly and from the post-war era who hated migrants. The exam marking was brutal, and the grading had a very strong and obvious colour scheme to it; Whites - Distinction, Browns - Merit, Black - Pass / Fail. I was surprised to read that Sergey Brin had a very similar experience as well!
My interest in reading this book was to learn about the personal life of Sir Alan. This is the one aspect that is lesser known to the public. I wanted to know how he dealt with difficulties when trying to achieve his hopes, dreams, ambitions...
Certainly, the one thing I have found in life is that nobody will help you when you are trying to realise your goals, however, they are very ready to tear it down. I am glad to say that this book provided many answers.
The first quarter of the book is about his personal life. Sir Alan documents his parents and early childhood. His father was a Taylor, who had a great enthusiasm to make suits. It was interesting to read about the difficulties associated with poverty, housing, and work. I experienced those same things myself.
The rest of the book covers his business ventures starting with an interesting character called Gulu, and ending with The Apprentice. I was hoping to learn a little about his friendship with Margaret, who I think is an immensely intelligent person. Perhaps it will be in the next book.
I particularly liked reading about the engineering and design difficulties he faced regarding many of the Amstrad products, and how he solved them. I remember repairing many of those products in my youth.
In one place, he describes electronic manufacturing processes, such as printed circuit boards, circuits, and solder flows. This was all very basic knowledge, however still very impressive. It seemed to me that he made an effort to understand every aspect of his business, which is the mark of a professional.
Although on (p. 529) he describes himself as being in the Electronics and Real Estate business, he is much more than that. He is one of the most gifted and talented British entrepreneurs of our time. He is also an engineer, salesperson, executive, and even a pilot. Today, everybody wants to play football with him.
This book is packed with very interesting material that makes it a compelling read. I liked his direct style of writing, and he does not mince words. He is by nature a very open and forthright person, and this comes across very well in the book.
He has written very openly about some of the people who betrayed him. He most definitely was not afraid to speak his mind. Moreover, why should he? After all, he is Sir Alan Sugar - the most powerful businessperson in Britain. Hence, the title of the book is accurate and what you see is what you get.
Anyone who reads this book will end up liking him even more with a more deepened respect as I did. Good for him, glad to see somebody made it.
Sir Alan Sugar was born on 24th March 1947 in Hackney. He was the youngest of four children. He studied at Northwold Primary School and Brooke House Secondary School.
He was very business minded and enterprising, and after leaving school started his business ventures selling goods for profit. He married on 28th April 1968 to Ann Simons. They have two sons and a daughter. His parents were upright and strongly moral Jewish people. His father was in the tailoring and garment industry.
|Title||What You See Is What You Get|
|ISBN Number||978 0 230 74933 7|
|Copyright Holder||Alan Sugar|
|Typeset||Elipsis Books Ltd|
|Print Number||1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2|
|Front Cover Design||Terry O'Neal|
|Back Cover Design||Bryan Organ|
|Ivor Spital||Michele Kurland|
|Nick Hewer||Alan Watts|
|Mark Bateman||Wife and Children|
|Last Page Number||609|
|Availability||Amazon and all good online bookstores|