by LAUREN CODLING
AN ASIAN property mogul has paid tribute to his family for laying the foundations of his future, as his new book detailing the path to success was set to be released on Thursday (25).
Millionaire businessman Paul Bassi CBE’s debut book Brick by Brick is the story of his life experiences, the secrets behind entrepreneurship and an exploration of his accomplishments.
Drawing on stories from his family’s arrival in the UK from India to his own achievements across his various business ventures, Bassi also details the disciplines he believes lead to success.
Bassi is the chief executive of property group Real Estate Investors plc. In an exclusive interview with Eastern Eye earlier this month, he revealed why he wanted to focus on his family’s beginnings in England.
“I felt I owed it to my family to recognise their journey,” the entrepreneur said, ahead of the book’s release.
“People talk about my generation and the next generation of my family being successful, but in relative terms, the previous generation were much more successful.”
Bassi’s grandfather Bhagat came to the UK in the late 1950s, with his son Santokh, Bassi’s father. Despite Bhagat being illiterate and Santokh having the equivalent of £2 in his pocket, the pair secured factory work and settled in the Midlands. Eventually, they moved to London “in search of better prospects”.
They faced hardships but gave Birmingham-based Bassi and his siblings a loving and secure upbringing.
“Despite everything, they brought all of us up and put us in the position that we are in,” he said. “It would have been disrespectful not to mention their story.
“But that is the story of most immigrants in the UK,” he added. “No matter where they are from – Greece, Italy, Eastern Europe – that story can be told by most of them.”
He also recalls the racism which he and his family encountered, in what he described as an “ugly Great Britain”.
But Bassi is pleased by the progression made in society. The new generation, including his own children, “just embrace the world and get on with each other”.
“They have friends of every nationality on the planet, but when I grew up, I was called P**i on a daily basis,” he said. “It was a horrible society to live in.”
When he was young, Bassi said he always assumed he would be successful.
“I had a strong work ethic and quickly developed a knack of developing profits,” he recalled. “It came easy to me.”
He also cites his Sikh beliefs as having a major influence on his path to success. Bassi, who was largely taught about religion by his grandmother, learned that Sikhism’s key values – respect, honesty, never fearing anyone or wanting to be feared, and sharing the proceeds of work with others – were essential to his growth.
“The values that relate to success are very much values of the Sikh faith,” he said. “A lot of that was grounded into me at a young age and subconsciously sat with me.”
The 57-year-old revealed that he was initially approached to write Brick by Brick while in his early 30s. However, he admitted feeling embarrassed by the idea and declined.
“I didn’t think I knew enough,” he said, adding he also declined the same offer when he was in his 40s.
“But now I’m in my late 50s, I thought this would be a nice way to record my family history and the progress of my business,” he explained.
“I do think that when you’ve been as fortunate as I’ve been, you have a responsibility to share some of the knowledge you’ve picked up throughout the years. It allows other people to do well and prosper.”
Bassi believes that some people think success is down to talent and luck. However, he considers this to be a misconception – every person can be fruitful in their preferred field.
“People believe somebody else can be that footballer, journalist or businessman,” he said. “They don’t believe it belongs to them, but if you follow a matter of disciplines, there is no reason why you can’t be that person.”
A keen philanthropist, he currently devotes his time to several projects. For instance, all the profits from Brick by Brick will go to the West Midlands based Bond Wolfe Charitable Trust.
He plans to give out 1,000 free copies of the book to local schools.
“I do think that a lot of what I talk about could be on the syllabus,” he revealed. “Nobody teaches us that we can all be successful.”
His other projects include the Sand Valley School in Birmingham, an institute he helped to launch in 2016. The school educates around 200 pupils who come from mostly underprivileged backgrounds. Some are migrant children, who arrived in the UK without
any English language skills.
It is therefore a proud moment for Bassi when some of these pupils leave the school with high grades, with aspirations to attend university.
Bassi is married and father to three children – Terri, Bobby and Nikita. Bobby has interests in business and property, while his youngest daughter Nikita is pursuing a singing career.
Asked about his proudest moment, surprisingly he does not list any of his business accomplishments. It isn’t even receiving his CBE at Buckingham Palace in 2010. Instead, he insists his children’s achievements top the list.
“Whether they’ve won a 25-metre swimming race or graduated from university, all those moments are proud ones for me,” he said.
When he isn’t working, Bassi reveals that taking care of his health is important to him. A few years earlier, the tycoon fell ill, which he now believes was down to burning himself out.
At the time of the interview, Bassi was due to go on a holiday to Ibiza and he is also a regular gym-goer.
However, Bassi rarely switches off from his business, although he acknowledges that he needs time to relax.
“I always carry the strategy and the vision around with me, but I know I need to keep the balance right –whether that is playing tennis, going to the gym or going to a couple of raves in Ibiza,” he laughed.
Brick by Brick: Success in Business and Life is available to buy from Thursday (25).