Alan M. Clegg

Founder and Executive Chairman of Red Crescent Resources Ltd

Nobody’s perfect. What quality or ability do you wish you had?

There is no specific change I would wish to make to myself with the possible exception that I wish I could be single-minded and selfish sometimes and put my own interests before the collective. I would have been crooked less, been disappointed in my fellow man less and certainly have lost less money!

What is the best business book you have ever read, and why?

Actually I have three that I always refer people to. The first is from 2008, The Last Lecture by Professor Randy Pausch; he contracted terminal cancer so it really was his last. It talks about the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling the dreams of others and seizing every moment: it’s about living!

The second is the 1990 book Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burroughs, really the story of LBOs (leveraged buy outs) and how RJR Nabisco falling to takeover by KKR started the private equity boom. But it’s also about the excesses lived by the CEOs of large corporations in the US, and the ultimate demise of their ‘God-like’ living from lack of sustainability.

The last one is a 2009 book, Heaven and Earth—Global Warming: The Missing Science by Professor Ian Plimer. This is truly brilliant, revealing the truth about this controversial subject and how the world has been gullibly sold on this phenomena, making some individuals wildly rich and famous as protagonists and enabling governments to impose punitive taxes and create more bureaucracy to their advantage.

Someone you would most like to have met, living or dead, and why?

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the great founder and leader of the modern Republic of Turkey. From a middle-class family with no royal blood or entitlement, his legacy and achievement was to build a nation and drag a people kicking and screaming from the medieval times to the modern era within his short lifetime, on the sheer strength of his will, personality and great intellect. He ranks among the greatest leaders to have ever walked the earth alongside Mandela, Gandhi and Lincoln.

What do you consider to be your major achievement (in life or business)?

Despite everything, to still be able to smile and without regret accept that everything that has passed, everything that is present, and everything that represents and will manifest in my future, will ultimately be my own creation!

Who or what do you think is overrated?

Conventionalism of any kind; group thinking and flock mentality; most world leaders and all politicians; the news media in general; email, as it stops real human interaction; hierarchical organisation structures and titles.

What mistakes have you made (professional or otherwise), and what did you learn from them?

My biggest mistake is trusting people and employees and believing that they will execute their duty diligently with the same due care and attention as do I—and that they will be loyal to me as I am to them. It has cost me millions in losses and severe dents to reputation. Finding the balance in management and allocation of authority, responsibility and accountability is very difficult. Just delegating is not that simple.

Which one piece of wisdom would you pass on to your successor?

Don’t assume anything, check and follow up constantly, manage your people obsessively and enforce discipline aligned to your own self-discipline. Those that fail must ‘walk the plank’ and leave the ship! Be a benevolent dictator!

Who has been your inspiration professionally?

No one individual with the possible exception of my father, who told me constantly, “Never let anyone tell you it cannot be done!” So, as a result I have been something of a maverick and mostly attempt the impossible every day and have regularly succeeded. Miracles though tend to take a little longer and I am still working on these!

How would you like to be remembered after your retirement?

As a humanist who had faith in his fellow man no matter what, always acted with good intent and absolute integrity, was successful and made a difference to the lives of those he interacted with, despite the odds against him.

Do you have a quote or motto you live (or work) by?

That’s an easy one: “Rule number one: there are no rules. Rule number two: if in doubt, refer to rule number one!”

Alan M. Clegg is founder and executive chairman of Turkey-focused mineral exploration and development company Red Crescent Resources Ltd.