“It’s about doing important things, rather than just ‘things’…”

From remote-desking to rosé wine, the key to business success for Mark Dixon is all about time management – and don’t even try to approach him without an agenda

If you’re one of the many Europeans who rents a workplace desk when it suits, then you probably have Mark Dixon to thank. The British entrepreneur pioneered flexible office rentals in the late 1980s with Regus, a business now in over 3,000 locations in 110 countries. While some CEOs might be tempted to cash in at this point, Mark isn’t nearly done yet. Not bad for a former hotdog salesman…

Be resourceful “In the 1990s, I managed to arrange a meeting with Jack Welch, who was at that time the king of business [CEO of GE]; a massive opportunity. I was to fl y to New York from Washington for a 4pm appointment, but the planes were down due to bad weather. It was a case of ‘get there any way you can’. I eventually arrived at 10pm. Luckily, Jack had waited and it was all worth it in the end.”

Be the boss of the air “I’m forever flying, so I tend to be complacent about airports and the time it all takes. The result? I’m always missing flights, but I’m a master at re-booking.”

Time management is everything “I’m involved in two businesses and own the leading producer of rosé wine in the South of France, so I have to be very good at organising my time. At least, I think so. My family would probably say I’m terrible! It’s a question of planning, delegating and prioritising – doing important things rather than just ‘things’.”

Embrace extremes “Being in an old-fashioned business like wine is a huge advantage when it comes to Regus. They’re two extremes: one is global, digitally driven and high tech; the other is agricultural and uses techniques that have been around for 1,000 years. However, there is a cross-pollination of ideas. Winemaking has taught me about planning for the future and how you have to put in the work today for things to fall into place tomorrow.”

Adapt and grow “I left school at 16 and started out in 1977 with a hotdog van. However, it was very profitable and I would listen to Radio 4 and read a lot while I was waiting for everyone to come along after the pubs closed. The money I earned in that van enabled me to go on to other things.”

A wasted hour… “…is catastrophic. I’m ambitious and still have loads that I want to achieve. We’re changing the way the world works at Regus and there’s plenty left to do. I refuse to go to meetings that don’t have a proper agenda or an outcome at the end.”

Ignore the sceptics “I got the idea for Regus when I was in Brussels on business and needed such a service, but it wasn’t available. I looked into the concept and it was like dealing with feudal landlords from another age. It took a long, long time to get established.”

Some sacrifices must be made “We’re huge in America, with 40% of our operation there. When we first started out in the States, I realised that, while Americans speak English, they speak a very different language when it comes to business and that’s something you can’t really get your head around until you live there. I moved to Connecticut for five years and it made all the difference to the success of our business. I presented the move as kind of a done deal to my family, but luckily for me, they understood that change can be a good thing.”

Stop and think “I take a couple of hours every working day to have a good think about where the business is going and if we’re on the right track. It’s a big part of the job and I definitely don’t see it as a luxury. All my businesses have been about pushing innovation and I’ve learned over the years that to do so, it’s important to constantly adapt and almost feel a bit uncomfortable about where we are today.”

This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: http://www.ink-live.com/emagazines/easyjet-inflight