Growth Mindset Podcast

38: The Power of Focus - Nicholas 'Charles Tyrwhitt' Wheeler, OBE

November 29th, 2018

The Founder of Charles Tyrwhitt shirts, Nicholas Wheeler OBE, discusses his various successes and failures from childhood to the present day. We find out how to have good ideas and bad ideas and the key to making them successful.

Charles Tyrwhitt is now a ~$0.3 billion company which he started from nothing. The story of zero to 1 million is always interesting. But the further stories of going from 1 to 10 and 10 to 100 provide incredible depth and insights into how to focus and be persistent.


  • People would often do stuff because they were told to do it. Work because you want to do it. Love what you do.

  • Top leaders can provide the framework and tools for a team, but the game is won on the playing field. When a strategy looks brilliant, it’s because of the quality of execution.

  • In starting a business, you have to give the quality your target market would normally want.

  • Fail fast so that you could pivot.

  • You decide what you’re good at and do that. Decide what your core strength is.

  • If you want to do something well, focus on one thing and do it well.

  • Entrepreneurs tend to sell out easily in hopes to make it faster. Enjoy and learn from the Grind.

  • It’s always not about the money. The unhappiest people are those who make a lot of money because you need to be striving for something to which if you suddenly get there, it destroys a lot of people.


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Charles Tyrwhitt company website


My name is Sam Harris. I am a British entrepreneur, investor and explorer. From hitchhiking across Kazakstan to programming AI doctors I am always pushing myself in the spirit of curiosity and Growth. My background is in Biology and Psychology with a passion for improving the world and human behaviour. I have built and sold companies from an early age and love coming up with unique ways to make life more enjoyable and meaningful.



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At a young age, Nicholas always had ambitions to run his own business. He started a photography business to commemorate the precious memories and reminders of people dear to someone. He was inclined to the business idea of import-export because he had a feeling that this could be a good way to grow a business.

Do stuff because you really want to do it, and not because you’re told to do it.

Always wanting to be in control of his destiny and start his own business, Nicholas cites execution as a “big thing.” Start with execution and subsequently define your strategy. You don’t want to be the leader who overpromises only to under-deliver. Prioritizing execution requires you to think of your business strategy a living, evolving entity, meaning you’ll routinely revisit, reanalyze and make updates based on how things are going in real-time.

The idea is not the big thing. It’s always about execution. You look around a room and there are a 101 business ideas in any room. You just got to do it better than anybody else. Better quality, better value, better sale.

Through traveling, Nicholas was able to start a shoe business. As he garnered clients, Nicholas had to manufacture his products internationally because of the quality he deemed fit for his business. After experiencing business lessons, Nicholas turned to “Charles Tyrwhitt,” a menswear clothing line built to last. He mentioned that when starting a business, the first couple of years should all be about learning your customers, your product and your business. He has given recognition on the times when his business would try to go do more things for growth, to which it has cost them setbacks. Charles Tyrwhitt improved in time especially with the development of the internet.

When the internet did come along, I knew it was going to be very important for the business. It changed mail order from the down and dirty to being quite sexy.

Nicholas points out that the key to every business’s success is focusing on the things that one is good at. The key to success might be focus, but don’t forget to believe in your dreams. Success is limitless when Focus is the driver and never take your mind off your dreams.

You don’t just think it’s going to work, you know it is going to work. When you’re bored, you tend to lose focus. Just be mature on focusing on the one thing and be the best for you to get a business working. Focus is an incredible part of success.

Nicholas took the time to invest himself in taking more work than they can handle rather than delegating tasks to his employees. As a humble leader, he appreciates the strengths of each employee and trusts them to do effective work to help move the company forward. He also mentions seeking feedback to improve processes, company culture and other areas of the business.

I have never thought that I am the best person to run the business. I have always felt that other people could run the business better. I want to be with people who are going to be fun, people who can be uplifting. You got to have that positive mental attitude.

Our guest’s goal has always been to make Charles Tyrwhitt the best shirt company in the world. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t define your essence this instant. This is often a long process that happens in fits and starts. Be patient, and let the answers come organically.

As you get more experience and as you get exposed to more wisdom, you become a better judger at people… You got to understand the essence of your business, and what is it the people will like and not like about it.



Nick is very humble and accepting of his mistakes. He would often start with comments such as ’this has been said before i’m not a genius for thinking it’ or ‘this is what i think but sure it’s not always the case.’

Which doesn’t undermine his thoughts exactly it just shows he is open to being challenged or that there could be other opinions that are right.

He is completely open to being wrong and actively encourages his employees to challenge him and the authority across the organisation to ensure that people have a say in decisions and understand why things are the way they are or have the power to change them


Don’t quit when starting. Finding traction and getting things going takes time to become and expert at what you do and understand who your customer is and how to serve them. the world doesn’t just stop and buy into your idea when you launch, so you shouldn’t just give up.

And then when you’ve finally solved a problem don’t quit. zero to 10 is the hardest thing. 10 to 100 is much easier yet so many people do quit

Don’t lose attention and try other things because you’ll just mess up what you are doing.

Awesome notes provided by Aditya Behere!


For a “traditional business” Nick hasn’t done anything traditionally. He didn’t take financing or find a business partner. he launched at the time a very innovative business model and ignored all his friends telling him to get a real job and give up on the mail order shirt thing.

In hindsight, it might all seem quite easy but at the time it takes real courage to be different. Sometimes you have to zag when everyone is zigging and have the courage to do something everyone thinks is stupid.

Key Discussion Points

[2:50] First business idea

[6:01] Business Execution

[11:30] Importance of starting a business

[22:28] Focus as a key to growing

[28:16] Learning on how to improve the mindset on dealing with problems

[35:44] Signs Nicholas look for from people

[40:26] Advantages of having a wife that has a similar business


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Sir Philip Green was once hailed one of Britain's best businessmen. As chairman of Arcadia Group, home to brands such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge, Green had prime ministers and supermodels on speed dial. But the retail magnate's reputation came crashing down when Oliver Shah, a Sunday Times journalist, uncovered the methods Green used to amass his gigantic offshore fortune, and the desperation that drove his doomed BHS deal.


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