Dragons are an unusual occurrence around these parts.
Last Tuesday morning however, staff and members of the Teagasc Training Centre in Longford town met a real life dragon, in the form of Dragons’ Den star, Sean Gallagher.
The Cavan born technology millionaire dropped into the centre to give a speech to local farmers and small holders on the ins and outs of building a successful business from relatively modest resources.
Sitting back in his chair arms folded and legs outstretched, Mr Gallagher took questions from the engrossed audience on how to become the next Michael O’Leary or Denis O’Brien.
His answers were unusually refreshing and typical of a man who doesn’t believe in hype.
“There is a Chinese proverb I believe a lot in about risk-taking. ‘The person who waits until everything is perfect before taking the next step spend the whole of their life on the one leg’. I have a very simple philosophy; don’t give me anything that is not positive. I only deal with positivity.”
Away from the glare of the RTE cameras on ‘Dragons’ Den’, Gallagher is every bit the suave yet unpretentious tycoon hundreds of thousands see on their television screens each and every week.
Chatting openly with the Leader following his pep talk, the 2006 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist said the opportunities available to would-be business owners of tomorrow are endless in spite of recent economic uncertainties.
“If you are unemployed you need to be out there doing a course, upskilling yourself, getting involved in community or sports organisations. It’s all about keeping your confidence levels up, not being afraid to take risks and re-inventing yourself. I have been unemployed three separate times through no fault of my own,” he said.
Ironically, his last experience of redundancy came in 1992 when former Minister for Health, Dr Rory O’Hanlon was dropped from cabinet following the election of Rooskey native Albert Reynolds as Taoiseach.
Gallagher had been acting in an advisory capacity for the now retired Cavan-Monaghan TD. The pain of being dropped from the labour market for a third time did little to dent his confidence however.
“I had to go out and re-invent myself again and got a job in the Enterprise Board in Louth as a bridge between where I was and where I needed to get to. Every time I had a hurdle I had to find bridges to get to where I wanted to get to. I had to go back, train and re-educate. I have been unemployed three times so my message to people would be: do not be afraid to chase your dreams or re-invent yourself.”
Gallagher spoke to farmers, smallholders and their spouses attending the Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL) Farm Family Development Service’s Pre-employment course.
Gallagher who has found himself unemployed on a number of ocassions in the past - but has always bounched back - told farmers never to fear risk taking and always “be watching for new ways of doing things”.
The pre employment course was introduced to enable farmers, smallholders and their spouses to generate new ideas for more income on farms.
“The course includes modules on Enterprise, Training Opportunities, Farm Family Budgeting, Preparing a CV, Interview Skills and Personal Development,” explained Mary Mulvey, Farm Family Development Service Programme. “The aim of the course is to provide improved living standards for low income farmers and their families. This course is fully funded by LCRL under the Local Community Development Programme (LCDP) and run in conjunction with Teagasc.”