My Influences: Carl Benfield


Entrepreneur you admire:
Elon Musk. If not a genius, then very close to being one. His ability to operate successfully across sectors (finance, automotive, space, mass transit) seems to come from his ability to have a deep understanding of the technology involved and simultaneously to connect the all pieces of the business model together in a coherent plan. He clearly hires extremely successfully too!

Favourite Film

The Shawshank Redemption. Wonderfully acted with a great plot and beautifully shot. Even more amazing that although it never did well on the big screen, is regularly in the top ten of many lists. The story encapsulates envy, greed, hope and the strength of the human spirit. I rarely watch films twice but I’ve seen this about eight times.

I have such an eclectic taste in music that this is really difficult to answer. I’m always inspired by Mozart and Bach’s Goldberg Variations are as close to perfection as you can get. However there is plenty of contemporary pop/rock music that delights me. If I really had to pick something it would be Dave Brubeck’s Take Five with Cesaria Evora’s Petit Pays coming a close second. Oh no, that’s two. Doh!

west-wingFavourite TV Show
Much easier – The West Wing. Without doubt the best scripted series that has ever been on TV. I have a friend who, in the George W Bush era, would wake up in the morning thinking Jed Bartlett was president, and then crumple back into bed when they realised it was just a dream. I quite agreed.


For spectacle, lyrics, musicality, then Les Miserable is hard to beat. However I enjoy any production, musical or not, when I get a chance to go. Live theatre has a human involvement that simply cannot be imitated electronically.


Holiday Destination

Holiday? Well pretty much anywhere sounds good, but Rome has to be my favourite city. Skiing in the Alps is hard to beat in the winter – coming off the slopes with my wife and kids, exhausted, exhilarated and enjoying big skies – oh yes!



I mostly read business books; some are excellent, others trite. When I read a novel I tend to get utterly absorbed for days on end – and when I read Sebastian Faulkes “Birdsong” I was a wreck for some time after.

A Person You Admire
An old military friend of mine called Rob Herring. He is the most disciplined individual I know and has competed in the Karrimor Mountain Marathon (elite class) at the same time as commanding a large Army training regiment, as well as raising (with his wife) a family of three children AND doing an MBA. He still had time to call my wife every month when I was serving on overseas operations. If I could have 10% of his focus and drive I would be Elon Musk (see earlier!)

One Piece of advice to a new Start Up
Niche down. Then niche down again. Then do it one more time till it hurts. You’ll think you can be all things to all people, and if you can only get 1 per cent of that market of millions, then you’ll be successful. Rubbish. Far better to find a total market of 50 who all want your specific product/service. You’ll save a fortune on marketing, development, training and staff. Your client base will also understand that what it is you are offering will suit exactly their situation.