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Jazz Shapers

Shaper: Tony Wheeler

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Welcome to the Jazz Shapers podcast from Mishcon de Reya. What you are about to hear was originally broadcast on Jazz FM however music has been cut or shortened due to rights issues.

Good morning, this is Jazz Shapers, I am Elliot Moss. Jazz Shapers is where the Shapers of Business meet the Shapers of Jazz, Soul and Blues. My guest today I am extremely proud and privileged to say is Tony Wheeler; none other than the Co-Founder of Lonely Planet, not just the travel guides but the bibles for backpackers and upscale travellers alike and me too personally I can vouch for that many times over many years. Growing up in Bournemouth, Pakistan, the Bahamas and the US, Tony Wheeler met his future wife, Maureen apparently on a bench in Regents Park in 1972. They honeymooned jumping in a Mini Traveller, planning to travel East as far as that £65 car could carry them; ‘that dirt cheap car carried us all the way to Afghanistan’, Tony says. They continued to Australia and while in Sydney found people asking about their adventure and for travel tips. They founded Lonely Planet Publications in 1973 in order to publish ‘Across Asia on the Cheap’, the story of their journey. Then bags packed they were off again, their real breakthrough coming with the India Guidebook in 1981. As Tony says ‘it was three times as big, three times the price and sold three times as many copies as previous titles, we were really betting the whole shop on it’. They grew Lonely Planet over the next 30 years into an empire, the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher before finally selling it to BBC Worldwide and supporting Lonely Plant shift into a multi-platform brand. We will talk to Tony in a few minutes about all of this, about the name Lonely Planet comes from, about Planet Wheeler the foundation Maureen and he set up to support projects alleviating poverty and lots more. We’ve also got brilliant music from amongst others Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Antonio Adolfo and Etta James, that is today’s Jazz Shapers. Here’s Snarky Puppy with Amortella with Magda Giannikou.

That was Snarky Puppy with Amortella with Magda Giannikou, I hope I said it properly. My Business Shaper as I said earlier is Tony Wheeler, he is the Patron Saint of travel I think they call him and he has been the man behind, along with his wife, the Lonely Planet. Hello, it’s fantastic to have you here in person, real.

Tony Wheeler
Good morning.

Elliot Moss
I know that I will be in the queue of thousands of people that meet you of a certain age that go ‘you’re Tony Wheeler, you’re the guy who helped me get around – and then insert country’. What does that feel like all these years later because this is something that obviously kind of goes back, where are we now, fifty years or so?

Tony Wheeler
Yeah well generally it’s very nice because I’ve got a very low key fame that you know I am not going to get recognised in the streets and lots of people have no idea who I am at all but equally lots of people if you explain who I am, they say ‘oh yeah’ and as you say, you know they’ve travelled with the Lonely Planet guide books, they know what the story is and it you know, it happened to me just a week or so ago in Armenia, I’d… walking up to this thing in Tatev, there is a cable car that goes up the hill and there was a woman sitting there going through this Lonely Planet guide so assiduously, she had little markers on every page of what she was doing and usually I wouldn’t sort of introduce myself, I do that very, very rarely but I thought this time I would and she was from Jordan. So we’ve got a woman from Jordan, she is travelling in Armenia and she had been everywhere you know, you couldn’t name a place she hadn’t been to and you know was really happy that I’d introduced… I autographed the book all this sort of stuff but that’s really nice, that’s a nice low key sort of fame.

Elliot Moss
Many people have passions and hobbies and obviously, I mean we are going to talk lots about travel and what travel does for the soul as well as many other things. How did it come about that you saw the opportunity to convert what was a passion and a love into a business?

Tony Wheeler
You know it was luck more than anything else. We’d travelled, we’d done the hippy trail, the Asia over land trip, we’d… and it was fantastic, I still look back, that was the, the great experience of my life, as a lot of trips are when they are big trips and you are young. They have a really great impact on you and that was definitely like that but we had trouble finding the information there, you know, it wasn’t available the way it is today. After Lonely Planet came along there were all sorts of guide books and if you were going anywhere you could find a guide book about it. Now you pick up your phone or you tablet or your laptop and you go online and you find all the information you want instantly but in those days it wasn’t available and we just thought well we could put this down on paper and make something out of it.

Elliot Moss
And in terms, it always struck me was obviously for anyone that knows the Lonely Planet and again you are one of those businesses that most people, the name most people have heard of and needs little introduction but it’s the granularity, it’s the specificity, it’s the care, it’s the if you go to this – and I recall this from Indonesia – somewhere in Jogjakarta around 1990 – got to this place but don’t eat there, when you leave, when you’ve slept make sure you go out, turn left and a couple of streets on the right you will find this café, and for nine whatever it was, Rupiah, you will get this. How did you get the people to… but you are laughing because it’s absolutely true, you would have…

Tony Wheeler
It is true yeah.

Elliot Moss
…you would have said exactly that. How did you find those people who were like-minded and who cared enough to write that sort of stuff?

Tony Wheeler
Well I guess I was that person to start with and I have been accused of being a record keeper, someone who is always jotting things down and taking notes and so on and then the people who came along and wrote Lonely Planet books they’d sort of fallen in love with the books and they wanted to do the same thing. So you were preaching to the converted really. I can’t believe how many people now days I guess Lonely Planet is much more scientific about it and you’d look for people with the right Degrees if they are going to write about Asia, they’ve got some sort of Degree in Asian history or politics or speak the languages and things but at first it was just very much people popping up and saying ‘hey I’ve travelled a lot, I’ve used your books, I really like what they do, I’d like to do the same thing for some area that I am familiar with’.

Elliot Moss
You mentioned of course the obvious point about information and back in 1989 when I was travelling a lot and was a teenager, the only information you had about a country was the Lonely Planet and then competitors that came up. Now as you said, fortunately and unfortunately you press a button and you get it. What’s that done to our sense of adventure as human beings do you think?

Tony Wheeler
Well it’s been good and bad. You know there is no question that the feeling that you are a pioneer going out there and no one has been here before, that’s gone because you can just look it up and you will find dozens of people who have been there before and I always say whenever you go and do something you find someone else has done it in a more exciting fashion. You know, you get out of your four wheel drive thinking ‘God that was quite a trip to drive here’ and somebody immediately turns up on a bicycle and whether you bought the bicycle in the bazaar in some town you know, it just blows you away. So there is that element but equally if people want to go and find things and they want to do something different, they are still going to be able to do that. There are so many places in the world where you turn up and people are kind of amazed ‘what are you doing here?’ They just can’t believe that someone has turned up in their well off the beaten track location.

Elliot Moss
And there must be loads of places, I mean you have been to over a 140 countries I think – is that right? Something like that?

Tony Wheeler
I’ve been to a fair few.

Elliot Moss
A fair few, you’ve probably lost track, it’s probably a bit like…

Tony Wheeler
It’s probably a good thing you know, I’d be accused of being too much of a list ticker if I put a tick beside all of them.

Elliot Moss
But I imagine that if you were to wake up in Armenia and decide to walk down to the local bazaar in wherever you were, you would still find stuff that…

Tony Wheeler
Oh yeah.

Elliot Moss
…is totally novel.

Tony Wheeler
You know I don’t go anywhere where I am not astonished and delighted and I think a lot of that is the fact that you, you know we go to see the Sydney Opera House or the Taj Mahal or the Canals in Venice and you’ve seen a thousand pictures of them, they’ve been in every James Bond movie, you know you are really familiar with them and then sometimes you go to places and really that was me in Armenia a week, that I knew about Armenia, I’ve read about it, we know about the Armenian genocide and you know, the bad relations with Turkey all these things but you sort of you forget that Christianity started where Israel and Palestine are today but it didn’t move West into Europe first of all, it moved East, it moved in to Syria, Lebanon, well the countries that are Syria and Lebanon today and Armenia and you go round Armenia and there are these amazing churches dating back to the 6th century and they are all, you know situated in some gorge with a mountain behind them, they are spectacular.

Elliot Moss
Are you the guy that would read about the history and the politics and the economics and society before you go to a place, when you are in the place or when you come home?

Tony Wheeler
All three. I am not, you know I am really not really good at knowing everything about a place before I go there. Sometimes I am but very often I sort of go and it’s you know I am learning it as I go along. I do know something about any place I go to but always afterwards you think well I must learn some more about that, I must read this book or that book and so you do, it’s a constant education.

Elliot Moss
And in terms of the affect that travel has on the world, because again way back in the 90’s I was in these Gili Islands, Gili Air, Gili Trawangan, again probably with the Lonely Planet tucked under my right arm and they were unspoilt. I’ve now heard people twenty years later of course I’d forgotten they go ‘oh well there’s hotels there, there’s this’ and I am like what there was nothing there.

Tony Wheeler
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Obviously… I mean what’s your perspective on that piece as well?

Tony Wheeler
Ah look it is no way it is not a problem, we talk now about flight shame, it’s a Swedish word, flygskam or something and you know we are ashamed of going places and it’s quite correct because we are loving the world to pieces in some ways you know, we, we just want to go and see these things, you want to go there and sometimes with genuine interest and sometimes just I want to get away for the weekend, that sort of thing. So there is a problem, we live on a fragile planet and it is the only one we are going to get. It is a lonely planet in that effect, there aren’t any more we can move to so yeah there is that problem and you do go to places and you are astonished how much they have changed and I think the Gili Islands of Lombock would be a very good example that you know, I’ve been there once when it just started to open up and I’ve never been back and I think I would be kind of scared if I did but I am going to another island in Indonesia in a couple of months’ time which I have been meaning to get to, Sumba. I’ve been meaning to get to for ages and really when I didn’t get there if I had got there at the time I’d have been the only foreigner on the island sort of thing and I know it’s not that way anymore. You can fly there directly from Denpasar in Bali and there are lots of hotels you can stay in and you can find them online and you know, that’s another place that’s changed. But equally I go to lots of places and I think of the Croatian coast which I’ve travelled down a couple of times in recent years and the little towns are wonderful and you get on the ferry that goes from one island to the next and it’s a great experience and so it’s still good.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to find out why the Lonely Planet is indeed called the Lonely Planet and why it was Tony not quite hearing the lyrics of a song. That’s coming up after your little words of advice and big words of advice I hope from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya for your burgeoning business.

You can hear all our former Jazz Shapers and indeed hear this programme again with Tony by asking Alexa to play Jazz Shapers and there you can find many of the recent programmes, or if you pop Jazz Shapers into iTunes the full archive awaits, that’s almost 400, I can’t believe it’s true but 400 fantastic guests and later in the year we will be talking about our exciting plans for 2020. But back to today’s guest, as I said, it is Tony Wheeler; Co-Founder of Lonely Planet the travel guide bibles. So why is it called Lonely Planet? I should have asked earlier but I got so excited and carried away by your presence I forgot.

Tony Wheeler
It was a mistake. We had done…

Elliot Moss
Which is great. It was an error Elliot, we mucked up.

Tony Wheeler
…we had done, the first book was sort of finished and it was all set to go to the printer and we had a title for it and the only thing we didn’t have was a name for the business, the publishing house and I remember were, Maureen almost said you know ‘well why do we need a name?’ and I said ‘someone is going to have to write something on the cheque’ and she said ‘people are going to pay for this?’. So we were in a little restaurant, we were in Sydney where we did that first book and we were in a little restaurant and we had had too much red wine, we were kicking around names and we had just been to see that wonderful rock and roll band on the road movie, Mad Dogs and Englishmen; Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, lots of other people in it. It is still fantastic music and in that film and on that music Joe Cocker sings a song called Space Captain and the first line of the song is ‘once while travelling across the sky, this lonely planet caught my eye’ and I said to Maureen ‘doesn’t that sound good’. We had just seen the movie a week before. Lonely Planet – why don’t we call it Lonely Planet and she said ‘great idea except actually Mr Cocker sings lovely planet’. So it has been a mistake all these years.

Elliot Moss
And it works really well.

Tony Wheeler
It’s a good mistake.

Elliot Moss
It’s a very, very good mistake. Now look from the incredible things that travel gives you, it gives you perspective, it opens your eyes, appreciation of culture and just everything I mean it puts you in your place in a way in the world and it’s a good thing. The business, this became more than just a wonderful thing to do and a great name and you know, drinking too much red wine, I mean it became a serious entity. Tell me about this first few years when you realised there was a tipping point from this is enjoyable to actually we are going to make a living on this?

Tony Wheeler
Well you know I was sort of convinced about it right away because I could sort of sense people’s enthusiasm for what we had done. You know that very first book which was hopeless really, I mean we didn’t leave, we didn’t leave London thinking let’s drive to Afghanistan, carry on to Australia and make a guide book company out of it. It was only after we got to Australia that we thought hey this could be something so the first book wasn’t planned at all whereas the second book was totally planned. We set off, we are going to go round South East Asia, we are going to spend a year researching it, we are going to do the best guide book anybody has ever seen to South East Asia which was no problem at all because nobody had ever seen a guidebook to South East Asia. You ask the American’s about it and they’d say it was a War zone, no-one goes there on holiday so it was a change at that point but it was like any small business for quite a while. The most fraught years it seems to me with small businesses are you know, when all you’ve got to do is pay, not even pay yourself, it is only yourself or in our case, my wife Maureen and I, just the two of us. If we didn’t get paid big deal you ate a bit less in the coming week. But when you’ve got people working for you then suddenly it is a whole different ball game and when you’ve got a hundred people working for you it is probably no problem because you know the bank is going to somehow get the money but when there is only two or three, then you really do get some sleepless nights.

Elliot Moss
And when did the sleepless nights become a bit calmer and when was the scale happening?

Tony Wheeler
Yeah really when we got to about, it was really about ten people. Once we got to about ten people we could see it was working by that point and it was still a very small business but we, I remember one of the occasions in those early years was when I bought not a new car but not such an old second hand used car. I got a car that didn’t breakdown every time I drove anywhere and that felt like wow this is progress you know, I can drive somewhere relatively comfortably.

Elliot Moss
In terms of that, I mean obviously what happens when you grow a business is you become more successful, you can buy the slightly less bad car and then the slightly less bad car turns into quite a nice car and so on and so forth. In order to connect with your environment when you are travelling, what’s your perspective on the luxury end and the super kind of insulated from the world end versus the you know, slumming it for five quid a night.

Tony Wheeler
You know Lonely Planet is always going to carry this sort ethos of being the backpackers guides and the five quid a night thing, curiously it doesn’t everywhere because we, Lonely Planet is in a whole bunch of languages and the two that kind of fascinate me the most, one of course is China, young Chinese are travelling like crazy and they want to do it, it’s one of those things they really want to do and in a way it is like stepping back in the West thirty or forty years, young Chinese they haven’t got an older brother who did it or their parents certainly didn’t do it, their parents didn’t leave the town when Moa assigned them to. So there is that real sort of enthusiasm for it in China and the other which I really like is Italy where Lonely Planet came along a little bit later and by that point it has sort of stepped a little bit away from that backpacker five quid a night thing so in Italy Lonely Planet is looked upon as being a bit sort of stylish and there is more Lonely Planet guides in Italian than any other guide book publisher in Italy and I go to Italy fairly regularly for the people who do the translations of them and I always have a great time there. There are so many Lonely Planet enthusiasts in Italy and I have got virtually no Italian but it doesn’t seem to matter. So that’s really fun, that’s really rather nice. But yeah you know, they were for a long time looked upon very much as the backpacker’s guides and for a long time you know that’s what I did. I just went to the backpacker places but gradually as I got older and a little more affluent and as the people who used the books became looking at things with a wider perspective, they books began to change. But I keep telling people there’s… you go to places where you can have all the money in the world, best hotel in town is five quid a night and you are going to be staying in that and it is not going to have air conditioning, it’s not going to have your own bathroom but if you want to go there, that’s what’s available.

Elliot Moss
So you sell the 75% of your business to BBC Worldwide in 2007, now 12 years ago. It’s a surprise and it’s gone fast, what did that feel like, was it a sense of loss? Was it a sense of exuberance? Both?

Tony Wheeler
Yeah again it was both. Businesses are like kids you know, they grow up and they have to leave home and make their own life but nevertheless with kids you will forever more keep worrying about them and phone call comes and you know, they are on the phone and your first thought is oh what’s gone wrong? And usually isn’t most of the time, 99.99% of the time nothing has gone wrong at all but nevertheless…

Elliot Moss
They just want money?

Tony Wheeler
…they just want money.
.
Elliot Moss
As long as they are asking, you know what we’re happy with that we don’t mind. If they want a few quid that’s alright, it’s the problems that are stressful.

Tony Wheeler
I can manage that. I can manage that.

Elliot Moss
We can manage that.

Tony Wheeler
Yeah so there’s that and the business is the same way you know, if I went out and it does happen, I pick up a Lonely Planet guide and I am not happy with it and I am thinking ‘oh why did they do it that way?’ So you will be involved with it even though it’s not your baby anymore forevermore. So there was that sort of sense of loss. On the other hand it was time to go because it wasn’t going to be this sort of family dynasty that we, my kids are doing their own thing, they didn’t want to become guide book publishers like us and the whole sort of ethos of the business was changing and I loved it when… I loved the books, I loved putting them together, I loved the research of them, I loved recruiting the team who would go out and do them, I loved the travel and then it was getting into a more digital era and I am on the Internet as much as anybody else but it’s not my first love and I think with any business it has got to be your first love. It’s got to be something that you are really passionate about and if you are not really passionate about it, you are not there.

Elliot Moss
And did you feel, apart from the fact that your kids weren’t going to take over and so on, did you feel that passion waning because it wasn’t paper anymore and it was digital and that was a different game?

Tony Wheeler
Well yeah well it wasn’t… my passion was still there but I could see the business was changing and I wasn’t going to be at the core of where the business was going to be.

Elliot Moss
Was that a tough thing to realise or was that quite straight forward?

Tony Wheeler
No you know, really it was quite straight forward. I think you know, we had a wonderful time with Lonely Planet and a lot of other people did as well. I regularly run into people who worked for us and a lot of them I know really well but others you know, I mean they’ll say ‘I worked for you for five years’ and ‘I don’t remember you’ but I was in the US office or I was somewhere else sort of thing or even they were in the same office but our paths didn’t cross. But other people you know, I know who were there and said ‘those ten years I was with LP they were the best ten years of my working life you know I still look upon that as being a highlight of the things I did’ and that’s great if you know it was a highlight of my life as well, I can’t argue with that.

Elliot Moss
And yet you managed to calmly know when it was right to step away.

Tony Wheeler
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
What’s your advice to other Founders who’ve brought their baby up, brought it into the world, nurtured and they just won’t let go?

Tony Wheeler
Yeah well I think you know, when people tell you it’s time to let go that might be one thing and we do everything. I think everything in business you do it too late. You should have done it a year earlier or whatever. We did that all the time with people you know, we got away without having an accountant around the place for far too long. You know we should have had an accountant there a year earlier or maybe five years earlier and the same with I am sure Lonely Planet had been sued at some point but the legal thing, apart from the regular business things, never became a serious problem and when we finally did get a you know, lawyer on staff full-time, why didn’t we get her years earlier.

Elliot Moss
Is there something though slightly kind of you didn’t want, being professional is the wrong thing because if you look at the books they are super professional but it feels like you wanted… the purity of it was the writing, the rest of it was like a bit of an impediment that you eventually had to deal with. Is that?

Tony Wheeler
Yeah and you know, I know what’s going to happen, the way the books were at one point when they just covered everything and the fact that it didn’t make any financial and marketing and business sense, was unimportant. We just wanted to be out there and you know dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ and that’s obviously going to change because you just cannot do that anymore because there are so many competing sources of information. So the books are not going to be the way that I really loved them in their prime. I have often suggested to them you know, you could put some of the old books back into, not into print, but make them available online in some way that they are really quite expensive but you know someone who really wants to know about what that country if Africa was like thirty years ago when you could travel around because you can’t do that anymore, could go back to that old book and look at it and you’d probably go there and find the same guest houses are open despite the Civil War and everything else.

Elliot Moss
Lonely Planet revisited with a premium of 200%. You’d make a tonne of money. I’d buy that.

Tony Wheeler
Yeah definitely.

Elliot Moss
You’ve got me, one extra person.

Tony Wheeler
I’d pay for it as well.

Elliot Moss
We’re in the queue. Final chat coming up with Tony, plus we’ll be playing a track from Etta James, stay with me, that’s all coming up in just a moment here on Jazz FM.

That was Etta James with I’d Rather Go Blind. I am with Tony Wheeler just for a few more minutes. So now, you are still involved a little bit I read. You kind of get, you know, you’ve obviously got an opinion and as you said it’s like you’d love more where there was a hundred lines on a part of the world, there’s now two lines and that doesn’t work as well for you and all that. What else are you doing at the moment Tony?

Tony Wheeler
Well I do a lot of travel because I enjoy travel and you know there is always somewhere new I haven’t been. I am on the Board, I am having a meeting next week of a thing called Global Heritage Fund which is a California based archaeology organisation and their take on it is you’ve got to involve a local community in the archaeological site and that essentially means tourism so I am their sort of tourism expert perhaps and I find that really interesting. I get to go to lots of places that have interesting archaeological sites and very often meet the archaeologist who dug it up and that’s, that’s fantastic. But we’ve also got a Lonely Plant had a Foundation, it was called the Lonely Planet Foundation and it was basically putting money back in to the countries that Lonely Planet did books about. You know it’s fine doing a book on Italy or France or the UK or USA, they are rich countries but a lot of Lonely Planet story was in places that aren’t rich countries so we set up this Foundation to put a percentage of Lonely Planet’s annual profits back into the countries we did books about. When we sold Lonely Planet we couldn’t say ‘oh by the way you’ve also bought this charity’ so we pulled the Lonely Planet Foundation out of Lonely Planet, re-named it The Planet Wheeler Foundation, put quite a lot of the money that we got from selling the business in to it and now it runs sixty or seventy projects around the developing world. Education and health mainly.

Elliot Moss
You don’t strike me as someone who is very interested in the money?

Tony Wheeler
No you know I’ve got all the money I ever need and I don’t need the next, you know, the fastest car or the private jet or something. I’m you know, it’s bad enough flying there anyway let alone doing it in a private jet so yeah, I mean the money I am very comfortable, I don’t, I never worry about paying my credit card bill at the end of the month but nor do I try and max it out. I am not a fashion junky or anything like that.

Elliot Moss
And travel, right is there a country you haven’t been to that you’d really want to go to?

Tony Wheeler
There’s a stack of them.

Elliot Moss
Come on give the number… it’s a bit like books next to your bed isn’t it. But what’s the first?

Tony Wheeler
Yeah the one that I always list and I’ve said far too many times, is Yemen. I have been to every country in that region. All the countries in the Persian or Arabian Gulf and you know, I’ve been all round there but for some reason I have never got to the Yemen and in a way it’s one of the countries there that’s fascinated me the most. There’s mud skyscrapers and of course the place has been, it’s either been a War zone or teetering on the edge of being a War zone or it’s been peaceful for a year and I’ve just never taken the opportunity to get there when it was peaceful and now of course it’s a War zone. You can feel guilty about that as well.

Elliot Moss
There’s a lot to feel guilty about in general on these international matters. It’s been really a genuine pleasure talking to you, it’s taken me back to so many trips which is lovely and I am sure people listening and they heard you talking about these different countries, its apparent that the passion for travel is, is so important to you, it’s so central to your life and it is amazing you made a business out of it. That’s the bit everyone is jealous about by the way. I am sitting here going ‘that would have been good’. Just before I let you go, and I know you are off next week to Australia so I feel lucky that you are here in London, just before I let you go, what is your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Tony Wheeler
It’s a record by a band called Ram and Ram are based in Haiti, in fact they are based not just in Haiti but in the Oloffson Hotel in Port-au-Prince and the Oloffson Hotel was the hotel known as the Hotel Trianon in Graham Green’s The Comedians and I’ve stayed there and I am swimming in the swimming pool and I am thinking well this is where the body of Dr Philpott was found after he committed suicide by not only slashing his wrists but cutting his throat as well. He didn’t want Papa Doc to get him but the Oloffson today is this run down sort of ridiculous hotel, every Thursday night this band called Ram plays there and it is Voodoo Jazz and it is just, it goes on to all hours of the night and it just fantastic. And you can get Ram records without any trouble at all and we chose a track called Negré Katye Moren.

Elliot Moss
That was Negré Katye Moren from Ram, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, Tony Wheeler as he recounted his story of Haiti. Talk about someone who understood the importance of business being all about your first love. If you really love it, you will absolutely do brilliantly and almost as important at the other end of it when the business is coming to a point where you need to move on, you need to know when it is time to let go. Two really brilliant, brilliant thoughts from my Business Shaper Today. That’s it from me and Jazz Shapers, have a great weekend.

We hope you enjoyed that edition of Jazz Shapers. You will find hundreds more guests available for you to listen to in our archive. To find out more, just search Jazz Shapers and iTunes or your favourite podcast platform or head over to mishcon.com/jazzshapers.

Tony Wheeler is the Co-Founder of Lonely Planet. Setting off on a trip of a lifetime honeymoon in 1972, Tony and his wife Maureen founded Lonely Planet Publications in 1973 in order to publish ‘Across Asia on the Cheap’ – the story of their journey. Their breakthrough came after a trip to India allowed then to publish the ‘India Guidebook’ in 1981, which according to Tony was ‘three times as big, three times the price and sold three times as many copies as previous titles’, and Lonely Planet then materialised over 30 years to become the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher before finally selling it to BBC Worldwide and supporting Lonely Plant shift into a multi-platform brand.

With the New York Times describing Tony as ‘the trailblazing patron saint of the world’s backpackers and adventure travellers’, he has gone on to found Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre and the Planet Wheeler Foundation.

Interview highlights

This is a lonely planet as there aren’t any more we can move to.

I’m not good at knowing everything about a place before I go there. I learn as I go along.

Whenever you go and do something, find someone else who has done it in a more exciting fashion. 

The most fraught years with small businesses are when all you’ve got to do is pay out, not even paying yourself.

Being able to buy a car that didn’t breakdown every time I drove felt like progress.

I loved the books, I loved putting them together, I loved researching for them, I loved recruiting the team and I loved the travel.

There is always somewhere new that I haven’t been.

I never go anywhere where I am not astonished.

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Jazz Shapers - 48 mins ago

Shaper: Jez Nelson

Jez Nelson is the Founder, CEO and CCO of content agency and production company, Somethin’ Else. Frustrated by the lack of jazz on the radio, Jez along with fellow Jazz FM presenter Chris Philips and DJ Gilles Peterson set up a jazz-only pirate radio station, K Jazz in the mid-80s, which survived for two years. After [...]

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Jazz Shapers - 7 days ago