I love you!

I love what I do, well most of the time. It’s not really work if you love what you’re doing. It’s because I love what I do that I can do it, sometimes 80+ hours a week. It’s more than a job, it’s a lifestyle and I’m passionate about it Moreover the more I learn the deeper in love I fall with it. I think this is one of the keys to a successful life, finding out what excites and motivates you, then make a career out of it. It’s all about personality fit, knowing yourself well enough to find out what you love to do, then chasing it with all your might.

Of course, all things in moderation as the saying goes. No matter whom you are, or what you do you will have important people in your life that you must spend quality time with if you truly want to be happy.  You must love them too because what use would it be to create the largest bank account in the world if you have no one with which to enjoy it? This is something that needs much improvement in my life.

So I say love your job but love people a little more!

How Much Money Did That Cost Me?

July 23, 2011 1 comment

Recently I made a decision that cost me $140000+! Yep, you heard right. I deliberately walked away from $140000, the easiest money I would have ever made. I hear you asking ‘what did you do?!’ Well I walked away from my business. The business that I’ve worked 80 hour weeks for, spending over three years building. The business that I’ve lost sleep over, even costing me my health a couple of occasions. The business that finally worked. That had loyal customers, that produced raving fans! The business that I had shed tears over, even bled over. The business that had finally become profitable for the first time since the mid 90’s (although I have only owned it for 3 and a half years). The business that was finally a saleable commodity, valued at least $140000. All I had to do was sign a new lease

Before I explain my decision, let me tell you about Island View Takeaway, my baby. I spent two years doing whatever necessary to get this business; I worked almost as hard to get it as I have to keep it! I made horrible mistakes in the first year. I was naive and even plain stupid on occasion. I wanted to be a ‘successful’ businessman so bad that I even allowed myself to believe I could run two businesses at the same time when I was struggling to run IVT! The mistakes of the first year nearly cost me the business, and they still haunt me now. Then I got smart, which is to say that I realised that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and I had better learn quick! I cut my losses at the second business, got business coaching and put my head down, working hard.

The second year of business was a period of rapid learning coupled with the realisation that I was doing it all wrong. I swallowed my pride, changing my attitude towards nearly every aspect of how I thought a business should run. The biggest decision during this period was removing newspapers from sale. As a business decision it was smart, saving the business a significant cost that yielded a loss. Profits went up from the first week! However, I had not learnt about loving your customers at this point, so, in typical fashion, I totally stuffed it by not including the customers in the decision. They simply woke up one day to discover I had removed the papers with no warning! I should have given them a few weeks warning to explain why the decision had to be made.

The third year was my, and IVT’s, best year! I learnt that I needed to love my Team first, customers second, suppliers third and myself last. It was during this time I realised my biggest and best success, my Team! I have built the best Team in town by genuinely caring about them and their lives while not being intrusive. I have been sympathetic and caring towards them, showering them with just praise and justly earned rewards! I have loved them to the best of my ability and the reward has been their loyalty. They have all expressed the desire to back me, waiting for me to get another business and continue to work for me. Nicole, Kelly, Rhys, Steph, Jayden and Dom, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Lastly, but definitely not least, my customers. Let’s face it; customers are what we are in business for! A basic principle in business is creating ‘raving fans’.  People who love your business and everything it does. People that tell anyone that’s listening – even those who aren’t – about you, your product, your service, everything about you. In a world where the statistics tell you that, on average, an upset customer will tell 19 people, but only 3 if you impress them. Having raving fans is invaluable! In the 24 hours since we announced our decision to close IVT the outpouring of genuine sadness, together with comments of praise towards my Team, products and the business in general has been overwhelming! I didn’t recognise that I had also successfully created raving fans. I will miss my very special customers. Thank you so much for your support and patronage; it means an unmeasurable amount to me!

What do you value?

Now to my decision to close IVT instead of sign a new lease. Simply put, the lease proposed was unfair and greedy. More importantly I realised that I could not sell the business, as good as it is now, to someone, having to tell them it’s a good lease, not to mention the Landlord (and I won’t!). It came down to integrity, which choice could help me sleep at night? Money is not everything; it’s not even in my top five. My decision to leave IVT satisfied my top five; my families respect, integrity, peace of mind, fairness and my friends respect. These things are way more valuable and important than money. I know I can create wealth with successful businesses somewhere else, but my top five I can’t afford to lose, not even for a day!

So thank you to everyone that has loved and supported me through the last three and half years. Truly thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, and stay tuned for our next adventure, with an invitation to join us.

Be A Know-It-All

One of Pink Floyd’s more famous songs, Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, has the line “We don’t need no education”, and while I am a massive fan I couldn’t disagree more! Unless you are God, and therefore all knowing, you can find something to learn today that will help you be and do better tomorrow.

Which path is right for you?

Business education is vital but rarely, it seems, do people take the time to learn. Whether about the specific industry they are getting into or the more generic business ‘stuff’ that is required by any endeavour. This just doesn’t make sense! Most people invest their life savings or house to buy a business, with little more than a casual look at what it takes to own and operate a business, let alone a successful one.

What is the best way to learn and prepare? Let’s have a look at some the different ways to gain the education you will need in business. Remembering that you will have to find your own path, the way that suits you, your goals, dreams and ambitions best.

University

University is the most formal avenue, and possibly the most rigid. Generally there is no scope for thinking outside the square. Most university courses have a set course structure with core subjects and electives, with even the electives being limited, specific to the degree.  University is not a place to be spoon fed and pushed, if you decide not to do the work they will simply let you fail. However, if you want to be successful in corporate business than a business degree is the minimum requirement and more likely you’ll need a MBA to achieve your goals.

Mentor

The best way to learn anything is from someone who has already been there, done that, and has the scares to prove it. Mentors take a vested interest in your career and life, genuinely caring about you, while helping you to avoid business obstacles and potholes along the way. Good mentors will not be ‘yes men’, but will tell you the uncomfortable truth when you need it most. Good mentors take a holistic approach, helping you to integrate your business life into other, equally important, areas of your life. Mentors take you under their proverbial wing, helping you to be the best in all situations, not just in business.

Business coach

Unlike mentors coaches are strictly about business, specifically teaching you the practical skills required to run a successful business. A business coach is someone that already knows about business in general terms, but they most likely don’t know the specifics of your industry. However, running a successful business is more about the art of business than your industry. For example, legal requirements, administration, Team building, customer service, not how to bake a loaf of bread. Like mentors business coaches will push you to the point of being uncomfortable to help you achieve your goals. I personally have been coached by Action Coach Australia and found it to be a very worthy investment.

Self Taught

The best thing, most attractive, attribute of this method is that it’s cheap! Books, audio books, podcasts, online newsletters, etc don’t cost much. A book, for example, is generally less than $30, with hundreds, if not thousands of titles to choose from, covering any aspect of business you care to think of. Alternatively you can often find resources for free, especially online. The biggest consideration with this method is how to choose the right book, newsletter, etc. There are so many choices, many of them good and some not so good. Motivation can be a problem, if you are not motivated there isn’t anyone to give you a push or kick you in the butt. Most people find it hard to be self motivated over an extended period of time, especially if you are under pressure to make rent or pay the bills, the irony of not getting an education due these pressures is that the idea that could turn the situation around might be on the next page or book you were about to read!

So there are some examples of education for you to think on. Of course there are many more options available and you should definitely look outside the box to see what else you can take advantage of. As long as you find ways to improve your knowledge and skills the method you choose is secondary. Hopefully this will inspire, motivate and encourage you to keep learning.

Do You Wish You Had 28 Hours A Day?

My phone is a Blackberry and I love it! It is a combination touch screen and QWERTY keyboard with great functions. It is a great device for anyone in business, with its contacts settings and software that never crashes (at least in my experience). One of the best features of the Blackberry is its organiser. I love the way it is set out so you can view it daily, weekly or monthly, and the personalised features such as alarms. The only problem with the organiser is that it’s useless if you don’t use it!

Without planning we are fighting against the clock.

Being organised is a great characteristic in anyone, no matter what you do. It saves time and helps you to feel like you’ve achieved so much during the day. But if you’re like me, you’re not a natural talent, falling into the trap of ‘whatever is making the most noise gets your attention’. Recently I have been run off my feet! I’ve been so busy with the end of the financial year and various other time consuming business activities. It has felt, at times, like I’m chasing my tail, my head spinning from the various tasks trying to get my attention and then suddenly I remembered my Blackberry organiser! I decided I needed to sit down every night and plan the next day to make sure the schedule was a coherent, logical, sensible one that allowed me to focus on the truly important ‘stuff’, while letting the little things slide by, or be scheduled in for another, more convenient, time.

Time is our most precious possession and we’re all blessed with the same amount each day, 24 hours. No one is time poor, we’re all time rich. Accepting that we’re all allotted the same 24 hours a day, how do we explain the people that seem to get an extraordinary amount done each and every day? They have the same amount of time as the rest of us; the only difference is they know how to utilize it. They plan their time instead of running around half the day like a dog chasing its tail. They have purpose, a plan and they work that plan. It’s not magic, anyone can do it, so why is it only the successful few that organise their day? One word; DISCIPLINE!

It hurts having the discipline required to plan and organise your time so that you get the most out of your day, until that is, it becomes habit. That’s the good thing about discipline, if you can do it consistently for 21 to 28 days (according to research) it will start to be habit and habits are hard to break, making planning your time easier. However, research also tells us that if you miss even one day, you have to start again.  So you must do it every day, including the weekend. I won’t lie and say I’ve mastered this, my personality type struggles with details, and so planning can be a real challenge, but when I do I see and enjoy the benefits.

Another side effect of planning is that you see your time in a linear sense. By that I mean as you write down things you need to get done, and the time it will take, you realise that some things just won’t fit! The feeling that we’ve consistently failed is demoralising, leading to all sorts of negative thinking, even depression. When we set ourselves unrealistic goals, with no format or plan, we begin to feel like failures because we have set ourselves an impossible task. But when we start to get organised, allotting specific tasks time (assuming we’re realistic about the time it will take to achieve the goal), we start to feel like champions as we get ‘stuff’ done.

All the evidence tells us that planning is the better, more profitable way to spend your time. Now is the time to get started. Sit down with a diary, or an electronic organiser, and plan your day. Start seeing the benefits of more productivity, less time wasting, and that amazing feeling you get when you achieve everything that you’ve set out to achieve.

Planning really does seem to create the 28 hour day!

Warts and all!

I have had reason over the last few days to take stock about who I am as a person. Do I like what I see in the mirror, not on a superficial “am I pretty enough” level, but do I have the character of a person that I can be proud of? Can I sleep at night comfortable in the knowledge that I am the best, most genuine me I can be, doing whatever is necessary to be a better version of myself tomorrow? I think the short answer a resounding yes! However, the longer answer is what I really want to explore.

I’m arrogant, aggressive, intimidating, unreasonable, loud, obnoxious and irritable. I’m also loyal, strong, loving, committed, a steadfast defender and possessing the strong need to help people. I have made it my mission to improve the good qualities, eliminate the bad and develop the wisdom to know the difference. I am most definitely a work in progress. I might even suggest that I’m in a very raw state still. The desire for me to be the best I can be is complex and strong, bringing me on occasion to a place that is uncomfortable and challenging.

Don't be a faceless person, be real!

The best quality I have is being genuine, what you see is what you get, warts and all. No pretence. Whether you like me or not, agree with me or not, you will not wonder about my agenda or if I’m playing one side off against the other. Genuineness is the characteristic that I prize in people the most. My two best, only true friends are genuine (I won’t name them as I haven’t asked for permission but they know who they are) . I don’t always like and agree with decisions or actions they take but I know they mean what they say, they’re genuine. They challenge and push me, take me outside my comfort zone but I’m also love and supported by them, even when they disagree with me. I am truly blessed to have these two amazing friends in my life! I only hope I behave in a manner that deserves their friendship.

 Of course you shouldn’t tell all your deepest, darkest secrets to anyone that crosses your path. They probably don’t want to know anyway. Just give them the respect to be true to yourself, without pretending to be something or someone you’re not. Don’t confuse being genuine with trust. You can be genuine at any stage of a relationship; it’s just being honest about your beliefs, about what you agree and disagree with. Trust is letting a person deep inside, sharing your life at the most intimate of levels and should not be given lightly by either party.

Remember charisma without character is a catastrophe.

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Carpe Diem

June 19, 2011 8 comments

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln

The most valuable commodity you and I have is time. Time is unstoppable; it marches on regardless of our wishes. One day you willwake up dead (hopefully after a very long life), now is the time to act! At 37 this year I am starting to really consider the time I have left and how I can make the most of what is left. Will I pass the rocking chair test when I’m an old man? Or will I look back over my life with regret for opportunities lost and the people I didn’t enjoy time with?

You get one go at this thing called life! What are you going to do with your chance? I’m reminded of the Eminem song

“Lose Yourself – Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity. To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment.
Would you capture it or just let it slip?”

Of course you may get more than one shot but then again maybe you won’t. So what are you going to do? Give a half hearted, scared and ineffectual attempt or are you going to give it a red hot go? Are you going to look for every little reason under the sun for why it might not work, play it safe as it were, or are you going to take the chance, a risk that it might be the start of something amazing? I am talking to myself here as much us to you; I have wasted so much time thus far. These questions are directed at me and I’m letting you read along.

I believe we are on this planet to do something astounding and dazzling not to be a weak, pathetic ‘victims of circumstance’. The only true limiting factor in your life is you, if you don’t believe me Google Nick Vujicic! Winners come from every walk of life, many have to overcome enormous obstacles and fail time after time but they persist, keep pushing, strive more, harder and longer until they breakthrough. Sure they might change course to navigate around an obstacle or opposition they’re facing but they don’t stop.

What gets you excited? What stirs you up? Find your passion, your purpose and then figure out how you’re going to achieve it. Start now! Don’t wait! What will waiting get you? Older, that’s all. So what if you fail, not that I want to fail and I certainly hope you succeed, but really it doesn’t matter because you tried and as the famous quote says “you fail 100% of the time that you don’t try’. Do you really want to die wondering what could have been?

To bring balance to the force (analytical writing) we must always temper our enthusiasm with wisdom. I don’t mean to suggest that every idea we have should be simply acted upon without any thought. Of course every situation should be judged on its merits, the pro’s and con’s considered. Once the wise application of thought has been applied action should then ensue.

The world is a wonderful place with many great people and experiences to be enjoyed please don’t let fear or uncertainty rob you from a wonderful life. We can achieve so much, the amazing things we are capable of just waiting and begging for us to have a go. Carpe diem people!

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Courage: Being Scared And Doing It Anyway

Courage: being scared and doing it anyway. This is what I tell my Team when we introduce a new policy or procedure that is a little scary or intimidating. It’s easy to say but very hard to live. I have had many instances where fear has raised its ugly head and I have had to make the choice to live by this motto or turn and run. I would love to say that I have been triumphant every time. However, I have failed many times but I do not stop trying. What is courage? How do you describe it? Is it strictly the domain of people who reach dizzying highs against almost insurmountable obstacles, or for people who lay down their lives for a cause they believe in? Or those who get up every day, doing what they must to make it through or is it something different? I would suggest that is all those things and much, much more!

Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome it.

I was raised in a military family, my Dad being a Vietnam Vet with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) so my formative years were in the presence of the ANZAC spirit. On the rare occasion that my Dad would talk about his experiences during the war he boasted of the courage demonstrated by those he served with, never considering himself to be courageous. I don’t think there are many who would disagree that those in battle show courage even in, or maybe especially in, the face of death, all the time desperately desiring to live.  Or as G. K. Chesterton put it;

          “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.  It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”

Thankfully most of us will not have to display courage on such a scale as this!  But there will be times to display a type of courage that, to the person involved, is just as potentially life changing. Courage in its more common form is persisting when all around you are telling you to stop because in your heart you know its right. It’s the ability to keep getting up when life backhands you. It’s the strength and determination to continue to work at your dreams and hopes when so called ‘common sense’ suggests it’s time to quit.

          “Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”  Mary Anne Radmacher.

In business I make choices almost daily that scare me to some degree. Thankfully most of the time they are minor and are fairly easy to ‘conquer’ but every now and then there comes along a doozy. This is the time when I have to show my courage, when it matters most. Usually with my Team watching and asking themselves “Is he full of it when he says being scared and doing it anyway?”. I have a responsibility to my kids to show how to be assertive and stand your ground when the situation warrants it, even though it is so much easier to fold. Or maybe that’s integrity?

Possibly the most important form of courage is making a change not because what you have been doing is wrong; it’s just that it’s wrong now. It wasn’t when you started, in fact it was right in the beginning but the time for change has come. This form of courage is often times not obvious to others and therefore missed by them unless you allow them to know. For me one such example was going to uni. It was right for me but with six months left I came to realise this was not the path I was meant to follow. It was a difficult choice to make, taking me out of my comfort zone and no one would have faulted me for staying on, completing the degree. In fact several people actively attempted to convince me to continue. However, in my heart I knew dropping out was the right thing for me to do, so I did.

When I read about some famous person, that has made it or is considered a winner by the larger part of society, the most interesting fact about them is that they did not allow their mistakes and circumstances to stop them. They refused to lie down and be defeated. In the darkest days of their lives they continued to push on without the certainty they would be successful as history later shows.

We all are faced with problems, obstacles and even people determined to stop us, to restrict us to less than we deserve. Perhaps the single biggest factor standing in our way on the road to success is ourselves. Personal courage could be considered making a mistake and deciding to do whatever we must, making it right. Making whatever sacrifice necessary to correct it. Maybe courage is simply being brutally honest with yourself, about the mistakes you’ve made, that you must confront and own them, admit them and make it your mission to resolve them knowing that the only thing you may gain is self respect and a soothed conscience.

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