The Playbook For The Modern Man

If Only I Had Known: Advice From Australian Success Stories


This story was originally published on Collective Hub

They’ve ascended to the very pinnacle of their respective games, so we picked the brains of these Aussie and Kiwi success stories for the precious gems they’ve picked up along the way.

#1 Always Show Up  

–  Karen Walker, Fashion Designer

“1. You’ll never be ready. I’m all for doing my homework and making careful, well-informed decisions, but sometimes, you just need to take the punt. 2. Always show up. And, no one cares about your jetlag. When you’re a global business, showing up is important. It’s easy to hide behind email and FaceTime, but nothing beats being in the same room. 3. Only work with people who get it. And you always know the answer intuitively. 4. A little bit of naivety is good. Sometimes naivety and energy are a winning combo. 5. Collaborate. It might be a long-term marriage or one quick date – that’s not important. What’s important is that the end result is greater than the sum of the parts… that we create some magic. 6. Have a unique point of view or go home!”

#2 Make Yourself Indispensable

 – Marie-Claude Mallat, Director of MCMPR

“Everyone has to start somewhere. Jump in, work hard, have fun and make yourself indispensable. Become a problem solver and take every opportunity to learn. Work with integrity and honesty. Take a longterm view – think about the end goal. Build your skills and experience accordingly. Make decisions based on your intellect, not your ego. Take cues and inspiration from other people you admire and who have demonstrated good judgement in their own careers and lives. Seek advice and mentorship when you hit roadblocks.”

#3 A Career Is Just One Part Of You

– Amanda Briskin-Rettif, Founder & Creative Director of A-Esque, Founder of Mimco

“To feel satisfied and self-guided in your career, you first need to know yourself. As hard as it is to constantly check in with ‘life’, career is one part of who you are, so to make it fulfilling know what you want out of the bigger picture.”

#4 Have The Will To Fail

 Tim Flannery, Environmental Activist & Chief Councillor of the Climate Council

“Write down everything. Listen carefully and openly to what others are saying. Don’t be too focused on what you think of as your objective. Take time to think and look around it, because the big lessons and opportunities may exist outside your framework. Finally, make sure that you have the will to fail. Sometimes, unless you persist with the seemingly impossible, and refuse to give up even when you feel that you are in the wrong place, you’ll miss great discoveries.”

#5 Be Restless

– Karen Stocks, MD of Twitter Australia

“Understand that the world never stops moving, so be restless. The fact that none of the companies I have worked for even existed when I was at university is a great example of why this is so important. I’d say to me and anyone else, be bold and don’t be such a perfectionist all the time.”

#6 Take Your Time

 – Peter Alexander, Founder & Creative Director of Peter Alexander

“I started my business at only 24 years old, with literally no business experience. Looking back, I would’ve said… ‘Don’t rush it – take your time!’ I really should have done a short business course to understand the financial and business side of fashion. You can always learn more by working for others or by studying.”

#7 Ask For What You Are Worth 

 Tracey Spicer, Journalist

“I wish I’d been more assertive as a young woman. Actually, I’m quite embarrassed about the number of times I stayed shtum. When a station manager said, ‘Stick your tits out more’, I simply nodded, instead of telling him to get stuffed. I remember once, during a contract negotiation, saying, ‘Don’t worry about giving me a pay rise. I feel privileged just working here.’ What an idiot. Now, I always ask for what I’m worth.”

#8 Have A Point Of Difference

 Maggie Beer, Food Personality & Entrepreneur

“Be tenacious, have a point of difference, think laterally and be prepared to work like the blazes! And to trust that whenever one door closes, another will open, even if it doesn’t happen straight away, it will happen. Everything makes more sense with hindsight I know, but it still amazes me that it was really only when we made the leap of faith to close the door on The Pheasant Farm Restaurant that we then had the time to regroup and come up with the plan for a purpose-built Export Kitchen. When that was built, it seemed everything was on a fast track towards where we are now.

#9 Keep Believing When Others Say It’s Impossible

 Mark MacDonald, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Appster

“Make a habit of believing in things most people think are impossible. Learn to question everything. Experts will always try to convince you that what you want to do is impossible and simply won’t work. However, every successful endeavour starts with one stubborn person who refuses to operate by the same rules and type of thinking that everyone else does. Be that person.”

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