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How to Overcome Your Business Failures - With Guest, Warwick Fairfax [Podcast]

Episode 94: Michael and Kathryn interview the founder of Crucible Leadership, Warwick Fairfax. Warwick shares his personal journey of finding new purpose after being at the epicenter of one of the most spectacular business failures in the history of his home nation of Australia. If your business and vision are starting to feel stale and you'd like some encouragement from leaders who have been there, then this episode is for you!

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In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover how at age 26, Warwick led -and lost- a multibillion-dollar public takeover bid.
  • Find out what it means to have a crucible experience and emerge to become the leader you were born to be.
  • Learn why purpose, passion, and contribution matter for your leadership, your business, and the world.
“Life is often easier to understand when you look at it backwards."
– Warwick fairfax

Take the Leadership Blindspot Quiz

 

References:

Crucible Leadership

 

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Michael:
              Hello everyone, and welcome to the HaBO Village podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And this is a podcast helping you business leaders grow companies with passion and provision so you have more profit, more purpose, and more legacy. And we want to do everything we can to help you. Today we have special guests.


Kathryn:
               Yes we do.


Michael:
              We are working today with Warwick Fairfax, which it's interesting Warwick, because the Fairfax, Virginia Fairfax, when I was in college, there was a Fairfax. And I never knew any human being that was named Fairfax. It was just-


Kathryn:
               He also never knew a Warwick [crosstalk 00:00:37]


Michael:
              No, I've never known a Warwick in my life.


Kathryn:
               And how often do people call you Warwick?


Warwick:
             Well, all the time. I know just from chatting before, Kathryn, I think you were born in England, North of England, so you're probably attuned. But yeah, you'll only find Warwick as a first name in Australia as well as New Zealand. English place name, but sort of an Aussie thing.


Michael:
              It really is. It's more of a specific Aussie thing?


Warwick:
             Yeah. At least I went to college in England. I didn't meet too many Warwicks as a first name. At least in England, I could say it's pronounced as in the town and County.


Michael:
              And they'd get it.


Warwick:
             Doesn't work on me over here.


Michael:
              We're going to jump in. I don't want to do a huge introduction on Warwick. I think his story is going to unfold. We'll talk bits and pieces. So do us a favor, tell our listeners, Warwick, first of all, the big story from your youth and from Australia, and then let's go from there.


Warwick:
             Yeah, thanks Michael. And thank you Michael and Kathryn. Just great to be with you, and just chat about my story and love the whole passion and provision concept, which I'm sure we'll chat about later. But in terms of my story, I grew up in a large family media business in Australia. It was actually started by a believer from the strong faith back in the late 1830s came out from England. We had a small-


Michael:
              There were people in Australia in 1830? That was really a thing?


Warwick:
             Believe it or not. Yeah. It was a small colony, but yeah, there were, there were. So he came out, and your story is kind of interesting. He had a small newspaper in Warwickshire in England, and that kind of went under when he wrote a story about a unscrupulous lawyer. The lawyer sued him, and the judge ruled in John Fairfax's favor twice, my ancestor. But court costs bankrupted him. So he was proven right, yet he was bankrupted. So at that point, he said, "I've had this. Time to move to another country." And he went about as far as you possibly can, and went to Australia. So he founded this newspaper back then. It grew from the main newspaper in Sydney, the Sydney Morning Herald, to be a large media company by the time I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s. It had the equivalent in Australia of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, as well as magazines, TV stations, radio stations...


Michael:
              It really was a media empire.


Warwick:
             It was an enormous... It really was, and it produced the quality papers of our country. It was very successful by the time I was growing up. So the backstory of what led to a lot of tumult was I was seen as the heir apparent by my dad. I was the fifth generation, at least by my parents. But I had some other family members involved, and they threw my dad out as chairman of the company in 1976, which probably had their reasons, but age 15 at the time, I didn't feel that was fair or justified.


Kathryn:
               Can imagine not.


Warwick:
             Obviously, I was a big supporter of my dad, naturally enough.


Kathryn:
               Slight defensive teenager.


Warwick:
             Exactly right. So my dad died in early 87. I was from the third marriage. He was his eighties when he died, and that led to a whole bunch of, I guess tumult out in the market. The family had about 50% of the shares, but the rest of the publicly held, and stock price in the market just rocketed up. So basically, the market felt like the company is in play, the elder statesman of the company has died. There's probably going to be friction in the family. And so I didn't want the company to be taken over by corporate raiders. This is the 80s when that kind of thing happened. So I launched a $2.25 billion takeover.


Kathryn:
               Wait, wait, wait, how old were you at this point? Just to stick in.


Warwick:
             I was 26.


Kathryn:
               I was like, "You're not 15 anymore, I hope."


Warwick:
             No, I was 26, and...


Kathryn:
               26, okay.


Warwick:
             It's kind of crazy, but I prepared my whole life to do this. Went to Oxford like my dad and some other ancestors, worked on Wall Street, went to Harvard Business School. It was all to prepare myself for a leading role, and being young.


Michael:
              So let me interrupt you here.


Warwick:
             Please.


Michael:
              You had the pedigree. You grew up in this industry, so you knew it from a family perspective. You'd been exposed to it and then you had Oxford, Harvard, and Wall Street, and Harvard Business, your MBA at Harvard.


Warwick:
             Yeah.


Michael:
              So as far as a lot of people are concerned, first of all-


Kathryn:
               That's kind of the pinnacle.


Michael:
              That's the pinnacle. You get all the education.


Kathryn:
               Check all those boxes.


Michael:
              And second of all, if you're 27, you've pretty much convinced that you can, at least most 27 year olds I know that maybe have accomplished that, they're pretty sure that they can do anything under the sun.


Warwick:
             Oh yeah. I was sort of young, naive, and I was idealistic. Still am idealistic. Hopefully a little less naive than I was back then. But yeah, I just felt like something needed to be done. I also disagreed with management, and maybe the ideals that the company was being run on at least at that time. And obviously my perspective was heavily colored by my parents, and that the perspective was heavily influenced by my dad being thrown out as chairman 10 plus years before. There's always a back story behind why we believe what we believe, and our opinion.


Michael:
              That's a good point.


Warwick:
             Which can be right or can be wrong, but there's always a narrative, which is a whole nother lesson learned. But so I launched this takeover and other family members sold out. They didn't want to be locked into a private company run by a 26 year old, which I guess is understandable. And so the debt was just huge from day one. Brought a new management that increased operating profits by 80%, but for listeners with businesses, which would probably most of your listeners, it's fine to have a great operating result, but after interest it was, the losses were enormous. So we went on for about three years, but Australia got in a big recession in late 1990. Newspaper is very cyclical. The revenues, classifieds, and all depends a lot on the economy.


Warwick:
             And the company went bankrupt. So the company went on, it was sold to new folks. But 150 years of family ownership ended on my watch. And certainly in the world's eyes, largely because of my actions. If you Google me, it pretty much still says that. It's not that favorable. Young, hot-headed kid could've had it all and blew it, pretty much is what the entry says, with Wikipedia, what have you. So that was the short version.


Kathryn:
               Can you go in and edit that? Because Wikipedia is kind of open source. you could go play with that a little bit, Warwick.


Warwick:
             Yeah, I know. Tempting, isn't it? Just to somehow, It's not like, "Oh, you know. What are you going to do?"


Michael:
              I got better.


Kathryn:
               Oh, my.


Michael:
              Oh, wow. Okay. This is part of the story. This is a huge chunk of what we wanted our listeners to hear is,, okay, you had an experience... Most of our listeners have started out building businesses, and they're growing, right? They're either in their early stages or they've been at this maybe 30, 40 years, but they've never gone from a pinnacle and come down. They haven't had that experience of growing up. So it's always... Well, I'm sure you've experienced, your story is unusual.


Warwick:
             Well, it reminds me of a story, well, a cartoon. Hopefully, most of your listeners haven't had editorial cartoons done of them, because it's never good.


Kathryn:
               Well, no.


Warwick:
             No, but you're doing a great job.


Kathryn:
               Never flattering,


Warwick:
             And here's a cartoon in the Sacramento Bee or something. I mean, it's just tends not to happen. Somebody did a cartoon, and they said, "How do you start a small business? Give Warwick Fairfax a big one."


Michael:
              Oh. That was...


Kathryn:
               Ouch. Wow.


Warwick:
             Speaking of small businesses, yeah. Not my favorite cartoon, but I guess... Yeah, there you go.


Michael:
              Do you have it pinned up somewhere?


Warwick:
             No, but in my memory, yes.


Michael:
              Okay. One of the things that we talk about a lot is the mental attitude and everything else about moving through adversity, challenges, and all that kind of stuff. This was a long time ago now. There's a lot of water under the bridge between then. You left Australia and came to America to get away from all of the hubbub. Correct?


Warwick:
             Exactly. And fortunately for me, I met my wife in Australia, who's American, and so, I don't know, maybe I would have been trapped in Australia or something, which had been pretty difficult. So that was fortuitous, obviously a divine plan there. But we've lived in Annapolis, Maryland pretty much ever since the early nineties, and I think, obviously you talk about adversity through much of the nineties. It was pretty difficult. I was pretty down. It's like, "Gosh, my whole life, I prepared to run this large family newspaper." It was started by as strong a businessman for Christ as you could find. He was an elder in his church, wonderful husband, wonderful dad. His employees loved him. Every aspect that you would like to get right as a believer in business, he did. And so that just made it harder in some stranged warp sense.


Warwick:
             Probably the hardest thing was I felt like God had a plan to resurrect the company and the ideals of the founder, and I blew God's plan. Obviously, if God had meant it to happen, it would have happened. I was in my twenties, and I kind of wasn't thinking through the theological niceties. I was just thinking, "I really blew it on a cosmic scale."


Kathryn:
               Wow. That's a lot to carry.


Warwick:
             Yeah, and most people grow up thinking, gosh, what are my talents? What would I like to do? That was an irrelevant question for me. They say in the military here, duty on a country. It's like, my duty is to go into this family business. What I want to do with my life is irrelevant. So now in my late twenties, early thirties I'm thinking, "Okay, well, now what do I do with my life?? It's just, what could I possibly do that'll have as much meaning or impact as that? It took years to figure it out, which I did slowly, but it was a long process.


Kathryn:
               It's a little bit like your whole life wanting to become a pro athlete, and then completely throwing out your shoulder as a pitcher irreparably, or blowing out your knee in a way that you just, first game in the NFL and you're done. Right?


Warwick:
             Exactly. Yeah. That's a good analogy. Exactly.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. And so then now what?


Michael:
              Especially when you had generations that were NFL players, which is periodically the story, right? Dad did it. And a friend of mine from years ago, his dad was a major league player and lived on the street with all the major league guys. The major league pitchers were teaching him how to pitch for a little league and stuff like that. And his gouting game in college, he threw his shoulder. He threw a pitch in his shoulder... He says, "I threw a pitch, and my shoulder went with it." And that was it. And it was all over. And he had... That's all he knew what to do. He ended up floundering for several years. When I met him, he was just kind of getting his feet underneath him, and finally left and moved North to get away from the family expectations.


Michael:
              So it took you several years. What were key aspects of you being able to figure out how to work through this emotionally and mentally so that you could start finding more purpose?


Warwick:
             Good question. For me, being a person of faith, it was really.... I became a believer when I was in college at Oxford at a evangelical Anglican church, and the notion that God loves me unconditionally and he didn't need Fairfax media. He had a purpose for my life, and clearly, it wasn't it. Otherwise, it would have happened. It wasn't like that was easy even with that realization, but just that constant thought, reflection, prayer that there is a plan for my life, and he doesn't need me to accomplish what the world would see is incredible things, and have a massive impact on the nation of Australia. It's not like he needed me to do that. It's not like my life would be a failure without accomplishing something on a mega level. It's not that it's wrong, but he has a plan for each of us, be it big or small in the world's eyes. So that was one element.


Warwick:
             Another was being blessed to be married I guess a little over 30 years. And my wife just is very supportive. She loved me unconditionally. It's not like... Some people who have large businesses, or they're in Hollywood, it can be like, "Okay, well, I signed up for the glamor and the glitz." And she had a strong faith, so she didn't care about that stuff. So that was huge, having kids. And then eventually, bit by bit I began to find things I could do, and from my perspective, not screw up, small wins. I started working in a local aviation services business doing financial and business strategy analysis. And I figured out, okay, I can be detailed, and responsible, and strategic and all.


Warwick:
             And then back in about 2003, I did a kind of a career assessment with a career coach, and she put me through a battery of tests, and she said, "[inaudible 00:14:39] You have a great profile to be an executive coach." Of course, I didn't know what that was, but found out about it, got certified, went to conferences. And I love, as I'm sure you probably do, too, I imagine, listening to people's stories, and coaching, and probably part of what you do. That was a natural thing for me.


Warwick:
             And as I began coaching people, a lot around vision and helping leaders make vision reality, I began realizing that when I was asking questions, people would say, "Well, that's a good point." I'm thinking, "Well, what do you mean it's a good point? I just asked a question." And I realized, unbeknownst to me, I had a leadership perspective, a leadership voice. I read about leadership, write about leadership. So then I began thinking, "Huh, that's interesting." So I began thinking maybe there's something for me in leadership. Another turning point, and life is often easy to understand and you look at it backwards.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Warwick:
             It's not easy to understand at the time. But then one time in church, we go to a nondenominational church in Annapolis, Maryland, the lead pastor said, "I'd like you to just tell you a story in about seven minutes. I'm talking about the life of David. He's running away from Saul. Righteous man falsely persecuted." I says, "Well, I don't really see myself as David. I brought a lot of my woes on myself. But okay, fine." I gave my story, and it's faith-based audience. I weaved in hopefully some lessons I'd learned. And weeks and months after, people came up to me and said, "Well, thank you, Warwick. That really helps me." I'm thinking, "Okay, there aren't any media moguls in the congregation as far as I know. How could my story help anybody?" Because it's just different than 99.9% of people's lives.


Warwick:
             But somehow, just being vulnerable and open about your story, and some lessons learned. So that led me to begin to work on writing a book, which, in the final stages all. And then from there, just the whole crucible leadership, helping people bounce back from failure. So it was all a gradual process, none of which I really mapped out. It just, I feel like there was a divine hand, but one step led to the other to where I am now. But it was baby steps gradually reclaiming myself worth, and maybe I can make a contribution. Maybe my child's to help others is not over. Gradual process.


Michael:
              I like it. It's important. And realizing that a lot of stuff makes sense looking backwards. I think that's a great point, and good questions. It's interesting how often finding good questions helps people go, "Yeah, that's a good point." And you really are. It's just a question. But it makes them think.


Warwick:
             Exactly. My framework is, I don't really like telling people what to do. I frankly don't really like elders telling me what to do either, to be honest. But I don't mind advocating for principals. Again, in the crucible leadership world, how do you want to make the world a better place? How do you want to lead a life of significance? How do you want to help others? In a more business focused, I might say, "Okay, a lot of business experts believe you can't do a hundred things at once. You're going to need to do two or three. Does that make sense?" Well, 99% of people say, "I guess that makes sense that I can't do 20 things at once. I can only focus on two or three." It's blindingly obvious. But as a coach, I ask the question. Okay, great.


Warwick:
             Well, based on that, what are the two or three things you want to focus on now? Again, that's not a rocket science question. That's the basic, but that's an example of, in the coaching world, I advocate the principles, which I with, and most people would see as just as wisdom. It's just something that everybody can agree on. And so based on that, then I can ask them, "Okay, where do you see yourself?" And again, I'm sure you probably deal with similar concepts, I imagine, advocating for principals.


Michael:
              Well, and you find out that... And this is always important for all of us as leaders to remember having somebody else helping ask you the questions, even when you know what the answer is, but you don't always ask yourself the question. And even that one right there. You mentioned it, and I'm like, "Yeah, I've asked that question. I've done that." And then I'm sitting there thinking...


Kathryn:
               Oh no, what are my two or three things?


Michael:
              Yeah, that's exactly it.


Kathryn:
               I've got ten. Got to narrow, got to narrow.


Michael:
              You find yourself in a place you're just like, This is why I love my friends. Like you being a new one. Some of our other friends that are in the leadership development, our leadership coach, Terry Walling. You just go, "I need... Yeah, I can coach all day long. But he always said, people who get coached, coach." People that coach often appreciate and value good coaching, too. And it's helpful to have that perspective. You can't always see it clearly yourself.


Warwick:
             No, you can't. It doesn't matter how smart you are. Most coaches are pretty self-aware. I like to think I am. But even if you're really self-aware, and a lot of people aren't, you still can't see your own blind spots. Sometimes people ask me, "What questions would you have asked yourself age 26 before the takeover?" And I wished I'd had somebody asked me some penetrating questions, which I've always sought mentors, people older than me. I've always been open to advice, but nobody asked me questions like, "Well, why are you doing this? Are you doing this for you, for your dad, for some legacy? What do you want to do with your life? What do you think other family members will think? Do you think you really have the aptitude to be some Rupert Murdoch tycoon?" Which I absolutely didn't.


Warwick:
             I'm a reflective advise. I so didn't have what it took to succeed in that position. I would have loved to have somebody ask me. A coach, or a wiser, maybe older person had been down that road before. Mentors and coaches are different, but they both helpful. I would have loved that, but would I have listened? It's unknowable. I can be pretty stubborn like many people. Maybe I wouldn't have listened. I would have liked the chance to have actually heard that advice. Maybe, just maybe I would have lessened.


Michael:
              Yeah. When it comes to mentors or coaches that have impacted your life, who comes to mind? What type of person comes to mind?


Warwick:
             I've definitely had spiritual mentors, a straight end guy that died a few years ago who discipled me and in Australia. I've had a long time coach when I was starting my coaching business that was really helpful. I've had different people. I am an elder at my church in Annapolis. I've got other buddies there that I can bounce ideas off, or lead pastor I know well. So it's a variety of people, but I can look back and look to people who have been unbelievably influential and helpful to me and in my life. And just sometimes, if we're blessed to have an amazing spouses... I don't know you guys that well, but I'm guessing you both would say absolutely.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Michael:
              Of course. Yes. Absolutely, Warwick.


Kathryn:
               What else would we say on the air? But it's true.


Warwick:
             Working together is amazing because that that alone says something must be working well. But just to have somebody, a spouse you can bounce ideas off, or sometimes I'll be feeling down, and I'll say to my wife, "I'm kind of feeling down, but I don't know why. Can we dialogue for a moment?" And she knows me well. And collectively we'll figure it out. It's not necessarily like I'm going to jump off a bridge. I'm just having a day when I'm feeling conflicted or anxious, but I don't know why. And I hate not knowing why, because if I don't know why, I can't deal with it. So I don't know. Where are you people?


Michael:
              It sounds like you've created a community around you of people who are self-aware, good leaders, wise people, so that you're creating this community of places where you can ask for help, and you believe you're going to get some realistic, good thoughts, ideas, all the way around.


Warwick:
             Just from looking at your website and videos, it seems like that's a lot of what you advocate is the whole have a village, having a community of folks. And so it's not necessarily the same person. If it's a spiritual issue, I've got friends at church. If it's a business issue, I now have a team of communications, public relations, marketing, and depending on the issue, I will ask different team members. I love getting advice. One of the things I do in the team I work with is not just ask questions or advice from the senior leader, but sometimes the junior people, too. I'll say, "So what do you folks think?" I'll make sure I get advice, not just from the person you would expect to ask, right? The person who founded the business. But maybe the people that have only been there a couple of years. But good advice can come from anywhere.


Warwick:
             I really value advice and counsel. I really try to ask the questions before making a decision and say, "Well, what do you folks think?" Now with crucible leadership, or should we go direction A, direction B? What's the pros and cons? Just like with you and your business, right? It's so helpful to have people to bounce ideas off.


Michael:
              Completely. Talk about crucible leadership. You've mentioned it several times, so let's tell the listeners a little bit more about that.


Warwick:
             Crucible leadership, the concept is to bounce back from failure or setbacks and lead a life of significance. It could be a failure, like in my case, losing a massive, 150 year old family business. It doesn't have to be, it could be a small business.


Kathryn:
               It could be a $1.5 billion failure, or it could be less.


Warwick:
             Exactly. It could be a small business, it could be a marital breakup, it could be a health challenge, abuse. There's all sorts of setbacks and failures. Sometimes it's your fault. Sometimes it's not your fault. But to me, a crucible as I call them, the defining characteristic. It's transformational. The person you are now is not the person you were before. It's a defining life altering circumstance. And from my perspective, when you go through a crucible, you have a choice. Often it's not your fault where you can say, "I'm angry, I'm bitter. How could they do that to me? It's not right. It's not fair." And just hold that anger for the rest of your life, or you can say, "Okay, it sucked. It was awful. But how can I use what I went through, maybe to help others, maybe either to avoid it, maybe to bounce back?"


Warwick:
             When you use your pain, pain for purpose, which is a common phrase to help others, there's some healing in that. And from my perspective, I've got nothing against success and being successful, but to me, there needs to be a purpose to it. At least have staying power. Most people are not motivated purely by money. Most employees are not. They want to be treated fairly, paid fairly, but it's like, "Hey, we're just here to make money." You're not going to get the really great employees. They'll say, "Well, thanks. I'm here for a purpose. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to lead a life of significance." It's really helping people bounce back from setbacks and failure to lead lives of significance on purpose that they're passionate about, that they feel like will make a difference in the lives of others. That's, to me, the leaders in people leaders in big businesses, small businesses, nonprofits. That's the objective of crucible leadership.


Kathryn:
               Who's your favorite... How would you describe the characteristics of your favorite person to coach, or your favorite client?


Warwick:
             I would say, I guess over the years, I love people with vision. I've worked a bit with some different faith leaders, including the pastor of my church. He's a great visionary. Visionary leaders who have a big vision that, yes, I'm idealistic, so that want to help make the world a better place, but not quite sure how to get there. So lead us with vision. And it could be a small business, large business, doesn't matter, but lead us with vision. Those are for me the most fun to coach. It's hard to create vision out of nothing. Some people just love, like the lead pastor of our church calls himself a recreational visionary. He's always dreaming about something, which is wonderful. So yeah, visionaries.


Michael:
              I'm guilty.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. Michael's guilty of being a recreational visionary.


Warwick:
             Well, that's good.


Michael:
              No, it's fun. It's definitely entertainment. If I'm bored, it's rare because I got plenty of things to think about that... I didn't tell you. I woke up this morning and I somehow had invented a new device that created... Nevermind. I won't even go into it now. It's way too much, is it? But that's what happened this morning. I woke up inventing something new, and figuring out how I could manufacture it and build it, and how it would be useful.


Kathryn:
               That would be the 120th thing. It's not one of his top two or three. Just saying.


Warwick:
             And you know what people around visionaries always say is, "Hey, that actually might not be a bad idea." In other words, unlike some of the other ideas that weren't so good. With the visionary, you've got to realize, it's like an in baseball, nobody bats a thousand, right? If you bat 400, you consider-


Kathryn:
               Spectacular.


Warwick:
             ...One of the greatest baseball players ever. So even if you get two out of 10 or three out of 10, that's a good average.


Michael:
              Yeah. And you know what? Theoretically, I agree with you. But then when you're looking at yourself and you're going, "I'm only batting 600?" And you're like, "That's a horrible statistic."


Kathryn:
               Hilarious.


Michael:
              Okay. I love this. The fact is, and I think this story of everything you're talking about is going to resonate with our listeners because it's just something we talk about all the time, about having that purpose, going after something. It really, just trying to get money for money's sake, what's the point? Ultimately, I haven't met a person yet who is even just chasing money, who can't say at some point, when you say, "Why are you doing this?" "Well, eventually, I'm going to be able to have fun. Eventually, I'm going to enjoy myself." Whether they describe it in a way that I don't think is fun, sitting on a beach with a margarita or something...


Kathryn:
               It'd be a Mai Tai.


Michael:
              A Mai Tai. We can't have a margarita on the beach?


Kathryn:
               Margaritas... No, mm-mm (negative).


Michael:
              A Mai Tai.


Kathryn:
               A Mai Tai with a little umbrella.


Michael:
              See, I don't drink either.


Kathryn:
               Just saying. Nobody says Margarita on a beach.


Michael:
              Whatever they would like to do, ultimately they're like, "Okay, I'm going to get there. I'm going to get to this place." But I haven't met many of them where there's enough, and they're ready to say, "Okay, now I have enough." Because they're still scared, nervous, and they're miserable doing it.


Warwick:
             No, it's never enough. You talk to people that may be successful. Maybe they have a house in the Hamptons, and maybe a corporate jet, with somebody else at the bigger corporate jet that has a house on the South of France. And it's like, "Oh gosh, I have a in the Hamptons. But my buddy has a bigger house, and he has..." It's like it's never enough, and you're on the beach with your Mai Tai, and pretty soon, you know what? That gets kind of boring. How many ways can you look at? It was fun the first couple of days, first few weeks. But it's just... You look at a lot of successful businesses out there.


Warwick:
             I know you talk about Walt Disney. His vision evolved, which is a really great lesson for small business owners. He started out saying, "Wouldn't it be fun to have Mickey Mouse cartoons that were small, short cartoons, but were entertaining? Then from there, "How about Snow White? A full feature length cartoon." Everybody thought, "Well, people will fall asleep. Nobody wants to hear an hour and a half of a cartoon. That's ridiculous." "How about Disneyland?" Well, amusement parks then were unsafe places with alcohol, and not the place you take your kids. "But we're going to charge admission." "Well, nobody does that." So throughout his life, he did things nobody thought was possible, but there had to be incentive altruism.


Warwick:
             Even people like Henry Ford that started the model T in the early 1900s, he had a vision of making the automobile affordable for your average person in the day when only extremely wealthy people could afford cars. So you look at it, a lot of successful businesses. You may not realize there was some idealism there, but there was a purpose that drove them to do what they did. And people thought, "You know what, what we're doing is important. Why can't your average person in the early 1900s, why shouldn't they be able to afford a car? Isn't that important? Transportation, connecting families." You look at most successful businesses. There's altruism there somewhere. There's an idealism that drives the founder.


Kathryn:
               Well, and just from a core belief perspective, I believe we're designed for contribution. We're designed to do something that makes a difference in the lives of other people. And whether you're a leader or you're a stay at home mom, you're molding and shaping other people in the midst of what you do. That is the way we're put together. And when we don't have it, there's a tangible absence. There's something, a hole in a void.


Warwick:
             Exactly. And yeah, you make a great point, Kathryn. It's leadership at all levels. While I grew up in a large family media business, it could be maybe you live in the inner city and you want to clean up your neighborhood or the local parks that kids can play. You need to partner with the council, and police, and other community folks. That, to me, is a big vision. So you're right. Whether it's raising our kids, and obviously what they tell us in church is the first people you've got to disciple is obviously yourself. After yourself, it's your kids. You want to lead by example, because they don't, sadly, listen to what we say. They watch what we do.


Kathryn:
               True that.


Michael:
              Definitely, our employees do that, too.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, same.


Warwick:
             Exactly. Right. You talk all about focus, and treating people fairly. And then if you snap at them and are unfocused, they going to say, "Okay, I see how it is."


Michael:
              Yeah. One of the things we did seven years, eight, oh, nine years ago now, our coach that we work with periodically, we brought him in and started working with our small staff. We have a staff of about eight. We just turned him loose on everybody, and paid for it. And even our intern at that time, who was a young college man trying to figure out his life, right. Actually, he didn't think he was trying to figure out his life.


Kathryn:
               He thought he had his life figured out.


Michael:
              He had it all figured out. We just slightly disagreed with what his conclusion was. We unleashed our coach on all of them, and it became a pivotal moment because it said something in that community. It was that example of, "Okay, well.." And we were just experimenting. We didn't know what would happen, and we certainly had never seen anybody do it in a small business before. But it was a significant turning point for our company, because we actually ended up keeping one of those employees that... When people have turnover, we've still got our longest running employee who came out of that season and was great stuff. The value and the benefit of that council, of that encouragement, that how do we find out where your best fit is? How do we make sure that we're encouraging you while you're contributing to the company?


Warwick:
             It sounds like you both actually listened to the advice. Doesn't mean that you agreed with everything, but you at least listened and thought, "There is some grains of truth in there somewhere." Right?


Kathryn:
               Yeah, absolutely.


Warwick:
             And you've probably tried to improve in whatever those areas were. That's, to me, one of the hallmarks is I think we would all agree of great leaders. Your average leader, I tell my kids, are all in their 20s, don't expect that you'll work for a good boss, because most bosses aren't going to be that great. This is the reality of the world. I'm an optimist, but I'm a realist.


Warwick:
             But I've conducted 360 surveys, which obviously I'm sure you and the listeners will be pretty familiar with. You ask your boss, your peers, those who work for you, "What do you think?" And there's a number of times when I'll say, "Oh, I know who that is," even though it's anonymous through some online portal. I'm just staggered how many leaders will look to dismiss the advice as if none of it's accurate. If you know them well, which a number of circumstances, I have, I'm like, "It seems pretty on point to me." And they just don't want to know about it. And it's so sad because if everybody around you says, "Hey Michael, Kathryn, this is who I see." It's your, let's just say your coworkers, family, friends, business partners, vendors... Put them all in one big group, and they all say the same thing. They could all be wrong. But probably not.


Kathryn:
               Probably not.


Warwick:
             Especially people who've known you for decades. That's where, as believers it's like is our-self worth based on our performance and our own self-image, or is it, maybe God loves us irrespective of what our 360 looks like? Why be defensive? Let's learn and grow. It's just rare.


Michael:
              Let me ask you this for our listeners, because we kind of trying to find the runway a little bit, because I sense us moving in that direction. I would love to hear. So imagine leaders who, small companies, less than 35, 40 employees are a lot of our folks. A lot of them are less than 10 employees. They're doing a pretty good job, but they're at that place where everything kind of feels a little plateaued, a little stale. How do they step into that next place? What are a couple of things you can give them to think about, to step into that next place of reinvigorating, or finding that next place of purpose in what they're doing?


Warwick:
             That's a good question. I think it all comes back to vision and purpose. Ask themselves, "Okay, why did I start this business in the first place? What was the dream? Now, if it was, "Oh, I was all about money." Well, there'll be some coaching...


Kathryn:
               Get a bigger dream.


Warwick:
             ...That'll be needed, because first thing I'd say is, "Even if you're about money, it's not sustainable to grow a business where all of the roadblocks any business will have without a purpose, that you feel is important." You won't last. You'll just stop. It's just human nature. Why did you do this in the first place? Get back to your original foundational vision. Where are we now on that? Maybe I believe visions can grow. So maybe you've accomplished that vision. Maybe you're at a plateau because "Well, I've accomplished every dream I had, at least that I had 10 years ago when I started my business." And that's great, but what's the next mountain? What's the next dream? And begin thinking about that. This is dangerous, but maybe even ask your employees, what do you folks think? You don't have to agree with what they say, but somebody might say something that says, "You know what? I agree with that." Try to figure out what is that vision, and obviously, I think you talk a lot about Passion and Provision. The vision to be sustainable has got to be something you're off the charts passionate about. If you're not passionate about it, forget it. Even if, I can be analytical, the whole marketing strategies, unique planning, I definitely have that background.


Warwick:
             But you can't look at it and say, "There's a market niche for this. And I don't really care at all about it, but I know it will be successful." Don't do it. Even if you think you might even have the ability, and then there's a great need in your area. If you're not passionate about it, the chances of it succeeding are pretty much zero, or at least very low. You've got to be passionate about it, and you've got to feel like you have some skills in that arena.


Warwick:
             Back to Walt Disney, he was an animator. So at a certain point, he didn't animate all the time. But he could get around his team and say, "You know what? I think that's great. How about this?" They felt like, "Walt gets it. He knows the business." You got to know the business. Get in touch with your vision, make sure you're passionate about it, and obviously, you wouldn't have started a business if you didn't have any skills in the area. I think that's probably a no brainer, but you never know. But vision, and passion, as well as purpose. It's all part of the same circle, if you will.


Michael:
              Nice. I like it.


Kathryn:
               That's awesome.


Michael:
              Any other questions, Kathryn?


Kathryn:
               I keep thinking about the Crucible Place, and I keep thinking about different leaders that you've worked with. Would you say that most leaders have one significant crucible experience that shapes their future and where they ought to be going? Or are there multiple crucible experiences along the way?


Warwick:
             I don't want to say you have to have a crucible to be successful, because I'd like if you didn't have to go through excruciating pain. But can it help in some ways? It can, because it can be very motivating, especially if, maybe it's a cancer survivor. "I really want to help people with that cope with that." And so it can be very motivating, a crucible experience. But you get to a point in life, it's hard to go through life without pain. We live in an imperfect, broken world, I'm afraid. So you will suffer pain at some point. Will it be transformational? It depends. Part of that's up to you. You don't have a choice, often, about the pain. You do have a choice about how you react to the pain.


Kathryn:
               That's for sure.


Warwick:
             I think it can be very constructive if you allow it. And even as small business owners, most small business owners realize... Like restaurants. How many new restaurants fail? Most of them. Most small businesses fail. And you probably know the statistics better than I do. A Lot of your listeners will say, "Yep, I've started five businesses. Three of them failed. Some of them spectacularly." Any of your listeners probably would say that. It's just life as a small business. What are the lessons from that? Some will be excruciatingly painful. I don't know that you have to go through a crucible, but I think it's hard to go through life without some degree of pain and some significant reversal. Question is, are you willing to learn from that? And maybe there's an opportunity for it to take your life and your business to the next level if you're willing.


Kathryn:
               That's good. I think it's also true that it's difficult to coach people if you haven't experienced some loss, and some pain, and some failure along the way, and then owned that. I think it's hard to connect and relate to people if you're not able to be vulnerable about what you've been through and how that has shaped you.


Warwick:
             Absolutely. Yeah. Empathy, vulnerability, again, leader qualities that are in very short supply. But I'd like to think great leaders are vulnerable, are empathetic. It makes them approachable. It makes people want to work for it. It does make good business sense. Not being vulnerable at everything that's ever happened, but it's vulnerability for a purpose, right? I'm sure with your team, you share stories for a reason, because there's a lesson in there that you want your team to understand. Or maybe a mistake you've made that you want to help your team avoid. So it's inability for a purpose.


Kathryn:
               Definitely.


Michael:
              All right. We end every interview with just a little bit of fun questioning. We've got 10 questions. I think I warned you about these questions. So really, it's fun. It came originally from a French journalist who always asked these 10 questions. And I found it from another person who did interviews, and I liked it. So are you ready?


Warwick:
             Okay.


Michael:
              Okay. Real simple stuff. Let's start out. Softball. What is your favorite word?


Warwick:
             Reflection. Had to think about that before I answered.


Kathryn:
               You had to reflect before choosing reflection. I see what he did there. I'm onto him.


Michael:
              Right? What's your least favorite word?


Warwick:
             Quick-action. That shouldn't be two words. That shouldn't be surprising.


Michael:
              It's a hyphen word.


Kathryn:
               Hyphenated word. Okay. What excites you?


Warwick:
             Gosh, I'm torn in between vision and passion, but definitely vision. But I'm a reserved person by nature, but I'm a very passionate kind of person, whether it's sports, movies, I'm sort of a full contact engagement kind of person. Beneath the surface, I'm a pretty passionate person. But you wouldn't know that just to meet me. Hybrid, but keep going.


Michael:
              I want to slide in a question. When you're not working, do you do for entertainment?


Warwick:
             I love reading about history and all, and a couple of my two sons love playing tennis, but I don't know. I know this sounds a bit traditional, but I've always loved being around my family. Christmas, New Years. It's a wonderful thing, my daughter being back from Australia where she wants to two years. That, to me, is really fun. I know that sounds a little hokey, but that's it for me.


Michael:
              No, I don't think that.


Kathryn:
               Not at all. I like it.


Michael:
              You're talking to two people who work with their daughter.


Kathryn:
               That's right.


Warwick:
             Oh, okay.


Michael:
              And we like it, strangely enough.


Kathryn:
               Strangely enough. All right, so from what excites you, the next question is what turns you off?


Warwick:
             Cynicism. I hate, hate cynics. One of the things I loathe is I pretty much like all movies other than horror movies. So whether it's science fiction, action, romantic comedies, comedies, you name it. I like it. Because my kids tease me like, "Dad, you like everything." I have varied taste.


Kathryn:
               I'm eclectic, thank you.


Warwick:
             What I hate is when people that... Thank you. Good word. "Oh well that's [inaudible 00:45:41], or "That couldn't happen." Or "That's like..." Enough with a negativity and the cynicism. Hate, hate, negativity and cynicism.


Kathryn:
               That's awesome.


Michael:
              Okay. So along with that, what sound do you love?


Warwick:
             Gosh, I'm thinking of that old song, Simon and Garfunkel, the Sound of Silence, but I love quiet. Don't like noise, but tranquil waves. That'd be a close second. But, again, I'm reflective. Says silence is a wonderful sound.


Kathryn:
               Nice.


Michael:
              All right. so what sound do you hate?


Warwick:
             Well, I suppose the other side of it would be excessive noise, and I don't know. Jack hammers, because then I can't think and reflect.


Michael:
              You're not the type person to go to reflect in a loud coffee shop.


Warwick:
             I know a lot of people love doing that. But no, I actually like... I know the whole white noise thing, or kids will like to work with listening to music. I don't Like doing that. If I'm writing, I don't like to have sound. Just quiet.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, I'm a little bit like that, too. I'm a mix.


Michael:
              You're a mix.


Kathryn:
               I'm a mix.


Michael:
              Kin of a mutt.


Kathryn:
               I am a mutt. I'm eclectic. Thank you.


Warwick:
             Yeah, back to eclectic. It's a good word.


Kathryn:
               It's a very good word. What is your favorite saying?


Warwick:
             Oh my gosh. I can think of flippant ones, but I think of... Probably my favorite scripture, which is most people's favorite scripture, Proverbs 3:5 and 6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. All your ways, acknowledge him and he'll make your path straight." Just, there's a purpose. There's a plan. Trust that don't rely on your own wisdom. Some of the best decisions I've ever made was when I absolutely didn't want to do it, or I wasn't sure about it, but I felt the Lord saying, "You need to do this." Some of the best decisions I've ever made. So yeah, don't just rely on your own human wisdom, I suppose would be the short version.


Michael:
              That's good.


Kathryn:
               That's good. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?


Warwick:
             I don't think of myself as creative, but I guess I enjoy writing. Have a creative element to me. So there was a time back in the nineties I was trying to find myself, and I thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to write movie scripts?" So I even attended some half-day course, and learnt how you actually at least do the formatting. But I could never get past the first, fourth, or fifth page because it's like, "Oh, you know." I wasn't motivated. But I ended up not doing that, and more writing my own story and leadership principles, and that was motivating. It's I guess back to what we said earlier, while that was fun... For some, there will be a great purpose behind it. But For me, I didn't feel enough of a purpose behind doing it, I guess, now that I think about it.


Kathryn:
               Fair.


Michael:
              Now that he reflects.


Kathryn:
               Now that he reflects.


Michael:
              Based on a question.


Kathryn:
               What profession would you most not like to do?


Warwick:
             Well, gosh, what I was doing before, was pretty close, where I had, I don't know, four or 5,000 people under me, and I had to make quick decisions, and for something that was my parents' or John Fairfax's, the founder's vision, not my vision. Yeah. I was just... I can coordinate a team and get things done if I need to, because I can be detail orientated if I have to. I don't tend to let things fall through the cracks. But I don't like to manage enormous numbers of people.


Warwick:
             I like to help, advise, counsel. So that was just worst case scenario, being in charge of thousands of people for something that was important. But I'm just not a Rupert Murdoch. I'm not good at making a hundred decisions before breakfast. How I think and agonize and it's like, "Was that the right decision?" Or second guess, third guess, and reflect and it's like, "Oh, did I hurt that person's feelings? Wow." It's good to be empathetic, but you can't let the empathy go crazy. Otherwise, you never get anything done. There's a balance. So many ways it was just the perfect nightmare scenario, what I was doing.


Michael:
              Wow, and you almost got stuck in it. all right. Then the last question. What would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?


Warwick:
             That's an easy one. That's, I think for a lot of believers, it's, "Well done, good and faithful servant." That's kind of... You've used your talents for a purpose, and it was my purpose. God speaking to me, and that's... We've all been given gifts by God, and I feel like he gives us gifts for a reason, and his reason. And our challenge is to try and discern what that is, which is different for all of us. That one's, at least for me, an easy question. Getting there not so easy, because you know what you want the answer to be.


Kathryn:
               Right.


Michael:
              Exactly. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. This is delightful. I'm so glad we've had a chance to meet you, and I'm looking forward to further conversations in the future. But thank you so much for joining us today.


Warwick:
             Thanks so much, Michael. Thanks, Kathryn. I very much appreciate you having me.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Michael:
              Well, for all of you listening today, we just want to say thank you for joining us. This has been a really great conversation. And take some of these thoughts. Be introspective. We're recording this now at the beginning of 2020.


Kathryn:
               How did we get here, to 2020?


Michael:
              I know. The sun just keeps going around. Or we keep going around the sun. The sun doesn't, well, I guess the sun... Anyway, that's a whole nother conversation. And for those of you who listen on a regular basis, you realize what just happened. We want to thank you for joining us. Think about your leadership, give it some extra thought, reinvigorate your purpose and meaning. Call out that vision again, where are you in the process, and do you need to create a new vision? Have you already gotten to that place where you accomplish what you set out to do, and now things are stale? And maybe that's the thing right now for you. So several different great things out of this interview. We just want to encourage you. Have a great year. Have a great week. And thanks for joining us on HaBO Village podcast. We'll talk to you soon.