You’d know the voice, you’d know the face and I’m sure you’d all know the name “Aussie” John Symond. He has a huge profile in Australia thanks to the distinctive “at Aussie, we’ll save you!” adverts.
He was the draw card speaker on Day 1 of the Strategic Entrepreneur Summit in Sydney this weekend.
Like many successful entrepreneurs and business people, John came from a modest beginning. He grew up in Sydney’s west and attended 11 schools growing up and never went on a family holiday. But this was just fine as he didn’t know any different.
Failure and hardship
John had some success in law but his life suddenly crashed around him. He lost the few million dollars he had saved and was in debt, lost his house, his wife, his self esteem and self respect.
One of the most humiliating things was having his credit card cut up in a Sydney retailer. He’d hit rock bottom, but as John said.
The tide can only come up after it’s gone all the way out.
Most business people have failed and faced hardship but few admit it publicly. This is a shame because it creates a false perception of success and deters many people from going into business, or causes them to give up too soon.
10 year overnight success
John started Aussie Home Loans out of adversity and spent the first 10 years being broke. Obviously now it is very successful, but John is very humble about it.
All successful people have goals written down and they review them regularly. Despite phenomenal success, John Symond still has the goal of growing Aussie to be a similar size to the Big 4 banks (but of course, not be like the banks!)
Don’t ever confuse effort with results. You can spend a long hard at the office and achieve zero results — especially if you are busy doing stuff someone else can take care of. Hire a PA to delegate admin to, and focus your time doing the high value activity that you’re good at.
Successful entrepreneurs have a laser focus and a true passion for what they do.
Don’t tolerate negativity. Hang out with winners – they are more successful, happier, more fun to be around and bring you up! You can spot a negative person because ‘nothing is ever their fault’ and they tend to hang around together. Avoid them.
Why people fail
Businesses fail because they are run by people who have a Plan B and a Plan C. John suggests that these people are “part timers” and not 100% focussed on the business at hand. They can’t be completely laser focussed because Plan B and Plan C are obviously consuming a fair slice of their attention.
When to give up?
If you truly believe that you have something special in your business, don’t give up until everything is exhausted.
However, if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you should probably give up because you’ll find something that you can be better at and enjoy more.
Always take calls from the media. John has used publicity has very effectively to promote Aussie, and every day he takes their calls, even if it is negative. But don’t believe what’s written about you.
“If I’d believed even 5 per cent of what’s been written about me, I’d be cuckoo….. more cuckoo!” John Symond
Live your brand at all times. It is your differentiator, so look after it. It was funny hearing that John Symond started doing his own adverts because he didn’t have the money to hire ‘real talent’!
When the chips are down and times are uncertain your team will be watching you. That’s when you need to show them the way and provide strong leadership.
Never say never
At one stage John told the Commonwealth Bank CEO he’d never sell 30% of Aussie to them. But John later realised ‘never say never’ and changed his mind. That deal is what enabled Aussie to snap up Wizard Homeloans for a fraction of what GE Money had paid for it! Embrace change. What’s working today maybe be tomorrow’s problem.
So that’s a snapshot of the take-away lessons from Aussie John Symond’s session at Strategic Entrepreneur. What did I miss out?