14 December 2019
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Can Malcolm, or any of us, change our spots and win?

Recently I told my radio listeners on the Talking Lifestyle network that I wanted to make them rich. I also invited readers of my Switzer Daily piece that I write each morning to send me an email with the subject heading “Make me rich.”

At last count we had 500 rational Australians who have made a choice that being richer is being better than being poorer.

This Weekend Switzer story is dedicated to all those out there who know they have to change their spots if they want to succeed in either getting richer, fitter, smarter and just plain better. And this is where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull comes into my little lesson that, hopefully, will help make you richer.

Earlier this week I looked at the latest call on our economic future from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the OECD) that said our economy is heading for 3% economic growth this year and next. This is a nice step up from the 2.1% growth we saw in 2017. It made me ask if Malcolm Turnbull needs to change the way he loves us — the Australian people?

On a radio spot I did during the week, I actually suggested that he needs to look at the great documentary on Bob Hawke, which is still on ABC’s iview. Narrated by Richard Roxburgh, who has played Bob in the TV film Hawke, it looks up, close and personal at Hawkey’s love affair with his fellow Australians, as he often called us.

And while Hawke stayed too long and should have given Paul Keating his chance, he was right in knowing that PJK was not ‘loved’ by us like he was. Ironically, Keating was set to be blasted out of office in the 1993 election until my mate Dr. John Hewson thought he could sell us a 15% GST.

We might not have loved Keating but we loved a 15% slug on the goods and services we bought daily even less.

So I suggested on radio that Malcolm needed to learn from a legend like Bob Hawke. I regularly suggest this is a good idea for anyone trying to build a great business or a pile of wealth — look to legends.

My radio co-hosts, Gary Linnell and John Stanley posed the question: “Isn’t it too hard for a leopard to change his spots?” If this is so, then Malcolm looks likely to be heading for the dustbin of politics, unless Bill Shorten keeps dreaming up screwy policies, like his killing of tax refunds for retirees (although he backed down on parts of that policy within a few days).

According to Google and The Free Dictionary,  “One can't change one's essential nature. For example, he's a conservative, no matter what he says; the leopard cannot change its spots. These metaphoric expressions both originated in an ancient Greek proverb that appears in the Bible (Jeremiah 13:23): “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?”

Interestingly, science actually disproves this old adage and there’s a powerful lesson for all of us who have allowed our immaturity to dominate our actions.

Livescience.com tells us: “As a leopard kitten matures into a prowling adult, its baby spots morph into more commanding rosette markings. Now scientists think they have uncovered the mechanism behind the transformation.”

Yep, so a leopard’s spots do change and it happens through the process of becoming more mature!
And that is exactly the challenge Malcolm Turnbull has to remain Prime Minister and any of you out there have, who want to get richer before it’s too late. Yep, you and Malcolm have to mature up.

The PM has to grow in stature, as Bob Hawke and John Howard did over time and how Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott failed to do. The latter three were never in love with the Australian people, or if they were they never showed us properly.

Kevin loved himself. Julia loved the left and the unions, while Tony’s affair was with the right and the conservatives.

I think Malcolm wants to love Australians but he’s not comfortable with it — he lacks maturity when it comes to loving the weird mob who make up Australia.

It showed when he didn’t go to Brisbane to debate Bill Shorten in a Sky News pre-election event hosted by Paul Murray and Andrew Bolt.

Hawke and Howard would never have done that and it underlined how immature he was in snubbing the Australian people, even if Murray and Bolt were Tony Abbott fans.

John Howard learnt a lot from being in politics a long time, and copping kicks in the gut from us at the polls, and even from his own party, as he won and lost to the likes of Andrew Peacock and Alexander Downer before gaining back his leadership followed by the ultimate prize — the keys to the lodge.

Howard’s spots changed and we learned to like him, or at least respect him, and he went on to create political history as the second-longest serving PM of all time behind Sir Robert Menzies.

So Malcolm needs to get out and mix with us. He needs to show us that he’s one of us and I know he can do it as I was his patrol captain at North Bondi when we were 21-year olds. He was brought up differently and he’s smarter than most of us, but the surf club fraternity brings everyone back to earth as we give up our time to make sure Australians, and anyone loving our beaches, don’t drown.

North Bondi’s motto is “Ready aye ready” and that’s what our PM has to do — get ready to embrace the people he wants to lead, or else we will be saluting Bill Shorten as the 30th Prime Minister of this great land.

And what about you as a wealth-builder and your spots that need to change?
Before I can help you get richer, like the PM, you have to change your spots or attitude.

When I lectured Economics at the University of New South Wales I decided I needed to become more real world-oriented and less academic. To change my spots, I stopped reading the Daily Telegraph for its great sports pages and started to buy the Australia Financial Review.

If I hadn’t done that I would have been non-plussed when Triple M’s Walkley Award winning and network news director, David White, rang me for an explanation on air of why the stock market had collapsed on October 20, 1987!

That change of reading (or spots) created my media career, our media business and our financial services group that now employs so many Aussies and has a listed fund on the stock market called the Switzer Dividend Growth Fund or SWTZ!

So how do you change your spots? Step one: I’d start reading me every morning on Switzer Daily to get used to caring about money stuff that can make you richer or poorer.

It’s like a marriage — you to me — and it’s for richer or poorer but I assure you, if you listen to me, you won’t end up poorer.

Of course, after reading me, hopefully you’ll start consuming other great business-teaching and money-making material, which will, day-by-day, start to change your spots, just as a leopard does as it goes from immature to mature.

I’d love to throw more spot-changing lessons at you but that will do for now. Read me and others like me daily and we will change those spots, and your bank balance as well.

P.S. Bob Hawke changed his bad drinking habits spots to become PM. Peter FitzSimons gave up his sugar-consuming spots and looks half-decent nowadays, even with his infernal red bandanna!  And Andre Agassi changed his bad boy spots, thanks to Steffi Graf, and finished tennis as a legend rather than a disgrace. Maybe there’s hope for Bernie Tomic. We all can change our spots but you really have to want to.

And if you want to get richer, and you really want it, send an email to info@switzer.com.au and put 'make me rich' in the subject line.

 

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