One of the greatest challenges I’ve had working in the media is having to deal with the ‘luminaries’ that have been in decision-making positions. I’ve been staggered how out-of- touch these people can be and how all too often it’s apparent that their decisions are more about securing their employment rather than making the tough and enlightened decisions that could actually be so insightful that they ensure their success and their reputations in the eyes of their bosses.
The irony is that every bad decision I’ve been a victim of has actually served to force me to think outside the square, to kill complacency and to come up with innovations that sometimes even stagger me!
I’ve told you before how Sir Bob Geldof told one of my employee/journalists to “f**k off” when she asked him at a press conference in Sydney, after he had spoken to a conference, what was the greatest lesson he’d been taught?
Renee was so traumatized by his answer she did not hear anything after his expletive. Her mindset was “Bob Geldof, who is a big star and who makes me nervous to talk to at a press conference, has just told me to ‘f**k off!’ Run away!”
That was understandable but her mindset that made her think all of this stopped her from hearing that the “f**k off” was his great lesson. Every time someone reacted to him or his ideas with this expletive, he used it to prove them wrong, to be empowered to succeed and to be a better performer.
Others might have turned tail and run away from their dreams but Sir Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof’s mindset was the critical make it or break it issue that explains the success of Boomtown Rats, his Live Aid concert and even his knighthood.
I remember in the early 1990s, when the great radio station Triple M had their top rating disc jockey/comedian Doug Mulray in Sydney and the brilliant D-Generation breakfast team in Melbourne. However, even with these assets the business was being gutted by recession and the fact that its owner — Hoyts — had borrowed too much to create the network.
With the banks breathing down the station manager’s neck, the national news director, David White, had assembled his state news directors for a meeting on a Friday to look at costs and other actions they could take as a recession and lenders loomed large.
As I was the political and business commentator for the network I was asked to attend the meeting at short notice as I happened to be at the Sydney studio when the meeting was called.
Stupidly, when I was asked to comment on the financials for the division, I explained the loss was pretty close to what I was paid each year! That was a crazy mindset that drove that shut-my-mouth observation!
I must admit it was my first observation of what desperate men threatened by a recession and panicky bankers might do. Their mindset was one paralyzed by the fear of losing their jobs and so outside the square thinking went by the wayside.
The following Monday, the station manager, Graham Smith, who actually paid my contract, asked to see me. In a crestfallen voice he said: “We love your work Switz but our financials, as even you noted, say we can’t afford to pay you, so we will have to cancel your contract.”
Thinking on my feet and trying to cope with the rejection that recessions create, I replied to Smithy that “I’m not going to go!”
He was a little confused at my reaction and asked what I meant?
And to that I said: “Well, you said you loved my work but you can’t pay me but haven’t you thought I might have been the easiest staff member to attract sponsorship?”
I saw his face tell me “I hadn't thought about that” and so I told him I’d work for free until the sales team found me a sponsor. It was a gamble but I was still teaching at the University of New South Wales as well at the time, though that salary was nothing compared to my Triple M contract!
I must admit he was a bit confused about me rejecting my ‘sacking’ and so I went straight to my news director who went to the program director, Charlie Fox, who then went to Smithy and said: “If Switz wants to work for nothing until we find a sponsor, well let him.”
It was a win for Switz and my mindset of “no one is going take this gig away for simple money reasons” that saved my media career and business.
Unfortunately, the story of potential woe did not end there because the sales team at MMM were used to selling car radio, Jim Beam and Surf Dive’n Ski ads but a business commentator was a hard sell for them.
After about two months of working for nothing my mindset kicked in and so I went to Smithy and asked why there was no success finding a sponsor. He wasn’t sure but I later learnt that if an advertiser wanted to spend $300,000 and I would want $100,000 then their commission would shrink.
Foiled by the sales team’s mindset!
Knowing the program and news director wanted me on air — bless their souls — I said to Smithy: “If I get a sponsor to pay for my spots on air can I keep the dough?”
He said yes and within a week I was talking to the Australian Financial Review, as I was then a columnist for The Sun Herald, and they sponsored me for $100,000 a year! And it all came to Switzer Media, as we were called then.
The mindset is critical in explaining success and so I was interested to what thought leaders have to say on the topic. This is what a German personal development coach called Myrko Thum tells us about developing the right mindset.
He says: “Your mindset is the sum of your knowledge, including beliefs and thoughts about the world and yourself in it. It is your filter for information you get in and put out. So it determines how you receive and react information.”
It can be compartmentalized, say for business and family but it can be singular, overwhelming and underwhelming explaining both success and failure.
We all have to be objective about our mindset and what follows might help you do exactly that.
Thum argues that you should check if your beliefs are in harmony with (a potential) reality — where you’d like to take your mindset.
What you currently believe has a big bearing on your mindset
“If you believe ‘I am a successful entrepreneur’, you will act in that way,” he explains. “If you believe ‘I want to be a successful entrepreneur’, you will act in this way too.
He advocates adopting stretch goals because it changes your mindset and therefore how you behave.
He recommends six steps to change your mindset for the better:
1. Get the best information only from the best books and the best people you can learn from
2. Role model the best people. If I was going into retail I’d look to the likes of Gerry Harvey for critical lessons on beliefs and mindset. If it was tennis, Roger Federer looks like a great role model. I’m now reading Ray Dalio as he is one of the best investors in the world and that’s relevant to me and my business.
3. Examine your current beliefs and see if they
are supporting you or are they self-limiting beliefs? You have to identify those possible blocks and turn them around.
4. Shape your mindset with vision and goals
that create a strong pull towards what you want for yourself.
5. Find your voice and with some help from
Stephen Covey’s book called The 8th Habit, Thum suggests you answer these 4 questions:
1. What are you good at? That’s your mind.
2. What do you love doing? That’s your heart.
3. What need can you serve? That’s the body.
4. And finally, what is life asking of you? What gives your life meaning and purpose? What do you feel like you should be doing? In short, what is your conscience directing you to do? That is your spirit.
“Your voice is what you express 100% authentically, it is the unique thing that you can add to the world, because you are who you are,” he explains. “It gives you something unique and helps you to build integrity.”
6. Protect your mindset against the naysayers, people who want to drag you down, bad information and overload.
I think these six steps have been gifted to me from my life experiences, the people who have helped me and I have been damn lucky. That’s why I desperately want to share the secrets of developing a positive mindset with others.
I think everyone in the world, and especially young people, need to be encouraged to beat self-doubts and the doubters by having the right mindset so they can reach their potential.
This is what you should be telling your family, your staff, your team and of course, yourself.
Go get ‘em tiger!
(If you want to check out Myrko’s work go to www.myrkothum.com)