I have written a book. Not a business e-book as my previous ones but a paperback book. This book sits somewhere between business, self-help and memoir underpinned by a bit of science and philosophy as well. It was a labour of love and I enjoyed every minute of writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it too.
Here’s an excerpt – Chapter 2: What led to my 142 days of Gratitude?
I was contending with numerous issues in 2014. Some were in my control, some I could influence, and some were beyond my control.
Something outside of my control was the political climate in Australia, which was stalling with poor policies, bad decisions and ineffectual leadership. The markets for many businesses were flat but not so terrible that they would slip into a recession. However, factors like the Federal Government’s lack of vision on matters like energy and climate, the volatile global stage, and austerity measures in Europe meant many business leaders were stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for direction and not making any significant decisions or investments. Nothing felt quite right, and indecision was rife.
For my team and me, this meant many businesses were not investing in sales strategies, sales processes or any training and development of sales teams, which is our core line of work. Business was pretty tough for us in late 2013 and throughout 2014. I had been through lean periods before and knew it meant buckling down and selling; getting in front of as many businesses as possible because there was work to be had. It was just much harder to gain traction during this time.
However, an already testing year took another dive when a deal worth $300,000 I had secured in late 2013, and which was ready to roll out, was pulled out from under me in April 2014. That was bad enough. But it gets worse. A person within my business, whom I trusted and had placed a lot of faith in, scuppered the deal. Instead of standing side by side in these tough times, this person decided things were too hard and took the easy way out. They negotiated a fulltime job with our would-be client and took the $300,000 of work with them.
I was shocked and devastated. We had more work in the pipeline, but I was banking on this substantial deal to salvage our year. And for a small consulting business, replacing $300,000 in lost revenue overnight is not easy, as some of you will know.
On top of that, my 80-year-old father had collapsed from heart failure a few weeks before this event and died two weeks later. My father’s death was not a big surprise as he had been ill for some time. However, it doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are; it is still traumatic when someone close to you dies.
My stoic mother, siblings, family and I were left to farewell my father and mourn his passing.
Except I never got to mourn because I had a business to save, a team to lead, clients to serve, and a family to love and support.
I could have sued the person who betrayed me. I could have chased them down, but their betrayal had floored me. And I had other priorities. My team and I were left to pick up the pieces and keep going despite the weak market conditions and significant hole in our revenue.
I was numb. I wasn’t processing much consciously in the early days. I was hanging in there and going through the motions. All I can remember is going into autopilot and trying to focus on what was in front of me and holding it all together.
The hardest thing for me to deal with was a sense of betrayal. Not just because of the money lost, I could sort that out, eventually. There’s always the risk of losing money in business. No, it was about the loss of trust. This person had approached me to come and work in my business. I gave them a start in this country, helping for months before they were even here. We received them and their family with open arms. I took them at their word when they said they were in full support of our business’ purpose and goals, and that they would wholeheartedly contribute to these goals.
Instead, they bailed at the first sign of difficulty and left us high and dry.
Their words were hollow. Their intention was solely focussed on making money for themselves, and it didn’t matter what or who suffered the consequences of their actions.
But their departure and betrayal was not all that happened. After that first blow came a series of events over the following few weeks — all showing this person’s lack of respect, consideration and esteem for me, my team and my business. We had all been pawns in their game, which ended only when a legal mediation took place.
I am not the first person, nor will I be the last, to suffer such a betrayal. I have had other relationships end, but for whatever reason, this one hit me hard because I genuinely believed they cared as much as I did about what we were doing, together. And I was wrong. I felt like an idiot. I reprimanded myself. I beat myself up. I was so hard on myself, and focussing on all that I thought was wrong with me, until one day one of my team, Astrid, showed me a post on social media that said this:
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or anxiety, make sure first you are not surrounded by assholes.
Hmm. This got my attention. Yes, there had been signs this person was not working with the best of intentions or our interests at heart; and, yes, I could have acted earlier and addressed things I felt uncertain about. I could possibly have prevented some of what had occurred. Instead, I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
All good in hindsight, but I was left to deal with the mess in front of me here and now.
Interestingly, no one else in my team deserted ranks. My team rallied around me and are still with me today. They are amazing. I am so grateful for their loving and caring support, then and now.
While I still miss my father, I have no regrets with his passing because our relationship was strong. My father was a loyal, decent and courageous man who stood by his family and his staff. He ran the family timber wholesaling business with 120 employees before his retirement. He stood by people through thick and thin. He had our backs, and we had his. He taught me well.
It turned out the betrayal by this person was initially the worst but then the best thing that happened to me, my team and my family in 2014.
It became a major catalyst for positive change which has led to much greater successes. It forced my team and me to really stand on our own and find our true purpose and pathway forward. It forced me to define and own my truth, my destiny, and learn how to stand firm, even in tough times.
Like an Australian bushfire, this catastrophe burnt us clean and allowed us to start again with a fresh perspective, new insights, and new ways of being. It was the start of an incredibly creative period, which carries on to this day. Back then, after the initial scorching, we began to emerge like green shoots springing forth from the blackened earth, showing signs of new growth. Now we are a flourishing forest of creativity filled with vibrant life.
We have produced our best work by far since 2014 and are changing the way people and businesses sell for the better. We have created a Selling Better Philosophy, Manifesto and Movement; a Sales Strategy and codified Sales Operating System; codified sales tools, resources and education (classroom, infield and online) and a Sales Execution App. We have created the Purposeful Optimism Movement and continue to carry forward our work to broader markets.
On a personal level, I have undertaken many more initiatives, opened up my creativity and widened my horizons as to what is possible. This book is one of these creations.
I eventually became grateful for the challenging business experience I had with this person because it turned into something amazing for me, my team and my family.
Out of the ashes, the phoenix rises
I know I am not alone. Many other people have faced similar, if not much worse situations, and survived.
It shows we can get through hard times and come out better for it, but it doesn’t happen in isolation. We are never alone. We do it supported by those around us.
So when did I get back on track and find the strength to carry on?
I began my gratitude diary in July 2014, inspired by my friend Mike Lowe, who introduced me to the 5-day gratitude project.
Read what people are saying about this book.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.