Two lessons in the past shaping the future

I was asked these two challenging questions as part of the interview process for a publication  – After a little pondering – I explored the most painful… and thought I would share.

What one event in your past has shaped your present?

I have learned just as much from poor managers as I have from great ones. The reality is that there is gold in every experience we just need to have the clarity of mind and commitment to listen for it. I worked at Ansett during deregulation and the pilots dispute in the late 80s – it was tough times in aviation – but when I watched how senior leaders treated subordinates I was truly abhorred. I could not understand how a General Manager could walk through an airport without even looking at anyone in the eye. Business, after all is about building great relationships. People want to believe that they are part of something bigger than themselves – they need leaders that they can believe in. It was a wonderful lesson early in my career – even though it made me angry and disillusioned at the time – I committed to myself “when I’m running the show it will be different.”

Part of the RedBalloon journey - Version 4

If I knew then what I know now, I’d…

It might have been handy to know a little about the Internet, web development and hosting before I launched a website in 2001. I just went into it completely blindly – believing those technical people both outsourced and later employees – each individual telling me ‘what was right’ for RedBalloon. And I naively believed them. It took many years before I was able to establish a group of ‘IT mentors’ that I could bounce ideas off – to validate what I was being told. It has been a painful and expensive journey to build an enterprise level website, and the team to deliver it.

No pain no gain they say – and now we have had a stable, productive and committed team for some years. The difference is immense.


This entry was posted in Lessons Learned and tagged , , ,

One Comment

  1. Posted August 18, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    You have really hit on an important point about leadership and relationship. And I like the idea of learning from the best and worst managers – even more importantly realising that we are all on a journey and learning along the way. We make mistakes, we are human – and when you have a good, solid relationship with your team – that involves more than just acknowledgement of their presence – then mistakes are forgiven and your team is also free to innovate because they know that, as a leader, you are willing to give it a go! Red Balloon is such a success story and helps facilitate the reward and recognition of staff everywhere. Keep up the great work – we all appreciate it! :)

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