As published in No More Practice’s Reality Check on 31 October 2013.
The answer to three simple questions could be the difference between a great business and an awesome one.
Mark Bouris, Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road delivered a powerful and compelling message about what it takes to build a successful business at the AFA Conference last week.
What made his message so memorable is that he conveyed the key points through sharing an extremely interesting, and at times rather humorous, story of a life defining moment that shaped much of his successful career. Using stories to deliver a message is one of the greatest tools to help people engage, connect and relate. The more interesting the story, the easier it is to remember.
Mark’s story was about the time he met with Kerry Packer to formalise a substantial deal when Mark was at the helm of Wizard Home Loans. Prior to Kerry signing the agreement (that took months of blood, sweat, tears and due diligence to prepare) and to handing over a hefty cheque of $25 million, there were three small questions Kerry wanted Mark to answer.
In summary, this is what they were:
1. What business are you in?
Mark initially thought this was a trick question as he ran Wizard Home Loans. However before Mark could say anything, Kerry said “don’t tell me you are in the business of home loans”. That threw Mark for a sixer. To cut a long story short, Kerry helped him out with this one and said, “you are in the business of building people’s hopes and dreams”. Mark got it. He was in the business of building people’s hopes and dreams and the way he did it was by putting a roof over their heads and helping them retire comfortably.
2. When have you failed or been on the brink of failure?
Another left field unexpected curve ball. Mark had built Wizard Home Loans successfully and had not failed along the way. However, thinking quick, he was able to share his story of his upbringing and the struggles that he battled to get him to where he was today. Kerry was trying to uncover if Mark had the ‘fight’ in him that is required to build a successful business. Being unable to fight in the good times and the bad for your purpose is a deal breaker.
3. How far are you prepared to go?
Nearly jumping out of his skin, Mark expressed that he would do whatever it takes. Kerry proceeded to ask Mark to do something which had never been done before. This made someone as tenacious as Mark Bouris gasp. If he didn’t do what Kerry requested in 12 months, Kerry wanted all his money back in full. So of course, against all odds, Mark did exactly what was needed to get the job done and keep the money. He went ‘all the way’ and did it with passion and energy.
The moral to the story is simple. If you want to build a successful business, you need to understand and verbally communicate your response to those three simple questions.
Be clear on the business you are in. This is your most powerful message and should be at the core of everything you do.
Be ready to fight for your purpose, through the good and bad times.
Be prepared to do whatever it takes and go ‘all the way’ to make things happen. If Mark Bouris can do it, so can you.