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Vidal Sassoon Told Me This Key To Success- Have You Got It?

Hairdressing icon Vidal Sassoon died a couple of days ago. To hairdressers, he was quite simply a rock star. But it was something he told me almost 20 years ago that I want to share with you today. It startled me when he said it, and the truth of it resounds just as powerfully today. See if you agree.

Vidal Sassoon – self-made, highly driven and from a grindingly poor background – revolutionized the hairdressing craft. His obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald read: “ An astute businessman, he made a fortune from his salons and products, and became a household name.”

I was having lunch with him during a promotional tour we were coordinating in the mid-1990s. I asked him about his success and fame. And it was then that he told me a simple truth that not only underpins my approach to my career and life, but is something I have shared with as many people as I can. This is what Vidal told me.

How My SAAB Car Teaches Us A Critical Lesson In Business- And In Life

My car buff mates ridicule me because – in 25 years- I have only ever owned Saab cars. I’ve had seven of them. Now that Saab has gone bust, they laugh even louder. But little do they know that the essence of Saab, and why I buy them, has also taught me the most critical ‘must have’ to survive in business. If you don’t do this, you will fail- guaranteed.

Last night at dinner in a brightly lit Japanese restaurant in Jakarta, my colleague Mike B wept with tears of laughter.

“What are you going to do now that Saab has gone out of business?! No more spare parts for you…hahahaha!” He rubbed it in by telling me the TV car show ‘Top Gear’ had done a great segment on the demise of Saab, and he’d send me the link. Watching it an hour later, I suddenly realized why I always bought Saabs, and why that very same reason had underpinned my ability to keep surviving in business. If you don’t have this in your armory, beware. You WILL come a cropper.

I Am Ashamed Of My Greatest Failing-But At Last I Am Beating It

What do WD-40 ( a type of grease lubricant), an amazingly successful entrepreneur, and my greatest failing in life all have in common? Calm down! This is NOT an R rated story. It’s a story about fear. Maybe it will help you beat yours? Read right to the end – there’s a surprise there for you.

I had breakfast last week with an inspiring and highly successful young entrepreneur, Creel Price. He sold one of his businesses a few years ago for $100 million. (He paid for breakfast.) From his website www.creelprice.com :

“Creel developed his serial entrepreneurial nature from the age of 11 when he started a strawberry business that within two years was employing both his parents. … Creel recently established the Club Kidpreneur Foundation, a social enterprise committed to assisting youths start and grow their own micro-enterprises in order that one day they may choose entrepreneurship as a career.”

“What’s the point of Kidpreneur?” I asked him. And the first sentence of his answer summed up one of my greatest failings, and greatest fears.

You Have To Have This To Succeed- Why We All Need A Justus In Our Lives

Justus died the day before I was to have lunch with him- about three weeks ago. His death really struck me. Not only because I’ll miss him. But because I realized how lucky I had been to have him in my life, for one year, 15 years ago. Here’s why, and there’s a powerful lesson for us all in this story.

When Justus came into my life, I did not want him in it. He was appointed my Chairman, with a brief to keep me under control. He was a tough, opinionated, seasoned former big time CEO. A Dutchman. He asked questions I did not want to answer. I deeply resented his forced intrusion into my world.

But then I began to look forward to being with him: I began to long for it. Because Justus listened to my answers. And then made suggestions- not directly, but by sharing his experiences in similar circumstances.

When I decided to resign from that role and phase of my career, it was Justus I told first. He understood. He embraced me. And we kept in touch ever since. Justus had been for me, for that one tough year, the most valuable asset we can have. He was my:

A Very Weird Story on How To Be Your Own Very Best Coach

I am worried. This post might be just too weird, and I will see “Unsubscribe’ emails dotting my screen. I’ll take the risk, and share this one simple idea that has been at the core to my resilience in my career, and my life. I use it every day. But be warned- it’s a bit weird. Here it is.

One of my greatest fears is reaching the end of my career, at a timing not of my choosing, and knowing I could have achieved more – that I had not encouraged and backed myself to realize my full potential. Actually, I fear this about my life – will I push myself to be the best I can be: as a father, son, husband, brother, uncle, in law, cousin, friend, boss, colleague, neighbor…. The list is long.

I fear it because I know I am weak and flawed, and live on the edge of a darkness that I can easily slip into… not an evil darkness, just a place of slovenliness and lost opportunity. I saw ‘The Lorax’ movie yesterday: “A tree falls the way it leans. Watch out which way you lean.” I keep leaning the right way in my life, just, and growing and contributing positively, through following three critical steps, every day. But one is really weird. Here they are.

Do this Every Day and Die Happy

Do You Have The Courage To Take One Simple, Life-Changing Action Every Day?

I am weak. I promised myself three years ago I would do this, every day. It’s so simple and powerful. So incredibly valuable to living a fulfilling, evolving and exciting life. But I have failed (so far). I have not had the guts to do it. Can you do any better? Here it is.

Peter Cullinane, founder and CEO of STW New Zealand-based business, Assignment, and one of our industry’s genuine leaders, suggested I read “Fun While It Lasted” by Barnaby Conrad- an incredible, true story of how an American in the 1940s trained and became a matador in Spain. One of Barnaby’s hobbies was collecting great ‘last words’… notable death bed last utterings of the famous and the ordinary. He ends his book with such a line, from a woman whose last words were: “Well, it’s all been very interesting.”

On reading this, I realized I was cruising. That a part of my life was an opportunity missed. To be able to say last words of: “Well, it’s all been very interesting”, I simply had to do one thing every day. And this is it.