Remember Where You Come From

Today I had the privilege of delivering an important address to prestigious Australian School of Business at my undergraduate Alma Mater, the University of New South Wales. Talking to 1,500 of the brightest minds in the Asia-Pacific region, in 2013 the Australian School of Business MBA Program was ranked 48 in the world. This is a remarkable achievement for a nation of just 23 million people more famous for sport than academic excellence.

Being invited back to deliver the address as these ambitious young adults commence this important phase of their lives is a tremendous honor. To be invited back after just 10 years, is quite simply the most humbling moment of my life. When the Dean delivered the introduction, outlining my accolades and awards, I was overwhelmed hearing a third party articulating some of the achievements. My preference is always to look forward, not back. Today was different.

In breaking with tradition, the university invited a child of immigrants, with less than impressive grades, who established his first investment company while still at university, and is now living in New York writing a book about how finance can repair the world, to talk about his life and secrets to success. Not being a fan of convention myself, I didn't prepare a formal speech and when I mentioned it to the organizers on the morning of the event they were slightly concerned. I often give speeches and much prefer speaking off the cuff, and today I wanted to speak from my heart about the importance of core values. In typical university fashion, I scaled it down to what I termed the five F's: Family, Faith, Fitness, Failure and Finance. Of course, I learned these lessons the hard way, and hopefully the crib notes were useful to the enormous audience.

  1. Family: The people who believe in you. Find them, hold on to them and never let them go. People who don't believe in you, have no place in your life.

  • Faith: Belief in something bigger than yourself.
  • Fitness: Endorphins are the greatest anti-depressant ever invented. Running saved my life.
  • Failure: In life you'll constantly get knocked down. Getting back up is your choice. You own the outcome. Keep moving.
  • Finance: Matching ideas with capital and unlocking the hopes and dreams of people. It is The Noble Cause.
  • In addition, the key element is having fun. I believe we are all born to be a World Champion and our destiny is to find our chosen field of excellence. When you do, you'll have enormous amounts of fun.

    Values are important because they are the things that matter. They make up the core of how we live our lives by keeping us grounded and remembering our raison d'être.