1.Will it make you afraid, will you give up or are you going to take up the challenge?

2. This is not a theoretical exercise or a seminar on how to do business, but rather an exposé based on experiential knowledge.

3. What will you do with the skills that you have acquired when you face bankruptcy, retrenchment or any similar taxing situation?

4. You will be intimidated by attorneys who haven’t walked the path, so choose your legal counsel wisely and do not be afraid to ask questions – they are in your employ after all. I personally fired eight attorneys before finding someone who cared enough about what I was going through and clearly understood what I wanted to achieve.

5. What am I trying to do? I am going to help a father who has been liquidated or who has become redundant or been retrenched to deal with the financial and emotional pressures he will be faced with and to make him aware of how crucial his decision making is at that point in his life and how it will impact on his future. My aim is to give him hope and a strategy to overcome during a trial that often leads down a path of self destruction, especially during this time of the year, when family life becomes increasingly important and it becomes a struggle to not allow the emotional undercurrents that are constantly threatening to pull you down to interfere with your enjoyment of the family Christmas lunch.

6. A crisis of this magnitude can propel your life to the next level or you can allow it to let you give up or simply hand over. Do you have the guts to make it? Dare trust your gut feeling more, as sometimes it is the only thing you have. Everything profits you. The worst possible thing that ever happened to you will usually turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you. Nobody can hijack you business mind. They can take anything away from you, but not your knowledge and ability to make money and survive. Have courage to think. Your thoughts are your greatest commodity. The biggest wars are the ones you can’t see. You may be just one idea away. Don’t allow anyone to mess with your thoughts. You quit, you lose, but stay in the game and you have the possibility of winning.

7. Liquidators get paid to destroy your financial future. And that is their job, so it’s okay. Don’t take it personally (also not when your boss fires you). This whole experience can serve you or profit you. Are you going to blame the company and the liquidators? The time you are wasting crying or sulking, you could have done something productive or proactive already. You need to fight your own emotions constantly. Sometimes, giving your opponent the opportunity to walk away with his head held high, is all that’s needed to get him to relinquish control. It’s the ultimate mind-fuck. Make him feel trapped and desperate, and then become his rescuer. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson too late and the hard way by trying to play hard ball in a situation where it did not profit me in the least.

8. Choosing your business partner(s) – how well do you know them? It is crucial that you take time to find the right partner(s). Take your time!

9. The lowest point I reached during this whole process was the death of my dad – people don’t care about your personal sentiment. My PA was working in the study at my parents’ home, sorting out documents for advocates while the memorial service was taking place and I was carrying my father’s casket. I literally just saw my father being buried and had to rush to get to court in time. The only reason I was able to handle this situation, was that I had been through the whole litigation process where I learned that it’s not about how hard you can hit, it is about many punches you can take and still keep moving forward.

10. I read an interesting analysis and opinion piece of why Grant beat Lee in the American Civil War. I’m sure you will find these points interesting, as applicable to business strategy:

Ulysses Grant

  • A remarkable common sense.
  • An extraordinary ability to both recognize and execute a calculated risk.
  • A profound ability to learn from both success and error, and, more importantly, to apply what he learned in an effective manner.
  • A strong sense of professionalism that allowed him to overlook matters of personal ego.

Robert E. Lee

  • He hated personal conflict and, as a result, could not bring himself to discipline his key commanders when it was necessary to do so.
  • He also had less ability to analyse and learn from his mistakes, especially in the strategic sense.
  • He apparently did not possess the strategic vision to see beyond his own theatre and his army.

11. Winning is a choice – choose to win!

12. I guess the lessons to be drawn from this for any business person are as follows:

  • Be extremely well read and develop your common sense.
  • Learn to identify the opportunities in risky situations and learn to mitigate the risk through educated, well-informed decision making.
  • Embrace both successes and failures as learning experiences and learn to apply the lessons effectively.
  • Develop the ability to disregard your emotions (personal ego) in your decision making and to base your decisions on what you know to be right.
  • Embrace conflict and learn how to manipulate all players to get what you want out of the interaction.
  • Increase your vision to include even apparently unrelated situations and players. A conduit for success may develop from unexpected sources.
  • I firmly believe that every challenge we are confronted with has already been overcome, in some form, somewhere in history.
  • Assume nothing, be humble and don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit of help when you need it.
  • Failure isn’t failure – commit to fail. Every time I fail I take comfort in knowing I am closer to my goal. Failing is okay – that decision is better than no decision.
  • You’re only as good as the company you keep, so keep good company.
  • 10 years at varsity doesn’t make you a business guru.

13. You have to crawl you way out of hell, one inch at a time and you have to fight for every inch. There is an inch between winning and losing. You need to be willing to die for that inch.

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