Category: Smart Living

At 12 my first boss treated me like a man

I wasn’t prepared and I learned quick.

pic taken one metre away from my first job at twelve years of age forty three years later with my cousin, my first boss, he was nineteen at the time.

I was given my one square metre of responsibility, all I had to do was answer the phone at my uncles fish & chip shop on Friday evenings.

How hard could it be?

I had to wear a clean white T-shirt, pants and covered shoes, not negotiable.

Everyone in the shop had to look groomed and clean. The cooks had white aprons like a five star restaurant and the men had a white hat slanted to the side. Not me, I was the apprentice at the phone and wasn’t to move outside my one square metre of space.

Answering the phone wasn’t that easy, I needed to speak clearly and listen intently to minimise mistakes.

Abruptly my uncle or cousin would ask what the order was and if it wasn’t clear, I got told to write clearer, listen more carefully, don’t assume. (My cousin and uncle weren’t interested in pleasantries, they just said what they thought)

As I mastered the art of answering the phone my confidence grew and I started drifting outside my one square metre of space, until.

One Friday evening while waiting by the phone I noticed a crackle of fish fell on the counter top from my cousin’s serving basket. The evening was busy, everyone was moving around behind the counter like ants. Cousins, Aunty, Uncle. After a couple of seconds I don’t know what I was thinking but I went to the counter took the morsel of fish crackle and ate it, thinking nothing of it and went back to my corner.

Within moments my cousin who was nineteen years old asked me to come to the back of the shop for a chat. He asked me why I ate the crackle in front of all the customers? (My cousin didn’t miss a beat, he noticed everything). I was gobsmacked, completely embarrassed as he continued to dress me down giving me my first lesson in customer service. My uncle walks by and affirms my cousins discipline, he being the master of perception is everything, image is everything when it comes to branding.

From that day you can imagine I quickly understood the value of discipline, stay within your space, master what you’ve been assigned to and don’t assume anything.

I earned my five dollars of a Friday evening and worked with my relatives for years learning many valuable lessons that I adapted to this day over four decades later.

Equipping the next generation with discipline mixed with empathy will go a long way.

I shared the above story today with my cousin while visiting the shop that we both grew up in. We laughed so much, he was surprised how much impact he made in my life.

A prisoners eyes – The prison bars aren’t the inhibitor

I was privileged to speak to about fifty young men aged between eighteen and thirty in a Perth prison along with prison officers and the prison director.

I also had a couple of construction site managers. an x-police officer and an indigenous leader come along for the ride.

These young prisoners are incredibly intuitive and they’re expecting yet another Do-Gooder program. Never underestimate Street-Smarts.

Why would I even be so optimistic or arrogant believing a thirty minute talk can make all the difference?

It all starts before the thirty minute talk. These young men have no idea who I am, many assuming I’m going to tell them what a gangster I was and now I’m here to rescue them from a cycle of crime.

Nothing could be further from the truth, I still don’t know the difference between a pot plant and a tomato plant nor do I have an interest.

What I did have in common with these young men was the feeling of being trapped, the feeling of being systemised and the lack of freedom.

The above smiling pic was taken in 2009, 1700 km away from my home in my mid forties in desperate search of escaping me. It’s the picture of a man that achieved all he dreamed of achieving. Married, father of three, owned a home, successful career and suicidal.

My life was completely disrupted on New Year’s Day 2010 at Trigg Beach, Perth Western Australia and the very concept of freedom alluded me until that very day.

Let’s go back to that prison talk.

One by one these young men walk into the small prison hall surrounded by guards. I greet each one of them at the door, shaking their hands and making eye contact with each one. It was important to me that I acknowledged each of them before my talk.

Every one of them broke my heart, every one of them grasping to have their own identity. Every one showed me the respect that I gave them, shaking my hand like a brother or a son.

I started my talk and as usual I divided the room, some felt they would try and disrupt me by laughing at the most inappropriate time. I welcome their mockery and then add heat to my message. The dissenters no longer mock and they looked curious.

I offered them no answers but promised them that the answer they are looking for is within them. The challenge was given to each one of them to rise up as leaders of the community, leaders of their family.

Connection was made, their attention was grabbed, no program was offered and I left them hanging.

When I opened it up for Q&A, I marvelled at the courage a handful showed by asking personal questions, even a couple of the prison officers lifted their hands in curiosity.

We ended the meeting and I stood near the door to say goodbye the same way I greeted them, reminding them of their individuality.

One by one the quietly whispered “When are you coming back, this is not what we expected?”

Later I found out that many of these young men talked about the atmosphere and content of the meeting, asking for our return.

Some minds experienced freedom if only just for a moment even behind prison walls.

I see the same look of those young men every day in the lives of young Proffessionals, students and the most successful business people in our city.

Freedom starts in the heart and no amount of outward success can help escape an entrapped mind.

Public safety – More wholesome boots on the streets

When the light shines bright the darkness dissipates.

Picture taken in Port Hedland, one of the most affluent communities in Australia and it looks like something out of Mad Max.

Love conquers all, tough love at times, love none the less, not data.

The concern with AI, artificial intelligence and a system bent on data, data, data, we are in danger of creating daily sanitised dystopian fuel for the 5 o’clock news.

The greatest intelligence is always heart to heart, eyeballing the issues.

When police cadets sign up to make a difference and all they do is push paper around and get mentored by burnt out frustrated and unhealthy career public servants, what hope do they have.

Boots on the ground, true intelligence walking the streets, true courage by protecting the vulnerable and unsuspecting.

The wolf will forever exist, nothing new under the son.

Our cities need shepherds, wholesome boots walking the streets.

We don’t need AI to tell us when the crime happened, we don’t need AI to tell us the suspected profile of the wolf, we need boots on the streets.

Prevention is better than cure.

Leave the AI to the geeks, there’s room for intelligence, geo-decriminalisation hotspots, it’s called wholesome boots on the streets.

Friend of our law enforcers, let them enforce the law impartially and allow the fruit of their work speak.

Safety, peace and joy to every citizen as the wolf fears to tread in the good shepherds domain.

Imagine a network of leaders – Not a leader and a bunch of sheep

Let’s build the smartest cultural city in the world with the aim of making Perth the gateway to Australia.

Smart City Perth is an idea to connect leaders with leaders. It’s not about attracting followers to justify its existence.

It’s definitely not about one person’s agenda or ideology.

The aim is to get initiatives off the ground, unblock bottlenecks to brilliant ideas, find the technicians and resources to deliver and create the Smartest City in the world.

Smart City Perth will attract lots of interest at first as individuals have wasted their own resources to connect with potential business, but they’ll drop off before they even know what Smart City Perth is about to see the benefits of such a network.

No disrespect to any government office. I’ve met with way too many government officials to know, they’re waiting for us. Nothing else needs to be said about government.

The key to sustainability is creating a larger pie, greater opportunity and always adapting to the conditions and I believe this comes from the people.

Smart City Perth wants to unlock the voices of future generations by investing them now.

Smart City Perth doesn’t intend on having a home, it intends on working closely with other networks and brilliant leaders with a similar vision.

Smart City Perth is a movement in the making

The first network Smart City Perth has already connected with is the Swan Chamber of Commerce. They have gone through a turbulent season over the last few years to realign with the current economic and social challenges. With a completely new leadership table and energy, Smart City Perth will easily grow as the Swan Chamber grows, collectively making a difference in the City of Swan’s 1000km2 of geographic opportunity.

Smart City Perth is already drawing the interest of other city councils, business leaders and community groups, we want them to flourish collectively.

Leaders inspiring leaders

Let’s build the smartest cultural city in the world with the aim of making Perth the gateway to Australia.

Creating a national movement locally

‘Stirring the imagination connecting people to possibilities’

The day fear is introduced, the association, business stops growing

The moment you walk in, it’s evident wether you’re welcome or not.

Picture of John Stefanelli Senior sharing some wisdom with young leaders. I thought it would be good to have one of the founders of the Swan Chamber of Commerce some forty years earlier give young people a taste of what it’s like to birth ideas that last decades. Leaders that walk the walk and talk the talk. John spoke only of hope and opportunity and the young leaders lapped it up.

New comers know the vibe if they’re truly welcome and the event or new job is a flop from the onset if the new comer already feels like an outsider.

Rarely will this happen at the launch of a business or community group, it happens when it’s established. People will always be creatures of habit and create clicks after a while and before you know it we become exclusive and death is knocking on the door.

Some organisations are just happy to exist, they forget that feeling of thriving.

If organisations want to stay relevant, they must remain vigilant about being welcoming rather than resorting to fear tactics and recruitment drives.

Faith & fear are both great motivators, faith sees the possibilities and acts accordingly. People of faith in a business or social groups remember their vision and stick to the fundamentals of service to fulfil the vision. People gripped by fear close ranks, stop being liberal, start to become xenophobic and the metaphoric walls of control set in.

It’s been my joy to step into a number of situations where a group has closed ranks, no longer believing the very vision of what the group stands for and slowly but surely assist in dismantling the fear stronghold to introduce faith once again. All the dead wood of that organisation fall off allowing for new life to come in and thrive.

People inspired by faith do two things

1. They invest in people with their own time and resources

2. They speak words of hope and vision into the new comers

People of fear work in the shadows and it’s our duty to bring them back to a place of hope or shine light on their fear tactics so they disappear.

There is never room for complacency if we’re serious about growing dynamic enterprises and equipping the next generation to prosper.

Judge people by the fruit they produce not the rhetoric that comes out of their mouth.

Walking the walk and talking the talk.