Last week, the Club of United Business (CUB) hosted an intimate interview with Mark Bouris, an Australian entrepreneur best known for Wizard Home Loans, Yellow Brick Road and as the star of The Apprentice Australia TV show. Daniel Hakim, the founder of CUB, hosted a candid live discussion with Mark for 45 minutes to an audience of 120 entrepreneurs, focusing on Mark’s humble beginnings, the incredible success he’s achieved, the challenges he faced along the way and how his ability to leverage the media helped him build his profile and forge an empire.
Here’s our summary of key takeaways from the event:
We make thousands of decisions every hour – and the strength of our decision-making ability diminishes throughout the day. It’s called decision fatigue.
Mark advised that the less time we spend on “controllable” decisions – like what to wear, or what and when to eat – the more time we can save for critical thinking and real decision making. Minimising the need for menial decision-making, he argued, saves time and increases our mental capacity for the more important choices encountered in everyday life.
“Most of my success has come down to basic concepts and good preparation.”
Mark wakes up early every morning and prioritises exercise as the very first task of the day; for him, that means the hardest part of his to-do list is then over, and he’s ready for the day ahead. Mark takes the same approach with tasks; dealing with the most important or hardest items first in order to get them out of the way as quickly as possible.
Next on the list is dressing for work. Mark keeps it simple and only wears blue or black suits, a white collared shirt and black shoes. When it comes to more casual attire, he’ll only ever wear a black t-shirt, jeans, boots and a jacket. This not only saves Mark time in the morning, but also saves him from frequent decisions around what to purchase and how often.
During the week, Mark eats the same breakfast, at the same time and the same location. When he arrives at his regular cafe, his food is already served. He knows what he’s getting and what it’s going to cost – once again freeing up time and decision making power to focus on the more important decisions to come.
“No-one but you can decide what the priorities are going to be for your own life.”
Whilst it’s important to be immersed in the industry you work in and learn as much as you can on the topics relevant to you, Mark also dedicates at least 30 minutes per day to learning something new outside of his areas of expertise. Right now, for example, he’s studying mathematical science. He sees this as a way to keep the creative juices flowing and his brain stimulated.
One of the most common ways businesses get themselves into trouble is by spending money before they have it. Mark recommends not spending anything until the cash is in the bank. While this can feel like stagnated growth and create extra work in the short term, it will also toughen your organisation and protect it in the long term, allowing more effective and sustainable growth.
Mark says it’s important to recognise your strengths and your weaknesses and learn to complement where possible. He never works alone and always has partners in the businesses he involves himself with. His thinking on this is that you can’t be good at everything and it’s not realistic for you to ever be – so spend some time learning what your strengths are, and find people you can hire that complement your weaknesses.
This reminded us of our own founding team at Yoghurt Digital: Matthew Forzan, Michael Laps, and Ian Fong – who all have varied but complementary skill sets. Matt’s bread and butter is SEO, Operations and Finance, Michael specialises in Growth, Sales and Account Management, and Ian leads Innovation, Conversion Optimisation and User Experience.
The rest of our team continues to grow with a range of specialists in areas outside of the founding base. We leverage each other’s skills wherever we can; further helping our clients, the company and each other.
“Self-belief comes from understanding a topic, having good people around you, and believing not only in yourself but in the thing that you are about to do.”
Mark is also a big believer in recognising the power of networking and being nice to people. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone – so get out there, make friends and help each other open doors!
Mark attributes much of his success to accountability; both to himself and the people he works with. He ensures any goals set are realistic, and links them back to rewards and consequences for maximum transparency and effectiveness.
Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose, but being accountable gives you the best chance of success. No matter the outcome, you own the process and adapt as you go. Don’t be afraid to fail – having failed in the past demonstrates your ability to learn, grow and deal with rejection. Failing builds resilience – a vital quality for achieving and overcoming challenges.
Mark will begin an action of a project with his end goal in mind, and then reverse-engineer the process. For example, if you want to achieve something in 5 years time, outline all the necessary steps between now and then, and measure yourself along the way. Break all activities into workable chunks and be accountable as you progress through the work. You can, of course, adjust along the way, but always keep your eyes on the prize and make sure you’re chipping away at it.
“Not doing something is still doing something.”
Mark reflected on some of the many valuable lessons he learnt during his time partnered with media mogul Kerry Packer, focusing on a conversation they had about Wizard Home Loans and what business he considers himself to be in. Whilst Wizard sold “Home loans”, Mark considers himself to have been in the business of “helping everyday Australians achieve their dreams”.
The lesson here is to understand what your business represents to you, and how it connects you with people. What’s your core purpose? Does your message connect with people on a personal level? Will they want to do business with you?
When wrapping up the interview, Mark said that working hard and being obsessed with everything you do will get you far but remember: don’t be too critical of yourself, give yourself time to reflect, and show admiration for yourself and what you’ve achieved so far. Take time to relax and unwind, and disconnect from business as usual once in a while.
At Yoghurt Digital, we’re all about levelling up. We love learning and bouncing ideas around, so if you want to share your thoughts, feel free to get in touch!