How do you rebound from failure?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

Failure – we fret it, we shun it, and we question ourselves whenever it happens. But can failure be a blessing in disguise?

In 1993, legendary Socceroos skipper Paul Wade became the first footy captain in 20 years to be axed from the national team for a bad attitude. Paul says he was humiliated – but admits it was the wakeup call he needed to improve his game.

Facing up to failure isn’t always so simple. Jane Lu quit a coveted corporate job during the GFC to start her first business, but when it failed, she was too embarrassed to tell her parents – who she lived with.

“I just pretended to go to work every day for six months,” Jane tells guest host Janice Petersen on this week’s episode of Insight. “I put on my suit … I carried around an empty laptop bag.” Jane didn’t tell her parents the truth until years later when she’d well and truly bounced back.

Failure can also put things into perspective.

In the late 1980s, Mal Leyland – one half of the famous Leyland Brothers – set out to build a theme park, complete with a scale replica of Uluru. The brothers saw it as a legacy they could leave behind for their families, but instead they lost everything in 1992 when skyrocketing interest rates left them both bankrupt.

“People who I thought were my friends suddenly no longer contacted us,” he says. “Suddenly we had some sort of disease, so it seemed, and we were on our own.”

Mal tells Insight that hitting rock bottom helped him appreciate the important things in life.

A personal failure is difficult enough, but doing it in the public eye is another challenge. When Nahji Chu’s successful food outlet suddenly went into voluntary administration, she felt like “Australia’s actually now celebrating my failure,” she says.

“I didn’t want the public to see that a Vietnamese person and a Vietnamese entrepreneur and a Vietnamese refugee had failed.”

This week, Insight looks at the concept of failure. How does it feel to lose everything? And what does it take to bounce back?

Credits

Transcript

JANICE PETERSON:   Hello and welcome everyone. Nahji, let's start with you, not too along ago you had a string of restaurants called Miss Chu. How did you discover things were going south and about to collapse? 

NAHJI: Well, I was in Japan actually speaking to some potential investors when a phone call came to me from my general manager saying that, um, I think you're going to be insolvent within a matter of two or three weeks and I nearly died.  I said it’s not possible. 

JANICE PETERSON:   It would have been a huge shock? 

NAHJI: It was a huge shock. It was big, you know, like it felt surreal and, um, I thought he was actually joking.  I was waiting for the punch line, you know, and then, it didn't come, yeah. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Did you feel that up until that point you'd had a successful business? 

NAHJI: Well, I had eight stores, I had nine really, one in London, with a turnover of 25 million within seven years, so that was quite successful.  You know, like it was, my plan was do you want to eat McDonalds or do you want to eat Ms Chu?  You know, I mean I dared to dare, I dared to dream big. I never wanted to be as big as McDonalds but I thought you know, like what if you get to a point where you've got a critical mass and you've been able to influence the world to eat fast and better, and also put a refugee voice onto the global map through my brand. 

JANICE PETERSON:   That all sounds incredibly positive so why do you think it collapsed? 

NAHJI: Um, well, you know, like a series of things like why do you have a car accident? You don't plan on having a car accident. You don't plan on getting cancer. So you know, like every single day I'd be like what if I fail?  What I if fail and so I was literally in the process of setting up infrastructure and restructuring the company against failure. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And yet, you seemed quite shocked that it was falling apart. How come you weren't aware of that a bit earlier? 

NAHJI: Um, well, it wasn't supposed to happen. Had I put in the infrastructure in earlier it wouldn't have happened. I ran out of, the ATO didn't give me enough time to negotiate with them. I mean look, there are things I can't say because of litigation. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Sure. 

NAHJI:  There were, you know, like I mean people say delegate, delegate, delegate and that's exactly what I did. I did exactly what a business owner and an entrepreneur with a small to medium size business does, which was delegate and trust, and unfortunately that's where I went wrong. 

JANICE PETERSON:   So…

NAHJI: And it's all my fault of course, I don't blame anyone other than myself. 

JANICE PETERSON:   How did you try to save it? 

NAHJI: Well, I was on the phone to every, everyone I could, I was on the phone to people with money, I was on the phone to entrepreneurs, what do I do? I was on the phone to lawyers. So I mean I was in shock and, um, it was game over when the ATO froze my bank account because for me I was like we were still paying staff, we were still paying suppliers, we were still trading.

JANICE PETERSON:   Well how much was frozen? 

NAHJI: I mean, well, half a million. 

JANICE PETERSON:   How did that make you feel? 

NAHJI: Oh, I had no power left, I had lost everything. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Dan, welcome back to Insight. You've been here before.  Let's take a look. 

 

VIDEO PLAYED.

 

DAN:  My name's is Dan McLaughlin and I'm trying to become a professional golfer. I started golfing when I was thirty years old and I decided to quit my job and dedicate my life to attempting to become a professional golfer by practising for 10,000 hours.  What I wanted to do is basically take something I had absolutely no experience in and see how far you can go, and not see how far you can go as a, you know, five to twenty year old but as an adult to see if you can really succeed in a brand new field. 

VIDEO END. 

 

JANICE PETERSON:   So there you are Dan. You're thirty years old, you've had no prior experience but you thought you know what? I'm going to give professional golfing a red hot go. Did you really think you were going to pull this off? 

DAN:  I thought 100 percent. I never had a doubt that I can make it.

JANICE PETERSON:   So what happened in the end? 

DAN:  So I made it five years, 6,000 hours and I was playing a tournament and my back had been aching and it got worse throughout the day, and it was a three day event. The next day it kind of got a little worse and by the end of the third day I took a swing and just fell down and I couldn't bend over, walk up and down stairs or pretty much do anything for six months without pain. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And what do you think caused the injury then? 

DAN:  I think a little bit of overuse probably.  I'd say like obsessing and just doing way too much of one thing over and over. 

JANICE PETERSON:   The human body is probably not meant to play that amount of golf every single day only when you turn thirty, right? 

DAN:  Yeah, I had a good physical therapy work out and routine going for at least the first four years and then I started doing less of the preventative aspects and more of just swinging so it's just one side and the repetition. So I think I slowly went from an all incorporated kind of healthy pursuit of it to just going and just doing the actual game itself. 

JANICE PETERSON:   So how much of your life did you put into this pursuit? 

DAN:  I started when I was 30, quit my job so I mean that, I put that career on the sideline and I basically, I mean it became my entire life. It became what I did as my career, it became what I did, what I thought about outside of, you know, quote unquote work.  My social circle was all tied to golfing outings and friends and you know, it got down to the point where, you know, for birthdays and Christmas you just got golf balls and tees and like random like golf things. You know, when I was 25 I never would have even imagined people would have thought of giving me as a present. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And how did you feel then in the end when you were forced to quit? 

DAN:  I think, you know, it's the stages of acceptance. For a long time I was just in denial. I just kept thinking okay, well when this gets better, when this gets better, which I get back at it and you know, time just kept going and going and I was just always in this thought, in this mindset that okay, I'm just going to pick it back up and, you know, a month passed and three months passed and six months passed and then it basically took about two years to kind of realise that I wasn't going to continue that path and I had to just accept the fact that I needed to move on and make a complete life change. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Jane, you had a setback in your career but you dealt with it in a very unusual way. Tell us about that? 

JANE:  Um, yeah, so I had, with my first business I was originally working on it as a side business and working in corporate finance at Ernst & Young, and I actually quit my job to work on that business and I was so excited, I was like I'm going to make it, this is great, um,  and a month later that business failed.  And so because my parents and I emigrated from China when I was eight, they kind of like, they sacrificed, you know, everything they had, their family, friends, their jobs to move here with me. We came here, didn't speak a word of English and you know, they took up jobs as cleaners and working in factories so that they could give me more opportunities in life and with that they wanted me to have a secure job and financial security, which I had.

And so basically I threw that all way for this business and then the business failed so all of a sudden, previously I had been very academic throughout high school and uni, I already had this great job, I had everything that they could possibly have wanted, you know, for their immigrant daughter. I played 8th grade piano, like I was ticking all the boxes for them and then all of a sudden I had nothing. And it was in the middle of the global financial crisis, I couldn't get another job again, I was in debt. So because I had no other options and unfortunately because I was also living at home at the time, I just pretended to go to work every day for six months. So I put on my suit and just like, I just pretended to keep working for six months. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And how did that feel, how did that feel to do that? 

JANE:  It was terrible! it was a lot of fun, thanks for asking. No, a typical day for me would be getting up really early in the morning and let me tell you there's nothing worse than getting up early when you're not a morning person, when you are unemployed anyway. So I had to get up early, slap on my suit, have breakfast with my parents and then my mum worked in the city so I had to catch the bus into the city with her. I carried around an empty laptop bag and then I would go into the city.  I kind of did different things but I started off by going to cafes and then couldn't even, didn't want to even pay for like a coffee so I went back to the State Library which is where I used to study back in high school.  And then I got a part-time job as a receptionist and, you know, I think because it was such a crappy situation it really pushed me to try and do something else and that's when I started my current business. 

JANICE PETERSON:   During that time though it really sounds like you were the antithesis of what you used to be.  You were highly driven, you were motivated and you achieved results. How do you think you got to that point? 

JANE:  Back then? 

JANICE PETERSON:   Mmm. 

JANE:  Yeah, I think I, I think I'm, you know, growing up was very driven but mainly also because I saw what my parents sacrificed and I wanted to kind of repay them.  I wanted them to be proud. I'm an only child as well so I had all that kind of - I mean they're pretty chilled for Asian parents, if I can say, but they're still at the end of the day, like I still felt that pressure, I guess.  And so, you know, in high school I got a 99 plus UAI, I went and studied the Bachelor of Commerce which is what they wanted me to study and which is what I wanted to study. I got like a corporate job lined up for me when I was still in high school and so I was really, um, kind of like really ahead of my career and I thought I had it all.

It was never even a consideration that I would lose it all and I know that, you know, now with hindsight of course it's not as bad as it sounds but at the time it was, you know, I thought I barely have corporate experience, it's the global financial crisis, how was I going to bounce back because, you know, I couldn't just get another job and I didn't know about the entrepreneurial world.  I already failed in it.

JANICE PETERSON:   Well that first business of yours went belly up very, very quickly. Explain to us what it was? 

JANE:  Um, we ran pop up stores in underutilised locations. So we thought we saw that there's certain bars, especially in the CBD, that would be busy during the week at nights and on weekends, so we thought that during the day while they were empty we could use that space and set up a pop up store, so we would bring them traffic and because of the high traffic area, you know, it would be great for retail for traffic. And we thought we could take this great new spin to the traditional retail business model and then what I learnt was there was probably a reason that people weren't already doing it, probably because that business model doesn't work. But yeah, so we learned it the hard way, I guess. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And just tell us how long was it before that failed? 

JANE:  Um, so there was about three months of planning to set up the business, we did that for six months and then one of my business partners told me that she didn't want to do it anymore and I didn't have the confidence to be in business by myself. So when she said that we were going to fold the business, I knew that was it. Like I begged her, I begged, but when she, you know, put her foot down I knew that was it. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And did you ever think you'd like to go back to a corporate job? 

JANE:  Oh, hell no, can I say that? 

JANICE PETERSON:   So things were bad but they weren't that bad? 

JANE:  Yeah, well no, no, at the time I would have done anything to have gotten my job back but I wasn't that great at it and I knew that my previous employers wouldn't take me back, and because of the global financial crisis which at the time I was like why? And now it's such a blessing in disguise because I'm so glad that was never an option for me and it kind of forced me into doing what I'm doing now. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Mal Leyland, you and your brother Mike had one of the most successful Australian TV shows of the '70's and '80's, remember this. 

 

VIDEO PLAYED.

MUSIC PLAYED.

SONG: Ask the Leyland Brothers.

END OF VIDEO. 

 

JANICE PETERSON:   They don't make TV titles like they used to? 

MAL:  I miss the Kombi. 

JANICE PETERSON:   I bet you do. After the success of that show, you and your brother decided that you would start a theme park called Leyland Brothers World. Why was that? 

MAL:  That idea came out of the fact that we had visited just about every man-made tourist park in Australia and filmed it and saw how successful they were. But we also knew that television couldn't last forever, people have their day and then they're history.  Then we thought perhaps the idea would be better if we built our own place, learning from all the people that we'd met and we got on to the people that we'd me at Sea World and so forth and got good ideas from them. They were very helpful and it actually worked quite well except for one problem, we didn't have enough money to build the entire thing without borrowing money and we put in our own money, which was around about 6 million, and we borrowed another three, just over three.

At the time we borrowed it we thought the interest rates were ridiculous because they were 12 percent - that was horrific we thought, but within eighteen months we were then paying 28 percent. That was horrific and of course we had to find about $2,000 a day just to pay the interest only. And we were managing it, we were turning over about 3.6 million a year. Employing quite a lot of people, we had twenty, how many, sixty odd people together, sixty two people were working for us and in the end we missed one payment and the bank, who shall remain nameless for the purpose of this program, seven days later took over the whole place and threw us out. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Gosh, it happened very quickly? 

MAL:  It was very quick and although I don't feel badly about the fact, I feel badly about the way they did it, not so much they had the right to do it because we did miss one payment, we had no options but to accept the reality of the risk we'd taken. The risks didn't work out. But we'd taken a lot of risks in life prior to that. We'd crossed the Simpson Desert for the first time by vehicle back in 1966 and that was a risk to our lives as much as anything else and we went from Darwin to Sydney in an 18 foot open boat, the longest open boat journey in the world at the time.  They were risks but they were calculated risks and we took those risks. This was another calculated risk and we took that, but it wasn't that that hurt us, it was being treated like we'd done something criminal and that's how we were treated.

JANICE PETERSON:   Can you remember exactly then when it was very evident that things were going to collapse? 

MAL:  It was obvious that it couldn't continue with the downturn. We put everything we had on the line. If I was to redo it, I would do it differently.

JANICE PETERSON:   But it was more than just losing the theme park in the end, wasn't it, there was a bit more at stake? 

MAL:  Well yes, we had everything, everything we owned, you know, we had left us basically without anything at all. Lorraine had a house in her name but there was a big loan on it, when we finally ended up selling it, we ended up with a total of about, was it 7…

LORRAINE: $7,000.  

MAL:  $7,000 is what we had left. Well Lorraine had left to be perfectly accurate about it, yeah. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And you went in with 6 million? 

MAL:  Yes, yeah.  It was a bit of a shock, takes a bit of adjusting. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Yeah, that's a big fall? 

MAL:  It is.  We went to the markets, for example, we had no money so we'd sell our clothes. We had stuff that was given to us as wedding presents, like cut glass and stuff like that and our clothes, our shoes, we'd take them to the markets at Mt Gravatt in Queensland and we'd turn up at 4 o'clock in the morning in the dark and set up a little stall and clean all this stuff up and sell it and you get $2 for this and $3 for that and at the end of the day we'd count up the money, or Lorraine did, she was cashier, you see, she used to handle all the money, still does, and she'd add it all up and I'd say have we enough to fill tank on the truck? She says no, you can get half a tank of fuel and that would have to last us the whole week. The next week we'd be back again with another lot of stuff.

I used to go up to this fruit stall there, he used to sell his seconds, and I'd go up and I'd have 4 or $5 or $10, or whatever I could afford to buy. And one day I went up to him and he said, I said what you have got today? He said oh I've got a few. He said how much have you got?  I said I've got about $8 and he says oh, I want to say thank you to you because he had a strong Italian accent, or is it Greek or something? I'm not quite sure but it was a strong accent, and he said you know, I used to watch your shows, I know who you are, I said oh really? He says yes, and he says when we came to Australia we used your shows to learn all about our new country. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Fantastic. 

MAL:   I said oh, well that's interesting and he said yeah and he brought out this big bag of fruit and vegetables and gave them to me and I gave him the money.  I said there's not enough money there.   He said that's okay, he says you gave me much more than that, he says, and every week from then on when I went to see him he'd always give me much more than it was worth.  And his encouragement and what he said, those sorts of people, they made us feel so good. They really gave us a boost. 

JANICE PETERSON:   So tell us then what that was like for you? How did that all feel? 

MAL:  I felt like I'd failed my family badly and that hurt me more than anything else. I remember this afternoon when we sat down on the side of the road with my daughter who at the time wasn't very old, she was about seventeen and we just had to explain to her that we couldn't afford to buy some KFC and she didn't understand. She didn't know and we had to tell her why we were in this position. That was one of the hardest things. We actually sat together on the gutter and all cried together.

JANICE PETERSON:   Paul, you played more than eighty games for the Socceroos, you were captain for six years and then you played a game against Canada in 1993. What happened next? 

PAUL:  You know, I think I'd played about 88 games for the Socceroos without being dropped. I'd be that pretty prestigious moment of being the only captain ever dropped from the national team because the coach said:  Come here you, I don't like your attitude, you're whingeing and complaining about the training ground and you're not the player I picked as the captain, you're dropped. Now the first thing I did, and it might not appear to be a major life changing moment in the big picture but right then, right there, that was my life. I'd spent seven years as a Socceroo to be told that.

JANICE PETERSON:   What was that like for you? 

PAUL:  It was humiliating. I was embarrassed.  I prided myself on my attitude and my work ethic, so to be told that your attitude sucks and you're not playing for your country anymore is like wow. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Ron, you're a sculptor, cast your mind back to 1978, that's when you landed a huge commission to deliver a piece of art for a square, a new square for Melbourne.  Just how much was at stake for you at that point. 

RON:  Um, sort of everything. Um, there was a bad reaction to the sculpture which I did for everybody's pleasure, it was in the middle of a blue stone structure square and it was a bright yellow sculpture, I was bringing a bit of warmth and light to the square and to Melbourne, because I come from Sydney, and, and then I, the reaction from a very conservative power block in Melbourne accused me of frightening horses and turning small children blind and, um, so that came as a surprise to me when.

NAHJI:  Are you the Yellow Peril man? 

RON:  Yeah, I'm the Yellow Peril man. 

NAHJI: Why it's the most amazing piece of art in Australia. 

RON:  That's very…

NAHJI: That's not a failure, it still is the most amazing piece of art. It's just perception, it's what you think. 

RON:  The name, the name was a little it, that was the nickname by the way. 

NAHJI: I love it, The Yellow Peril.

JANICE PETERSON:   The piece is actually Vault, can I just throw that out there, yeah. 

RON:  But its final launch place after three moves was out in front of ACCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Melbourne, but I really, the pain, there was confusion.

JANICE PETERSON:   Ron, you're trying to bring a bit of sunshine to Melbourne and yet you're facing this chorus of criticism about your work which had positive intentions. How did that make you feel? 

RON:  Oh, a little confused. Particularly in the beginning it was quite hurtful, um, and then in time, and there were also a reasonable amount of people who were very enthusiastic about it so it wasn't black and white.  It was a talking centre and in a way it brought great attention to me so it really turned out to be very positive and the negative aspect of that in the early stages was painful but in the end it really became very positive. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Ron, even the Queen weighed into this. She said, reportedly, that the piece should be painted a more agreeable colour. 

RON:  I'm not sure it was the Queen, it sounds something like Prince Phillip would have said actually rather than the Queen. 

NAHJI: Take that as a compliment. 

RON:  I've been the brunt of some others of his so yes, I'm used to that by now. 

JANICE PETERSON:   In any case, the council in the end decided it had to go.

 

VIDEO PLAYED.

VOICEOVER:  3 am Sunday morning may seem like a bit of an odd time for a removalist job but such was the case for the dismantling and relocating of the Yellow Peril.  At a cost to the city of 29 and a half thousand dollars, contractors moved into the city square under a veil of darkness early yesterday morning trying to get the massive structure out before the media, unions and public turned up to see the operation.

This morning though Melbourne woke up to these headlines and it now seems that a row is set to flare again as the Builders Labourers Federation had banned the removal until discussions had taken place between the union and city administrators. And so after two and a half years, the $70,000 Yellow Peril has finally ended up here in muddy Batman Park. 

END OF VIDEO. 

 

JANICE PETERSON:   So there it is, at muddy Batman Park. How did that feel? 

RON:  Not good. Now Batman Park is a sort of a respectable place. Then it was reclaimed shunting yards near the railway and the sculpture was meant to be engaged with in a human level, regardless of its size, and Batman Park was isolating it. You saw it mostly from freeways and that's not how I thought it should have been viewed. That was one of the more upsetting things.

JANICE PETERSON:   Nahji, how did other people react to the news that you were losing your business? 

NAHJI:  The trolls came out, and then there were people unfortunately who were like oh serves her right, you know, unfortunately for me I felt a little bit like oh, here we go, Australia's actually now celebrating my failure.

JANICE PETERSON:   It was very much in the public eye, wasn't it, you mentioned the papers had picked it up? 

NAHJI:  It was very much in the public eye. 

JANICE PETERSON:   And your identity, your name was attached to the business, even your face was attached to the brand and now the public is seeing the downfall of all of that. How did that affect you? 

NAHJI: For me I didn't want the public to see that a Vietnamese person and a Vietnamese entrepreneur and a Vietnamese refugee had failed. It wasn't about me. I wanted Australia to be proud of what I had created which was, Vietnamese food done well and fast, saleable, something that no one had done before.  This was before Uber Eats, before Deliveroo. I was doing electric bike deliveries before everyone else did.  I was packaging it up.  I had an app before everyone else had an app. I was on-line and Australia needed me. I actually really thought that, Australia needed a really good voice to say hey look, everyone just chill out, newling webling, that's funny, come on. You know, you told me to assimilate and I have but I'll take it a bit further and that's what I stood for.

JANICE PETERSON:   So Dan, you took a lot of people with you, didn't you, on your journey through your blog?  What was it like having to tell them you'd had this major setback? 

DAN:  Well that was by far the hardest part. I mean for me I was just waiting and waiting to, you know, get better so I could go back on the journey and people emailed me, even this morning I wake up and I get an email from somebody, like you haven't blogged in two years, like what's going on? And you know, every day and you just feel like every day you're letting somebody down because it did turn into, you know, this is my personal journey but then it became kind of a group effort and when I was injured or when I couldn't practice, I felt like it wasn't just me that was, you know, on the side lines, it was this whole kind of just large group of people.

So just not being able to have any positive upbeat, updates, like not being able to write anything and no progress and, you know, just I try to write but like oh, injured again, there's still no updates, still can't do anything.  And people asking me to write more, write more, what are you doing, what's the injury like, and I just got to a point where I didn't know what to say and I just couldn't update anything and I have all these emails and actually they started turning really negative and you know, I felt bad and I didn't know what to do. But people started accusing me of like faking an injury and like why would I, like there's no money on the line? You know that was the hardest part, just trying to not let down people who are going along on the ride. 

JANICE PETERSON:   So where did that leave you then? 

DAN:   So you know, it was about a two year process of just kind of going through all the emotions and understanding where I was in life and what I needed to do next. 

JANICE PETERSON:   For you, Nahji, let's talk about the people you knew, how did they react to the demise of the business? 

NAHJI:  Shock, denial, how can it be? For some people, I think I found that some people started to disassociate themselves with me because they didn't want to be associated with failure. So I soon found out over the next twelve months and even like the next two years who my true friends were and that was really interesting. 

JANICE PETERSON:   How about for you Jane, what happened to the relationship with the friend who initially coaxed you into that first business? 

JANE:  Yeah, so I think for the first year we didn't really talk and then we, I think, I think as my business grew and as she started getting back on her feet getting back in the corporate world, we kind of rekindled our friendship and I think it's like kind of like all's fair in love and war and business when no one's actually done anything wrong.  Like she, like she didn't want to do it anymore and that's fair and I, for me to have convinced her to try and keep going with the business when her heart wasn't in it, you know, I'm actually so glad because I would have just, kept digging and kept going with it and it's just the business model wouldn't have worked. So I'm so glad that she, at the time I felt like she screwed me over but I'm so glad it happened. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Okay, you've come out the other side? 

JANE:  Yes. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Mal, you of course enjoyed enormous success with the TV show. Did you find people treated you differently once the theme park had collapsed? 

MAL:  Yes. When you go broke, really broke, you know who your true friends are. I reckon if you go to your grave with one good friend you've done alright in life and I found out, I had a phone call from a bloke who I used to know very well, he worked in television as well, had his own business, and Barry rang up and he said:  Mate, I know you're having a rough time but if you need a house to live in, I've got one, I've got an editing studio if you need anything and I've got the equipment if you want to do anything. You're welcome here as long as you like. It was the only phone call I ever had like that from anybody.

Other people who I thought were my friends suddenly no longer contacted us. Suddenly we had some sort of disease so it seemed and we were on our own. Luckily the most important person in my life, Lorraine, stuck with me. Well I wouldn't have blamed here if she hadn't, I think I might have died if that had happened but the stresses that it brought to me manifested themselves in other ways. I ended up with a cancer out of it which the doctor is convinced was the result of the stress and… 

JANICE PETERSON:   And do you believe that too? 

MAL:  I do.

JANICE PETERSON:   Why risk failure? 

MAL:  Because life's a bit dull if you don't take a few risks.  I mean climbing up a tree when you're a child is a risk but you do it because it's exciting and you want to prove something to yourself. Well, we've done the same thing throughout our lives, everything we took on has had a risk attached to it. Most of the time we pull it off and occasionally we didn't. That was a rather big crash for us of course and getting back on our feet again afterwards hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been quite difficult, but that's not what it's about. It's about the fact that you do get up and get on. I mean.

NAHJI: I think we have something in common here, all of us, it's that we weren't afraid of failure. We were afraid of not doing something. 

MAL:  Yeah, well Walt Disney…

NAHJI: I was petrified of not having done something with my life so it wasn't actually let's do something and what if it fails?  That was after.  It was more like oh my God, I haven't done anything, that was for me like petrifying. 

MAL:  When Walt Disney went bankrupt several times before he made the success that he is.   I mean he's gone Micky's still here. 

DAN:  What I did too, they didn't want, I was more afraid of regret than failure. 

NAHJI:  Exactly. 

DAN:  To me doing it was what you needed to do, what I needed to do. 

JANE: Yes, that's right. Everyone not taken right?  I mean for me nothing is scarier than still being an accountant. 

NAHJI: Nothing is scarier for me than being stuck in a bank. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Nahji, after the collapse of Miss Chu, do you feel like you've bounced back or you're getting there? 

NAHJI: Um, well it's like death, you know, do you ever get over it? It gets less and less painful. I'm still healing of course. Did I bounce back? Yes, I had to. I started a new restaurant very, very recently called Charlie Boy. It's a yum cha house, it's very different, you know, I did something very new again, something that no one had done which was yum cha seven days a week, day and night. It was a big risk.  Will it work? I don't know. For me I have bounced back because I have a life, it's less stressful, it's not as big as Miss Chu.  I have much less income so for me that is my success, you know, that's for me. I have my life and my health and my acumen and I'm a creative and I now have the luxury of time to create.  When I was Miss Chu, I didn't have that. I was always like stressing out. There were so many what ifs, what if I fail? So it feels like a blessing in disguise a little bit that I now have a second chance at it and I've grown a lot. I've learnt so much, you know, I've learnt to listen and learn, yeah. 

MAL:  You never stop learning. 

NAHJI:  You never stop learning. 

MAL:  You go to your grave and I think the very last thing you'll learn is what happens. That's the last lesson. 

NAHJI: Yeah.  There's one thing I won't regret though, I won't regret not having done it. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Mal, how about for you? Have you been able to recover after losing everything? 

MAL:  Financially or emotionally? 

JANICE PETERSON:   A bit of both. 

MAL:  Financially, we're nowhere near where we were but that's not that important I don't think. I think what is important is being financially comfortable enough to live the life you want to live. Emotionally, yes, that's long gone now, it's in the past. It raises itself occasionally.  Even coming on this program was a decision that I had to decide whether I should share this with everybody but I felt it was important to do so.

JANICE PETERSON:   So just tell us what you've learnt from all of this. 

MAL:  Never give up is very important. No matter what life throws at you, you can't afford to let it get you down. In the end, the thing that will keep you going is you and nothing else. You have to have confidence that if you believe in what you can do, you've got to get and have a go. I've met people that have had businesses that have been extremely successful but they locked themselves into believing that that business can't function without them and they end up never retiring. But they dream of it.

They think of getting their caravan and hooking it on the new four wheel drive and one day going around Australia and seeing it, and then when they get to old age and they finally decide to do it, they don't make it. They find they're no longer physically fit enough. They get out there and they turn up in some remote beautiful part of the Kimberley or whatever and then when they get there they can't walk up the track to go and see the beautiful view that they've dreamed of doing for thirty years, and when they finally get there they can't do it. So the important thing is to grab the bull by the horns at any stage of life and give it a shake. Life is like that. 

JANICE PETERSON:  Paul, we're going to bring you back into it at this point. Did being dropped as captain of the Socceroos change your outlook? 

PAUL:  Absolutely, yeah, never take anything for granted. 

JANICE PETERSON:  What was that like for you?

PAUL:  Wow!  I mean I sat on the bench being substituted, but to not even start a game, it was, it was humiliating, so as I say, I sat there and watched that game in Edmonton and then we came back to Sydney for the second game, but in between times I thought working hard has not really got me anywhere, I'm just going to ask the assistant coach what I'm doing wrong and he told me. He said basically what you're doing you're getting the ball but then you're starting to think what you're going to do with it after you get it. So you're enthusiasm's there but you're not thinking about what you're going to before you get the ball.  So I worked on that for the next couple of days and I got dropped for the second game against Canada. We're talking about World Cup qualifiers so now we're in this country and I'm the only Socceroo captain ever to be dropped.

Fortunately for me the coach said:  Look, I want you to go on for the last fifteen minutes and was my moment, right? So for fifteen minutes, I touched every blade of grass on that ground.  We went into extra time, I was still on the ground, still making lots of tackles, being enthusiastic, and then it came to a penalty shootout, right, which is quite nerve wracking at the Sydney Football Stadium, 45,000 people, penalty shootout, and we hadn't done any practice. So the coach said right, who's taking the first one and I went me. And then I thought you idiot, what have you done? This is the World Cup qualifier, you've just been dropped for two games but that was the moment I guess I learned that life lesson that you know what?  It's all gone wrong and it's embarrassing but hey, step up, you're the Socceroo captain for very good reasons and that was that, I don't know, setting an example and I took the first penalty.

JANICE PETERSON:   Let's take a look. 

 

VIDEO PLAYED. 

COMMENTATOR:  Paul Wade, and well taken. Quick penalty.

VIDEO END. 

 

JANICE PETERSON:  Amazing stuff. 

PAUL:  Can you lip read? I got a phone call from my mum, don't see you swearing on the television again. 

JANICE PETERSON:   So there you were, converting a shoot-out in a huge World Cup qualifier, how did you feel then? 

PAUL:  I think it was that moment when I said I'll take it that was the defining moment. The walk from the half way line to the penalty spot could have been ten kilometres because the whole time you're thinking right, which way am I going to go? Which way's he thinking I'm going to go? What's going to happen if I miss this? There are so many things that go through your mind but what I did do is I put the ball down on the penalty spot and I looked in that corner and then I looked to the ball and looked at that corner, and I knew he was looking at me because he was thinking he's going to kick it the other way.  Well I kicked it right in that corner so the walk back for me was, as you can see with that fist punch there, that was wow, and from that day on, I got my shirt back and the next game for the Socceroos, we played against Argentina and I marked Diego Maradona, that was my moment that I went yes, Paul Wade is back to what he was.  But, it was just wow, mind blowing. 

JANICE PETERSON:    For you, Jane, obviously you had that failure the first time around with the business. What did you learn from that that you were able to take into the next business? 

JANE:  Yeah, so from the first business, well not only did I learn a valuable lesson in failure, in that it's not the end of the world, I learnt that like we as humans are much tougher than we think and we can bounce back.  But you know, I learnt so much more about business. I think at the end of the day it's funny, I have a degree in commerce but the best, but the money that I lost in my business and the lesson one year spent on my business was the best possible, you know, business course, crash course I would have done. 

JANICE PETERSON:   I've got to ask you about your parents. 

JANE:  Yes. 

JANICE PETERSON:   When did he you finally get the courage to fess up and tell them that your first business had failed and in fact, you didn't have that corporate job? 

JANE:  So it actually took me almost two years and so I mean, I don't know, maybe my parents are a bit gullible you could say, so after six months I'd moved into, my boyfriend moved down from Brisbane to Sydney, so he got his first corporate job, rented his first apartment and then I just showed up. Like we never had a let's move into together talk, I just showed up because, so I can drop the parents charade.  So that was great. And then so at that point we started making, by that point we were getting close to a million dollars a month and you know, I had a warehouse team of twenty, thirty people and it was then, I was like oh, you know what? I can see all the stock sitting there, like worst case scenario I can sell that stock and I'll be okay, it's time to tell the parents. So I took them out to dinner, I took them somewhere iconic, the Centrepoint Tower restaurant and I told them I've paid off your mortgage, I've bought you a car. 

NAHJI:  Amazing. 

JANE:  Don't get angry, I quit my job at EY because I told them that I was, at first I told them I was working and then I was told them I was on unpaid leave. They're pretty gullible, anyway, they only have one child, they're pretty gullible, and they're like wow, I can't believe. I told them I did that in July and they're like well come you did that last year?  That's very brave and I was like no, no, I actually did it two years ago and they were like how did you have, you know, like the balls to do that? And I said well, you know, you took the biggest risk of all. Like they took the biggest risk of all to come here and so you know, they've got that in them and that's where I got it from. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Tell us exactly what the business model is, what do you do? 

JANE:  So we sell women's fashion on-line and um, we, the business is driven through really great marketing, really good social media and really good product. It's very, you know, it's a very simple business model and I think we've just done it really well. We have a really good team and I’m doing over 30 million dollars so everything that attributed to that failure, I have learnt from it and it’s now what’s driven success of this business now.

JANICE PETERSON:   Ron, how has your experience with Vault, almost forty years ago, how's that impacting on your work today? 

RON:  I'm head of sculpture at the National Art School and that's one of the great institutions where art is really taught well and I'm too old to be retrained so I'm going to keep that day job.

JANICE PETERSON:   Well you're working with students now, what are you teaching them about success and failure? 

RON:  They need to be encouraged to develop their own sensibility and love in the position that they're in, and you need to reinforce that all the time. 

JANICE PETERSON:   Nahji, do you think there's a stigma attached to failure? 

NAHJI: Oh, definitely and I think more so in Australia than anywhere else in the world. We should actually be celebrating failure. Imagine if we had a business model that celebrated failure?  Imagine how more successful businesses would be if we, for example, in a room, imagine if I was the boss of, okay, let's say your business, our businesses, whatever?  I'm going to celebrate the employee that comes up with an idea that, and admits to really fast that it's going to fail. Okay, one, saving time. Two, saving money, okay, celebrate the person for owning up to the fact that it's not going to work, move on, let's go to the next thing. Then we might actually get somewhere. So you know, like let's celebrate failure. 

JANE:  We actually ask that as an interview question and I think when people can't answer, if anything it shows a lack of self-awareness which I think is a much bigger problem than having failed. 

NAHJI: Yes, exactly. 

JANE:  But I think actually, funnily enough when we were just talking before we started, I think we were a bit like, we were quite nervous and saying so how did you fail? Even though we know we're here to talk about failure, it was still like, so you know, so I think there's still that stigma but I think things like this help people.

JANICE PETERSON:   Dan, where do you stand on all of this? 

DAN:  I agree with everything, so I have a company and we were writing out our values and one of the values was going to be fail, pass, fail often, but we decided to change that to fail forward and this idea that you can't move forward unless you fail because if you're not failing you're not trying anything.

JANICE PETERSON:   Well that is all we have time for here but let's keep talking on Twitter and on Facebook.