Dick Smith inspires Loyola students


Business legend, globe-trotting adventurer and all-round nice guy Dick Smith dazzled Loyola Senior High School students this week by landing his helicopter on their back oval, and inspiring them with a life-changing message they will never forget.

After walking from his chopper across the football field to the cheers of students, the former Australian of the Year shared his six secrets to success that work both in business and in our personal lives.

Mr Smith said these same six rules helped turn his $600 start up, which became Dick Smith Electronics with more than 50 stores around Australia, into a $20 million empire.

Principal Catherine Larkin said the school community considers Dick Smith a true friend of Loyola and always appreciates the time he gives us.

“Our students are young men and women of integrity and honesty and they see these same qualities in Dick Smith when he shares his experiences with them,” she said.  

Student Representative Council (SRC) President Nia Pohahau said Mr Smith was such a genuine inspiration to us. 

“We are so grateful for the time he spent answering our questions about leadership in the real world,” she said.

Fellow SRC Student President Matthew Ward, who is studying Electro-technology In the Trade Training Centre, said Mr Smith made such a strong impression. 

“It was such an honour to have Dick Smith present a speech to Loyola students and he made such a spectacular entrance! It was a great day,” she said.

Mr Smith addressed all the students and set the tone of his talk by explaining why his former electronics business collapsed after he sold it, and encouraged students to learn from their mistakes.

‘I started my business 50 years ago and it’s recently gone broke because they (the new owners) opened too many shops. You have obviously heard about greed and this was an example of this,’ he said.

‘I sold it with 50 shops and they grew it to 100 with thousands of jobs. It was too much, and in the end greed will get you, and there is a lesson there.’

Mr Smith left high school at 15 to start an apprenticeship because he hated the classroom and performed poorly. But after three weeks working in a factory he disliked that environment more than school so he returned and finished his leaving certificate. He strongly recommended to the students to get qualifications, no matter what they are and not necessarily a university degree.

‘I’ve employed thousands of people and if two people are equal, I look at their qualifications because that means someone has put in hard work to achieve that qualification,’ he said.

‘But just because you don’t have major qualifications (like a university degree) don’t let that put you off. I just had my leaving certificate (I never went to uni) … and also my Baden Powell medal from Boy Scouts because I have loved and still love the outdoors,’ he said smiling to the young people.

Mr Smith spoke of his humble beginnings in business, starting it when he was only 24 with $600 of his own money and $10 from his young wife, Pip, who was only 19. About 20 years later he sold it for $20 million. 

But he said by world standards, he would have been voted the most unlikely to succeed at school “because I wasn’t very smart” as a teenager.

But then he had his ‘Eureka’ moment. He discovered his real passion of fixing electronic devices; things like car radios or two-way radios used by a taxi drivers back in the day. 

Mr Smith was also a terrific promoter and his antics captured the attention of the public resulting in more awareness about his business. 

An example of his marketing genius was shown one April Fools Day in the 1970s, when he towed an ‘iceberg’ into Sydney Harbour that morning to the fascination of Australian people. 

TV helicopters soared above filming the “ice berg” which was made of fibreglass of course, and morning radio commentators could not believe what they were seeing. It is still known today as one of the world’s greatest hoaxes.    

'Money is not success. You are successful if you have put yourself in a position where you have the freedom to do what you want to do,' he said. 

'One of my friends lived his life as a park ranger, he never had much money but he had a life I dreamed of. And we live in a country where this is the best place to do this. We have won the lottery of life. 'Ive traveled I’ve travelled to 200 countries in my helicopter and have seen them … ' 

A good leader gets results, and not by showing off and impressing your staff; by being humble and kind and taking your ego out of the way.

Mr Smith said he would come up with an idea to fix a problem then call a meeting. He would remain silent as his team members would make suggestions, and almost every time, someone would come up with the same idea.

'Then I would say, that’s John’s idea or Isabella’s idea, which was true. Nothing motivates a team more than knowing that one of the staff came up with the idea.

'A lot of leaders are insecure and think they have to show they are in charge. But real leadership is judged by the results we get.’

Mr Smith revealed how he then started a new business venture - Australian Geographic magazine, which he later sold for more than $40 million.

'I felt quite guilty starting this magazine because I can’t write for nuts, can’t photograph very well and can’t do beautiful artwork very well. 

'So I employed people who could do these things very well and they made the money. I just showed good leadership, through the points I shared before.   

'All of that $40 million has been given away because I didn’t need the money.’

Mr Smith encouraged the students to always live in balance and use their political influence in the coming years to make Australia a more balanced community.

‘Beware when politicians use the word ‘growth’. And then add the word perpetual growth because that’s the capitalist system I’ve done so well out of but this system is not balanced like nature is.

'When you hear the word 'growth' replace it with 'greed' because that’s what it is.    

'We don’t want to want to become like locusts, which breed in their billions, and then later all starve to death.' 

He then gave the example of sulphur-crested cockatoos, which have maintained their same numbers over thousands of years.

In closing, Mr Smith encouraged the students to be kind.    
'Some of you will do very well, and most of you will live well, but you won’t be millionaires but some of you will be,' he said.

'Do the right thing, and the right things will come to you. Some say it’s karma and some say it’s God and it’s all of these things. But you know when you do the right thing, and the wrong thing.

'Just do the right thing.'

Dick Smith’s six rules of success are:

1. Ask advice

2. Communicate the best you can

3. Keep things simple

4. Be honest in everything you do

5. Be enthusiastic, and 

6. Work hard
Posted By By CathEd Parra at 5/05/2017 10:11:15 AM

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