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What I wish I knew: not fearing failure and finding your confidence

By Charlotte Woolford
Speech bubble with the words 'what I wish I knew'

Sales & Marketing Professional and General Manager of Australian Liquor Marketers, Jeremy Goodale talks about mastering success by learning from his leaders and mentors.

He believes you shouldn’t fear failure, nor dismiss the idea of seeing a professional to talk about your feelings and challenges when times get tough. Jeremy is a big believer in learning on the job and applying the 70/20/10 learning method.

Find out how he uses his skills, confidence and resilience to be the best version of himself personally and professionally.

Who do you think of when you hear the word success and how do they inspire you?

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to cross paths and meet a fantastic guy called Paul O’Brien who at the time was building a portfolio of successful hospitality venues.

Over the past decade I have watched  him build  a very successful hotel, tourism and hospitality business in Australia called Red Rock Leisure. 

I’ve got know Paul well and for someone who is so busy and so successful the amount of time he has given me over the years with career and business advice is something I am debt to him for.

He’s one of them most successful people I know, he isn’t materialistic and is incredibly humble. Through calculated investments and employing great people around him, he also seems to be in such control of his own destiny and that to me, is so inspirational.

How important do you think it is to be continually learning and developing professionally?

I’m a firm believer in the concept of 70/20/10, where you learn 70% of your skills on the job, 20% through in-company training and 10% by taking external courses. I’ve learned most of my skills through practical experiences in the workplace, however, in April, I will undertake a 4-day Melbourne Business School course on Futures Thinking and development. I’m looking forward to going back to a classroom environment and learning in a formal, structured way.

How important do you think it is to work in an environment with hands-on leadership and do you believe in mentorship?

I believe it’s so important to work in an environment where there is someone who you can look up to for advice, whether that’s a mentor or just someone who can share tips with you on how to live your life better.

I’ve worked for terrific leaders who are great at their jobs and I admired their skills and learned a lot from them. One leader, friend and mentor, who really shaped my work ethic today, is Denis Brown, who I met 10 years ago working at Diageo, where he was the sales director. He sets such high standards through his work ethic, and commanded respect that encouraged everyone to want to reach those standards. Over time and working with him in a couple of different businesses I found this style of leadership motivated and inspired me to work hard.

It drove me crazy because I felt like a greyhound chasing the hare in a race. The hare never gets caught unless it malfunctions, and Denis never faltered. As the greyhound, it was always a stretch to catch the hare and reach those standards, but when I reflect on the three different jobs where I had Denis as my leader, I realise he’s really helped me to where I am now.

Because he set the bar so high, I now do the same with my team without even thinking about it.

 I think if you cant be inspired, you’ll never be stretched to reach your potential.

What kind of books do you like to read that change you personally or professionally?

I love books where someone has come from hardship. It could be that they grew up in a family with low resources and money, or they weren’t the best at what they did but through resilience and hard work they became successful. I take a lot of learnings from different books, but those types are my favourite.

Are you a goal setter and how important do you think they are?

No, I’m not. During the early part of my career I was a month-to-month sales person, which hadn’t necessarily forced me to set longer goals. Although I’m not against setting goals, I prefer short-term ambitions, because they keep me excited and motivated. It’s most likely down to the fact that most of my jobs have been so fast-paced, that I never know what will happen in the next week or even 6 months.

Do you believe failure can be positive and lead to future success?

There have been times in the past where I’ve failed.  That then helped me realise I needed to improve a particular skill and accept that I wasn’t ready for what I was getting myself into at that time. For example, in one business I trusted and supported people that clearly were struggling in their roles, and I let it go on for too long. If that happened again now, I would go into the situation with a different outlook and plan.

I believe you need to have good and bad experiences to gain experience. My failures have taught me and made me better at my job. People seem to fear failure or fear taking on new challenges as this might be detrimental in keeping their job or gaining the next promotion. They become risk adverse which is dangerous.

Highly dynamic environments need people who are confident in their abilities to take risks, in my opinion it’s the resilient people and those that challenge the status quo who come out the other side.

Have you always been confident, or has it developed over time?

It’s always been a natural thing for me to stay confident and positive and focus on finding the solution, rather than focus on the problem, which is an important trait in gaining business success. However, I do have moments of low confidence, but I work through those times and not let them affect me.

What are your coping mechanisms for difficult situations?

A couple of years, during a time where I was becoming overwhelmed with tasks, I learned the best way of dealing with it, which was to see a professional and talk about my feelings. I think in the world we’re living in now where mental health is becoming very relevant and a more talked about topic, it’s more acceptable to get help. It’s nice having someone to speak freely to who isn’t connected to my work or family and who can listen to my problems and counsel me on my options. And I find that those options give me creative ideas that help me work my way back to a good place.

What advice would you give your 21 self?

Travel with your work. If the opportunity comes along to take an interstate or overseas posting, take it and get out of your comfort zone. The growth you get from moving abroad and the commitment it shows to the business you work within, results in higher levels of trust between you and your employers and it grows you personally and professionally.

Also, asking your boss questions like “What can I do to make your life easier?”, creates a different kind of conversation and the level of respect goes up.

Finally, recognise the best person in your industry, find out what they do to be so successful, work as closely as possible with them, and then stretch your yourself to overtake them!


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