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Not just common sense


Not just common sense

Richard O’Leary meets a billionaire and learns the secret formula for running a successful business.

I had coffee with a billionaire the other day. Not bragging, just saying.

His wealth is neither here nor there to me, but it does prove his attitude to business works – for him at least.

The secret formula? T-I-L.




He explained it this way.

You can’t half trust someone. You either trust them or you don’t. Only do business with people you trust.

A person has integrity or they don’t. Only deal with people who have integrity.

And loyalty? Always employ someone who is really good at their job and 100 per cent loyal over someone who is excellent at their job and only 85 per cent loyal.

Seems to make sense, and it has served him well.

Now some people may say all of those things he was talking about were just plain old common sense. But I dislike that phrase. I think the term common sense is often used by people who know how to do something and look down at others who can’t do it.

My natural aversion to the expression reaches way back to my childhood when my father used to explain away anything that he would do, and we kids couldn’t do.

Fixing a chair.

Hanging a door.

Building a house.

It helps when you are a carpenter, which my dad was and still is.

His ability to do those things was the result of being taught, trying it himself, making mistakes, and learning from them.

By writing it off as common sense he produced three boys who can’t fix a chair, hang a door or build a house (to be fair to him, we didn’t show a hell of a lot of interest either).

This means, all these years later, when he comes to our houses he ends up doing all those odd jobs that accumulate over the months.

And I have to say over that coffee with one of Australia’s richest men, he never mentioned common sense once. He did talk about hard work, taking risks and making the most of good luck when it comes your way.

And of course T.I.L.

Which may explain Voltaire’s pithy “Common sense is not so common”.

Although as in most things, I prefer Einstein’s theory on it: “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18”.

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Richard O’Leary is a journalist, a political advisor and a father who knows there’s a deeper meaning to life but struggles to find it.

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