The last few days have been some of the most
difficult I have ever had to go through, and I know this is equally hard for
the rest of my family. However, dad always looked for the positive in every
situation, no matter how dire, and he certainly would want us to focussing on
the positives right now. In hindsight there was really no better way for dad to
leave us. He was the centre of attention at a lovely restaurant doing what he
did best.I really won’t be able to do a
great man like him justice, but for the next few minutes, I would like to tell
you a little about the man who I have had the absolute pleasure of calling dad
for the last twenty eight years.
My dad has always been there for my family, doing
everything possible to make all of our lives that little bit more special. As
well as my family, I see many people in this room who he has also affected for
the better. The most important lesson he ever taught me was. If you want to
succeed in business, you need those around you to be successful, only then will
you truly succeed. Just like at home, dad always did what he could, to help
anyone that worked for him, and truly believed in giving inexperienced staff
opportunities where others wouldn’t. He was always there when any of us, family
or otherwise, needed any help or advice, and nothing was ever too much trouble
for him, no matter how busy he appeared.
For such a busy man, he was very persistent and
never gave up. His blog is a small demonstration of his persistence, and over
the last four and a half years he wrote 1,649 individual articles. He
originally started it after a bet with a colleague who bet him a bottle of the
whiskey of his choice, if he was able to write a daily blog of at least 700
words for a one year period, with five days grace for travel and other
eventualities. He well and truly won this bet. His blog is something my family
and I are so thankful for. It is a collection of his thoughts, and is filled
with advice, insights, and reminders of who he was. It is surprising the number
of emails I have received, and comments on his blog over the last few days.
From people who, although never met
my dad, felt like they knew him through his daily musings, and just like me,
their morning coffee ritual has changed forever.
As well as a collection of his thoughts, his blog
was also a place which will forever provide me with a laugh. Particularly his
commentary on Australianpolitics, the
people that make this up, and the nicknames dad had for his good friends in the
Australian Labor Party……
For someone who has worked in the technology
industry his entire life, he wasn’t the most technologicallyliterate person around. Often having quarrels
with his various laptops at home, and the TV, and despite the fact he ran a
telecommunications company never used a mobile phone and thought Iphone’s were
Speaking of entertainment, you might be interested
to know that my well read father, was a fan of action movies. Some of his
favourites included the first Indiana Jones movie. Where Eagles Dare with Richard Burton and a very young Clint
Eastwood, and the first two Terminator movies. He also really enjoyed a movie
called Fever Pitch, about his favourite football team Arsenal and their
championship winning season in 1988-1989. His favourite line from this movie
reminds me a bit of him, and it was. Please, just fucking fuck off, which is
what Colin Firth shouted out of his window when someone pressed his doorbell
during the last 60 seconds of a Liverpool Arsenal game. However, last but not
least, his absolute favourite movie of all time was Top Gun. I guess just like Tom
Cruise in Top Gun, both were Mavericks that finished on top.
He truly has been an inspiration to me. Not many
people can be given a choice of two different countries, and end up in
Australia a little younger than 18. Working at Woolworths Marourba sweeping
floors, dealing blackjack in illegal casinos in Kings Cross. To ending up
signing some of the largest deals in IT history during the 1980s, outselling
Apple, IBM, Dell in the 1990s, and lastly managing one of Australia’s largest
internet service providers.
Yes, he had a very successful life, but despite all of this, he was still the
best husband, father, and friend any of us could ever have hoped for. I will
miss my father, manager, and best friend. He always made time for me, and
pushed me to do better, without it really looking like I was pushed. I miss you
so much dad, and I’ll finish now with a George Bernard Shaw quote you used to
say to me, which I think best describes you, albeit with a few changes.
“Some men see things as they are and say why – John
Linton dreams things that never were and sayswhy the fuck not.”
Yesterday my dad was doing what he liked doing best. Eating at a nice restaurant, drinking nice wines , and talking about the state of the telecommunications market in Australia, and the various companies that make this up.
At lunch he suffered what was thought to be a mild stroke, and was immediately taken to St Vincents hospital. He was conscious in the ambulance, responding to their questions, but when he got to the hospital he had trouble breathing and they needed to put him into a medically induced coma and put him on a ventilator to help him breathe. Unfortunately it turned out to be a very intensive stroke and there was nothing the doctors could do, without killing him in an operation or leaving him severely brain damaged. So last night, with most of my family present, his ventilator was turned off and a few hours later he passed away peacefully.
This is the saddest day of my life, I have lost my dad, my mentor, my boss, and one of my best friends.
However dad would not want us fussing over him, he would want to know what we have sold, which was actually one of the last things I said to him. He would also want Exetel to go on as he had planned for it to. He put in a place a strategic plan, so we need to move on as he had wanted us to, and remember him for the great man he was.
If any of you feel like buying my mum and family flowers, I would ask that you instead make a donation to his favourite charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; http://www.rspb.org.uk/
January finished with a bang with 18 corporate sales on the last day and residential sales recording the highest monthly intake for 18 months - which is quite something for a January and a 260% increase over last January. All other products and services were well above last January and all but two showed very strong gains over last December. So an excellent month to start the new year in almost every respect. Now for the hard stuff.....repeating those excellent January results each month for the rest of the year.
The 'trickle' of fibre orders (NBN, Telstra and Opticom) has shown some sign of increasing over the past 2 - 3 months and we will re-look at what we can do to improve the 'look' of the services we offer to the small areas currently covered by fibre. Opticom has tried much harder than either NBNCo or, of course, Telstra to provide sensible pricing that might allow a wholesaler like Exetel to offer realistic pricing but many barriers remain in terms of set up costs and contract lengths. We will re-address these issues this morning to see what, if anything, we can do to improve our residential fibre offerings.
Over the balance of this week we will also look at what we can now do in Tasmania, New Zealand, Corporate VoIP and selling to the top 500 corporates as becoming major sources of new revenue for Exetel. None of whatever efforts were made last year resulted in any real progress but this is a new year and we need to do new things - and do them much better than we did last year. Planning, which I would once have considered an Exetel strength, seems to be 'falling by the wayside' as our current business volumes grow, and the demands on time caused by that growth, become greater. For whatever reason, we need to address detailed planning, in more detail, than we currently seem to be doing. Perhaps too many people at Exetel have got used to 'things just happening without understanding just how much detailed work has been done by other people to "just make things happen"?
Whatever minor 'successes' we may have enjoyed over the past eight years, and they have been few and far between in the wide sweep of telecommunications in Australia, we need to become far more successful in the immediate future and beyond. The 'landscape' we now confront is very, very different to what it was in January 2004 and so is Exetel, both in size and 'composition'. Over the past eight years we have developed some pretty effective capabilities but, equally, we have also lost some capabilities we once had. To meet some of our more ambitious objectives (and they are only modestly ambitious in the grand scheme of things) we will need to do many things much better than we do them today and we will need to develop far more 'doing' people to make the most modest of our ambitions become realities.
Like any relatively sensibly directed company we have far more opportunities than we have been able to develop people to address. Like any other relatively sensibly directed company we need to find more people who can take responsibility for new opportunites with the enthusiasm and dedication (and above both of those the competence) that our 'old' people have done to make whatever we have accomplished to date happen so quickly and so well. As with everything in commercial life "it's the people - stupid". A good January is something to be pleased about but that 'inner glow' flickers and dies almost as soon as it is engendered. Exetel's reality is that unless we quickly put the right people in place to make the most of the opportunities available to us we will have substantially wasted much of whatever we have managed to achieve over the past eight years.....
......I wish I was much better at my job and was a lot younger.