Masters Series Transcripts: Jamie Langham (CEO of Absolute Immigration) and Graham Van Damme (Managing Director at Jag Capital) — Business: Tales From the Edge

Camille Monce —  October 13, 2018 — Leave a comment

In Masters Series, we regularly bring you real-life stories from entrepreneurs and start-up founders. In this episode, we turn the reality up a notch to bring you tales from the edge, with two people who had very different experiences during the GFC.

Jamie Langham is the CEO of Absolute Immigration who help businesses and individuals migrate successfully. Jamie’s business in Melbourne was going well in 2008, so he decided to put on a General Manager, and expand into Brisbane with an office and three staff. The GFC peaked a week later, but that wasn’t the only challenge the universe had in store for him.

Graham Van Damme is the Managing Director of Jag Capital. As a mining engineer, he bought into the business he was working for and began growing profits immediately. In 2008 he sold the business to private equity with the promise of even more ongoing profits. When the GFC hit a few months later, he realised his promise could be a little challenging to deliver!

Disclaimer: Transcripts may contain a few typos. Similar sounding words can lead to them being deciphered wrongly and hence transcribed likewise.

Serpil Senelmis: What’s the most challenging experience you’ve had in business or at work? e

Interviewing Public: Probably the biggest challenge is communicating at cross purposes with people

Interviewing Public: Working with other people like collaborating. Sometimes that’s gonna be really difficult. Different backgrounds, different cultures, so you have to kind of like, adjust everyone to the same working style, do everything for them.

Interviewing Public: It was dealing with a half-million dollars worth of debt.

Serpil Senelmis: Wow. Okay, that’s a challenge. And how did you tackle that challenge?

Interviewing Public: With difficulty. Haha. Yeah, there’s a number of different strategies. We try to sell our way out of it. We try to negotiate our way out of it, and we try to legally getaway out of it. So yeah, it was uhm, it was really tricky.

Serpil Senelmis: For WeTeachMe this is the Masters Series, where industry professionals share their secrets to business success. I’m Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded. One of the most popular reasons for listening to this podcast is to hear business tales from living examples of startups’ success, and sometimes tales of failure. In this episode, we’re putting the usual tips and tricks aside together around our founders and simply listen to their stories, business tales from the edge. In addition to working in his own business Jag Capital, Graham Van Damme has worked with other businesses on merger and acquisition and inboard roles.

Graham Van Damme: So we started trying to acquire the companies and the private equity companies or firms will just wind these things on massive model to bagger also. So we did so we ended up selling that thing for an eight-figure number. Build talk more money off the table at that transaction than he had in the previous 20 years.

Serpil Senelmis: We’ll hear from Graham soon. First up, Jamie Lingham will share his experience as CEO of Absolute Immigration in a fireside chat with WeTeachMe’s Wayne Lewis. Jamie has been working passionately in immigration for over 15 years contributing to immigration policy compliance and strategies. Working in a highly complex field. Jamie says integrity is key. As a founder, you have to own every decision you make.

Jamie Lingham: I actually was in marketing, and I was working for a company that did computer and internet packages. So I had great budgets. I was on a good salary. And I was just bored of just flying around going, I don’t love what I do. I’m not passionate about what I do. And my dad was doing immigration and he dealt with the sort of savior end of town. He was dealing with getting people out of detention. And he kept saying to me, you’ve got to get into immigration, you’ll love it. And I looked at the people he was dealing with, and I was like, forget it. These people are criminals. I don’t want to deal with it. And anyway, so I finally said, okay, I’ll give it a go. And I think I was in debt and I had no real plan, I went and did an immigration course. And then just decided I’m gonna just start. So I started in the bedroom of my house and just gave it a go.

Wayne Lewis: Your dad, been a huge catalyst for that. Was he something that you learn a lot of in that time? Or was he kind of did you kind of have to educate yourself in the process and push on from there?

Jamie Lingham: Yeah, the type of immigration that I worked on was significantly different to what he worked on. So I focused more on corporates, on attraction retention strategies on doing the compliance pieces for government departments. And so he was good on a number of things that help navigate the immigration system. But I also had a lot of mentors around and that to me was the big thing. So I sort of faked it till I made it in a way you go out and you’ve got the confidence and then I people would ask me are how do you do this? Or is this possible? I’d be like, yep, you know, let me double-check. And I will quickly be back on the phone or on their computer and I’d be checking in there like it’s fine. But I think it’s just sort of keeping that level of confidence as well, but also not taking people down the garden path and having a really honest approach with everything that I did.

Wayne Lewis: From the early days of some of those mentors still the same people or did you have to access a different type of mentor in the early days to what you do now?

Jamie Lingham: One of my mentors, is a Jesuit priest by the name of Father Michael Kelly. And he started a business that turns over $160 million a year, using the church as a buying group. And he’s the most honest guy I’ve ever met. His moral compass is unbelievable. So he was great through the startup time, and then about maybe five years ago, I sort of said, well, Mick, you know, my business is growing. And he was actually living overseas. And I said I need a new person. And so he put me on to another gentleman who basically he grew a finance business from, I think, was about 15 staff to 1500 staff globally. And so he’s an accomplished lawyer. He’s on the boards of a number of companies. And so I catch up with him on a monthly basis. I buy him lunch, we sit down, we go through some things. And I’ll say, look, Phil, you know, having problems with this or I need hands with that.

Wayne Lewis: Has there ever been any times where your moral compass has maybe led you astray in the decision making process and how you maybe come back from any of those moments?

Jamie Lingham: Look, I think that the answer is yes, I think sometimes you might sort of get a bit compromised when you know, you need some money, you got to pay your bills. I’m not saying you’re stealing or anything like that. But the advice you might give could be compromised. So what I learned very early on is you’ve got to give great advice. And just because you think you can make a sale doesn’t mean you have to make the sale and that hurts. But I think what’s really served me well is always being honest to people. And if you don’t need a visa today, I’ll tell you, I’ll say, look, you don’t need it. We had one of our clients who said, we want to bring over a couple hundred people from overseas for an engineering project. I said, Give me a technical person will fly overseas, I’ll meet with the companies who are recruiting for you. And basically, we saw three companies and the company that they’d signed up with, it was just terrible. They didn’t have any pastoral care. They had no idea how they’re going to deliver it. The other two, we found the project was going to be worth about $3.8 million, including recruitment fees, our fees probably would have been three or 400,000. I got back and I said, Look, the mining booms actually coming off, you can find local people and train them up using government subsidies and we saved the company about 3.6 million. And I missed down the fees. So the moral of the story that is, you know, yes, it hurt because I thought, well, this is great, there’s a huge wind I’m gonna make a lot of money. But money’s not the game. I mean, I always look at money is like oxygen. You know, you can’t take all the oxygen in the room, no matter how hard you try, it comes and it goes, you know. So it’s the quality of the air you’re breathing.

Wayne Lewis: Yeah. And talking a little bit about the drivers and some your drivers had a little chat with you before we kicked off. And you’re also talking about competition as well. So can you give the audience some insights into the competition and how that motivates you?

Jamie Lingham: Absolutely. I mean, I love business itself. I like looking at business and how different business operates. And one thing I’ve really learned is, when you go to big companies, you actually realize that the people in there working at high levels actually don’t know a lot. You expect you’re going to get to the huge listed companies and the person in HR is going to be less amazing, well rounded the day actually, a lot of them are still stumbling around. And so that interests me a lot. I think that, you know, to get to those levels think well, how can this big organization possibly operate with these people in the roles? And so as far as competition is going, I’ve had a number of competitors approached me to buy me out. And they say, we like your business, you know we want to buy. And I just think, look, I prefer to compete with you. Why am I going to sell to you? And I believe in what you do, I believe in where I’m going, and what I’m doing and our capabilities and our capacity. And you know, if I was 65, or 70, or 80, maybe look at selling, but I think that that’s really what gets me out of bed. I think, you know, just the fact that you’re running your own show that it is the decisions you make as long as your own every decision. You can’t sit there and blame are the markets turned down or often you just go okay, that’s on me.

Wayne Lewis: What about the difficult moments where maybe self-belief isn’t always there? How do you overcome those moments?

Jamie Lingham: You always get your days you question yourself and hear the cliche about all these stories about business people got told they can’t do it, can’t do it. I sort of got tired I could do it. You know, everyone’s out. You’d be great at it, this would be great. And it was actually more demotivating than someone telling me I couldn’t do it. Because then it, you know, just didn’t, I don’t know, have the same sort of feel. But there’s moments that you doubt yourself. There’s no doubt about it. But I think that really coming back to yourself, and one thing my dad did actually tell me because we’re dealing with people that are very emotional level, you know, moving people to a new country and getting their visa and enabling the state, it’s a highly emotional business I can’t think of I mean, I suppose you know, medicine, and to a lesser extent, real estate would be a similar level, but you know, you’re dealing with people’s lives. And so what he said to me, so just make sure you keep something for yourself like so I’ll go for a surf and then you know, get in the ocean or do whatever and just make sure I can really recalibrate. I have a highly supportive wife. I’ve got some good mentors around. So it’s just making sure that I think you have that level of support on the journey. And as I said, being honest in the way you act and the way you treat people and not ripping people off, that puts you in good stead.

Wayne Lewis: Can you give us some examples of one moment in your business haven’t been going the way you wanted them to?

Jamie Lingham: Yeah, absolutely. Back in 2006, I was in Melbourne and my business was just pumping it was, you know, we were going great guns. I looked around the office had 10 staff and I thought I’m bored. You know, I want to go do something different. So I said, I’m going to open up in Brisbane and there was 1% vacancy rate in Brisbane at the time. And so just before the GFC hit that very peak, that pin of the spike is the second I signed a lease on an office and I’m telling you like the world fell apart. And life doesn’t give you one thing at a time, it actually gives you everything so I had a downturn in the market. I’d employed three staff up there. I had 10 staff in Melbourne. I put a general manager on who was just a nightmare. She just put all my staff offside so five staff quit. My AI was stealing money, she stole about 70 grand off me. And then because of that actually got taken to court for fraud because of a document that she’d put into the department of immigration. So you can imagine it was bloody stressful. Anyway, so I had five staff in Melbourne resigned and went up with a sack of cash and I came back with zero. But anyway, so I packed up the office overnight, literally overnight. And I had a call from the building manager, they said, Are you doing a runner on us? And I said, No, no. I’ve just got to save my business in Melbourne. So I turned up to Melbourne, basically five agents down. So the people who did the work, and two agents in Brisbane who were now gone, and I walked in the general manager said are what are you doing here? And I said I’ve come to save my business. And she said, okay, I resigned. I said, perfect, that’s fine. And then my now wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, she said, look, if you have to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week to get this back on track, that’s what you got to do. And so I did six months was 12 to 16 hours a day, I took on all the caseload of everyone else, and I basically just put my head down and just battered on. And it was tough and so my girlfriend now wife would come in and we’d have dinner, and then I’ve sort of stumbled back to work. And it was tough. It was really tough, but I tell you, every single one of those things that happened, it’s the old cliche, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s so true. I mean, I’m thankful for every single aspect of all the things that happened because it just taught me so much. It’s like that massive kick up the ass and I needed to pay attention to my finances. You know, I had a bookkeeper I trusted my bookkeeper, I trusted this person, you trust people. And I’m not saying you can’t trust people, but I’m saying putting systems and processes in place. So you can check those things. Because, you know, we’ll hear about bookkeepers taking money. And one thing I find is people who are going into business, don’t want to face up to certain aspects. I don’t want to be the accountant. I don’t want to be the salesperson. I don’t want to be whatever I want to be the technician but the reality is that you actually have to go I come into business, I need to grow myself in that area. I need to develop it. I need to get good people and robust systems that have redundancies in place, that if something goes wrong, that I’m alerted pretty quickly.

Wayne Lewis: At that time, then how did you build up the trust and obviously you talked about the processes but was it easy? I don’t know. Maybe after few months to draw back from?

Jamie Lingham: You know what, when I got back and getting things back on track, and as I said I was sort of going through this court process as well. And the funny thing is, we lost at the magistrate court. And so to be mentioned, you are guilty for fraud and go hold on a second, I didn’t do it. So and so a wonderful barrister in town and he said, oh, well, what was going on, and he sort of found the accounts, and he found this girl was stealing. And it was just bizarre how it all unfolded. And then I went to the county court, and, you know, obviously was then often got cost and all that sort of stuff. So you can imagine I’m going through the 12 hour days trying to sort of get things back on track. I’ve got five staff instead of 10. And it was tough, but it was, it was great. It just really, I suppose redefine who I was as a person and just, you know, reinforced my values.

Wayne Lewis: What about the hiring process now, if you do need to make any new hires? Do you instill that from the off? How do you?

Jamie Lingham: I have a few barriers that I hold very highly, obviously, when is integrity I know it’s a bit of a throwaway one that everyone wants to put on their company values, but just making sure people honest, would they give back money if they found it on the street? Would they go back into a shop and pay something that they forgot about? To me, that’s where you know you need to be I think fun. Fun is got to be in my top three values. If I’m not having fun what I’m doing, then forget it. I had one client who was so rude to one of my staff, he’d ring up an abuser, and I was like, okay, your next fee is an extra $500. And he said, What are you doing? And I said, Well, you know, this is our annual sort of fee rates. And then the next month, he said, okay, we’ll do it again. They increased it by 500 again, and he said, I’m going elsewhere. I said, Great. Life’s too short to put up with people like that. You shouldn’t be trade like that in business. And I always say that when you go into business, you like a dog chasing everything, you know, you will chase a kid on a scooter, you will chase an old lady and a pusher, you will chase someone in a wheelchair. It doesn’t matter because you’re out there. But as you get along, and as you get older, you sort of sit on the porch, and at the moment, I’ll only get up if there’s a double-decker bus full of fat Germans going past and then I’ll get off my porch, chase the business but what I’m saying is the amount of energy that you expend on doing those sort of things is really high but Back to your question on the employment of staff. So in my business, obviously having the technical knowledge is important. It’s another lesson I learned, I employed a guy who’d been doing it for, you know, 10 or 15 years the immigration game. And he gave such poor advice, I realized he didn’t know much. And I thought, well, how is he giving that advice to all the other clients? So now, all of my potential agents have seven case studies. And I give them complex case studies to see how they go, how they answer questions, how they think, how they research, and that’s great. It’s not just a personality-based thing.

Wayne Lewis: And what does the future hold maybe in the next five years for you?

Jamie Lingham: The immigration, as you know, is changing, you know, so rapidly, particularly Australia, I think that it’s misrepresented. I think that the government’s treated the migration space very poorly, and it’s like a cash cow. And so where the Australian government’s going is more automation work on algorithms. And you say, okay, you come from a certain country a certain age episode qualification, you’ve got more chance of getting a visa But if there’s any discrepancies in relation, what you do is probably chance you won’t get it. But our view is more outward. As far as not just doing just Australia centric we’re in New Zealand, you know, we go to png to China, we do visas for all these other countries. And so we think that it’s just about the global movement of people and helping, you know, particularly organizations do that and Well, yeah.

Wayne Lewis: Okay. Can we have a round of applause for Jamie Lingham of Absolute Immigration?

Serpil Senelmis: I loved how Jamie said money is like oxygen it comes and goes, What a great analogy. So if you can’t take all the oxygen in the room, it makes sense that you can’t take all the money in the world either. Next up, we’ll hear from the managing director of Jag Capital, Graham Van Damme.

Ad Guy: Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe, whether you want to improve your photography taste whiskey or painted teapot. WeTeachMe has a class to build your soft skills and have fun. Learn what makes your heartbeat at weteachme.com. This podcast is produced by Written and Recorded. A podcast is an intimate medium where you can share your business story without anyone knowing that you’re blushing. Listen to more tales at writtenandrecorded.com. And now, back to the podcast.

Serpil Senelmis: Hey, thanks Ad Guy, Graham Van Damme has led businesses in aviation resources, mining, manufacturing and construction. One of those businesses he grew from $4 million in annual sales to 32 million in just six years. In this fireside chat with WeTeachMe’s Wayne Lewis, Graham says you’re only as good as your last project and you have to perform.

Graham Van Damme: Originally, I was a mining engineer. I’d worked in Australia, Indonesia, in the UK and then moved back to Australia in 2004. At the time, I was offered a role with this drilling company that was based in Melbourne, basically on half the salary that I had been receiving working in the mining industry out in the back of Queensland and Indonesia, or going back and working for bhp as a dragline engineer, and when I went for the interview, the owner at the time Bill Side said to me, and he was in his 60s basically said, look, within a couple of years ago, he running this joint. And I was a 26-year-old, I thought, oh, this sounds pretty cool. So I started with him and then you know, it was a business that very much first-second third generation so at one point, it was the largest privately owned drilling company in the southern hemisphere. But unfortunately, through Bill’s ownership, the market have changed to become a lot more compliant. There was a lot more competition. And they basically it struggled like sold off the piling division was very competitive. In Melbourne, and when I started with him, we only had about 15 employees. We had an operations manager yet a part-time bookkeeper and about 15 staff. So we’re turning about 4 million in turnover a year making no money. We basically are the next two years, we had the amazing opportunity to partner with Woodside. So they were looking for a local company to take the local content box on their tenders, did all the initial geotechnical drilling. So part of the drilling services that we did was all the site investigations that were close to coastal areas, but off jack-up barges. But to do that for Woodside yet to actually have an Australian standard level type or h&s system, which is what was there might have developed. And that was a lot of my background with the mining companies and with these, and we just grew from that. So once we became a T1 contractor to Woodside, we basically brought our ticket because you know all of the Chevron’s and Woodside and Fortescue metals and bhp’s and all these other companies then had a local supplier that take the local content wherever deliver this thing. So rolls on, you know, mid-2005 2006. And we’re gone 4 million, 6 million, 8 million in sales, a standard makes money. Bill tried to put the business on the market. I think in the 12 months he had for sale, I think they had one person come through the door. And I just flippantly said to one or the other, the operations were so why the hell we buy it. And he sort of said, nah he’s kidding the world. We want to buy these things that will ship for the amount of money that’s coming down the pipeline, why the hell not? So I started talking to all these PA firms and of corporate advisors, and they’re all talking about these 20 grand retainers each month, and yada yada yada. So there’s no hope and how long I can afford it. And I went to my subsequent business partner, I said all he said, No, don’t be silly said he’ll give it to us. That’s what he told me. So we’ll just buy it on vendor terms. And the promise was that we’d make him more money as our partner then he has in the previous 20 years. And so we basically bought it for nothing, bought 80% of it. And then we rode the mining boom. So we did the deisel project. We did the channel deepening. We did all of the Fortescue metals, expansions, all the brows, pluto blacktip. PNG, LNG, all the LNG projects. So we just rode this thing. And in those days, you know, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is, you know, pick an industry with tailwind because people trying to relearn that one. But the thing is, even when we screwed up, we made money. So we bought the business in 2006 2007 all my business partners were 20 plus years older than me. And I’m looking at the market gun, I’ve got massive, key main risky, so I’ve got to work out and get some other production drilling into it. So we started trying to acquire the companies and the private equity companies, firms were just buying these things on massive multiples. So boger will sell it. So we did so we ended up selling that thing for six and eight-figure number. Bill took more money off the table at that transaction than he had in the previous 20 years. We sold 80%. So we basically rolled up within this amalgamation of three drilling companies with a private equity firm. So we close that deal in 30th of June 2008. And Lehman Brothers went fast in September of that year. So we’re on a trajectory and they went like this. And I learned from the PA guys that they just doubled down and they went, bought more companies. And then away we went. So we ended up exiting to Transfield for 575 million in 2010. And I lost the three months.

Wayne Lewis: We have a little chat before as well about the after-effects of that buyout. And when you sold out and everything else, can you give some insights as to the barriers that you came up against after that?

Graham Van Damme: You know, you go from running your own show. And basically in complete control, I knew I had business partners, but our board meetings per se was basically sitting around having a glass of scotch on a Friday afternoon going what are we gonna do next week? what’s ahead of us, what are we going to beat for and that was the extent of it, whereas when we moved into the PA with the PA Guys, they without a doubt, put a massive level of oversight and compliance, which wasn’t a bad thing. But we absolutely have to step up and professionalize all of our systems and processes. Because from day one, we knew we’re going to least or we’re going to sell to a listed company. And that was a phenomenal learning curve. It was a case of, alright, Jim, I need to buy an engine oryou need to buy an engine, yep, go down to or I got to get approvals. And during those days of the private equity guys, as long as you’re within a budget, not a problem, but as soon as you miss your budget, they’re all over you. So there’s a lot of those freedom to operate. And then when we rolled off into the a six company, very, very different culture, much, much bigger organization, and just the levels of compliance and bureaucracy stepped down, which was, you know, in my view, beyond what I was happy to operate in. So I ended up leaving pretty quickly.

Wayne Lewis: Throughout of all these processes. And obviously, you’re at the top of the scale there. How do you handle the stresses?

Graham Van Damme: At the time when we’re selling, I still remember the phone calls with a corporate advisor, at 1 am in the morning, we were doing the deal. The reason we sold for the business so well was we had no depth in the organization. There’s literally myself, my business partner who ran the operational side, or in the commercial finance side. And we had an admin manager and that was that was the management team. You know, you’re pulling 60 70 hour weeks, and then you do a transaction on top of that, which has got, you know, all the hours and managing DD and we had good corporate advisory guys, but at the end of the day, were the ones that got to answer this stuff. So the end of that journey, I ended up spending a week in hospital burnt out and at the age of 31 and I’ve never, ever worked those sort of hours again, I chose not to, you know, to how do I manage stress nowadays, it’s you know, I work I mean office, generally from hub at state, I’ll get home generally at five o’clock, Monday to Friday. My business is a product business, not a service business, the business I have at the moment. I’m heavily involved with scouts with my kids. We do a lot of travel I I’ve got a very good general manager that runs the day to day of the business. So, I have zero client-facing and faithfully zero supply facing role in my business now. And that comes with a cost. But at the same time, it gives me the freedom to be able to do what I choose to do. So my view of business and for me, the businesses are they’re a vehicle to fund the lifestyle that I want to create for myself and my kids. Unfortunately, I’ve ticked the box, I’ve got the T shirt for growing the big business, and I’ve had the bit in the massive staff in the restaurant, I just don’t want to play in that space anymore.

Wayne Lewis: What are some of the things that maybe some of the hurdles that you came across the big blockers for yourself that made things really difficult?

Graham Van Damme: Oh, it’s not so much blockers, it’s just workload. You know, at the end of the day, with service businesses, I mean, we’re all contractors, so it’s highly competitive. We’re working on massive projects. I mean, they’re multi-billion dollar projects. So you know, the likes of Woodside and ISO companies, their tolerance for delays, and all the rest of it is just zero. So you have to perform otherwise, you’re only as good as your last deal or your last project, otherwise, you’re not going to get the next one. And then you overlay that where myself and you know, I had four business partners that were relying on me to get the deal done. And sure there was elements with that were contributing, but I sort of made my bed I had to sleep in it. So I sort of laid it down this path that we thought was a good idea. Let’s have a crack and see what happens. Will you look around and business of that size, you sort of try to turn around and say, who’s going to take up the slack and there’s no one behind you, it’s left to you. So it’s just the nature of the game working in the businesses that we work in.

Wayne Lewis: And if we look to where you are today, you’ve got a new business, which is the engines you’re in the engines game. So can you give us a little bit of an insight to that and how your decisions and the way in which you want to manage that business is different to how you used to do things?

Graham Van Damme: Yeah, so I got out of the drilling company thinking I knew everything and started playing in the venture capital and seed investment stuff and lost a lot of money in IT, wastes all sorts of other silly crap. I should have gone anywhere near. I bought this business five years ago, because at that stage, I was involved in it. Other companies which have subsequently gotten out of or shut down, you know, it was a solid business have been around for 30 years, it was a product not a service that had a good solid team run under management. It was in the automotive space, which I thought was a cottage industry, which is like similar to the drilling where I’ll be able to, you know, consolidate and do what I did with a drilling company. And then you get in there and you get a 20% hit on the top line and all sudden you’re in turnaround phase pretty quick. So whilst yes it ticks all the boxes, the drilling company, I was had a business at tower wins. And now I’m facing headwinds, you know, and then you overlay the thematic of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles and an aging workforce, an industry that people don’t want to be employed in, Chinese imports. I don’t know many other competitive games. Essentially, I go through my decision logics, I think the decision would have still been the same because I don’t fault the decision process, its just in hindsight, I should never have actually taken the original I am okay. That’s just the nature of that.

Wayne Lewis: So, do you talk about resilience and the hard work ethic there? Is there any other values that you hold close to your heart?

Graham Van Damme: Yeah, I mean, we do we, you know, my philosophy is that as far as r&d goes, it’s ripoff and duplicate. So we continuously improve, we’ve ripped off at licensing, so we don’t screw our clients. So we run through these are things you know, open and honest. And, you know, the integrity type thing is sort of so, you know, we want to have your own word, you know, you’ll be open, honest conversations. So one of the questions I always ask is, you know, when is it okay to lie? If you’re a parent, you say, well, you know, so it’s it’s an interesting way of seeing where people’s views are. That is, no, I don’t have them plastered all over the walls, but we are continuously talking about it. The businesses which are bought you had situations where the sales team didn’t actually know what promotions were actually in the marketplace at the time. Whereas I’ve walked in there and very candidly, and we had to because we had to deal restructure pretty quickly was, here’s the revenue numbers. Here’s the profit numbers, this is what it costs to actually produce a product. And that’s why it’s no longer competitive, continuously communicating it. And it gets the point where now, you know, I know, I’ve got a workforce on the factory floor that are knocking down my door telling me they want me to get back in front of them, talk to them, because I’m done for a few weeks. Next week. We’ll get there next week,

Wayne Lewis: Keeping them on the same path, right?

Graham Van Damme: Yeah, it is. They want to know where they’re going. They’re not silly. They know they can see the industry wins as well.

Wayne Lewis: Guys, can we have a round of applause for Graham Van Damme, please? Thank you very much.

Serpil Senelmis: So at the age of just 31 Graham found himself burnt out and hospitalized. The lesson there is your business should be the vehicle for the lifestyle that you want. Thanks, Graham, and thank you, Jamie, as well. Next time on Masters Series, business and people, culture and HR from forming and storming to norming and performing. Building a great team is vital to your startup. We’ll hear from two experts on how to hire well. Until then, I’m sorry Serpil Senelmis from Written and Recorded and for WeTeachMe, this is the Masters Series.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

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Thank you to Jahzzar for the music.

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

The Masters Series podcast is produced by Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this podcast and linked websites are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

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What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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