23 June 2017
Join Insentra CEO Ronnie Altit and Arrow ECS MD Nick Verykios on The Download as they discuss all things business such as the IT industry, Nick’s philosophy, and his take on life which is none like any other.
SOME KEY POINTS IN THE VIDEO INCLUDE
[4.00] What is the role of business in philanthropy
[12.00] The common themes across homelessness.
[23.10] The finish line for success
[38.58] 3 pieces of advice to give to your younger self
[41.48] Funniest story Nick’s ever heard
READ THE TRANSCRIPT
Ronnie Altit: Welcome to The Download. Today, we’re joined by Nick Verykios.
Nick Verykios: Hi, Ronnie.
Ronnie: Nick is a very well-known IT industry figure. He’s an ARN Industry hall of famer. He’s built businesses, he sold businesses, he has an incredible philanthropic nature, setting up four orphanages in the world. Really, just a very interesting man to talk to. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this discussion. Nick, welcome.
Nick: Thank you, mate. Good to be here.
Ronnie: Welcome. We’ve know each other for a long time. It’s nice to be sitting on a couch having a chat with you.
Nick: It’s a good long time. We always have a great chat. I think we’re going to explore some good content today, I feel it.
Ronnie: Let’s see how we get on this, shall we? Tell me, Nick, tell everybody a little bit about you.
Nick: I’m currently the management director of an organization called Arrow ECS which is a company that came from Distribution Central that I sold with my business partner, Scotty Frew, just over a year ago. That’s what I do for work. Outside of that, I build orphanages around the world. I work with troubled youth through suicide prevention organizations. I raise a family. I love to serve, and I’m a musician. Among all that, there’s always time for everything, including sleep and fun, enjoyment. That’s me in a nutshell.
Ronnie: It’s fantastic. What would you say your biggest achievements have been, from a business perspective?
Nick: From a business perspective, that’s secondary. I hope you take it the right way. The achievement is completely building some sensational careers. There are some amazing people out there that have had an opportunity to do, probably, what they never would have been able to in the normal milieu of an Australian business culture. And there are some fantastic people out there that I’m just so proud of. That’s success for me. That’s been amazing.
Ronnie: Would you define that as being your why? How would you define your why?
Nick: My why’s probably my wow. From a child, I was always criticized for being a huge daydreamer, but I wasn’t in a no man’s land house. It’s just the wow or the or. My wow is my or. I wake up and I look around, and the stuff that’s going through my mind is like, “Wow.” Being able to exercise and giving yourself provision to be able to exercise and work out where that’s going to go, that’s our innate creative impulse.
If we get in the way of that with a tablet, or get in the way of that with a lecture, or get in the way with that with a, “No, you can’t,” because there’s no mental picture for don’t. To get in the way with the don’t is my anti-why. My why’s everything other than that.
Ronnie: It’s all about what you can do?
Ronnie: And appreciating what’s around you and making the most of things.
Nick: Yes. I’ll take that one step further, Ronnie. It’s what you should do. It’s not what you can do. You can pretty much do anything. It’s true. I know all you need to do is either get skilled up, or fizzed up, or whatever. You can do anything. Anyone can do anything. It’s what you should do. That comes back to purpose, being able to wake up. That way I turn into something that’s purposeful. It eliminates stress. No one ever got stressed by doing too much or too little. They got stressed because they got no purpose. What I should do is probably a more interesting–
Ronnie: That’s really fantastic. Nick, I know philanthropy for you is a really big part in giving back. For you, it’s not about being seen to be doing that. It’s truly core within you. From a business perspective, what do you think a business’s role is in philanthropy?
Nick: I can’t lecture or preach to that point. What I’ll tell you is what it means for me. Business, to me, was a means that I discovered to be able to create what I needed to do, the money to be able to create the orphanages and the other things that I do. All business does is play that role. There is no incentive to do anything other than create enough means to be able to do my real work. It could have been anything. In my early life, it was music. I made a lot of money out of music, and it went there. It’s the same.
Ronnie: Tell us a little bit about your music background. I think that’s fascinating.
Nick: It happened by accident. I used to write a lot of poems when I was young. Now, I never wanted to read poems. I don’t know why I write poems. To this day, I can’t tell you why I write a lot of poems. I had to turn them into songs so other people could listen to it. I really actually thought I had something to say. It was published through City Lights and I published a couple of poetry books and couple of novels through City Lights.
At 17, I got caught up in a rock band. They were quite the Aussie glammy kind of metal thing. I fit the part. I had long hair, I had tattoos, I could sing in the upper register and I looked like a girl. We went on tour and I ended up in the States. It was hilarious because I couldn’t drink. I could play anyway, basically, as long as I stayed backstage. I came back to Australia, played in some bands here. Went back to America, played in several bands over there. It doesn’t really matter who. The fame and all that that came out of it is irrelevant. The point that I’m making, Ronnie, is the ability to use song as a vehicle to express what you have to say. That also translated into business because the business shell was the vehicle that allowed me to translate what I had to say. I always felt like I had something to say. [laughs] I’m great, man. I’m a philosopher.
Ronnie: Isn’t that interesting there, you’re a great guy who’s actually a practicing Buddhist. Tell me about that nexus.
Nick: It all started with– my father was like a surrogate dad to a family who had lost their father. I was born in ’67. By about ’70, ’71, I noticed a social culture around where we lived that involved a lot of Eastern thought and Eastern religion. Ababa had come to Australia and was living in the house where these ladies were living in. I used to just sneak through the window and looked at what they were doing. I was just fascinated.
I was fascinated in the yoga, I was fascinated in the education, I was fascinated in the beads, I was fascinated in everything that came with it. Eventually, I was fascinated in the drugs. I was just blown away by the thought process in some of the conversations that they were hearing. I started to read as much as I could about Hinduism, the Vedantas, I read the Backward Guitar. It all started to legitimize some of the Western-based religions that I was raised around at the time, particularly, the Abrahamic ones.
The more I discovered about Hinduism, the more it validated the true scriptures, the true words. Not churches, I can’t cope with churches, but I can certainly cope with the truth. It just gave me an understanding of truth. I just started to become fascinated. Then by accident, by the time I got to university, one of my lecturers was a Buddhist. He was a behavioral science lecturer. We used to do some weed experimentations involving float tanks. I won’t mention names because it also included LSD and shit.
What it did was just bang open my mind and I thought, “Well, how can I do this without having to ingest any stimulant?” And I discovered meditation at the tantric level and completely got obsessed with that. It just kept going from there.
Ronnie: And it’s gone as far as you actually being invited by the Dalai Lama to spend time with him. I think it was last year, maybe, or the year before, the retreat in the Blue Mountains.
Nick: Yes, a year before. It was the Tantric Retreat that he did around the world. A thousand students through a qualification process. I was lucky enough to do the Australian League which there were about 150 others. It was just a qualification through various teachings of your life and ability to teach things as well. I would never consider myself a teacher. He calls me a teacher but I would never consider myself a teacher. I’m probably more of a pundit than a teacher.
It was a great privilege but it came by accident as well. What he’s wanted me to do is write a book, or write a guide, or write a teaching process of how I handle youth suicide because I trained in Psychology, and also trained in Buddhism, and Buddhist Mind Science, and the Mahayana traditions as well as the Tantric traditions. Being able to put that together.
In the West, we lost spirit a long time ago. In the East, they don’t have psychoanalysis.
Ronnie: Never the two ends shall meet.
Nick: Give it to people to screw it otherwise. When you put them together, you get an ability to be able to actually snap someone else, something really quick. I always get the worst cases, when the shit has really hit the fan. Within an hour, I’m able to actually get them functioning and going for it. That’s what he wanted to do.
Ronnie: That’s incredible. One of the questions I wanted to ask you is what energizes you? I imagine, you must get an amazing amount of energy out of that in having such an impact on people. Generically, Nick, what else energizes you?
Nick: Physically, it’s through a lot of meditation.
Ronnie: How often do you meditate and how long?
Nick: Depending on the time of the year. I usually meditate for an hour a day. I will sacrifice sleep for meditation if I have to because it’s a lot more refreshing. Sometimes there are certain practices in the year, I could be meditating eight hours, I could be meditating 24 hours. I could be meditating three days in a row. Just depends on the time of the year and the kind of practice that I’m doing.
It all matters when you’re following a tradition or a path. I’m not a ritualistic kind of guy. Sometimes I’ll meditate, don’t necessarily have to be in some lotus position or anything like that. I could be sitting here right now talking to you and meditating. I don’t follow the traditions, I follow the benefit. That definitely gives me a physical surgence but from an emotional point of view.
It’s love. It’s all based on love. It’s based on standing in your truth and knowing that through unity I can love anything. I can love this moment as much as I can love the cigarette that we just had. Just through unity and knowing that everything that I do has to ensure that I minimize separation. That’s where pain comes from, separation, feeling isolated, feeling lonely. That’s what why people are suicidal. That’s why people fail.
Ronnie: Which is interesting. Last night, I did the CEO Sleepout. We were talking about that before we started here. There were three individuals that came and told their story. The consistent theme across there was loneliness, lack of love, lack of appreciation, and having no one who cared.
Nick: That’s what the Buddhist say.
Ronnie: Right, okay. Nick, from a value perspective, what are some of your core values that you live by and that you bring to business, and try and inspire others with?
Nick: I think the first one is truth and making sure that people stand in their truth. Truths a beautiful thing, it’s gorgeous. It should be celebrated, but it needs to be discovered. It’s usually discovered by getting rid of things that you never had. That’s pretty easy.
Ronnie: Tell me more.
Nick: You call it baggage, a lot of people call it baggage, some people could call it a need to learn. For me, we live in an age now, and the generations that are really coming through school at the moment are so privileged because of it, where content is everywhere. The education system’s based on a very, very old Jesuit-based system of the person who– It’s even worse, it’s he who– We were just disgusting, but the person who remembers the most wins.
We celebrate our kids. They get in a great box and they heard you sing great ATARs. Where the fuck is the thing that says they’re a great person, because that’s what we’re proud of. Are they a great person? Not did they obtain a 99% ATAR. Because anyone who remembers the most wins, but that doesn’t translate in the real world. Truth is not the ability to know a lot because Mr. Google worked that one out for us.
We have access to anything we want to know. It’s reasoning. It’s the ability to think critically. The sexy word is philosophy, but it’s truth. It’s the ability to question and continue to question. That’s where you find truth. Soon as you find truth, you find the answer to what a customer wants. You find the answer to what a vendor wants. You find an answer to what a staff member wants or a stakeholder wants.
That is basically giving him something that they can’t do without. That’s where value is, being able to get to that truth, giving someone something that they can’t do without. It’s purpose. If you’re useful, they get what they want, and it’s a beautiful position. It’s a situation of unity and it’s a situation of love, and it’s translated into money. That’s truth. That’s real business. I could tell you right now, built and sold three successful businesses that way. It works. In my mind, there’s no question.
Ronnie: I’ll tell you, you would have the naysayers who are watching this or listening to this podcast, they’ll be saying, “Nick’s a bit earthy.” What you’ve done is you’ve actually shown that having that, what I would call, more grounded view, actually can translate into true business success.
Nick: If the truth is earthy, so be it. If the truth is metal, and steel, and glass, so be it, as long as it’s the truth. The naysayers are right in what they’re saying too because that’s their truth. You can’t sit there and take my dream and make it yours. You’re just going to be a shy impostor or a lesser version. You can’t take my truth and make it yours. This is why I don’t believe in objectives. Rule number one in business is this whole set of objectives and where objectives come from. It’s borrowed from everyone else’s dreams. We’re just trying to better versions of someone else’s.
Ronnie: What do you do if it’s not objectives? That’s the way traditional business is run, set the objectives, set the goals, know where you want to get to, et cetera. It’s important to have a vision. In a previous podcast, we were talking about somebody who was speaking how important it is to have a vision and have everyone align to that vision. Which is perhaps a little bit different to the objectives, but objectives are somewhat goal, somewhat vision type. If you’re not doing those, what are you doing and how do you get that unity across your team in the workforce?
Nick: Ronnie, it’s vision. That’s it, it’s vision. If you start to talk to your stakeholders about your vision, where you want to get to, it’s your dream. It’s your dream. If you have hired really clever people, really intelligent people that could reason with that vision, they’ll work it out. They’ll do it with integrity, they will give their customers and their suppliers exactly what they need by interpreting that vision their way, and letting them shine. I could tell you, I got 190 people who would agree with this.
Ronnie: No doubt, countless more.
Nick: Statistics are a wonderful thing, you could throw it around. I’m a distributor, as you know. We’ve got somewhere between 80 and 100% market share in every vendor that we represent. That’s unheard of in the world.
Nick: It’s unheard of, and that’s the way that I created it. Anyone who’s listening to this and thinks that I’m full of shit, fuck you. I got 190 people who get to sleep well on my watch. They’ve got a bunch of people who get to sleep well on their watch. It goes on and on and on. I can’t be mocking around with concept. I can’t be mocking around with your full of shit. I got to be mocking around with truth and reality. The reality is all the things that I’m talking about.
I don’t have the time, I don’t have the patience to be playing with anything else other than my truth. For God’s sake, don’t take my truth and make it yours. It won’t be yours. Find yours. Find yours and execute on that with your vision. That vision turns into reality very, very quickly when you’re not telling people what to do but letting them do it, and them coming to you, and then investing in the way that they want to do it. Investing in the way that they want to execute.
Ronnie: There’s a very subtle but important message in what you’re saying. Which is hire people to do a role, let them do their role, show them where you want to go and let them take you there rather than feel like you have to pull them along.
Nick: Spot on.
Ronnie: To me, that’s the art of leadership. They always say a good leader doesn’t have the answers, they just know the right questions to ask.
Nick: I can only agree. I would, again, take that one further and say it’s the art of vision. It’s the art of vision because, otherwise, it just becomes a word. You can feel the execution of vision through particular roles. Leadership is just one of those. It’s not the, it’s one of the critical aspects, non-hierarchical.
Ronnie: What are some of the others that you would include in there?
Nick: You need executors. You need people who are damn good at executing and they’re not that interested in leadership. They’re just interested in precision execution. You need accountability, people who are responsible for accountability and making sure that this will lead to where the vision– I’m talking about accountability in terms of financial management.
Ronnie: Do what you do, say you’re going to do.
Nick: Correct. That ownership of execution is accountability. You definitely need that. You also need assessment, the police. [laughs] You need assessment. It’s different from accountability. This is all in vain.
Ronnie: The “so what” factor, right?
Nick: Yes, correct. I think that policing really talks to purpose. It just keeps you on that path. It’s a useful purpose.
Ronnie: In hiring people to become part of that, and to share your vision, and to go places, what are some of the key things you look for? I know you could say truth, but how do you find that when you’re interviewing somebody?
Nick: You have a conversation, what we’re doing now. Very rarely am I in an interview situation where I’m asking, “What do you want to be in five years’ time,” and all that jackhammer stuff that people prepare for. They’ve already worked that out. I don’t need to go through that with them. I don’t need to hold them accountable in an interview with what they’ve already worked out.
What you have a conversation to try and understand is what we’re trying to do. I’ll do a lot of the talking and I’ll explain the vision, explain the process through vision. Is that something you want to do? Is that something you want to be part of? Fact that you’re in front of me means you’re already good at what you do. Because someone better than me is qualified, do you want to be part of that? It’s them interviewing me. Who the hell am I to sit there and interview someone, “Are you right for the job?”
Ronnie: That is superb. I think you would have to be probably the first person I have spoken to who sees it that way. I make a point of interviewing everybody who starts in our organization. I plan on doing that as long as I possibly can, depending on our size, et cetera, but it is absolutely something I’m passionate about doing because I also want to feel out the person. I want to just see, do they really want to be a part of our train? Do they want to get on, do they want to see what we do?
When I start conversation, I say, “You’re talking to me right now because you already can do the job. I just want to know whether you really want to do the job.” I do, I speak more than they speak. I warn them of that too because people come in and they go, “Oh my God, I’m meeting the CEO.” They’re all nervous and whatever, I was like, “Sit down, just have a listen for a while.” You can feel it out.
Nick: I’d say it’s critical. It’s critical because they’re going to give us a hell of a lot more than we could ever give them. I turn up for them and continue to turn up for them. For me, it’s not by walking around remembering everyone’s name and all that. I’ve got the worst memory ever. I can’t get around my suburb without a GPS.
Ronnie: That ought to be in the float tank thing.
Nick: I’ve got dyslexia, I’ve got acute tourette, I’ve got all that shit. The traditional stuff is never going to be my forte. I’m not going to walk around shaking hands and kissing babies. I’m going to sit there and grab people and say, “Hey, let’s have a chat. Let’s have a chat about something. Remember when we talked about this in the interview” or, “Remember when we talked about that in the interview,” or, “Remember when we talked about that in that meeting,” or, “Remember when you said that to that person then?” I remember that. Let’s see where that’s going to go.
That, to me, is how you keep that vision alive. By constantly reminding people to participate in it and giving him permission to pursue what they’re good at because that’s what I’m paying him to do.
Ronnie: Let’s just totally change tack now. No matter which measuring stick you look at it, you’ve been successful. You’ve got a wonderful family, you’ve built and sold multiple businesses, you’ve done some whacked out crazy shit, you’ve had a great time, you contribute back to society, you do all of that. What’s the finish line for Nick?
Nick: It would be horrible for me right now to sit there and say it’s all about the journey. Soon as I say that, I wanted to vomit. What I mean by that is I give myself permission to change my mind mid-sentence because I can’t be right. I can only adapt because the world will continue to move. It bangs. The world banged, but it didn’t stop banging. It’s still banging.
As it evolves, I need to be a part of that. Be part of that creative energy, be a part of that creative process, and give myself permission to move and change. There’s never a finish line. If there’s a finish line, you’ve preordained and end. That end can’t happen because we’re still banging. There is no end. If we took the word end game out of the dictionary or out of the popular vocabulary, we’d be doing ourselves a great service by not looking at an end.
Then we start to get rid of notions like end of quarter, end of month, end of this, end, it’s always end. What are you getting to? You’re getting to some certain disciplines that said I want an end game. There’s no end game. For me, I have a passion and a purpose, and that says there’ll be no kid, there’ll be no child that is homeless or uneducated ever. I imagine a world where there is no child that is homeless, unloved, or uneducated ever. It’s all going to happen in my lifetime. There’s no point talking about end. That’s what I do, that’s where I go.
If I feel like I don’t want to do that, I won’t. It will be something else. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last 35 years. I don’t know what else I’m going to freaking do. It might change, who knows. It’s a no end, man. I’d love to get rid of that word.
Ronnie: I think that flexibility though is key. I think, posturally, it would be one of the key characteristics in you as a successful business leader is the ability to adapt, the ability to change, the ability to see what’s around you and take people who are with you, helping you to adapt to what’s changing and make your business pivot accordingly. In doing so, you’ve built successful businesses.
Everyone says, “Wow, he’s an overnight success.” It took the guy 15, 20 years to do that overnight success. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve seen in building those businesses and that you see out there? You work with numerous partner organizations, numerous vendors. You’ve got such a good view on that overall broad IT industry just purely by virtue of the type of business you operate. What are some of the key mistakes that you see people make and some of the key learnings that you just wish people would go– ?
Nick: Actually, what you’re talking about before is my answer to it. It’s not my success because success is defined by other people based on what they would consider to be an achievement. Might not necessarily be an achievement to me. It’s not necessarily success for me. Success is the feeling that I have every day in terms of unity. The feeling in being able to know that I’m going to come and talk to you today and know that I’m going to talk to a dear friend about something. I wish everyone that kind of success.
Looking at my daughter’s eyes every morning, I know she loves me back. That’s success. To be able to have a family that is love-based rather than duty-based, or promotion-based, or this is better than that. Some of those is going to define that as success. The things that people talk about as success are the things that you can get lost in and screw up your business. We call it, I call it, so therefore, we call it, “Don’t believe your own bullshit,” because that bullshit’s defined by someone else.
It’s not necessarily what you’re trying to achieve. You can sit there, built a company recently and sold it. Was that successful based on a whole bunch of other people’s success criteria? Yes, but I didn’t see that as success. That’s just part of a process. If I got lost in that, I wouldn’t be able to create again because I believe in my own bullshit. People in leadership situations or in visionary situations get lost in what other people deem their success. Really, it’s not really.
Ronnie: I understand that from a success standpoint. There are certain things that you see in businesses that they just don’t do well. There are things that you will have been through, some tough times as you’ve been growing businesses. With all of the right attitude, and culture, and approach, et cetera, you hit tough times. What are some of those things, the lessons you’ve learned?
Nick: You hit tough times because you had an expectation, and that expectation didn’t get delivered. That’s what tough time is. It could have been a $10 million loss, it could have been a $10 million profit. If your expectation was a $20 million profit, you failed. The obvious is I’ve lost $10 million. What if you lost 30 million the previous year? It’s, did your expectation get met. That is where that you work out whether you got it right or wrong. You didn’t break wall when you sit there and say, “My expectation didn’t get met.”
Let’s look at the expectation, was that right? Let’s start from there because that’s where the learning is. Every time an expectation didn’t come out the way that you’d expected, all of these is an opportunity for a correction.
Ronnie: Which is interesting because I can imagine that the sales individuals who are listening to this could immediately sit there and go to their managers and say, “I’m off my target. Can we have a chat about expectations, please? Were the expectations right?”
Nick: It’s a legitimate–
Ronnie: It’s a very, very legitimate discussion.
Nick: It is. It comes from this notion that we have a growth. Growth, we live in a growth world. That came. God knows how many centuries ago that, basically, everything came under sovereign rule. I give you $10, you got to give me 11 back, so you’re going to go try and make something. Therefore, interest happen, and interest rates happen, and growth happens.
Also, in a capital situation, you build a company. The notion is that someone’s going to buy that. They’re going to buy that if you said they could sell it for more than what I bought it off you. It’s always growth. I can’t help laughing my head off. Twitter makes $2 billion a fucking year, and it’s not enough because I only made $2 billion last year.
Ronnie: The market says what that’s about?
Nick: Yes, the market says what that’s about. We’re lost. The business world is lost in that shit. There’s a whole heap of, “Oh my God, I’m not winning, I’m not achieving. I’m not achieving,” because their expectation doesn’t get reassessed. What I’m saying is it’s not a thing to hide behind, as well as tough for someone, that sales rep together. Their boss had said, “This guy knows what he’s talking about,” this and that. No, that’s not true.
If you didn’t have a crack, you fail, if you didn’t turn up and give it everything you had. If you gave it everything you had and still didn’t make that expectation, you didn’t fail. Someone’s failed you. When you’re setting people unachievable tasks, shame on you. Shame on you. I don’t think there would be an enterprise in the world that didn’t start off as a private enterprise, like our businesses, where we were expecting to set people up for failure. How the hell does it get there?
Ronnie: It gets there every time, doesn’t it?
Nick: How the hell does it get there?
Ronnie: Almost every time. Nick, what would you say to business leaders who are finding it tough?
Nick: It’s okay for it to be tough. Again, tough is an opportunity for a correction. If you give yourself the freedom to look at what’s not working, you’ll get the answer. Always, every single time. As long as you give yourself the permission to say, “I didn’t fuck up, I didn’t. What I did was assess it all wrong. I need to correct.”
Ronnie: Part of that as well is motivating a team?
Nick: Can I just say the only to get an answer to that is to go and talk to your customers, go and talk to your staff, go and talk to your suppliers, they will give you the answer. Again, it’s finding out and you’ll never get it wrong if you do this, ever. I challenged someone to show me a situation where, “I’m wrong here.”
That is if you give someone something that they can’t do without, you’ll never get it wrong. You’ll never get it wrong. Start with that. Use that as your definition of value, you will never ever get it wrong. Not only in business but in anything. It’s why we raise our kids, it’s why our kids raise us.
Ronnie: Give someone something-
Nick: That they can’t do without.
Ronnie: -that they can’t do without. How would you then translate that to motivating a team?
Nick: Purpose. They’re motivated because, suddenly, what they do is purposeful. Everyone is addicted to purpose. There is not one person on earth that isn’t addicted to purpose because that’s what we’re here for. The human condition, the human experience at its core is looking for purpose. The meaning of life is meaning.
Ronnie: [laughs] Very, very true.
Nick: It’s purpose, it’s simple.
Ronnie: Let’s talk about that in the context of millennials in millennials’ view. I always say there is no compression algorithm for experience. Millennial feels that everything should be there. Everything should be right where they want to be. You’ve had so much experience with young people who are in hardship and young people through work. What’s your view on the millennial?
Nick: I’m going to give you an experiential answer to that rather than a popular culture answer to that. I’ve got a lot of faith in our millennials. I’m going to go on a limb here. There’s no such thing as a bad millennial because the kind of conversation that we were just setting up for implies that there’s something wrong with the millennials.
Ronnie: Absolutely not.
Nick: You were talking about these things, about they want this, they want that, they want that. I’m not going to go there. What I’m going to say is there’s no such thing as a bad millennial, there’s just bad parents of millennials. What I mean by that is we only need to look at history. If you look at the ’60s, it was a bunch of kids that were the result of the baby boomers who were busy after war, and so busy, busy, busy. These kids were neglected.
What they did was make their own rules up. They didn’t read the newspapers. Our kids don’t read the newspapers, they hit social media. They didn’t read the newspapers. They actually created their own pamphlets and university newsletters, and things like that. What came out of it was everyone looked at them, they called them hippies, and they said, “You guys are useless.”
What do these hippies do? The cultural revolution happened, the human rights movement happened, civil rights, female voting, equality, everything good that we experience right now came out of these dirty filthy hippies. Now, we’re progressive. Now, we’re doing things because they were failed by the generation that actually threw them on the streets and said, “Go for it because I’m too busy to handhold you.” What was true there that’s true now, we don’t raise our kids, our kids raise our kids. Other kids raise our kids.
Now, effort can only be one thing. That is to help them turn their wow, turn their or, turn their truth into an enterprise that’s actually going to be useful. I’ve got a lot of faith that they were neglected the same way as the children of the ’60s because we just got so busy being focused on end of month, end of quarter, end of year, end of this, end of that not wanting to fail. Making sure that success for them was a good ATAR, fuck that. Success for them is that you’re a good person. That’s what they measure themselves on.
They’re going to change the world. We need to participate in their ability to do what the kids in the ’60s did. Make sure that we’re not left behind like everyone else. Those dirty filthy hippies, they didn’t only do things from a civil rights movement point of view, and equality, and all that kind of stuff. They created companies like Apple, and they created companies like Microsoft, and they created companies like Tesla. They kept doing stuff.
If you look at the Northern European nations, so progressive, came out of that. If you look at what was happening in Northern Europe at the time, there was free this and free that, and free that, and free that. You go over on pics in Amsterdam, but shit, look at those economies, man. They’re killing it. They’re doing it through innovation through those people. We can harness the mind of the millennial who has so much going for them by virtue of the fact that they’re identical to the kids in the ’60s.
Ronnie: What a fantastic way to bring that together. We’re speaking a lot about varying different topics here today. I knew when we sat down to talk that we would never follow a guided path. We’ve spoken a lot about how successful you’ve been. Talk to me about– I’m not going to use the word failure because I think failure is fine, but it just conjures up a disaster. Talk to me about where you haven’t been successful.
Nick: Where I’ve had to correct over my life tends to be where I’ve doubted myself and didn’t have a crack, and just lost an opportunity. Just really lost an opportunity. If I did something and failed the expectation, I’d quickly correct that, learn real quick, and move on. That was a part of the process where I’m guarded, where I only ever felt gutted, which is, I think, was what you’re asking. I didn’t have a crack.
Ronnie: Didn’t have a crack, didn’t do it.
Nick: I just didn’t have a crack. I just sat on my ass, or sat on my hands, or doubted, and just didn’t do it. I didn’t do shit. That’s big missed opportunities in my life, big missed opportunities.
Ronnie: If you could go back in time, to your younger self, what advice would you give to that person today?
Nick: Always have a crack. Most importantly, stand in your truth. Just stand in your truth and believe that the purpose will get you out of everything, to be able to do something purposefully. Always with the outcome being that you’re going to be able to do something for someone. That without you, they couldn’t do it. Every single time will fill the wide space, will fill the gaps.
That’s the stuff that I would try and tell myself more and more, and more. Which is the stuff that I tell my daughter and any kids around her, my nephews, or my godchildren, an in particular, the wonderful people that we employ that are in that bracket that just love it. They love it. They love being given permission to know that what they’re doing is okay rather than criticize.
Ronnie: I think that’s something you said before, you give yourself permission. I think it’s important that those people, exactly you say, the younger generation, that they feel they have got permission. They can go and do what they want to do.
Nick: Absolutely, because all these things, that only create good businesses. The great good families that create good social groups, they create good communities, they create good everything. From a business point of view, why say we’re a family when you don’t act like one. It’s just wrong. Why say, “I want you all to achieve this by this time.” Tell them how they’re going to do it, and then when it doesn’t happen, blame them. You just told them what to do.
Take some freaking responsibility, or don’t be smart, don’t give them the freedom and the responsibility to deliver really well for you. You could be surprised. That should be Business 101, but it’s not. It’s death by hanging. I’m sure there are people listening to this going, “I want to call bullshit, I want to call him full of shit,” but his track record doesn’t say it. It must be driving a lot of people crazy.
Ronnie: The proof is there. The proof is absolute. There’s no question. Nick, tell me, how do you want to be remembered?
Nick: Jesus, I don’t know. A rebel.
Ronnie: A rebel. Love it. Tell us a funny joke, Nick. Tell me your favorite joke.
Nick: I’m the worst joke teller.
Ronnie: Come on, tell me your favorite joke. There’s a lot of stuff you’ve told me that’s very funny.
Nick: I think jokes are in the moment. Like anything, they’re in the moment.
Ronnie: I just took you right out of being where you want to be remembered to tell us a joke.
Nick: On Monday, a friend of mine, he came up to me and he goes, “Hey, Nick. Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
Ronnie: It’s a good question.
Nick: I looked at him and he goes, “Why?”
Nick: I laughed for about an hour. I thought it was the funniest thing I’d heard in years.
Ronnie: Very, very true.
Nick: That’s my joke. It was so funny.
Ronnie: I think that’s great. You know what? Sometimes being in business is sometimes like being a Kamikaze pilot. You get out there and you put your helmet on, and you hope for the best knowing that it might end up terrible.
Nick: Why do we put a helmet on when we know–
Ronnie: We know shit’s going to happen.
Nick: You know it’s not going to help. How clever was that? You just said these things surround us, we know it’s not going to help us.
Ronnie: That’s what we do. Nick, thank you very, very much. It’s been wonderful having you.
Nick: I hope it was helpful.
Ronnie: I think if we can have all the people who are listening and who are watching, I guarantee you that there are a number of things that they’ll take out of that. Not the least of which is your truth, owning your truth, knowing who you are, and believing in yourself, and having a purpose and following that purpose. I think that was a very clear message that came through.
I think the other message as well is, I’m going to call it “fuck the world.” If you believe you can do it, fuck the world. Do what you can do. That’s the attitude that you’ve had, but you don’t do that with an arrogance about you. You do it with a bring other people with you. Collectively, you can say, “Fuck the world. Let’s show you what we can really do.” I think the other core message, Nick, that–
Nick: As long as you give it a big kiss in the morning.
Ronnie: Do it with love.
Nick: Do it with love, and remember day and night.
Ronnie: I’m going to leave that one well alone. Now, that you’ve made me forget about what I was going to come up with as my third thing for you, but there is a third thing. If people are going to watch this, they will have taken out at least three. I guarantee you that.
Nick: I certainly hope so.
Ronnie: That’s wonderful. Thanks very much.
Nick: Thank you.
ABOUT NICK VERYKIOS
Nick has been in the IT industry for over 25 years and has successfully blended entrepreneurial ventures with a career spanning marketing, product development, sales, executive/general management and director’s duties.
In 1994, Nick founded the IT distributor, 1World Systems Pty Ltd and later, co-directed LAN Systems Pty Ltd, both highly profitable ventures. Following the sale of LAN Systems to Westcon Group in 2000, Nick was appointed to the Board of Directors and held the position of Group General Manager & Managing Director until March 2004, where he continued to grow revenue to $160M.