Finding delight in toughest challenges

By June 17, 2022 No Comments

Entrepreneur and media star Mark Bouris has revealed how a mix of inspiration – from playwright George Bernard Shaw to media tycoon Kerry Packer – had helped him succeed in careers in law, property and finance.

Mark told the Rise 2022 conference in Melbourne how he’d found meaning in a quote in Bernard Shaw’s 1922 play Back to Methuselah: “Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful”.

The quote, ironically, is often truncated to mean something far more negative, Mark said.

It was infamously shortened by the late prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, who said only “life wasn’t meant to be easy” in his 1971 Alfred Deakin Lecture. 

Mark told his audience how the phrase had hounded Fraser’s political career until his electoral defeat to Labor’s Bob Hawke in 1983. And he highlighted how Fraser had missed the most powerful part of the quote – “take courage, it can be delightful”.

Bouris told more than 1,000 Rise delegates: “We have to take tough decisions today with war, supply-chain issues, inflation and higher interest rates – which might affect property prices and may even mean tenants cannot pay their rents.”

Fraser believed “taking on the big challenges was the way you made life delightful,” Mark said. “The more things confront you, the more delightful life can be if you adopt that state of mind. This is something that has stuck in my mind.”

Mark said he had faced major business challenges in his 30s, 40s and 50s – and “I always asked myself what confronted me and what could I do to make life more delightful”.

He recalled how he had become a successful lawyer in his 30s, but a legislative change resulted in him being made redundant at his practice.

“I had remarried, had a son from a previous marriage and three more sons,” he said. “I was the breadwinner. Then a senior partner said the firm was to be sold. Suddenly, I had nothing. He said he would go into the property industry. I had nowhere to go.

“I had to get really good at property. I made a good living out of it but was not particularly brilliant.”

After 10 years, he went into property development, but it didn’t work out, and “I had to do something else”, he said.

This time, fortune turned in his favour, and a legislative change opened up the mortgage market to new businesses that wanted to challenge the Big Four banks. 

Mark launched Wizard Home Loans with his business partner, media mogul Kerry Packer, who became his mentor.

He said Packer had “drummed into me” the following beliefs:

  • Focus on the borrower’s purpose, not yours. It’s their hopes and dreams.
  • Be accountable for everything you do and say.
  • Have courage when things turn against you. Be prepared to fail. Take it to the edge. 

“This was the true definition of courage to Kerry,” Mark said.

He sold Wizard to Aussie Home Loans after 10 years, and when the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit in 2007, the business “just disappeared”, and it was “tough to front up to that”.

But Mark didn’t take long to bounce back, launching Yellow Brick Road. “I did this in the middle of the GFC – the worst possible time,” he said. “I had to fall back on what I was good at, and I knew that if I were persistent, I’d be okay in the long term.

“I started with zero brand, customers and loans.

“Now, we loan $2 billion a month. I have learnt to be patient, persistent and to keep going because something will come your way. 

“It was a grind, and I ground it out every single day, even when I felt discouraged. I was taking on the most profitable banks in the world. I found delight in that. 

“Going back to George Bernard Shaw’s words, ‘it can be delightful’.” 

Mark told his Rise audience of real estate professionals: “You can turn adversity and challenges into a delight”. 

“It requires the right mindset – the how and the what: how you execute with discipline and consistency; and the what: the purpose of the product. 

He left the audience with one last quote – another line from the same Bernard Shaw play that American politician Robert F Kennedy used: “You see things; and you say, why? But I dream things that never were; and I say, why not?”

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