25 Lessons Learned


Angelina Neglia, VP Marketing Biotech Industry, interviews Scott MacDonald about his 25 Lessons Learned from his book, Saving Investa, How an Ex Factory Worker Helped Save an Iconic Australian Company.

A: Hello, I’m Angelina Neglia. I’m sitting here with Scott MacDonald, author of Saving Investa, How an Ex Factory Worker Helped Save an Iconic Australian Company. Scott, you lived in Sydney from 2008 to 2013; how did you wind up there?

S: Angie, an investment group within Morgan Stanley asked me to go and give them some advice on a struggling company they purchased in 2007. I planned to go for a week but did not leave until more than 5 years later.

A: The book describes how this big company with assets over $9 billion was failing and you and your team turned it around. It’s amazing how much drama went on as you dodged insolvency and default, sometimes within hours. Is turning around a company always this exciting?

S: Angie, I have been involved with several corporate turnarounds but Investa was probably the most challenging and, clearly, the most exciting.

A: Well, if you ever thought business was boring, you need to buy Saving Investa.

25 Lessons Learned from Scott MacDonald’s book, Saving Investa, How an Ex-factory Worker Helped Save an Iconic Australian Company.

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  1. Don’t Expect Anyone to Give You Anything – One thing I’ve learned, if you want something, work for it. Don’t expect anyone to give you anything for nothing, and don’t expect to get anything just because you show up for work. The habits you develop at working for things and succeeding will help you in future endeavours and help drive future successes. VIDEO
  2. You Make Your Own Luck – “Luck is the Result When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” You prepare for what may happen, and take advantage when it does. VIDEO
  3. Being Successful is More Than Just Working Hard – “19 Tons and What do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” Working hard is important, but being successful is the result of more than just working hard. VIDEO
  4. Losers Have the Best Excuses – Successful people focus on what they can do and find their way around obstacles. They don’t waste time blaming others or feeling sorry for their situation. Blame does not solve problems and neither do excuses. VIDEO
  5. It is Important to Pick a Job not based on Immediate Compensation but on how it prepares you to realize future opportunities. – Figure out where you want to go, and find a job that takes you further along that path even if the pay is less attractive. VIDEO

  6. If you know a firm will not succeed ultimately, don’t hang around and wait for someone else to turn off the lights. – Be prepared for the worst, and don’t be surprised when the company fails. Better yet, find a new job before someone shows up and turns off the lights. VIDEO
  7. Never stay where you are uncomfortable ethically. – If you stay for the money, you’re prostituting yourself. Move on. Keep your values and ethics. You will find other opportunities wherever you go. VIDEO
  8. No matter how important the project, life is too short to have to deal with assholes. – If you deal with someone who is that unpleasant, just forget and move on. There’s always going to be someone else to do a deal with. VIDEO
  9. Players Score Points but teams win games. – To be successful, any organization must have a culture of teamwork. Individual stars must be supportive of the team concept, or the group performance will suffer. VIDEO
  10. After you make the sale, get out of the house. – Once a deal was done, move on before the person you’re dealing with had buyer’s remorse, thought of questions that they should’ve asked and didn’t ask, or asked for outside consultation. “Time Kills Deals.” VIDEO

  11. Always Leave a Few Nickels on the Table – If they realize they got something that you didn’t have to give them, then they will bring the next deal to you, they’ll recommend you to somebody else, or they will look forward to working with you in the future. VIDEO
  12. Procrastinators usually come in last place. – You need to get the tasks that you know done quickly so that you have time to react to things that come up which you don’t anticipate. VIDEO
  13. Be a wall pusher – I’m a wall pusher. I get things done. So, my advice is “Be a Wall Pusher.” VIDEO
  14. Be a good listener. – “Don’t talk. Resist the temptation to talk.” You never learn anything when you’re talking. You learn when the other guys are talking. If you listen, and listening is a good art, you’ll learn what’s important to the other party, and you’ll be able to craft solutions that are better and more successful. VIDEO
  15. It is important to recognize change and get ahead of the curve. – Successful people recognize what is changing around them; they embrace change. They find ways to take advantage. Look ahead, not backwards. VIDEO

  16. In competitive markets, local decision-making is critical. – “Decentralizing leads to an improved performance.” VIDEO
  17. Whenever you are invited to perform on a bigger stage, you must take advantage of the opportunity and demonstrate your capability. – Understand that going to the presentation, giving them a report, and leaving is not… is not… It’s missing the advantage. It’s not taking advantage. What you need to do is exceed expectations. VIDEO
  18. A key to personal business success is to develop an expertise in something that adds value and others do not have. – Taking your knowledge and your expertise and developing something more specialized, that is not common, is one path to a more successful career. VIDEO
  19. Not Everything in Business or Life is Fair. – If you’re in business long enough, you will always find a situation which is unfair to you, and you just have to move on. VIDEO
  20. To achieve success sacrifice is required, and the family bears the greatest burden. – You just do it, and you make every minute count in work and your with family. VIDEO

  21. It is easier to achieve great success when starting from a low level of performance. – Don’t just focus on the big companies or the well-known companies. Look at opportunities in smaller companies and less successful companies and achieve success that way. VIDEO
  22. In everyone’s life I believe there is an opportunity to hit a homerun, but you have to swing the bat. – Maybe in business, maybe in personal life, but if you don’t take the job because you don’t want to move, or you lose the big deal because of a planned holiday, or you don’t pop the question to your future spouse, you won’t hit the ball. You won’t hit a six. You won’t get a homerun, so you got to swing the bat. VIDEO
  23. Maintain your health regardless of pressures at work or in life. – Exercise is critical, is part one’s life and maintaining one’s health, but finding time is really difficult, especially if you have a job that requires long hours, and you have a family that requires full attention. VIDEO
  24. Family is First – Even when I‘ve been CEO of a company, I’m the guy who gets there and turns on the lights and makes the coffee, but then, I am also one of the first to leave. VIDEO
  25. Find opportunities to learn something new everyday. – The ways, the data that’s available, or the ways that things are analysed may be different, and unless you’re constantly learning, improving, and expanding your knowledge set, you’re going to get left behind. VIDEO

Well, I hope you learned something new today and will check out Scott’s new book, Saving Investa, available online and in hardcopy early 2016.