Welcome back to Leader Talk! In episode 17, we met with Tony De Domenico, Chairman of the Board at Bertocchi Smallgoods.
Tony possesses over 40 years of experience across government, corporate, community and education sectors on domestic and international scales. He served as a trade and investment diplomat in Milan. From 1992 to 1997, he was selected to be a part of the ACT Legislative Assembly. At the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Tony was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia for his contribution to urban planning, research, and development in Victoria.
Tony has developed skills in business relationship management, risk assessment, business development, strategy, and executive management. In this chat, Tony spoke about how hard work and dedication cannot come naturally without passion. Tony believes that it’s the leader’s duty to surround themselves with passionate people.
Authored By Tony De Domenico, Chairman of the Board at Bertocchi Smallgoods.
“Passion shines through persistence.”
This has become my mantra for actualising business success. Our sense of passion is proven through our persistence, our ability to work hard in developing a business and cause. Persistence is passion in action. Being passionate goes beyond having an interest in something. Being passionate is about genuinely enjoying what you do to the point of feeling excited. No business would exist without passion. Passion is the reason we get up in the morning and are motivated to work hard and get things done. It’s safe to say that not a lot would happen without passion.
The five p’s are my recipe for business success: people, passion, persistence, pragmatism, and persuasion. People inspire you and help build on your passion. Being passionate is the fuel you need to be persistent in furthering a business or cause. When you’re persistent in advancing success, you’re naturally driven to acquire the professional foundations you need to deliver in the most pragmatic and effective way possible. When you can clearly articulate and implement the transformations you’re driving, others are persuaded. The people you persuade share in your passion, thus continuing a cycle of people being empowered by each other.
People make businesses
Over the years, business has garnered a reputation for being cold and impersonal. This is not ideal. All businesses are dependent on people. Whether you’re a provider, customer, or member of the community, people are the reason businesses are built. Therefore, people deserve to be treated with care and respect.
“Treat people the way you want to be treated” is an adage that never goes out of style. If you treat people well, they’ll return the favour. Implementing the Golden Rule helps businesses consistently achieve high rates of customer and employee satisfaction, a great foundation for business prosperity. Conversely, if you don’t treat people well, they don’t come back. No one wants to be around an ill-spirited person who makes them feel bad about themselves.
Another component of treating people well is embracing the whole person. We’re often quick to label on account of arbitrary parameters like age, gender, and ethnicity. To break this pattern, I’ve always blocked out the name, age, gender, and race of a person when looking at their CV. Blocking out parameters that don’t relate to the job allows you to focus on who the best person is from a professional point of view, not from unconscious biases. Removing prejudice and discrimination from the equation helps businesses generate more successful community outcomes.
Businesses are built by people. When you’re interacting with another business, always treat them with kindness and respect – the way you would want to be treated.
Passion is infectious
My approach to leadership is mirrored in the way I like to eat. I enjoy meals that are cooked simply and made from good produce. I don’t like diluting food with a plethora of sauces or overly fancy flavours. Quality produce sings for itself. I believe the same is the case for the teams that work in a business. As leaders, we don’t need to bombard our teams with longwinded rhetoric or overly complex processes. Keeping things simple allows for more effective communication. It also gives people space to further their unique strengths in advancing business success. We all have different skills to bring to the table.
Throughout my career, I’ve learnt to surround myself with people who are better at doing the things I’m not good at. Having a team of diverse thinkers broadens the intellectual capacity of businesses, allowing them to obtain more far-reaching success. Businesses stagnate without people who are willing to uplift, transform and guide. So, keep your eyes and ears open. You might surprise yourself with what you can learn from someone.
One of the fastest ways to kill passion is to micromanage and make things more complicated than they need to be. Passion is the force that unites a team. When you surround yourself with like-minded, passionate people, you feel more motivated to pursue your cause. Passionate people help build each other up. Being surrounded by passionate people helps you stay true to your values, empowering you to continuously give your best. Passion is the gas that cooks an amazing team.
But not everyone exudes passion the same way. An age-old misconception about passionate people is that they’re always loud and hyperactive. This is completely inaccurate. A quiet person can be just as passionate as a gregarious person. This is because passion is not contingent on surface-level personality traits. Rather, passion is underpinned by persistence. Passion encapsulates your dedication and devotion to a cause, not how loud you are. Being persistent and innovative in what you do is how you stay ahead of the game.
As a leader, it brings me so much joy to see people being persistent with their work. It shows that they’re wholeheartedly passionate about the cause, and that they want to do well as a result. Passion is infectious. So, if you’re wanting to further your passion, surround yourself with passionate people.
Passion takes the pain out of work
Managing a business is never smooth sailing 100% of the time. There will always be challenges. Having an innate sense of passion for your work helps you persist during those tough times. When you’re passionate, a more positive outlook naturally flows from you, allowing you to disperse it in everything you do. Framing your life through the lens of passion sculpts a healthy lifestyle movement. How can you be happy if you hate going to work? Working in an area you’re passionate about is an essential pre-requisite for a healthy work-life balance.
Passion gives you a powerful edge. When you’re passionate about your work, it doesn’t feel like a chore. You’re fully present and immersed in the process. As a result, passion makes you more motivated to dedicate more time and energy to your work. Our persistence to do well is what makes us persuasive to other people. People trust those who are wholeheartedly passionate about the cause they’re driving.
If you lack the passion to persist with your cause in the most pragmatic way possible, others won’t be persuaded. Passion is a pre-requisite for positive interactions. It takes the pain out of the work for everyone.
In-person interaction is great medicine
Humans are social creatures. A cardinal source of our happiness comes from being with people. According to the Victorian Government Better Health Channel, having social connections is good for your health and wellbeing. It helps reduce stress, increase cardiovascular health, and promote stronger immune systems. Face-to-face communication makes us healthier and more resilient.
This pandemic has highlighted how much I prefer in-person interaction over online communication. In-person interaction yields greater capacity for togetherness and connectivity. Think about how you felt the last time you had an in-person gathering with friends. Did you not feel joyous and rejuvenated? Too much time on our own can make us feel lonely and out-of-touch. This can hinder our passion.
When we interact in-person, our mood is lighter and we feel more energised. In-person interaction provides opportunities for us to build on our passions. As well as your peer group at work, it’s also essential to nurture relationships outside work. Be it neighbours, parents from your child’s playgroup, people you met at the gym or other people who share common interests, everyone is a potential friend and ally. Always seize opportunities to expand and nurture your network. It’s great medicine for the spirit.
Learn who you can trust
When I was younger, I wish I had a better understanding of who to trust. Learning who we can trust is an essential skill we need in and outside business circles. Unfortunately, not everyone is as nice as we’d like to believe. You may come across someone who is only nice when you have the power to make choices that affect them or someone is only interested in using you as a pawn for their ulterior motives. We can’t afford to be fooled by these types of people.
Yearning to be liked can sometimes cloud our judgment on who we elect to trust. A reality we all need to accept is that not everyone is going to like us. If we’re true to ourselves, we’ll attract like-minded people who in turn share in our passions. Staying true to our values helps us build a network of friends and supporters who ultimately outnumber the ones who don’t like us. Understanding who we can trust isn’t always easy. But in times of hardship, our true friends shine through. The people who stay with us when we’re in trouble are the people we can trust.
Life is short. So, whatever you do, ensure it’s something you’re passionate about. Chasing a pursuit without passion quickly falls flat. This is because you don’t have the persistence to see it through. Showing up with passion helps you shape better outcomes for yourself, your business and everyone around you.
Before you get ready for work, ask yourself these two questions: Am I passionate? Am I willing to persist with the cause I help drive?