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Looking back and looking forward - lessons learned in 2009 and resolutions for 2010

Approximately a year ago we pulled together some thoughts from our esteemed leaders on lessons they had learned in the past year, and things they planned do to differently in the year ahead. Well, a year has gone by in the blink of an eye, and we thought it would be an interesting exercise to do it all over again, one year on and see what – if anything – has changed.

Would business lessons from the global financial crisis feature heavily? Would a new note of optimism shine through, 12 months on? Would any obvious unifying themes jump out at us from the answers that follow?

The answer is actually no, on all counts, but that in itself is interesting. The answers given seemed to be for the most part personal – to do with life lessons and ways to better manage what’s right in front of us, as a way of making sense of the big picture, perhaps.

So, here’s a selection of some of Intergen’s leaders’ pearls of wisdom, looking back on 2009 and forward to 2010.

* * *

Murray Newman, Chief Financial Officer

There were two major learnings for me this year:

  1. You cannot reason with a three year-old or a one year-old but their love is unconditional.
  2. The longer you leave something that you don’t want to do the worse and harder it gets.

One thing I am going to try and do this year is be more focused. It’s too easy for email or distractions to get in the way of getting things done, so I will try to be disciplined and only check and do email a few times a day, and get people to call or OCS me if it’s urgent and focus on my high priority tasks.


Emma Barrett, General Manager - Central

Lessons I learned in 2009...

  1. The value of quality decision making. Last year I was involved in a few decisions where an easy option could easily have been taken but would not have provided the best overall solution. It is good to be reminded to step back and really evaluate the desired outcome before taking the easy option when making important decisions.
  2. To-do-today lists work much better than to-do lists.
  3. Despite best intentions, I can't run, jog or even keep up a fast walk for 7kms during the last three months of pregnancy :)

And in light of this I will...

  1. Remember that you generally can't keep everyone happy all the time and not be afraid to go against the grain when making decisions. Encourage others to make quality decisions, regardless of how tough it might seem at the time.
  2. Create a daily to-do list and ensure I actually do everything on it (and delegate anything which stays on the list for longer than two days). Keep a separate to-do list for things that need to be done at some point, but not necessarily today.
  3. Not register for 'Round the Bays' this year!


Wayne Forgesson, Director Marketing

I learned two main things in 2009:

  1. That those who put their head in the sand waiting for the ‘recession’ to end often found that the world went on without them while they were “away”.
  2. That it is more important than ever to undertake activities that add value and pay dividends (return on investment).

And, in light of this, the one thing I’ll be doing differently this year is making sure that we continue to add value in everything we do.


Laurie Hogg, Strategy Management Officer

Two main revelations spring to mind from 2009:

  1. Fear gets in the way of pretty much everything. It’s amazing how much we won’t do because we are simply too afraid.
  2. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

In light of these, I plan (to borrow from Susan Jeffers) to feel the fear and do it anyway. And, thanks to good advice I received last year, I also aim to view business as just that and avoid taking anything too much to heart.

* * *

In wrapping this up, I’m actually stopping, for the first time, to think about what my lessons for 2009 are. Something about time being precious and life being short, probably. About working out what you are good at and working to your strengths. And being present, all of the time.

In light of this, I plan to respect the time that other people give me, in whatever capacity, and to respect – and do my best not squander – my own time.

As Emma says, you can’t please everyone all of the time. It’s taken me quite a few years to realise it, but sometimes you have to focus on what is best, and most important, and try not to get sidetracked by all the distractions (as Murray says). And try not to sweat the small stuff, which seems to be one of life’s biggest challenges, irrespective of the year we’re in.

What’s the most lasting lesson you learned last year? And what do you plan to do about it?

Posted by: Katy Sweetman, Marketing Director, Empired Group | 08 February 2010


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