Alan Kilfoyle

Alan Kilfoyle – You Can Recover

This week Robert Hossary speaks with our guest Alan Kilfoyle who shares some of his valuable lessons that helped him navigate his career and life for the past 5 plus decades. He'll share why it's important to : "Be open to opportunities" and "Be resilient". Also why "The show must go on". Most importantly, no matter what happens "You Can Recover".

About Alan Kilfoyle

Alan Kilfoyle has had over 40 years in HR in the corporate world and private consulting. He has worked with prestige recruitment companies and also twice run his own recruitment and consulting company

Alan is qualified as a Master Coach and began 4Seasons Consulting as a sole trader, largely specialising in Career Coaching and Counselling. He has a Graduate Diploma in HR Management and is a Professional Member of the Career Development Association of Australia and has served on the Victorian State Committee.

Along the way he has been an actor on stage and screen skills he still uses in consulting and counselling. 


Episode Notes:

Lesson 1: Keep open minded 06m:20s

Lesson 2: Be open to opportunities 08m 16s

Lesson 3: Be Culturally aware 10m 45s

Lesson 4: Be aware of yourself as a product 15m 39s

Lesson 5: Be Resilient 19m 39s

Lesson 6: The Show must go on 24m 19s

Lesson 7: Be on top of everything but don’t micromanage 28m 36s

Lesson 8: You can recover 31m 18s

Lesson 9: Teamwork 34m 47s

Lesson 10: Listen, learn, live up to. 39m 33s


Alan Kilfoyle -10Lessons50Years

Robert Hossary: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn your shortcut to success. Where we dispense wisdom, not just information or media facts, twinning a national audience of rising leaders. My name is Robert Hossary and I’m your host. This podcast is sponsored by professional development forum. Which helps diverse young professionals of any age, accelerate their performance in a modern workplace. On this podcast you’ll hear the honest, practical advice that you cannot learn from a textbook. And why can’t you learn from a textbook? Because it took 50 years to learn. Today’s guest is Alan Kilfoyle. Alan has had 40 years in the corporate world and in private consultant. Allen is a qualified master coach and began 4Seasons consulting as a sole trader, largely specializing in career coaching and consulting along the way.

Alan has also been an actor on stage and screen.  Skills he still uses in consulting and counseling. Welcome to the show, Alan.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:01:08] Thank you, Rob. Very nice to be here.

Robert Hossary: [00:01:10] So I suppose I should start by a disclosure to our audience that I’ve known Alan for close to 15 years. And Alan did help me through career coaching and counseling.

When I had a. An unfortunate event in my career. And I came back from overseas where I was running a successful it company. And I came back to Australia and got a new position, but I didn’t realize that you could mourn for a job. And I was doing that, and Alan helped me see that. So I just wanted to be open with everyone that I I’ve known Alan I’ve used his services. And I, if, if you’re looking for someone, I highly recommend him. Alan, let let’s just start off with a good question that we ask most of our guests. What was your first business lesson?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:02:02] First business lesson, Rob, I guess, is make sure that you become excellent at something.

Become well-known become famous. Set yourself up as the gold standard. That’s your brand and it’s invaluable.

Robert Hossary: [00:02:14] And how did you learn that?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:02:16] I learned it through bitter experience early on, early on this is particularly when I was setting myself up. As my business. Yeah. I’d have a point of differentiation.

You know, you had to be something that people would, would seek or you set a standard. When I was doing recruiting in a very much a cowboy world. I strove for, and I reached a standard where people would say, well, if Allen sends across a resume or recommends where you say someone will take notice and do it.

And as I say, this was a cowboy world that made me feel very good. And that was a point of my salesmanship, I guess.

Robert Hossary: [00:02:50] So you’re you, you would recommend to any listener now that whatever they, they do whatever they specialize in to be excellent at it.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:03:00] Absolutely. And. Word travels word travels very quickly, either way. I remember being up in Darwin at one stage and that’s, it’s a very small world and a chap said yeah we’ll, we’ll give you a go and if you do well you’ll be famous next week, if you don’t do well, it won’t take that long.

Robert Hossary: [00:03:23] Okay. I understand the point and I understand it. And how it would have affected you, had you not been successful or excellent at what you do, because there’s a lot of things that I did that I wasn’t excellent at. But luckily from my, my perspective, it didn’t ruin me, but if I was better at it, I probably would have been even more successful.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:03:46] More quickly, perhaps. The other thing about that as well, I learned at the same time, you’ve got to be agile to things do change. Keep an eye out for what’s new. What’s going to replace you. What else you need to know that you’re adding into your quiver or some, you know, you become redundant or unnecessary in a very short space of time.

So, part of your time has to be spent on.

Robert Hossary: [00:04:10] Yep. Well, let’s go. The other side of that coin then What is it that you have unlearned in all your time? So, something that you Fiercely believed in and then you woke up one day and went, Hmm, well, maybe not.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:04:25] This. I found this, the hardest thing of all wrong. It’s a difficult one.

I’ve made so many mistakes along the way. So, I’m not trying to pretend that I’m in any way. Perfect. But I don’t know what I’ve personally changed. An opinion vehemently on something. I do remember things as a young guy in my second job, 20 years old going to an induction day at a government place.

And the gentleman got up with all of us, knew you guys and said, the very first thing you’ve got to learn is don’t try and change anything. Imagine how that goes to him today. I guess I learned very quickly also something that I did try you. Can’t please, everybody. And you can’t please everybody all the time.

So, you’ve got to know when to walk away from something.

Robert Hossary: [00:05:08] Yeah.  I can say that it is a difficult question to ask because it means we have to confront ourselves and sometimes, you know, with people like you and I, Alan, who, who have been very honest with each other from the start, there’s not a lot of, well, at least in, in my experience, there’s not a lot of things that I hold so vehemently, you know, rigid that I can’t change. So, you know, in those instances, it’s just a normal day. You’re confronted with new information, new data, you change. It’s I get it. All right. Well, we’ve got you on because of your experience and your background. And so, let’s start with your list. The first thing you’ve given to us is keep open-minded.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:05:54] Ah, yeah. Well, what makes me a consultant these days is my background and so many different aspects of it. And I’ve learned from all of it. They’ve all ended up to what I am now. It’s like weaving a thread, you know, HR taught me documentation, taught me process. Recruiting was finding a niche fighting in a very competitive market.

General consulting goes to satisfy customer’s needs, open to see what’s happening. Always see things through the other person’s eyes. That’s a very hard thing to do. Sometimes I’m so wrapped up in what you do and what you provide, why can’t the world? See it. Might not be what they want at all. I went through this process in my own mind about a year ago, and I thought I’ve learned a lot from HR, et cetera, et cetera.

And I realized later that Acting taught me so much. It taught me myself as a product. It taught me resilience and it taught me the need to really carry through. So even lessons for being unemployed, you know, needed a targeting short term strategy. How do I get through this? What else can I do in my hand to? God, I need another glass of wine, but being adaptable, I retrained as a, as a gym instructor at that time, you know, and that could have been my new career.

Robert Hossary: [00:07:07] So all this is. Based around keeping an open or being open-minded and not being locked into all. Look, I’m at this or my degrees in that. And I have to do this.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:07:20] Exactly. And this comes through with my, seeing my, my clients, you know, by. Candidates, whatever they might be. And a lot of it comes through this in Career development.

Very often people think I’m an accountant and I’m a rotten one and I want to be something else. What else can I do? You know, it’s not worth going to work a nine to five doing that, but also opportunities arise.

Robert Hossary: [00:07:42] Well, that takes you straight into your second point Be open to opportunities. I don’t mean to be flippant, but isn’t that just common sense? Shouldn’t we all be open to opportunity,

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:07:54] W what’s true, but sometimes it can be very unexpected. I had an interesting time a few years ago in my time as a careers coach, right. I met a young Vietnamese woman about 30 years old, and she was a very, very smart lady. She’d come over on a boat. When I, with a family, she was a refugee.

She’d missed out on some of her education. So, her business, English, wasn’t all that good. So I helped her with that, I helped her with a resume. I hope to with it. Applying for government jobs, selection, criteria, et cetera, et cetera. She was very, very grateful. She then spread the word throughout who community metaphorically speaking, Rob on Monday morning, I had a line of Vietnamese ladies at the front door. You help Sue. You will help me to, to the point that that was about the March or April of the year .  Later in that year, October, November in the career development association meeting I was chatting with a couple of the guys there and I said, you know, what’s 70% of my business at the moment I didn’t know existed in April. So, it’s being able to take advantage of that. It was thrust upon me, I guess.

Robert Hossary: [00:09:02] But you were open to it.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:09:04] Keep being open.

Robert Hossary: [00:09:05] Yeah. Yeah. I I’m, just trying to, to think back to my career, whether there was any time when I had to be open to opportunities. And I suppose when, I came back from the U S I was looking for a senior position because that’s where I was at. And I ended up taking contractual work simply because that’s what was available. So, it wasn’t so much an opportunity, but it was more basically going back to your first point to keep open-minded. And because I was open-minded, I opened up all those other opportunities for contract work, which then led me to a, the final position that I had a few years ago. And it taught me a lot more. And skilled me up a lot more over the last decade to be able to now do what I’m doing. So, I, I get that.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:09:57] Yeah. You never know what’s around the corner, Rob, and you’ve just got to keep an open-minded identify it and then decide. Yeah, I’ll, I’ll jump on that one. You know.

Robert Hossary: [00:10:06] You never know what’s around the corner. So you, your next point is being culturally aware. Did you learn that from your previous anecdote that you’ve just shared with us?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:10:17] I look at it from a few things. My wife is Malaysian Chinese, so I learned a lot from that. Some of your people might not know Melbourne’s a very multicultural place as well.

And I was walking through a prestige store with my brother-in-law, who is American, and he looked around and he said, gee, you know, if you, if you weren’t hiring Asian people to help you to be out of business. That’s right. And I had some interesting examples of that too. Being culturally aware will help you avoid making mistakes.

And it also gives you a huge advantage. I remember a ton again, as a consultant. Dealing with the little lady who’d been made redundant. She was Chinese, probably about 40. And we were going through all the various things you need to do in the career change process, you know, and I said, something was wrong at the end of the session.

She went to the door and I said, no, no, no, come on, come on back. I’m not politically correct. As you know, Rob, sorry, she’s this tiny little woman up, up to about my chest. And I grabbed her hands. One, one in each hand said, come on, tell me what’s wrong. I’ll never forget because she gripped me like a wrestler.

Her hands nearly crushed mine. And one tear came from our eye and she set up back up again. I don’t know now. And she said, I am so ashamed. I had let everyone down. Oh, I get emotional thinking about it. It was the loss of face, all that sort of thing. We’d be talking about networking. And she was really had a barrier about doing something like that.

And all people pounding on the door trying to get into the interview room and I’d just go away. And I had to give her that, that sort of lesson, I guess, but knowing where she was coming from, helped me in that.

Robert Hossary: [00:12:00] Having, worked in, in Taiwan, Alan, as you know, I understand the cultural peculiarities of Eastern business practices.

And it’s, if you’re, if you’re not culturally aware, if you’re not awake to it, you come across badly. And as you’ve just pointed out, you don’t see, especially if you’re in a senior position, you don’t see what your attitude does to your employees or you don’t see the hurt that they have. You, and I know a lot of stories like this from people in call centers in, in India. Not understanding the hierarchal structure that they need there. And so, the boss sitting on the floor with all the workers just destroys that. And there’s no respect there because that’s the culture of that business environment. So, I get what you’re saying. And do you think that it’s still that way today?

Especially in Australia. And, and you’re right about Melbourne Victoria or Melbourne in particular, the largest Greek population outside Athens or outside Greece. So yes, we are a very multicultural country in Australia, but especially in, Melbourne, but back to the question, do you think that that multicultural that, that cultural awareness is being required more and more today?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:13:35] I think we are getting to understand it a bit better. I think the basic natives being us have learned lessons over the last 20 years, last 15 years. And they are now aware that they need to know things like, do you offer to shake hands with. A certain ethnic person. Is it okay or should you not?

I do a lot of reverse training in this too with, with people. And they might be, you know, like the little lady. Yes. Lady Chinese or a chapter on the middle East, who you got to talk about, maybe having a handshake which we find acceptable and it’s totally foreign to him. Yeah. Oh, I learned a lesson about a young middle Eastern boy with his parents, or they went to.

To roughly say you can’t do that. And we would regard it as a bit of affection and, and warming and welcoming, and it’s totally wrong.

Robert Hossary: [00:14:26] It is so being culturally aware; I do get it. And you need in business, in life, in everything, as you said, you know, ruffling a little boy’s hair, that wasn’t business that was life.

And you don’t do that. So, understanding your surroundings, understanding the culture that, of, of the, the people you’re interacting with. I can see the importance of that.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:14:48] Absolutely. True.

Robert Hossary: [00:14:49] You, you said something a little while ago and you, you, which brings me to your fourth point, you said. You were aware of yourself as a product or what do you mean by that?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:15:00] Okay. This again comes back to something I learnt at acting and acting school. And let me tell you, you need to be a product when you’re acting, you know what you are, you know what you aren’t. If you see yourself on screen, you spend half an hour thinking, running for the toilet. That’s not me. Oh my God. Putting out the handkerchief. And then you realize you are. I thought I might’ve been the next George Clooney, but no, I could be there to John Malkovich perhaps. And you very quickly learn what you can do and what you can’t do. You lose a few things when you do acting or you lose false bravado.

Because you will very quickly be found out you claim to be something and you’re not, and you lose false modesty and people sometimes think, Oh, well, Alan carries on a bit, but Alan is just really saying, what he is.  The old world, Popeye. I am what I am. Okay. And you need to know that you need to promote that.

I talk about this with people who are my clientele. Have a summary of yourself, a professional summary, which you and I know very well because people are looking for this snapshot and what are you? Yeah. Part of the same point perhaps is what can you do and what can’t you do in business? There were three answers.

Alan, can you do this? Answer A, sure I can piece of cake. I know that well, Answer B, Hmm. I might need to bone up on this a bit or research it a bit, but yes, then I can. Okay. Answer C, no, I can’t. But I know someone who can, which is still adding value because if you get a chance, people will come back to you if you’ve done something well, and they’ll give you first crack at it. Yeah. It’s I had an interesting time once.  Lady came up to me after a business meeting and gave me a card and said, I’ll be in touch with you. What they wanted was that they were a group of very professional, young women.

Who are dealing with some displaced older males and try to relocate them into a different industry? They were smart and savvy enough to realize that they wanted an old ugly man like me to talk to old ugly men like them. So we did that and that worked very well. So probably six months after that, she contacted me again and said, we want to do a presentation down at the Geelong football club actually. Could you do that? And she didn’t know that I could do presentations or whatever, but I got the first crack. So the answer was yes, I could. And then there is seen, you must have bite off more than you than you can chew. Does that answer the question? No. Yourself as a product, what you are doesn’t mean that static. because you’re always growing, but know what you can do, what you might be able to do and what you can’t do.

Robert Hossary: [00:17:35] It absolutely answers the question. Also, if you take it, take that metaphor a little further product, evolve you’re in, and if you know yourself as a product, you know, your unique selling proposition to use sales, speak, you know the features and benefits that you can offer.

So yeah, I do get it, but. I’m intrigued. And I love the fact that the, of the point you’re making from an acting perspective. It removes the false modesty. It removes the bravado because as you know, I have dabbled in that as well.  I’m not a professional like you, but I’ve done a few little things and you’re absolutely right.

I remember that feeling of just being who you are. I still am. So, what you’re really saying with this is be authentic.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:18:30] Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. And be prepared to be able to talk to it and be prepared to back it up, you know? So now you’re saying something and then you can’t say, well, what you are, you’ve got to, you got to show that, you know. Don’t just tell ’em, show ‘ em.

Robert Hossary: [00:18:46] Very true. All right. Let’s move on. Your point number five. Resilience,

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:18:52] Again, learned from acting in a lot of ways. Daniel Craig, who you may have heard of? We all Know how successful Daniel is. And he said, I think 95% of acting is knock-backs and that’s quite true. So, one of the things that you learn in acting and goes through to other areas of life is being able to take a knock back, take it on the chin learn from it and maybe come back from it.

I had an interesting time when I auditioned for an ad, and the ad was to do with an awareness campaign amongst Jewish community for a thing called Tay-Sachs, which affects Eastern European Jewish people. I don’t know why, but it’s in the gene somewhere and we did a really good, there was, I played a husband, there was a wife, and we did our stuff. We did it pretty well I might say. And did I get the gig? No, I don’t look Jewish enough.

Robert Hossary: [00:19:48] Well, it is the only industry left that where you can discriminate on looks, you know, that.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:19:56] Exactly right. But again, I, I tell people and in my own business, you know, if you, if you get a knock back, take a graciously, try and learn from it, don’t take it to heart.

The sun comes up tomorrow morning and also don’t take a knock back as that’s the end of the story very often than you might’ve been beaten by somebody else or another organization to a contract, to a role. Okay. Come back to them. How’s it going, you know, Oh, well, funnily enough, other people promise the world, but they haven’t delivered are you still available. This happens more often than you think.

Robert Hossary: [00:20:33] I, I, yeah, I’ve been there and I, I agree with you, the interesting thing about resilience and what you’re talking about is too many people don’t understand what you’ve just said which is again, to paraphrase. You. Don’t take it personally.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:20:51] Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. I had a candidate once. This was a lady probably in her fifties and she’d been she was getting sick of being knocked back. Okay. So going for job after job and not getting it. So eventually one of the agencies gave her some feedback, which she really disagreed with.

And she came back to me and said, boy, I told him I really showed him. No, I didn’t agree with that. And I said, you did what, you know, for a start, what chances she got of getting anything from that guy again? Yep. It’s just nonsense. And who knows, you know, as we said, things can change a month later. She could have been re offered something, but.

You just got to get up in the morning and no matter how well you market your soul for how good you are, you got to get a big percentage of no. Thanks. All right.

Robert Hossary: [00:21:41] You’re saying something Ellen, that again, resonates I know full well that you within your career have had a bout of unemployment.

You’ve, been in a, in a situation where you’ve not had a job. I also have been in a situation like that. And unless you adopt a different mindset, you, you are jeopardizing your mental health. If you take the knock-backs, personally, if you, if you don’t learn from what you’re doing, if you’re not following some of these things that you’re actually saying now that does affect your mental health.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:22:20] Yeah, exactly. Right. You get down and do a little vortex a spiral a vortex and curl up in a ball and the world doesn’t want to see that. It doesn’t matter what’s happened to you, you’ve just gotta be strong and bust out of it. Things will break open.

Robert Hossary: [00:22:34] They will. They absolutely will. I don’t know about you, but I kept all my rejection emails and letters and they, they amounted to over 300.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:22:42] Wow.

Robert Hossary: [00:22:43] So who cares?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:22:44] You could use them for wallpaper.

Robert Hossary: [00:22:46] That they’re all emails my friend, but yeah. Does that mean that, that I, as a, as a person I’m not worth it? No, absolutely not. It just means I didn’t find the right opportunity. You and I didn’t take it personally. And that’s lessons I learned from Alan Kilfoyle a long time ago.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:23:03] There we go. What goes around huh?

Robert Hossary: [00:23:05] All right. We both agree on that. Let’s move on to, to your next point. Point number six, which is again, something that’s from your acting background. And I, I’m curious to see how you’re going to make this relevant. The show must go on.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:23:23] Okay, again, as you say, from, from acting, this was from acting class.

And we had a presentation night after end of semester particular gentleman who was in charge of this, a fellow named Peter Sati he was very strong on acting, not so much in groups, but one-on-one okay now. The fellow came in to do this presentation and he lost it. He cracked up, I can’t do it. I can’t go on which left his opposite number, young woman with no show, nothing to do.

She very generously, very kindly asked if I could fill in which I did, and it was successful on that was great. But Peter really paid out on the guy who didn’t, who didn’t follow through. He had a very good saying. And, and I think it’s very true in the acting world, but also it has relevance throughout all of, all of your working life.

He, he used to say, I don’t care if you watched runoff with your best friend, your dog’s been shot, whatever, all those troubles, you treat them like a hat and coat, and you put them on that stand as you come in, and that could be coming into work and you pick it up again, if you want to on the way up, but the show must go on.

People are depending on you. It could be your team. It can be your customers. They need you, and you take strength from that. You perform what you need to. On show or in business, and then you can, yes, you can put your tail between your legs on the way out and take your troubles home.

Robert Hossary: [00:24:52] I’m going to take issue with you on this.

And I have actually been in a theater, watching a musical where one of the lead roles just lost it. Now I don’t know what this, this actor’s issue was, whether he had a, you know, a breakdown of some sort, but basically came out during a critical climactic scene, told us what was going to happen, said he can’t do it and walked off stage.

The musical director then got up and you, you with a script in hand, finished the show. So I understand from your theatrical perspective, what that means and why, but. In life today, if you don’t confront issues like personal problems and, those heavy personal issues that, that afflict all of us from time to time, that is going to affect you in the long run.

And so just to pretend for the time being for a small period, that it doesn’t. You know, the, that the show must go on. So, I’ve got to forget about, you know, my mother being in hospital and I have to do this. I’m not sure how I feel about that Alan.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:26:06] There’s that old saying in your own time, son, I’m not trying to put your, your viewpoint down.

I, I hear what you’re saying. There’s a couple of points on that. When you’re on show in the broadest sense, you must be on show in my, in my view, I, I agree with Peter. But that doesn’t mean that things, that you’ve problems go away. You address them again when you walk out the door and in fact, if you don’t address them, you’re going to go into that spiral that you mentioned before.

So it must be done. There was another thing which might be relevant here. Well, I don’t know if you know, but I do some singing as well. And I come to my singing coach one time and said, you now, my girlfriend at the time has left me was, you know, really, really sad, et cetera. And he grabbed me by the ears and said, you put that into your performance.

Yeah. You go off you go, boom. It’s part of it. Now it’s easier to do if you’re singing a blues ballad on stage instead of having a meeting with the BHP board. But I think there’s some value in that too.

Robert Hossary: [00:27:08] Okay. I hear you. I’m not disagreeing with you, but I don’t know if I’m fully on board, even though I must be absolutely transparent. I do actually practice what you just said, but I’m also here as an advocate for the listener, so. Okay. So let’s go on to your point. Number seven. Be on top of everything, but don’t micromanage.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:27:32] That’s right.

Robert Hossary: [00:27:33] How do you do that, Alan?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:27:35] This is a learned thing and I’ve learned it from business experience. It’s almost like double think out of 1984.

Okay. You can’t micromanage people because you will lose your best people. I think, you know, I’m sure that the really good creative minds that you want around you. If you micromanage them, you might have to go. Say that they’re going to go within three months or six months. You’ve got to understand what they’re doing, but you’ve got to give them your head, but you’ve got to keep a big overview.

I think of what is happening, being in a project, et cetera, et cetera. At one stage, I must admit I got lazy. I didn’t keep an overview of the business that I was running, and I really paid the price. Got into some real trouble costly mistakes were being made. And I was unaware of it and it reflected very badly on me.

So, when I got back again in my new business, right, I put in place clear measurables, what needed to be achieved and meeting with the people with me. I didn’t care how they went about it. As long as they met those achievable KPIs. And if they had any trouble, they knew to come and see me, et cetera, et cetera.

But it wasn’t going to tell them how to suck eggs. As long as the eggs were well sucked. That was fine.

Robert Hossary: [00:28:51] Nice saying no, I, I hear you. I knew, I knew a colleague who had a printing company many, many years ago, doing incredibly well, had some very large contracts people like Microsoft and HP and all the end user license agreements.

So, you can imagine when they were, when they actually sold software, where, when this stuff went in boxes and they were doing very well, but he, he left all of the accounting side of the business to an accountant and didn’t keep an eye on what was happening because he wasn’t an accountant. That’s not the point you’re making. Yeah. Keep an eye on everything. You don’t have to be a bookkeeper. You don’t have to balance your accounts, but you have to know what the hell is happening with your money. In, in this particular incident.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:29:41] Yeah. You have to know what, what you need to know. And that’s business savvy, some of it can be learnt, some of it can be learned by study. Some of it can be learned by being a very good two IC somewhere first and learning the business and seeing how that business works and how it feels.

Robert Hossary: [00:29:56] All right. Let’s move on to your eight point which resonates with me quite a bit for many different reasons, but yeah. You can recover.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:30:06] Yes.

I think we’ve both been through this and I, I certainly was, and my business went down. That was unemployed. I didn’t know what to do, but I couldn’t just sit there twiddling my thumbs and I trained as a gym instructor. And that was, that was doing quite well. I got, I got some work doing that and associated with a gym, the money at that stage wasn’t that great. And then out of the blue, completely out of the blue came an opportunity to rejoin. The consulting industry. Someone took a chance on me and I’ll forever be grateful to her. And she said, we want someone three days a week to come in and do some business development, crack open some doors for us.

I think you can probably do that. I said sure. So, I started and two days later she said, can you go full time? We didn’t expect to have someone with your experience join us. It was very pleasing. But I was back in the game and it was funny because I was contacting some of the people that I’d been dealing with before it was Mate where have you been a welcome back? Can you get me such and such? Can you do so-and-so, so my sins were forgiven, and my skills and experience welcomed back, and the rest is sort of like history. I recovered very quickly, but again, it was being open to a chance, I suppose.

Robert Hossary: [00:31:20] It was. But it it’s proof of, of, of the lesson that you learned that. Yeah. Just because you’re down, you’re not out. You can get back up; you can recover and yeah. Sometimes you, you need a hand sometimes you don’t, you just need a good set of ears and eyes to seek out that opportunity.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:31:39] Yeah, exactly right. And it was interesting how quickly. That I was re recognized in the industry.

And some people that thought I’d done the wrong thing by them and I hadn’t, but they take it things wrong way. They’ve moved on. They’re out.

Robert Hossary: [00:31:53] Add that to your lesson, because I think that’s an important point that you can recover. And if your downfall, or if you’re out of it , because of a grudge or, because someone has come in and put a broom through the place and gotten rid of you.

That’s all well and good. You will recover. You will survive. And it doesn’t matter what those people do or who they are or how long they’re there, because you’ve moved on. And if you would, if you attach yourself to that loss for, for too long and start looking and saying, Oh, they can’t do it as well as I did, or I was better or you build up this, this. This bad personality, this bad grudge. And it just, it doesn’t leave you open to move on it. Doesn’t leave your mind open to understand that you have, you have recovered, and you have moved on.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:32:51] Exactly. I think. Perfectly correct. Something like that happens to you. You must, you must have a look at yourself.

What have I done wrong? What’s through their eyes. Have, have they seen wherever I let them down or wherever I let the self-down and a bit of re-evaluation and then, you know, pull yourself together? Okay. But that doesn’t diminish me as a person on we go.

Robert Hossary: [00:33:12] That’s the important part. Now I I’m with you there. That is the real important part. Okay. Lesson number nine. Now this is something that. Is a well dumb moment for me, but I’m sure that you have a good anecdote to explain how, what this means to you. You talk about teamwork. As being a very important lesson.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:33:34] Brought home to me in a theater, you had a group that I was in. If anyone wants to learn about teamwork, they joined a theater company. We were doing a show called the, in the opera, which is a fast. And one of the things that I played, three roles in that, and I had to bring some something on stage, which was a massive, massive about painting. And we had to as a gift for somebody and.

Somebody had taken this thing, which far too big for the stage. And I thought I had to be done at pace while we were singing and performing. And twice it crashed over during rehearsals. This is not going to go well. Anyway, we were doing the main act and there, the things sitting there rock solid and I’m singing, dancing and carrying on.

I look behind me and there’s three little girls from the cast holding up with one finger rich with cute little smile. So, teamwork. And there was a cast member who was selling tickets and just about killing herself with tiredness, but you wouldn’t know it when she was on stage.

 There was a marketing company that I worked for was my first introduction to any sort of technology. This organization was working flat chat, I’d say a hundred percent, all day, every day, it was about a hundred people in it. Very, very big group. And yet none of them were too busy to teach me. And I’d like to think that I repaid them. In spades in what I did when I got my business started up again, I built this into my business.

I’d seen in the past recruitment consultancies where particular agents had got very jealous about different CV’s, et cetera, and kept them to themselves. So, I didn’t want that to happen. So I built in, I. A reward system where it was a split fee, depending on if you had the job and he had the person I worked very well, a shared rewards system, and people actually took pleasure out of somebody else getting, getting a placement.

Robert Hossary: [00:35:21] Isn’t that wonderful.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:35:22] You know, the, the teamwork there was phenomenal. Yeah. And we worked quite a few times on tenders, worked back till 10 o’clock at night, sometimes all night. And I was done with a smile on the face, and we built this team, ethos, same success.

Robert Hossary: [00:35:36] It’s interesting, Alan, because you and I have both worked in organizations where they profess teamwork, and yet there’s always one or two that will keep information to themselves.

And that comes from an insecurity in their job, as opposed to wanting to be part of a team it’s not wanting to lose their job, not wanting to lose their importance, but they don’t realize that by doing that they are less important to the organization.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:36:09] Quite correct. Quite correct. Somebody said recently try and make yourself dispensable.

Robert Hossary: [00:36:14] Oh, you listen to a podcast that we just finished recording.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:36:19] In fact that’s what it was. So, they’ve gone into my brain and will stay with me. No. Yeah.

Robert Hossary: [00:36:27] Well, I mean, you know, I’ve, I’ve believed that for a long time. If you want to make yourself indispensable, make yourself dispensable, be part of the team grow. Do exactly what you’ve just said. Don’t hold. Things to yourself, share them, share your knowledge, share your experience, bring people along the journey with you, make other people successful. And you know, that’s also the sign of a good leader.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:36:51] Well, that’s, that’s true. Yeah, it really was an interesting. Dynamic the way it happened, because we found that the, the group then grew, you know, we were getting more business in, people were seeing opportunities.

They took it upon themselves to put their antenna up rather than just doing their job. They thought, Oh, this could work for Freddy across the road. Let’s jump in there. We’ll get Freddy to jump in there. And it was really quite amazing. I mean, it sounds like a bit airy fairy, but yeah, not at all.

Robert Hossary: [00:37:20] No, it’s definitely not. And let’s. Let’s just go back to your you know, theatrical anecdote there, those three cast members who were holding up this, this prop, if they weren’t there everyone on that stage, including them who may or may not have been on stage at that time would look foolish. They would lose by having them there.

They might have felt uncomfortable, but everyone looked good, and the gag worked.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:37:50] Yeah, sensational. It was it was just a wonderful feeling. You know, you embrace them for that.

Robert Hossary: [00:37:55] Yeah. And the anecdote, the lesson is very well put and very easily transferable to life and to business. So, thank you for that, Alan.

Okay. Well, believe it or not, Alan, we we’ve come full, you know, full circle to the very last one. This is your, your point. Number 10. Listen, learn. Live up to now, this isn’t a take on eat, pray, love.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:38:20] Eat, drink, be married.

Robert Hossary: [00:38:22] Maybe that one. What do you mean by listen, learn, live up to?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:38:27] The things that happened to me in my life, in my business life.

At one stage, when I was partying company with an organization, they couldn’t afford me. And I was talking with a chap that I was trying to grow business with. And I said to him, why would your company have hire me? You know, like what, what could I possibly do for your organization? And he misheard me, I’m sure because he answered what the question.

As if it was, what do you think of me? And he proceeded to tell me. And it was quite flattering, and I just shut up and I thought quietly, as I walked out the door by God, I better start living up to that. And in fact, that gentlemen is the reason that I started my own consultancy. And I’ve told him that there was another instance back in the marketing company with them, my boss.

And she said something to me, there was a real. A real conflab on it was, it looked like pressure was going to get the best of people. And she turned to me, he said, Alan, make it happen. You know, like you do. That’s what I do. I okay. Again, I’d better live up to that. I’d better go on for that. And the third one, I was given a great deal of Kudos. Well not Kudos but free reign. I think when a gentleman asked me to join him with his venture and he is very well-known in the industry and I had a lot of do have a lot of time for him. And he said, this is the way it’s done around here. If you want to throw it out the window, go for your life. I’m bringing you on because of who you are not because of our system. And that’s what that it’s absolutely valuable. So that was, listen, learn. And take it forward. You know.

Robert Hossary: [00:40:01] What advice then would you have with that lesson for our listeners who are, who are upcoming in their career, or, you know, maybe listeners, like my age, who are established, how do we then take the, the essence of that away and do something with it?

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:40:22] You’ve got to do a little bit of detective work and it’s not something you do every day to a bit of market research about yourself, ask somebody, what do you think my strengths are? What am I weaknesses, or where might I fit this particular project? That’s upcoming. What value could I add? What would I need to learn to be valuable and take it on board?

We were talking about taking things on board. Before you take the good as well as the not so good and learn from it and think, gee, maybe there’s an embryo of a ability there or something I could build on something I could make valuable to people every now and then it’s worthwhile, I think. And it doesn’t matter what age you are.

Robert Hossary: [00:40:59] So if we go back. Two, you are a product. Yep. And I don’t want to use the term brand, but if we look at you as your product, as your brand, a brand is a promise to the people buying. And if I’m understanding your point, do the market research, listen to what people think about your brand, because that’s the promise that you have made to them.

Subconsciously sometimes. Because of whom you are and live up to that promise.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:41:31] Yes, absolutely. And also learn from it. If you’re looking for feedback and you should be, and sometimes people just give you feedback anyway.

Robert Hossary: [00:41:40] If you want it or not.

Alan Kilfoyle: [00:41:45] This was particularly valuable because now it might not have been something you even thought of was set up to do. But someone said to me, that was amazing because of… really, maybe, maybe I should include that in what I do as part of the course, or at least live up to it. It’s, it’s something. I didn’t know, or it’s something I’ve just touched on and this could become part of your core offering.

Robert Hossary: [00:42:10] That’s very deep now. And that, that, that will take a little, that’ll take a few listens for, for our listeners to understand. And I advise if you’re listening to this. Play it again. And listen to this point again, because it’s not as shallow as you May first think it is. It’s a very deep point you’re making and there’s a lot to unpack.

I like it. I read, listen, learn, live up to it. It’s the live up to that is, is the deepest part of this. Listen and learn, you know, how to do that. How do you live up to it? So now Alan that’s, that’s very good. So we’ve come to the end of our session together. I would like to say thank you. I thank you for joining us today.

Thank you for sharing the lessons that took you 50 years to learn with all of us. We really appreciate it.

You’ve been listening to the international podcast of 10 listens. It took me 15 years to learn with our guests. Alan Kilfoyle. This episode is sponsored by professional development forum. PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcasts, parties, and much more.

And you can find them on their website,, and the best part about it is it’s all free. So, with that, I will say, thank you. And we look forward to you tuning into our next episode of 10 Lessons. It Took Me50 Years to Learn.


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