About the speaker
Our speaker today is Mr Peter Ivany AM.
Peter is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Ivany Investment Group, an investment business which he has spent the last decade building. Prior to this, Peter was CEO of Hoyts Cinemas and under his leadership, the company grew from a small chain in Australia to a global business with over 2,000 theatres operating in 12 countries.
He is also the Chairman on a number of community positions some of which include the NIDA Foundation Trust, the Advisory Council for the Sydney Film Festival, and the Sydney Swans Foundation. In addition, he is the Owner and Director of the IMAX Theatre Sydney and serves as an Honorary Life Governor for the Jewish Communal Appeal.
In 2007, Peter was appointed a member of the Order of Australia for service to the community through a range of activities including fundraising, arts, sporting organizations and business education.
It gives me great pleasure to invite Mr Peter Ivany to deliver the occasional address.
Deputy Chancellor (Brian Wilson), Vice Chancellor and President (Atilla Brungs), Dean of Business (Jenny Edwards), staff, distinguished guests, graduates and their families and friends.
Firstly may I congratulate today’s graduates on their achievement. This is a very proud moment and marks the culmination of much hard work and sacrifice, both on the part of the graduates, and also family and friends who have provided support throughout this period.
It is an honour to be sharing this event with you and I am delighted to be asked to give this address on such a happy occasion.
Today we celebrate not only the end of a period of hard work but also the beginning of a new phase in your life. Gaining an education is a significant stepping stone, and as my mother always told me it is something that can never be taken away from you. Education provides you with many opportunities and will open many doors.
Given you are now set to embark on the next phase of your life’s journey I thought I would share with you my thoughts about what constitutes success, and how to achieve it.
Wrongfully, many people confuse success with wealth. They assume that a person’s success can be measured by how much they earn or by their material possessions. I believe however, that success should be more synonymous with state of mind than with affluence. For it’s only when you find satisfaction with what you’re doing and look forward to facing every new day that you are really successful. Identify your strengths. Be true to yourself and your skills.
Successful people are self-assured, they know what they want, and go for it. Your personal definition of success begins with knowing what is important to you. What you value most will be different for each and every one of you.
Let’s look at the dictionary definition of success for a moment. It describes success as “the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted”.
You don’t have to reach the top, but you have to reach your own objectives and be satisfied. It is important to set your goals high, but be realistic and approach them one small step at a time. It is all about building the foundations.
When you are seeking that first job, don’t necessarily follow the highest pay check. Look for a strong organization with the best culture. From that, you will have greater support, will gain knowledge of how a successful business works, and have more chance of doing something that makes a long term impact.
Think big and don’t sweat on the small stuff. Little things must be attended to but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. You have to have a broad vision of where you want to be and stay focussed. Remember, you can’t drive into the future looking into the rear vision mirror.
So let’s look at the motivations of successful people. First you must do what you enjoy – it is a big part of your day. Change doing what you are doing until you enjoy it.
You must keep an open and flexible mind. Minds are like parachutes, they are dangerous when they don’t open. Remember that most people have two to three careers these days – don’t be frightened of change.
To be successful you need to make mistakes. The timeless truth of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ should not be forgotten. If you don’t fail at least some of the time, then you aren’t pushing yourself to the limits of your ability.
Indeed, a bit of fear can be healthy. You need anxiety, determination and focus to perform at your best.
You also need to have persistence – always keep trying. As many people have said in the past “quitting is not an option”. Don’t ever be frightened of making mistakes or having a go. It is important to remember that failure is a precursor to success, not an obstacle.
Life is a journey and it is about the experiences you gain along the way that enables you to reach the next step. Success is not just in the attainment of the ‘thing’ itself but it is in the actual process you go through in order to get it.
There are no shortcuts to success, you have to pay your dues and do the hard yards. The world is round not square, you can’t hide in the corners, and you can’t avoid hard work. As Gore Vidal says the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Time is a precious commodity, and remember, in life “the biggest sin in the world is wasting time”.
The world is becoming increasingly competitive. Technology is getting smarter and it is becoming harder to gain an advantage. People are working harder, faster and longer than ever before.
You must always seize the opportunities as they are presented to you. They can’t wait until you’re ready. In my own personal experience, in 1990 we were at the top of a property boom but didn’t sell when the opportunity arose. Three months later, property prices plummeted by 40%. I learnt a valuable lesson. So in 1999 when the opportunity arose to sell Hoyts I took it, even though there were some regrets in selling a business that we had built. But it was the right decision at the right time.
Later, working through the GFC, I used my past experiences to help make it through when others struggled. I had already learned rule #1 in business – don’t run out of money. The future is never certain, and you should always have funds set aside for a downturn, transitions, or time between jobs. That way, you are in a position of having choices without pressure, and can even find opportunities in tough times.
Your experiences are an important part in your development. As Mark Twain once said, “when I was a boy my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around, but when I got to be 21 I was surprised at how much he’d learnt in 7 years”.
Most people achieve competence at middle management but few make it through to the next level. To do that you have to:
- have immense desire
- great focus and good concentration
- remember that it is personal relationships and interaction with others that count, and remember that businesses don’t fail, people do.
Personal interaction has not gone out of business, the community or politics. Success in many cases is in large part due to how you relate to other people and how you can persuade them to go in your direction.
We are truly part of a global village. This means that you should always work to be at worlds best practice no matter how small your business.
In decision making today there are a lot more factors to be considered such as political, cultural and environmental issues. Our communities and businesses are more highly regulated and the number of interest groups on any given topic are multiplying at a rapid pace.
In opening up the western world we have to cater to more peoples wants and needs. There is more interaction with the community. This should not be considered a price to pay but a privilege of living in a democratic society. Everyone is entitled to be heard.
May I leave you, our graduates today, with some thoughts to consider. You shoulder a big responsibility. You are the future community leaders of this country. As the advantaged few highly educated people you have a personal responsibility to give something back to create a better community.
Good leadership requires a lot of courage, sound principals and fine judgement. At times it will require you to put aside self gain for the broader public interest.
It is important to try to be the best that you can be. And the truth is, you can be anything. You can do anything. Never be afraid to push the boundaries. The future is in your hands, so make the most of it.
You must continue to ask questions of yourself and everyone around you, and always explore whether there is a better way. As the founder of Sony, Akio Morita once said: “curiosity is the key to creativity”.
Congratulations again to all who have graduated today. I wish you all well as you embark on this new stage of your life’s journey. I trust that you will approach it with a sense of purpose, but perhaps even more importantly with a sense of adventure. And never stop dreaming!