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Sunday 12 May 2013

So you want to be a high performer?

The high achievers in business, the arts, sport, family life or any other pursuit realise the value of one important commodity ahead of all others.

This is a commodity that nobody gets more or less of than anybody else and it is free to us all.

I am talking about "Time".

We all get 168 hours per week so how is it that some people achieve more than others in any given week, month, year or lifetime? The person that gets the best results almost always is using time more effectively than anybody else. In other words they invest more in the time they have available and invest with greater intensity. 

So how do they do that?

Firstly...they know time is precious and finite for us all so they rarely waste it on trivial things. Once that time is gone or that moment passes it doesn't come back again so they make the most of it right there and then.

High achievers are nearly always very effective at delegation because they know by doing this they can invest more time into their top priorities. In other words...to be a high performer they must outsource the small stuff to open more time to focus on the big stuff. It's not optional.

The same goes for business. In any given week if your team has more time to focus on the companies biggest goals then it stands to reason you will beat your competitors and be more successful. Although it's become a bit of cliche I firmly believe that you shouldn't sweat the small stuff. Outsource it cost effectively so your team is focused on more important and dollar productive activity.

I am not advocating you become a complete workaholic. You still need to rest to rejuvenate yourself. It's just about finding the balance of rest (not laziness) versus work so you can perform at your best in the time you create. Top athletes and even race horses need to be rested so they can go harder when it counts. We are no different.

Pressure makes diamonds so I believe in creating this pressure by pushing yourself outside your comfort zone continually.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Thursday 28 March 2013

We go deeper!

I created Depth Industries to help our customers in the new truly globalised economy where the internet & modern cargo transportation have radically changed the competitive landscape forever.

We understand that increasingly most industries are becoming commoditised so delivering our customers the service they need at world best prices is the key to our own success. To enable us to do this we have adopted the latest Cloud based technologies and lean business overhead models ourselves. 

Distance doesn't matter anymore so Depth Industries businesses aim to support our clients in conquering their chosen market not just at home, but internationally from wherever they are in the world by deeply understanding their needs and delivering on them.

To do this a few of the key things any business needs today are:
- Competitive International shipping and freight forwarding services.
- A global workforce paid at internationally competitive rates.
- Capital to grow.

That's why Depth Industries operates these companies:-

Depth Logistics is the choice of heavy industry in shipping and consulting on moving project and heavy cargo all over the planet for companies involved in earth moving, mining, construction, petrochemical and energy production related industries.

Depth Offshore is an offshore outsourcing facilitation business helping companies save money by accessing a global workforce. With internet technologies there is virtually no limit to the business tasks that can be easily and successfully outsourced offshore with our help. Savings up to 75% of a comparable western country salary can be achieved. Offshoring tasks is now one of the key enablers in high performance organisations.

Depth Global is a venture capital firm specialising in early stage start up companies run by passionate entrepreneurs playing by the new global economy rules.

+Depth Industries  can be followed on Google+ for access to special offers, deals and business insights.

I hope that Depth can be of service to you and your business soon. We would be very grateful for any opportunities you give us.

Deep enough for now,

Wednesday 27 March 2013

What's next for The Shipping Bloke?

Sadly, in January Skelton Sherborne’s creditors voted to liquidate and wind up the company and this process is now well advanced.

I made the liquidators, S.V.Partners, aware that I had lodged a complaint(#306016 dated 23 November, 2012) with the Government Financial Ombudsmen Service about HSBC's harsh treatment of Skelton Sherborne. Without representation, and at my own expense, I am vigorously pursuing compensation for the company and I am currently awaiting the Ombudsmen's advice as to when the matter will be mediated. 

I tabled all the evidence I have about HSBC's actions to the liquidators and they have authorised me to pursue this action on behalf of the company and it's creditors. They have instructed me to keep them abreast of the progress of the complaint. Should any financial compensation be awarded by the Financial Ombudsmen then this goes to liquidators for distribution to the creditors and not myself. While I sincerely appreciate the Financial Ombudsmen advancing this matter, the pace of it's progress was not quick enough to save Skelton Sherborne from liquidation and the associated fallout for innocent people.

As I indicated in my previous post I am absolutely determined to bounce back from this setback. It is early days but I am rebounding now thanks to some great personal and professional support I have received from many people who believe in me.

So here is the venture I have been developing the past few months and I am pleased to formally announce the launch of....

While I will always be very involved in shipping and international heavy logistics, I have launched some exciting new ventures under the Depth Industries umbrella in different fields. So this will be the final post from "The Shipping Bloke" as I have a fresh new blog and updated personal website in line with these new pursuits.

In the future I will be expressing my thoughts not just about shipping but all kinds of business related ideas and issues according to the new rules of this now truly globalised economy.

Click on this link to check the new blog out, subscribe and go deeper into Depth Industries.

I have been humbled by the following The Shipping Blokes Blog has enjoyed and I hope you will follow me over to the new blog and that Depth Industries can be of service to you soon. We would be very grateful for any opportunity to help you.

Thank you and see you there!

The Shipping Bloke

Thursday 27 December 2012

The adversity paradox

The Christmas break has given me time for some introspection and to reflect on 2012 and it's highs and lows and the lessons learned. This year's adversity has tested me on all levels like no other year has before. I have survived and am more life and business savvy than ever.

The adversity I am facing right now, while very painful and something preferable to avoid, I am certain will actually be my making. I feel more equipped and battle-hardened than ever to accomplish extraordinary things personally and professionally. Therein lies the adversity paradox.

The concept of an "adversity paradox" was something that I learned while at MIT University undertaking the Birthing of Giants(BOG) programme. BOG was founded by my friend and mentor Verne Harnish and has been responsible for developing some amazing self-made entrepreneurs over the years. I graduated in 2004 and still regularly review my notes when I am developing ideas. I also frequently bounce things off my classmates to gain greater global perspectives. The lecturer that spoke to our class about the adversity paradox was J. Barry Griswell. He is a man that has overcome tremendous adversity and wrote and talked about the power of it in putting many of mankind's greatest achievers on incredible success trajectories in all fields of endeavour. These people consciously chose not to be a victim but instead to use the adversity as a source of strength to fuel their pursuit of greater goals. 

So how has adversity changed me and set me up for what's next? 

For starters I will continue to do my best for the people that have been hurt by what happened to Skelton Sherborne. I acknowledge adversity I have suffered has caused adversity for others which I am sincerely sorry for.

Apart from that responsibility the slate has basically been wiped clean and I have the opportunity to rebuild my life and future business model exactly the way it needs to be. I have much more clarity how to do this, what's most important, and who I want with me and who I don't. No victims, princesses or people wanting a free lunch allowed! I know who my friends REALLY are now by who stood by me and who didn't. I will be using the word "No" much more in all aspects of my life to preserve my energy for my main priorities.

The perspective I have gained will be invaluable. When you have endured the adversity and pain I have there isn't anything or anybody who can deliver you more of it than you already have experienced. As a result I am more resilient, resourceful, fearless(not reckless) and tenacious than ever. All I see now is opportunity and upside. The entrepreneurial passion and spirit is starting to flow freely again for the first time in about 3 years. The hunger is back and I am relishing the challenge.

There is no shortage of challenges to overcome. The business environment has changed and will keep changing faster constantly. The swing back to the East from the West is well underway even though some people in the West prefer to be in denial about it. In a truly global economy the West can no longer compete with it's high labor costs and high debt compared to the East. The internet combined with fast and modern shipping methods have enabled global competition. It's no longer a concept it's a reality and this is what is really driving change in the global economy.

The power in a sales transaction has shifted too. It now rests with the buyer, not the seller as it previously did. This is the new landscape and there is no doubt in my mind that it is here to stay and we are going to see many great companies' business models, particularly in the West, being challenged and many of them will fall by the wayside and whole industries will disappear.

I was talking to one of my Canadian BOG classmates about a week ago who pointed out to me that most people who are not business owners themselves view business like they do a game of football that you either win or lose. He said that it isn't like that at all because in a game of football there is a full time siren. In business it is never full time as the game goes on and on with no real end or respite. You have to constantly make the best of every situation, adapt, re-invent and keep your work rate higher than the competition to stay ahead of them. He is finding his business model being challenged by the new global economy and when he looks back over the last 15 years he says 13 of them were great and only 2 have been bad so the scoreboard is okay and he has received tremendous personal satisfaction in creating opportunity and prosperity for his people and all other stakeholders in his business for the risks he has taken. It's not about the money to him either.

As we head into 2013 I can't help thinking that the number 13 is considered unlucky by some people. It's not unlucky from where I am sitting right now and I think it will be a great year of re-invention, opportunity and proving J.Barry Griswell's adversity paradox theory.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

Tuesday 4 December 2012

We lost our battle.

Sadly I have had to appoint a liquidator to Skelton Sherborne this afternoon.

The Deloitte receivership conducted on behalf of HSBC has been catastrophic to the company's future viability. Despite the great efforts of my amazing team to save the company post the receivership, we deemed it could not be successfully salvaged while the bank accounts, debtor book and statutory refunds were kept under the control of Deloitte. Effectively Skelton Sherborne's cash flow was cut off and as a consequence the company became insolvent. As a director I was compelled to appoint a liquidator.

Therefore Anne Meagher and Terry Rose of SV Partners have been appointed and will proceed to wind up the company. I am no longer in charge of the company's affairs. SV Partners office phone number is +61 7 33102000. They will soon be in touch with all clients and creditors.

I know many of our clients have been hurt and inconvenienced by what has occurred with Skelton Sherborne these past two weeks. I am sorry that we were not in a position while Deloitte were in charge to achieve the right outcomes for you with your cargo. For any clients with cargo stored with us at our Brisbane Terminal, we ask that you make arrangements to promptly collect it. There will be a skeleton staff staying on with the company to assist you and the liquidators for a short time with this and to help clients with cargo still on the water.

To my crew. Thank you! You have been awesome and I am shattered for you and your families that this company could not survive. The loss of your jobs so close to Christmas is dreadful. I am so sorry! I think we can honestly say we did our level best though. The professionalism and commitment you have displayed to our clients, suppliers and each other in very challenging circumstances has been truly inspirational and helped keep me going and fighting hard everyday. I am deeply touched that such was your determination for this great company to survive that you all volunteered your time and expertise these past two days without pay. I could not dream of more support than this and I want everyone to know what you did. I am sorry I have let you down in the end.

I am in disbelief that such a good and profitable company with a great track record can lose the support of it's bankers and end up in this position with so many innocent people hurt along the way. I am sorry to the people Skelton Sherborne owes money to and any hardship this has already caused you and may in the future as the liquidation proceeds.

Thank you for the tremendous support the team and I received from so many people.

This is a setback for my children and I. The five year plan just became a ten year plan I think so the job of rebuilding starts tomorrow. I will soon be back bigger, better and even smarter so stay tuned to this blog.

I'll chalk this up to another great entrepreneurial learning experience that you can't get at any university in the world. For entrepreneurs it's not about the money. It's about the journey and the best days are still to come.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

Sunday 2 December 2012

I'm back in control of Skelton Sherborne but....

Just before 5pm last Friday afternoon Deloitte advised me they have been "partially" retired by HSBC as receivers to Skelton Sherborne and handed control of the business back to me. A circular was sent by Deloitte to clients and suppliers early that evening advising them of this. 

If you have read my two previous blog posts you know the team and I have been fighting hard to find a way to get the control of Skelton Sherborne back and the receivers out. I should be really happy as I am largely in control again but I have been handed back a company that has literally had it's heart ripped out as a consequence of HSBC's actions in unjustifiably freezing bank accounts and then appointing receivers who brutally carried out their task in getting the banks money with little or no regard for our clients and our ongoing relationship with them, the future security of employment of my team and payment of other creditors who are owed money too.

I fear that these actions may have caused the company to become insolvent and as any responsible director knows it is against Australian corporations law to trade while insolvent. I am urgently seeking advice on this and the exact financial position of the company to get clarity on this.

Therefore regrettably I need to put our clients on notice that we may not be legally able to resume normal trading and cargo deliveries right away and there are the other issues raised as a consequence of a partial retirement of receivers I need to urgently find a way to overcome.

So what does "partially" retired as receivers mean?

Deloitte advise that the only areas of the business they continue to maintain control over are bank accounts, the debtor book as at the 30 November and statutory refunds. All other aspects of the business are back under my control as the director. They have pulled their people out of our office on Friday so it is just my team and I there now.

So what does this mean to the operation of the business and can it start to resume normal trading? Breaking it down...

Bank accounts
The HSBC bank accounts remain under their control. This effectively leaves the business without a bank account to operate and any funds contained in the existing HSBC accounts Skelton Sherborne doesn't get the benefit of to operate the business.

Debtor book
Deloitte will be collecting all amounts owed to the company as at 30 November, 2012. Therefore Skelton Sherborne will not have access to these funds to allow us to operate with either. 

Statutory refunds
The company has a stamp duty refund due of about $86k so Deloitte advise they will collect this as well.

Therefore to run the business I effectively have no banking facilities, no cash coming in from past work performed nor the benefit of a stamp duty refund. Furthermore subject to the advice I am seeking, we may now be insolvent and therefore cannot resume normal trading unless this situation can be resolved within the law.

During the receivership Deloitte kept advising clients they were "trading" the business. Well as a business owner my definition of "trading" includes taking on new work. Many of our incredible clients have tried to keep supporting us through this period. Sadly we were instructed by Deloitte to turn this new business away so Skelton Sherborne has next to nothing in it's immediate pipeline to keep us going either.

I feel like we have just taken the hospital pass from hell with all of this but we are not dead yet. Anyone who really knows me will probably say I never give up on anything I believe in. I believe in Skelton Sherborne, it's people and know their families are worth fighting for. If we can find a way to keep trading, as HSBC should have sensibly allowed us as a profitable company to do, then the outcome for the Skelton's crew, our clients and our suppliers will be much better. 

My team and I are grateful for the many comments on this blog, some media attention, countless emails and texts of support. The words in one email in particular I love and have kept me going and smiling despite the seriousness of the situation. An old acquaintance of mine in Perth who said he has been through the same thing with his former bank said "Good luck and don’t give up until the bastards have nailed you to a cross". Well, neither Skelton Sherborne or I are on the cross yet let alone nailed. We will find a way to keep going and survive this as intact as possible.

I will keep posting a blog daily with important information for clients and suppliers and details of how this unfolds. For more immediate and frequent updates on cargo movements and the situation you can follow me on Google+ . I am sorry but unfortunately sometimes my key team and I are struggling to keep pace with the phone calls.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

Friday 30 November 2012

Fighting back

Thank you for all kind messages of support since publishing my blog yesterday. I am grateful that so many clients and suppliers alike want this great Australian company to pull through this situation despite some hardship they are currently experiencing.

Our goal is to have the receivers, Deloitte, complete their task as fast as possible for HSBC so my team and I can then take back over and try to salvage the business and take it from there. We respect that Deloitte are still running a sales process in the background for which they have received expressions of interest already.

We know getting the company back on track after this receivership is going to be a HUGE challenge as some clients have been forced to take their business elsewhere to keep their cargo flowing. We respect this and do not blame them in the slightest for taking this action and regret the inconvenience and extra costs caused to them. While Deloitte are "trading" the business while they are trying to sell it, they are currently instructing our team not to take on new work. This is going to leave a void for us once they are gone making the recovery more challenging. Our team and I are up for it though and judging by the sentiment of most clients we hope they will come back.

If you are a client that ALREADY has delivery of your cargo but have outstanding final invoices relating to this then we would be very grateful if you could immediately make payment to us. The faster the funds come in and HSBC and Deloitte get paid out the sooner the receivership will end and we can start the recovery and return to normal.

To ensure we can keep trading and recover post the receivership we are hoping that we can pull the following things off.

1. We need a new bank! If any bankers are reading this blog and are interested in helping this company with a recovery, then please contact me urgently. In a future blog I will let you know what bank or banks were willing to support us.

2. If you are a creditor and Skelton Sherborne currently owes you money, then we are willing to consider a "debt for equity" swap. Again I am sorry for any amounts we owe you and any hardship this is causing you and your business!

3. If you are one of our team members, overseas agents, a supplier or an investor that would like to see this company survive and are willing to invest in it then we would welcome that.

Peter Lucas of Kestrel Solutions will handle the "debt for equity swap" and new investment process. Kestrel Solutions assist companies like mine in these types of difficult situations and can be relied upon to take a highly professional approach. Peter can be reached by calling +61 (0) 7 32325250 or by email plucas@kestrelsolutions.com.au 

Again my team and I are grateful for your support and well wishes. We are determined to get through this and hope that with a bit of help from everyone we can get all of our business relationships properly back on track and, receivership period aside, continue our good profitable track record.

This great Aussie company deserves to survive and my team, my clients and my suppliers will suffer far less if it does.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke