Margot Cairnes Zaffyre International

established 1986; thirty employees; $10 million-plus turnover

Sitting outside a kiosk on one of Sydney's northern beaches, Margot Cairnes had no inkling that her life was about to change forever.

It was 1985, and she was up to her neck in debt, unemployed, bringing up two children alone and nursing her dying father.

Desperately in need of a break, she'd decided to have a 'rich day' with her kids. 'We were really,

really, really poor,' says Cairnes. 'But we test-drove a Jaguar, then went to Double Bay and tried on beautiful clothes we couldn't afford. Then we went to the kiosk at Manly's Shelly Beach and I had a glass of champagne and the kids had a glass of pink lemonade. I said to the kids, "One day we'll be rich."

'My ten-year-old daughter looked at me and said, "Mummy, we already are rich. We have each other." I was speechless. I felt about two inches tall.' At that moment, Cairnes resolved to work hard when she could and be happy with what she had. Not long after, her father passed away.

It was time to find a job.

Years before—while still in her early twen- ties—the trained teacher had moved from Sydney to Darwin and landed the top position in a child-care company. Taking charge of five child-care centres and three family day-care schemes with more than 1000 children, Cairnes jumped into the deep end and survived.

'I had also trained as a psychotherapist,' Cairnes says. Now a mother and deep in debt, 'I had to decide what to do with all my qualifications. But I couldn't decide—so I made it up. I started my own company and just went out to do something that hadn't been done before.'

Cairnes created her own brief: a consultancy that would improve managers' self-belief and relationships with their staff and in doing so help companies reach goals they'd previously seen as impossible.

She says it was 'pure luck' that two men from Victoria's Portland aluminium smelter heard her giving a speech. 'They liked what I said, introduced me to their boss, and that led me to where I am today,' she says.

Cairnes took seventeen managers from the smelter on a camping trip through central Australia, on small boats down the then-flooded Cooper's Creek. 'We were gone for ten days, and I called it a leadership training course,' she laughs, admitting that she made it up as the group went along. 'The first night out we camped on mud flats without tents. Me and seventeen men, most of whom snored,' she says. 'In the end, it changed their lives—and the way they ran the smelter.'

Cairnes said it felt as if she'd 'found the cure to organisation cancer'. After that, things happened fast. 'I started to get headhunted.' She worked for the Reserve Bank of Australia and for BP, both in Australia and in Europe, helping with a merger with Mobil.

Cairnes' debts had been more than paid off by this stage, and her first million was racked up before she headed overseas. She allowed herself a moment to reflect back on that day at the beach.

'I was sitting at my home in Clontarf on the balcony, looking at the water, holding a first-class ticket to go to London to stay in the Ritz Hotel. I thought, "This is it, I've done it." '

Cairnes also bought herself a BMW and—as she still does today—indulged in natural therapies as a reward for all her hard work. 'I love massages and going to spas, and I'll often go to health retreats just to spoil myself,' she says.

At first she resisted

СI was sitting at my home hiring staff and setinCtonterf on the ba|cony, ting up an office,

looking at the water, і л і •

but the business was

holding a first-class ticket

to go to London to stay in expanding so fast she the Ritz Hotel. I thought, couldn't: avoid it. She "This is it, I've done it." finally set up Zaffyre International in the late 1990s.

Fletcher Challenge Energy chief executive Greig Gailey had worked with Cairnes on the BP—Mobil merger. Now in New Zealand, he asked her to come and work with him. 'He said: "I need to turn around a whole company, so I need you to have a company",' recalls Cairnes. 'That was when I started to recruit other consultants.

'I just didn't have it in my blood to build the company before that point. [Growth] wasn't my driving force. I just loved doing what I did and it made me a lot of money. I get my thrills working as a consultant. As soon as you have a whole lot of other people working for you, then you are really doing something else.'

She soon found herself jet-setting on an almost permanent basis. 'One year I was out of the country for thirty weeks. I was working with Levi Strauss in the US, BP in London, and Fletcher Challenge in New Zealand.'

An unspoken partnership started up and, each time Gailey moved on to restructure a new company, he took Cairnes with him. Other major corporate clients include Zinifex, Origin Energy, Western Power, Alcoa and Telstra. With twenty- five staff and an office in North Sydney, Zaffyre continues to do consulting work throughout Europe, the US and Australia and is currently experiencing a resources boom of its own in Perth. 'On a good day I walk into the office and there are about three people here because the rest are consulting all around the world,' Cairnes says. 'These days I myself mostly work with just a handful of managing directors and boards.'

So is retirement on the cards? Not likely, she says: 'I tried to retire and it didn't work. At the time I'd become tired of going to work. I suppose I got run down and burnt out and I tried to disappear to Byron Bay. In the end I had a year off, but that gave me a chance to change my attitude. I had a year of doing yoga, going to the gym, going to the beach and finding a new husband.'

Cairnes now has a house in Annandale, Syd-ney, and a holiday house at Byron Bay, where she spends a week every month writing books.

She has six under her belt already, including Boardrooms that Work—A Guide to Board Dynamics; Staying Sane in a Changing World and Peaceful Chaos. As to the failed retirement, Cairnes has no regrets. 'The company went on, of course, but not as well as it would have if I'd been here. Now that I'm back, it's just sky-rocketing, and I'm having a ball.'

And there's a new challenge down the track. 'When you see people come to life and reach goals they once wouldn't have dared imagine, it is really exciting. I'm very keen to take what we do to more companies. But I also want to take it into communities. There's no reason why a government couldn't do this and take the whole country to a new level. If you can get an entire community to go through this process, the social good is just colossal. That is my dream.'

Given her track record, there's every reason to believe she'll make that dream, too, come true.

Rhys Haynes

golden rules

It all starts with you, but relationships are key.

You cannot change anyone else, but change yourself and you will change all your relationships.

Challenge, change or accident: treat everything as an opportunity.

Dare to dream—the same old expectations lead to the same old outcomes.

Be grateful for everything that happens to you. That's the way you learn what is real success.

<< | >>
Источник: Nick Gardner. How. I made-.my first million. 26 self-made millionaires reveal the secrets to their success. 2010

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