First and foremost, I wouldn’t change much at all. I’m really happy.
Looking back, what held me in really good stead is that I played sports that required a huge amount of discipline, like swimming and long-distance running. It was hard and tough, but if you want to squeeze a lemon and get the drops out you have to work your a**e off.
I grew up in Sydney in a family of three brothers with parents who sacrificed enormously, so I’ve always been lucky enough to have the warmth of the family and friendship.
One thing I didn’t have growing up was a church life. We never went to church and my parents weren’t believers. Around the age of 16, out of circumstance, I was invited to a local Baptist Church and at 17 got what the Bible calls Salvation. It was an early decision in life that I’m glad I took. Christianity is really important to me, and even now I’m trying to reinvigorate my faith and grow it.
Obviously, sport has always been a big part of my life and provided me with a passport to the world. Between 1983 and 1984, I went from playing second division rugby at Sydney University to being catapulted into the Sydney team, then the NSW team and then the Australian team – winning a World Cup, captaining the guys for five years, meeting amazing people and having incredible experiences.
I was lucky enough to meet Nelson Mandela three or four times and was invited to a private lunch at Buckingham Palace with the Queen. It was great to meet all those people, but having a high profile also allowed me to give back; I’ve served on the board of Wesley Mission for 10 years and I love raising money for homeless people.
When it comes to business, I’ve never forgotten what my first boss once said. On my first day at the law firm, I asked him what sort of law he thought I would be good at. He replied “Nick, don’t worry about the sort of law. Work out the sort of person you are.” I’ve lived off that all my professional life. Find out what you’re good at, carve out a niche there and don’t try and be everything to everyone. Surround yourself with people who fill the voids and together you will become a team that gets the job done.
Probably my biggest regret is that late in my legal days (in my late 30’s and early 40’s) I didn’t perfect the skills that would have allowed me to do my job better, like IT skills or financial modeling. I’ve always been flat out chasing my tail and thinking, “Oh, I’ll do that next year.” I haven’t advanced my education in certain areas as much as I would have liked to. If I had it over again, I would have pursued additional skill sets. But I also believe that you’re never too old to learn new tricks.
All in all, I’m very thankful. I have a fantastic wife and four great kids. I’ve had a great working life that’s taken me all around the world and allowed me to give back.
I have no regrets.