It’s rarely simple

Joseph Merz

I’ve decided one of the best ways to demonstrate the kind of business I am running and the core principles I work by is to tell you a little about my background as a person.

From a very young age I’ve been fascinated by ways to make money from one’s ideas. In fact, I started getting serious about this when I was a mere 15. I launched a communications agency while still in my teens which turned out to be surprisingly successful. The money rolled in and I could suddenly buy things – lots of things. I was determined to become a billionaire and more… but something kept nagging at me. I didn’t feel satisfied.

In my early twenties this all came to a dramatic halt when I met a stunning woman, dropped everything and followed her overseas. We had an amazing time together during which (through no fault of hers) I managed to spend all my hard-earned money. This woman is now my wife.

So… here I was …in my early 20s… and from a material perspective, back at square one. I refused to seek help from my parents and rented the cheapest place I could find. It happened to be someone’s 1.5m x 3m laundry in Cabramatta. It also happened to ooze yellow goo from the walls each night.

In one sense I’d never been happier. But I really did need to get a job.

My brother’s advice was to try recruitment – and despite having absolutely no idea what this kind of work entailed – I jumped in. Lucky me: I landed the first job I applied for, probably because my employer saw what I’d achieved for myself with my own business and figured I could do the same for them. 

So I started in a ‘real’ job. And hated it.

For the first time in my life I became aware of what it’s like to be employee in a (probably worse than most) conventional business. When I was on the other side of the fence e.g. a business owner who employed people, I couldn’t see it.

As an employee I could see how badly many organisations treat their staff in the hunt for higher profits.

I knew then that the next business I started would be totally different – it would be truly distributive. And it is. I’m proud to say that Sterning’s an organisation built to thrive, not built to chase year-on-year revenue growth or record profits. It’s this that allows us to truly put our people first. We’re an organisation that’s genuinely interested in the wellbeing of everyone we work with, hoping to enrich their actual lives – and not just their pockets.

In 2019 I will be posting a lot more about building organisations that buck the trend in this way. If you’d like to follow me and we’re not already connected on LinkedIn, feel free to shoot me a connection request.

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