Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MICHAEL HILL - Toughen Up: What I've Learned About Surviving Tough Times

I have been taking an increasing interest in Michael Hill the man and the Jewelry company that he runs over the last few weeks.

I picked his company Michael Hill International [MHI.NZ] as Stock of the Week this week and covered off an interview with him on TV3's 60 minutes aired last Monday.

His high profile in the media in the last week has been mainly due to a book of his, Toughen Up: What I've Learned About Surviving Tough Times that was launched today .

I received an advanced copy of the book and have read just a brief part of the first chapter.

Suffice to say it sounds like Michael from the get go (it has his "voice") - positive to the point of being unfashionably earnest and eager to tell his story to the rest of us.

As I pointed out in my comments about his TV3 interview and of course gaining much about the content of his book from the title, this book is not only revelation to today's economic condition's but also timeless in its old-fashioned approach to business and indeed life in general.

Hill sees our current economic valley as an opportunity to change, move forward and above all grow business and our economic livelihood in the process.

From the press release for the book:

Michael Hill believes the looming meltdown can be a good thing for businesses and entrepreneurs. It is possible to succeed in a downturn - in fact it is the perfect situation in which to perfect a business. Instead of fearing the side-effects of recession, wallowing in gloom and convincing ourselves the only safe haven is at home under the blankets, entrepreneurs can use this period to their advantage. With the right attitude, you can not only survive, but emerge from the crunch with a new feeling of prosperity and strength.

Over the years, Michael Hill has had just about every possible experience in business: from lie-awake-at-night nerves to the joy of unexpected success. He's reshaped the landscape under his feet and he has ventured into new territory. And at every moment, he has relished the excitement of it all. Once, he was an outsider in his industry; the cheeky startup whom nobody expected to succeed. The established players had no reason to view him as a threat. Now, his business is the establishment. It dominates the markets in which it operates. Michael Hill Jeweller is a respected part of the business culture in a large part of the world - and they are continuing to expand in both size and ambition.

Plain sailing through a business storm encapsulates the ingredients of Michael's philosophy. There are no secret herbs and spices. It is not a magic recipe - it is just a collection of solid ideas, firmly grounded in reality. All these concepts are remarkable only because they make common-sense - but you'd be amazed how rarely they are fully understood and embraced in the business world. Michael Hill believes the looming meltdown can be a good thing for businesses and entrepreneurs. It is possible to succeed in a downturn - in fact it is the perfect situation in which to perfect a business. Instead of fearing the side-effects of recession, wallowing in gloom and convincing ourselves the only safe haven is at home under the blankets, entrepreneurs can use this period to their advantage.

With the right attitude, you can not only survive, but emerge from the crunch with a new feeling of prosperity and strength. Over the years, Michael Hill has had just about every possible experience in business: from lie-awake-at-night nerves to the joy of unexpected success. He's reshaped the landscape under his feet and he has ventured into new territory. And at every moment, he has relished the excitement of it all. Once, he was an outsider in his industry; the cheeky
startup whom nobody expected to succeed. The established players had no reason to view him as a threat. Now, his business is the establishment. It dominates the markets in which it operates. Michael Hill Jeweller is a respected part of the business culture in a large part of the world - and they are continuing to expand in both size and ambition. Plain sailing through a business storm encapsulates the ingredients of Michael's philosophy. There are no secret herbs and spices. It is not a magic recipe - it is just a collection of solid ideas, firmly grounded in reality. All these concepts are remarkable only because they make common-sense - but you'd be amazed how rarely they are fully understood and embraced in the business world.

I imagine this book is not just for those who are in business or have an interest in business but can be used as an inspiration by those who would like to get motivated, learn from someone who has been there and done that and made all the mistakes along the way and would like to put their ideas into action.

Like Michael, I would say all it takes is an idea - it doesn't even have to be a spectacularly bright one - very hard work and the tenacity to stick with if it is successful and know when to fold if it isn't.

Highly recommended. *

* just a wee footnote, a correspondent quite rightly pointed out in a comment below that how can I recommend a book if I haven't finished it and of course without explanation he is right. I answered thus:

CJ, what I should have said is that from what I have read and skimming over other parts of it I would recommend it-and I do -you know sometimes you start reading a book and you know it is going to be good. I have similar old-fashioned values and share much of his outlook on life, so I know I am going to enjoy the read.

I will of course finish it at some stage, and tell you if it disappoints. I doubt it will.


Disclosure I own Michael Hill International shares in the Share Investor Portfolio.


Michael Hill International @ Share Investor


Long Term View: Michael Hill International Ltd
Michael Hill Downsizes USA Operation
Michael Hill International: 2010 half year profit commentary
Michael Hill Makeover kicks off
Michael Hill International: 2009 full year profit commentary
Toughen Up: What I have learned from the hard times
Stock of the Week: Michael Hill International
Michael Hill TV3 60 Minutes Interview
Long VS Short: Michael Hill International
Marketwatch: Michael Hill International
Michael Hill's profit shines
Michael Hill takes on the windy city
Why did you buy that stock? [Michael Hill International]
MHI has defined growth strategy
MHI profit sparkles

Discuss MHI @ Share Investor Forum

Download MHI Company Reports


Buy Toughen Up: What I've Learned About Surviving Tough Times

Toughen Up: What I've Learned About Surviving Tough Times

Toughen Up - Fishpond.co.nz



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