Friday, January 18, 2008

Rob-Loud Returns Home to New Zealand!

17 years ago I lived in Sydney running Lion Nathan’s business there following its acquisitions of the XXXX Swan and Tooheys Breweries from Alan Bond. My three kids were all hyperactive subteens and we discovered one of the greatest resorts in the world on Hayman Island in the Whitsundays. On our first visit there, I went down for a game of tennis and the kids moved into the Activities Center where we met someone who was to become a lifelong friend, Malcolm McLeod.

Malcolm was an ex-Policeman from Brisbane who then spent time in the prison service before becoming the tennis coach and head of the Activities Center at Hayman. During his time as a copper and in prison, Malcolm had become fascinated by criminals’ handwriting and had spent time with the handwriting expert of Australia so he could learn about what handwriting said about people’s characters. He turned this into a real skill and it’s now the cornerstone of his own inspirational leadership business, as well as one of the world’s greatest ice-breakers and party tricks.

You write one sentence and your signature, and then sit back while Malcolm gets you, your partner and your friends all nodding as he analyses your personality. He came over to spend New Year’s with us in Auckland and I dug back into my files to look at the analysis he had made of my personality in 1995. A handwritten two-page summary, which frankly was more insightful than any Myers Briggs or leadership profile that has been done on me. And still true today.

We went to Hayman loads of times and spent lots of time there and, in fact, I took over a bunch of tennis pro mates from Australia, Charlie Fancutt (pictured above), Michael Fancutt and a bunch of others, part of a tremendous family, parented by Trevor and Daphne where 5 of them actually played at Wimbledon. Charlie beat Ivan Lendl and Michael got to the Semi Finals of the Men’s Doubles.

In 1992 the Rob-Loud trophy was conceived and was played for regularly between Malcolm and I. Young Malcolm has held it for a decade but I’m glad to say 2008 has started in the right way with a two sets to one victory to yours truly sending Malcolm home to Queensland with his tail between his legs leaving the Rob-Loud trophy in prime position in my bar.

New Year’s don’t get much better than that.

Mind you, Malcolm left his mark. My torso is covered in bruises from short pitched pacey deliveries in our cricket net. Not wearing a thigh pad and rib armour at the age of 58 is probably overly optimistic when 6’2” Malcolm is giving it everything. His son, Fraser (aka the glow worm prior to his birth), is now a notable quick bowler too. Having Fraser around the place reminded me of when Ben and Dan were teenagers. You have a built in mate on tap who is ready to play cricket, tennis, pinball, pool, soccer or touch rugby 24/7.

It was also great to catch up with Michelle who met Malcolm when she was flying with Ansett and made the mistake of succumbing to the handwriting trick early on. She’s retained her sense of humour throughout!

Malcolm is threatening to return in the first week in February but for now the Rob-Loud is safe and secure in New Zealand.