Twenty Years Closer to The Beginning Of My Future! - Proteus Leadership
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Twenty Years Closer to The Beginning Of My Future!

We often hear people ask the question “where have the last twenty years gone?” Well although they may seem to have flown, I know exactly where they have gone and what has been achieved during some of the most amazing years of my life.

On April 9th 1993 a small thought that had been in my mind for some time came to fruition. Proteus was born and although it was a handful as a child and it had some eventful teenage years, it has now grown into a strong, beautiful adult that is making its mark on the business community and the lives of many thousands of individuals across Australia each year.

Is this what I expected? YES, YES, YES! Does it look exactly how I saw it twenty years ago? NO! But that is what is so exciting, it has adapted to the ever-changing currents of business and technology, without ever losing its mantra – to create great leaders!

For twenty years there has been one constant at Proteus that has helped us get to where we are today and that is my children. I have four beautiful children and currently five wonderful grandchildren – I am so blessed!

Each of my four children has had a stint in the business and my two daughters Jane and Leanne are still employed. They went through the very early days where we would get excited about a cheque for $100 landing in the mailbox and thinking what we could do with the money split three ways. They went through the tough times and today they are beautiful women with their own families who still believe in the vision that we created so many years ago.

My sons, Daniel and Mick, also played very important roles in the business with Dan setting up our internal design company. He now runs his own very successful media company, Mustard Creative Media, employing around twenty people. Mick has always had a very clear dream and after spending several years as a State Manager and Corporate Services Manager at Proteus, he has now fulfilled his dream to become a fireman. I am so grateful and proud of my children and love them and their families more every day.

There have been two other people who have had a significant impact on the life of Proteus, and are still in the business today as my executive team – they are Richard Dore and Tim Browne.

These two men are what I consider GOLD! I have had the privilege to have input into their lives both professionally and personally and have now fulfilled my goal; they are better than I am at what we do! What a wonderful legacy to leave.

All of these people have gone through some incredibly tough years and unlike others that have come and gone, when the going got tough, they all believed in Proteus and its impact on Australian leaders and they knew that each battle would be worth it; and it has been!

So what are some of the things that I have learned along the way that have brought me to the beginning of my future?

Be honest & ethical

It doesn’t matter how well educated you are, or even how good you might be at your job, if you are not honest and lack integrity, then you will eventually come undone and hurt a lot of people along the way.

Sometimes you might meet people, or work with people and you feel like something is just not right, well often it is a lack of inner integrity being displayed externally and you have every right to be careful around them. Be honest; tell your team everything, even if it means admitting that you stuffed up. If you are honest in all things then people will forgive and assist when you genuinely do make mistakes.

Be strong

Be decisive and strong in the decisions you make and the direction you give. People are looking for leaders that back themselves and are prepared to take a chance.

Make the decisions you need to make, communicate them in a positive and powerful way and back yourself. People are looking for leaders that take them on a journey. As we often say at Proteus, Lead or be Led – your choice!

Process criticism and move on

You can never achieve anything worthwhile without a bit of criticism; and believe me, the minute you step out to do something better and different, criticism will come.

Just remember that most criticism comes from people who have never done what you have done, or are prepared to do, and they never will.

Now that may sound arrogant, but to be successful we need to put a shield around us, but not all the way around. Critical people always attack from behind so we need a shield of steel that protects our back while keeping a heart of butter at the front that lets people in.

Successful people will always tell you that they learned their best lessons from the tough times and the criticism, but they also learned to process it accordingly by taking on board and learning from any criticism that had an ounce of truth in it and then throwing the rest in the bin.

If you live your life constantly justifying yourself and your actions to others, then you will go exactly where they want you to go – nowhere!

Lead by example

People are watching you every day, looking to learn from you and to get inspiration from you.

You will never do everything right, but the simple fact is that if you are not prepared to live to the best of your ability the things that you say and do, then people will not follow you. If you want people to take risks, then take them yourself. If you want people to reflect certain behaviours then behave that way yourself.

A double set of rules will deliver a double set of results.

Be a Warrior of HOPE

HOPE needs to become a part of our DNA, so that we are always looking for the best in a situation and can not only see a way out, but also a way forward.

A warrior is a fighter; a person that never gives up on what they believe in.

Love what you do & love people

As i walked out of the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, iknew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – Nelson Mandela

This quote by the amazing Nelson Mandela sums it all up really:

You cannot make your mark on this planet if you do not love what you do and if you do not see what you do as making a difference in the world! The impact we make in life is not based on what we do, but how we do it. No person, nor position, is greater than anyone else when it comes to leaving a legacy. So if you are a nurse, a cleaner, a clerk or a world leader, it is how you do that job and how much you love it that will determine the mark you make on this planet.

So find ways to love what you do or change what you do to something you can love.

Above all – Be You!

I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am who I am and that is all I can be. Des Penny

If that inspires someone to act on their own convictions, then that is a good thing, but success has nothing to do with whether people like you or not. It is about you being true to your vision, your values and the way you operate, because as trite as it may sound, they only made one of you, so be the best version of YOU that you can be and help others along the way to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

So in conclusion, it has been a joy to have been able to do what I love to do for so many years and in the process build and lead one of the most innovative and interesting companies in Australia. But the exciting thing is that we have just started.

There will be more tough times, there will be restructures and changes in the way we use technology, there will be changes to our products and to our team, but we have done the preparatory work for twenty years that has brought us to the beginning of our future. Let’s go for it!

By Des Penny
LEO & Founder | Proteus Leadership


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”

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