How Did You Go Bankrupt? Proteus Leadership I Leadership I Programs
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How Did You Go Bankrupt?


Gradually, then suddenly!

This classic line originates from an Ernest Hemingway novel, The Sun Also Rises. In his book, a character named Mike is asked, "How did you go bankrupt?" and he responds, "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly."

Interestingly, I first encounted this quote not from Hemingway, but from Susan Scott, the founder of Fierce Inc. In her exceptional book ‘Fierce Conversations’, she popularised the "Gradually, then suddenly" analogy in context with relationships.

Scott employs this phrase to emphasise the importance of addressing challenging issues early on in relationships, and preventing them from escalating into major problems.

For many people, the default position is to avoid challenging conversations, only to reach a point where gradually their unresolved problems suddenly become toxic and irreconcilable. Gradually, then suddenly, the relationship is now bankrupt!

I know I’ve been guilty of avoiding conflict by not leaning into the discomfort of having a conversation early on with certain people. Why? It is because, well... I don’t like discomfort, and I want to be liked. How tragic is it that I allow this to happen?

The lesson is clear. Neglect relationships that are deteriorating at your own peril!

The great news is that we can flip that analogy. We can do this by proactively and consciously investing in the improvement of our personal and professional relationships and as a result, we can tip things in our favour.

How do you create great relationships?

Gradually, then suddenly. ‘One conversation at a time’.

When you stop and think about it, all great relationships are built on continual conversations. Conversations where we are fully present, actively listening and care deeply about having meaningful relationships, now and into the future.

The positive impact of one single conversation at a time to the overall health and success of all our relationships is remarkable. It reinforces the idea that positive change and improvement happen incrementally, through the cumulative effect of many meaningful, ongoing conversations.

Sometimes clients will say to us, “You’re so lucky at Proteus, you have such great relationships with all your people”. My response to that is, “That’s not luck, that’s a commitment to working on having great relationships.”

Yes, it requires engaging in crucial conversations that matter early on. However more significantly, it involves having an abundance of positive and meaningful conversations - celebrating victories, acknowledging progress, and recognising people’s strengths!

So don’t go bankrupt. Get out there ‘one conversation at a time’. Gradually, then suddenly, you will build more meaningful relationships and find yourself surrounded by an amazing group of people.

“Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time.”
- Susan Scott

Have a wonderful week,




Richard Dore
CEO - Director of Partnerships

Proteus Leadership


Back In the West!

Grant Davis, GM Education, flew over to Western Australia to run a series of in-house workshops for clients Southern Cross Care WA and Department of Education WA. It is great to be back in Western Australia with so many exciting public and in house programs ahead for 2024. We are also looking forward to opening our Perth Office in March 2024.


Emerging Leaders Program

The first public, virtual Emerging Leaders program kicked off for 2024. Korrine Jones ran the program for a group of leaders. The Emerging Leaders program has recently undergone a refresh and was relaunched for the first time at the virtual program.

Click on the button below to view the next available programs. Don't miss out!

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The Sun was out in Sydney – Moving From Mate To Manager In House

Sarah Savvas enjoyed fantastic views over Sydney Harbour while running an in-house Moving From Mate To Manager workshop for Altius Group in Sydney. An engaging group of leaders all while soaking up that Sydney sun. What a day!

If you would like to find out more about this practical workshop, click on the button below for more information and future dates.

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Morning Tea In Noosa

Ben Smith, National Sales Manager, visited the Noosa office to have a day of strategy meetings with Des Penny, Richard Dore and Brett Winkler. Morning Teas are a must at Proteus and on the menu today was fresh Hot Cross Buns. Not too early is it?



Check out the public schedule button below for all our virtual and face-to-face programs that are currently scheduled. We continue to update this schedule based on client feedback and demand.

Professional Development Schedule


Have You Listened To The Let's Go - Let's Grow Podcast With Des Penny Yet?

If you're looking for a podcast that will help you become a better leader and grow your business, we highly recommend Let's Go - Let's Grow with Des Penny. Whether you're a seasoned leader or just starting out in your career, you're sure to find valuable insights and inspiration in these conversations. So, why not give them a listen today and subscribe by clicking on the link below?

Let’s GO – Let’s GROW Podcast


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Every week we post inspirational articles, events and information and we would love you to be a part of that. So, if you would like to follow Proteus Leadership on LinkedIn or  Instagram, then click on the button below.


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Feature Program
Coaching With Confidence
Virtual Workshop

Next program: 11 March


Making Coaching Conversations An Everyday Leadership Practice

This virtual workshop will share the power of becoming a great everyday workplace coach.

Participants will discover simple, effective strategies and practices using a powerful coaching model.

As a result, participants will be able to have genuine, regular coaching sessions with their staff supporting them in reaching their full potential. Leaders will learn how to establish a Growth Mindset across their team, along with using the ‘GROW’ model for high scaffolding performance outcomes and setting up future successors.

Topics Include:

  • Why coaching is now an everyday expectation and practice
  • Embracing your role as a workplace coach
  • How to establish a Growth Mindset
  • An overview of the GROW coaching model
  • How to deliver coaching sessions
  • Practice, practice, practice!

Register Now