In Categories, Inspiration


Last week I went to a fascinating fund raising luncheon in support of the South West Academy of  Sports.

The guest speaker was Dale Alcock, General Manager of the ABN Group (Alcock Brown Neaves), a local West Australian success story, and the theme of his speech was about tips for success.

Surely this is all about business tips? Why is this interesting to me? I hear you asking.

Hold tight, and keep reading … you’ll soon see why.

Turning Age to our Advantage

Dale started life as a bricklayer and has gone on to amass a business, or rather collection of businesses, that are worth over a billion dollars in just 25 years.

From bricklaying to mega riches has not just been about the money for Dale, who suffers from an over active thyroid, and during his speech he alluded to how a medical condition can often be the reason that drives people forward to be successful.

It made me think that as older women, we shouldn’t let age deter us from doing anything we still want to do or have on our bucket list, and how we should turn age to our advantage by adjusting and moving forward. Keep on innovating, finding things that we’re passionate about,  rather than just treading water until we become infirm or die.

Life Skills for a rewarding life

I read a story today about a woman who feels she’s become tied to her grown up children’s apron strings, because she always feels the need to be there for them in sickness or in times of lack of money to the point that she’s afraid to step out of her role of Mum and move on to live her own life.

So Dale’s story was interesting and inspiring, because although it reflected on his business success, deep down it was all about the life skills we need to live rewarding lives, at any age.


Oh dear hobnobbing – but looking distinctly uncomfortable! Check those arms! And for goodness sake why in heaven’s name did I wear that tatty scarf? Dale Alcock and my hubby Dave, look a lot more polished and at ease with the situation!

The Best Advice is often the advice you don’t take

Dale’s grandfather immigrated to the small town of  Kellerberrin in Western Australia leaving East Anglia in England to start a new life. He established a small building business which Dale’s father eventually took over.

When Dale was in Grade 12 he asked his father to take him on as a bricklayer. His father, seeing that Dale was a bright boy, said ‘No way, you should go to University and study to be an architect”, words that were echoed by a career guidance officer at the time.

“It would be great to have a beer with the Career Advisor now,” laughs Dale, “And tell him that in not taking your advice, look where I got to. My advice is that if you think you’ve got an idea about what you want to do, then go and do it, because most probably that’s what you’ll enjoy doing. Work out what your passion is and go and pursue it.”

In every success story there’s an X Factor or a stroke of luck

Dale attributes his early success to a stroke of luck which came in the way of a job with a building company with a good reputation.

Webb and Brown hired Dale as a two-way operator and he worked his way up through the ranks until finally he was working for the top man Gary Brown-Neaves (who later became his business partner.)

At the time he was giving it his all, working long hours for little pay, and when promotion and more money were not forthcoming, he left the company and took off with his wife on a bicycling adventure in Europe.

“If you’re contributing something and you’re giving a lot, sometimes success comes from withdrawing,” says Dale.

When he returned to Western Australia  he looked into taking over the family business. But then came his stroke of luck.

“I got a phone call from Gary Brown Neaves and was asked if I’d like to move to Perth to start up Dale Alcock Homes. I was 25, the year was 1987 and my wife was pregnant with our eldest daughter.”

Innovation strikes at odd times

Dale believes that innovation often comes from not having enough money, or not knowing enough.

“It’s at times like this that you innovate without knowing about it. I was 25 and didn’t know anything about running a business and at the time our intention was just to build a few quality homes a year and get repeat business. I think we over delivered a little on that … these days we complete about 3,000 homes a year and since the first brick was laid in 1987 over 55,000 homes have been built.”

In life, turn your negatives into positives

Dale has always suffered with an active thyroid which has been a disadvantage in many ways, but he sees things differently saying that you need to turn your negatives into positives in life, because they can often work in your favour. He admits that his excess energy is a factor that drives him to get up at 5am every morning to swim 2kms before getting to work just after 7am.

“For most entrepreneurs it’s the fear of failure that drives you to your greatest success,” he says.

Dale learnt that hiring well was essential, as was the ability to delegate.

“I had to learn at 25 that being able to trust people was essential, and I wasn’t good at that to begin with. I was also not very good at listening, and over the years I’ve learnt how important it is to …”Listen, Think, then Speak.”

Adjust and Move Forward – Life tips from Dale Alcock

  1. It’s important to put yourself in an uncomfortable position,  because it’s from this point that you can move forward rather than just tread water.
  2. Be a benevolent dictator. Know where you want to go and then encourage and persuade others to take the journey with you.
  3. Health and fitness are essential. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
  4. Lead by example and remain calm and consistent no matter what. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your personal life, your professional facade should never change. Dale gave the analogy of a duck paddling hard below the water to remain afloat, while looking serene above the water.
  5. Good manners are always in fashion
  6. You can always do more and take more on
  7. Have self belief and self confidence, but park your ego at the door. Don’t let anyone ever take away your self confidence or self belief. Ever.
  8. Never re-think a decision once you’ve made it. Sometimes you might make a decision that isn’t right, but you can make another decision to rectify that one. Getting to where you want to be in life is like making a series of tacks on a sailing boat.
  9. Communicate well and give good feedback. Keep talking to people and encouraging people.
  10. You can’t achieve greatness without having a supportive team – and don’t forget that our families are our teams too.
  11. Success = Desire to do something, Hunger to achieve it and Focus to achieve the outcome.

Tell us: What Do You Still Want to Achieve, Lifestylers?

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Showing 8 comments
  • Johanna

    Ahh Jill, those are great ambitions and you are keeping the pot simmering with all your current activities! You go girl!

  • Life Images by Jill

    Thanks Jo for this fantastic post – a belief in yourself will bring success to you.
    Me? To grow my writing and photography business. And travel more!

  • Johanna

    Yes, the second half should be twice as awesome! Glad the post inspired you Mary and Thank You.

  • Mary

    Great article, Jo. I’m going to print out he list. I’m transitioning phases of life, and have begun to dream again. I’m really excited that the second half of life can be even more successful than the first. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Kathy Marris

    Jo, extremely good article that would inspire most of us 50 somethings. I like no. 7 – having self belief, because too many times people try to bring you down when you are on your way up. You really need to believe in yourself and forget about the opinions of others. I can also identify with the woman with the grown up family that keep asking for help. I am trying really hard to untie the apron strings and start putting myself as a priority. Which is a hard thing to do after all those years of putting your children first.

    • Johanna

      Me too Cathy, being a Mum first is still default action. Thanks for your kind compliments, and also a little nudge too … no 7 is often a stumbling block for me. Thanks for popping by.

  • Neva Fels

    What do I want to do? Let’s see. I’ve achieved my skydiving license, enjoyed aerobatic glider plane rides, and will keep skiing with my kids and grandkids. Traveling to historic places is on the top of my list – so much to learn and so little time to do it.

    • Johanna

      Neva, you are an inspiration! Hope you are soon to embark on an interesting historic trip somewhere 🙂

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