Hopefully we are looking at every single conceivable possible option, rather than just the logical option.
The daily habits of successful people: Storm boss Ron Gauci
By Lucy Kippist
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Melbourne Storm chief executive, Ron Gauci loves music, biographies and Kit Kats. Photo: Colleen Petch.
BY 5.30 most mornings Melbourne Storm boss Ron Gauci has read all the newspapers cover to cover, but that’s where routine ends for the man who eschews weekend rituals in favour of squeezing in as many different activities as possible.
“I don’t like rituals because routine gets stale, but the best parts of my weekends are spending it with family and friends. I like to balance lots of things, a game of golf, watching the boy’s [Storm] game and getting to see my children’s sports matches. If Storm is playing interstate I frequently fly to the game and get the earliest flight back to Melbourne on a Sunday morning so I don’t miss my son’s games,” he said.
The rest of the time is spent entertaining friends at home, eating out, reading and playing a favourite Neil Diamond medley with his band, Big Kahuna, a collective of Melbourne-based executives. Gauci’s plays bass but he’s also on vocals and possesses an impressive range that’s “somewhere between the lows of Neil Diamond and the highs of ACDC”.
He’s also no stranger to challenges off-stage, going from decades at the top of the IT industry as the managing director of the Australian arm of telecommunications company Verizon straight into the aftermath of Storm’s salary capping scandal.
But even that wasn’t the biggest jump in Gauci’s career that’s encompassed theology law and teaching.
“I left school wanting to be a lawyer but quickly realised that I wanted to be the one educating rather than prosecuting. I had a real compulsion to help young people at the stage before they reached the courts. I wanted to get to the root of the problem rather than try and be the solution,” Gauci said.
Education became the obvious choice and Gauci returned to his own Christian Brothers school, St. Bernard’s in Essendon, becoming their first ever lay teacher. It was there that his leadership skills were quickly discovered.
“I had a magnificent principal Brother Mick Godfrey who saw my potential quickly. To get me further ahead he suggested I study theology. So I did. I’ve always loved history so there was an obvious connection there for me,” he said.
While claiming to have really enjoyed his teaching experience, by the early 1990s Gauci found himself at the helm of the booming information technology industry. “There was only 18 months between when I left teaching to escorting Bill Gates around Melbourne. I saw the advent of email, the introduction of the internet and was there when the first mobile car phone was about the same size as a brick. I saw all of that,” he said.
So how did all of this prepare him for his current role with Melbourne Storm?
“There has been some terrific overlap. I used my theology studies to guide my decisions. History teaches us that we should learn from the past, but not to dwell there. You must always move forward and that has been my philosophies from word go with Storm,” he said.
There has also been a significant overlap between technology and football. Gauci said the Storm uses technology to track and monitor everything from the players’ eating habits, fitness levels and playing results to plan their training and schedule.
“Recently we had a 20-hour-plus flight and a game in Leeds where it was minus one degrees. Then two weeks later we were playing in 36 degrees in Melbourne followed by a game in the humid Townsville to return again to Melbourne to contest the Grand Final replay. Three games in 11 days. Technology plays a huge part in how we monitor and plan for this kind of thing,” he said.
And what is the secret to his professional success?
"At the end of the day I believe that I really only have one skill; finding great people who do their job better than I do and helping them become the best they can be. I am a slow recruiter and I know what I don’t want from an employee. I look for people with an ‘X factor’, who are self-motivated, because motivation comes from within. And I think you pick that up very early in someone. > <big>My job is to remove the de-motivators."</big>
Relaxation: “Everything comes back to music, I really retreat there, either playing with the band or just listening.”
Books and movies: “I love reading. Anything about history or travel or politics and I especially like reading biographies, especially musical biographies. Paul McCartney and Bill Clinton were favourites.”
Eat in, or out: “I don’t cook. I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by women in my life who are all great cooks. Four sisters, my mother and my wife and also my only brother is an excellent chef. So I do know my place - I do the washing up!”
Personal philosophy: “Image is very important to me, I like to dress well. I was wearing cuff links, ties with tie pins and suits when it was not fashionable to do so. Good self-image is very important, if you feel good about yourself, your career and your state of mind then you are more confident.”
Health and fitness: "I like to stay active; I enjoy golf and football and have been accused in the past of having “white line fever”. So I enjoy the competition! But I also love good food and good company and a weakness for a dark chocolate, especially Kit Kats.”
Must have items in perfect mini bar: “Water, Kit Kats and milk. I don’t drink tea or coffee so I drink a lot of water.”
Old school etiquette that you’d like to revive: “Discipline. It’s really important and we’ve lost our way. We avoid honesty. We’ve also lost an appreciation of our past through history and this means we take too much for granted. We don’t ask questions.”
Sounds like just what we need
Storm fan faces legal threat
January 20, 2011
THE Melbourne Storm fiasco has taken a new twist, with club chief executive Ron Gauci threatening to sue a tram driver for defamation over comments he posted on social networking websites during last year’s salary cap scandal.
Mr Gauci, appointed CEO of the National Rugby League club in July last year, has sought compensation and an apology from 28-year-old Melbourne Storm fan Jamie Koo, of Sunbury.
Mr Koo posted comments on websites describing Mr Gauci as ‘‘a News Ltd puppet’’ and ‘‘in the exact mould of John Hartigan himself’’.
Storm fan Jamie Koo faces the threat of legal action by club CEO Ron Gauci for writing that he was “in the exact mould” of his boss, John Hartigan.
Storm fan Jamie Koo faces the threat of legal action by club CEO Ron Gauci for writing that he was “in the exact mould” of his boss, John Hartigan. Photo: Penny Stephens
Mr Hartigan is the chief executive of News Ltd, which owns the Melbourne Storm.
According to a legal letter obtained by The Age, the comments have caused Mr Gauci ‘‘distress, embarrassment and humiliation’’.
The spat between the tram driver and the Storm boss dates back to Mr Koo’s eviction from a NRL match against Cronulla in August last year.
As reported in The Age at the time, Mr Koo was evicted for displaying anti-News Ltd banners at the match, including one that read: ‘‘We support our players and staff, not News Ltd.’’
Mr Gauci later told media that Mr Koo, who has been a member of the Storm since its admission to the NRL in 1998, was evicted from the match for abusive behaviour.
Mr Koo responded by uploading a video to the sports website madfan.com.au. In the video he said Mr Gauci’s allegation that he was evicted for being abusive was ‘‘totally and utterly false’’ and ‘‘rubbish’’.
According to Mr Gauci’s lawyers, Mr Koo defamed their client in the video by suggesting he is a liar.
In the video, Mr Koo also states: ‘‘I honestly don’t think he [Gauci] is the independent man that he claims. He is a very loyal man to his employer, who are News Ltd.’’
Mr Koo added: ‘‘I’m not going to be scared off by these bully boy tactics which are typical of News Ltd.’’
Many Melbourne Storm fans migrated to the madfan website last year amid claims that comments critical of News Ltd were not being allowed on forums on the club’s official website.
The fans claimed that News Ltd was denying their freedom of speech.
Between September 17 and October 19 last year Mr Koo also posted several comments on the ‘‘Storm Man’’ fan page on the Facebook website. Included in those comments was one that likened Mr Gauci to Mr Hartigan.
On Facebook, Mr Koo also wrote that Mr Gauci ‘‘is having his strings pulled by Mr Hartigan’’, ‘‘is a puppet’’ and is News Ltd’s ‘‘fresh-faced assassin’’.
In October last year Mr Koo received a letter from the firm Stephens Lawyers and Consultants, acting for Mr Gauci.
In the letter, lawyer Julian Stephens states that Mr Koo’s remarks are ‘‘seriously defamatory’’ and that Mr Koo’s remarks suggest Mr Gauci ‘‘is not acting in a professional manner, is not carrying out his duties as CEO, is a bully and is not fit for the office that he holds’’.
The letter demands that Mr Koo publish an apology on the websites, that he offers compensation to Mr Gauci for damages, and that Mr Koo gives a written undertaking not to publish any more material.
A mediation meeting between the parties was held at the office of Melbourne Storm on November 17 last year. It was attended by Mr Gauci and his legal team and by Mr Koo and his brother, Inspector Richard Koo of Victoria Police.
Inspector Koo is a former police prosecutor and a senior member of the legal and corporate policy unit of the Victoria Police.
Mr Gauci’s lawyers last week sent Mr Koo a deed of undertaking to sign. They want the tram driver to agree, in writing, not to publish or republish any more statements regarding their client.
In return, Mr Gauci says he will not begin legal proceedings against Mr Koo.
Mr Koo has been given until tomorrow to agree to the terms of that deed.
Mr Koo told The Age yesterday that he had not done anything wrong.
‘‘I cannot apologise for something I did not do,’’ Mr Koo said. ‘‘I will not be signing the deed.’’
Mr Gauci was not available for comment.
Would we need to lawyer up before criticising?