The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Peter Irvine

Episode 03

Peter Irvine: Episode Summary

On this episode of ‘The Inspiration Project’, Brendan Corr talks to Peter Irvine, co-founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffee Australia about his faith and the business world.

Among other things Peter shares:

  • why he feels called to share his business wisdom.
  • how he distributes his knowledge globally.
  • his definition of success.
  • challenges for Christians in running a business.
  • ️the ins and outs of ‘fairtrade’ coffee.
  • a key lesson for young believers.

Peter Irvine: Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College, a network of schools committed to student wellbeing, character development, and academic improvement.

Introduction
Welcome to The Inspiration Project where well-known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host, Brendan Corr.

Peter Irvine
Okay, well hi, I’m Peter Irvine and well, I was born in 1947 on Anzac Day. And so I finished school at 14, and that was Year 9 in those days. High school only went on to Year 11 and most people finished in Year 9. And I would encourage people to go on. I should have, but I wasn’t in that opportunity to do that. I did encourage our two boys and they did, and so I started work at 14 in 1963 in an advertising agency, very small. It grew to become one of the biggest agencies in the country. They launched McDonald’s into Australia and handled many major names, clients that you would know. In the last two years, which would have been about 1994/95, I was managing director.

Brendan Corr
Wow.

Peter Irvine
And I’d resigned that 1995 because our head of our connect group from church said to Sue and I, “Would you like to do something different?” So we asked, “What did you have in mind?” So he said he’d been offered this concept because he was in coffee and tea, called Gloria Jean’s from America. So we went over, had a look, bought the rights and launched Gloria Jean’s Coffees in Australia in 1996. In 2005, not the plan, but God led, he had a plan and he led me to actually negotiate the buy of the international brand off the Americans for the world.

Brendan Corr
Wow, so Gloria Jean’s wasn’t your first rodeo Peter?

Peter Irvine
No. That was 15 countries, which grew to 39, with all the problems and issues that come in life, and then in 2014 we sold the business to another company who are doing their best to ruin it, but they have a whole lot of other brands that they’re doing the same with. But we set about on a journey, my wife and I, because a few years prior to actually selling, we sensed God wanted us to move out into the business world, speak. Because I was being invited to speak at franchise conferences, conventions, companies, churches for their business people, leadership, church services, whatever it was. And fundraising, dinners for charities, not-for-profit. And so we sensed that’s where God was leading us, and so we stepped back a few years before selling, a couple of years. And we put an MD in to work with our chairman in the business who were our partners, and then we started. And that year, I estimated the first year out, I had 100 speaking invitations. Primarily in Australia, but then that grew to internationally, where it’s both now internationally and Australia. So pure role these days, as I get on in years, because God said to me, “You’re not going to drift over the horizon, but I’ve got a plan until the day you die, and everything you’ve learned, the mistakes, whatever’s happened, the blessings, the good things are going to be things that you’re going to share with people.” So I speak for churches, to business people, their leadership church services. I run workshops for them to help their business people, help them practically build their businesses. I’ve been to a lot of ministries in Nepal, Cambodia, Myanmar, India several times, and they actually get me to teach pastors and leaders. And then they use that to help Christian business people and even reach business people in those countries. And I’ve done a lot of other first world countries as well, and a lot in Australia.

Brendan Corr
You haven’t slowed down at all Peter.

Peter Irvine
No, and then with John Sikkema from Halftime … Well, one of the things the chairman of our trust we set up to fund the Kingdom said to us, he said, “As you get on in age,” didn’t tell us we’re getting old but we can read it. He said, “It’s going to be hard to do the one-on-ones or travel as much,” mind you, that hasn’t stopped. “But how do you replicate in other people to multiply, to teach Christian business people to do or grow their business, sort through issues, grow?”

Peter Irvine
So with John Sikkema from Halftime, we started a thing called Business On Purpose. And so every month we’ve got three sessions. We’ve got about 40 business people that we mentor through a programme. They do a bit of work, they give us feedback and it’s a 12 month programme, and that’s growing phenomenally. Then we put up a YouTube channel, which is free, Sue and I did, for what I do. We’ve got about 70 plus videos now, short videos on marketing, leadership, what Christmas means to me, what I learned from Christmas for business. Because I’m using it as an outreach to all the non-Christian people who have signed up for it. It’s free.

Brendan Corr
That’s great.

Peter Irvine
And how do you review people? How do you overcome disaster? Because we’ve been through a fire that burned everything to the ground in the Gloria Jean’s. We’ve had banks want to pull funding, we’ve had people suing us, all for the wrong reasons, but you get everything on this journey. And so we put that up there; Peter Irvine - Kingdom Momentum. It’s free and it will help people. We’ve got resources. We put out two books. We just put out a package now of 13 DVDs. We run a workshop with 35 Christian business people about 18 months ago. We recorded it, actually worked through their vision, mission values, their SWOTs, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, marketing. How do you build a championship team? And there’s a workbook people can go through one-on-one, they can do it with their church business group or they can do it for their business. There’s other things, but…

Brendan Corr
Do you mind me asking…

Peter Irvine
I get a bit exhausted thinking about them.

Brendan Corr
Makes me tired listening to you about it.

Peter Irvine
Is that a helpful background?

Brendan Corr
You’ve got a lot of things going on, a lot of irons in a lot of fires still going on. People listening Peter, would probably without question, identify that you’ve been a success. You’ve had success in business and most things that you put your hand to. I wonder how do you define success? What does it mean for you to have achieved so much, and does that register with you as a successful life?

Peter Irvine
Well, my view of successful life probably has changed up and down in different directions over the years, but as you look back and … Even the desire, even across that time, despite making bad decisions or maybe going off track and getting back on track. The desire is to grow a great family with my wife and our kids. They’ve grown up with the grandkids and to put into our grandkids and be part of their life without interfering. And to see them grow up and become the people that God meant them to be, to be able to grow businesses that actually help in a number of cases. Yes, to create finance that can fund the Kingdom and help people in need, but secondly to help other people grow their businesses, overcome issues and problems, because they’re all going to face them. How to get focused, how to get direction because they’re the leaders, they’re the future that are going to impact even more people.

Brendan Corr
So it sounds a bit like for you, success isn’t just the accumulation of opportunity or of wealth or gathering a reputation. It’s about exerting influence?

Peter Irvine
Yeah, correct. And with it, God blesses the journey financially, but our aim is to really give most of it away, which is what we’ve done through the sale of the business. Or set up methods whereby it could keep giving from there that we have no control over again. So it’s all about funding the Kingdom. We don’t want to get to the Heaven’s door and say, “What’d you do with all that?” I might not always do the right things with it, but the intent is to do that. Overriding all this is; God has a plan for my life and … Because there are a lot of business people say, “Well I never hear from God”, or, “I don’t know what it is.” I said, “Do you spend time with him?” And they say, “No,” and I said, “Well, how do you expect him to speak to you if you don’t open the Word?” And today we’ve got so much resource that we can Google or access to on smartphones, but even just for a businessperson. The John Maxwell Leadership Bible, it’s the whole Bible and he takes all the notes from his books and puts it back in as a study Bible. And that’s blessed so many business people, and I got hold of that. I’ve sold a lot of those. I actually got quantities of them so I could actually get them into Christian business … And others by the way, people’s hands. And it’s that sort of resource and having things positively speaking to your life. I give about three devotionals a day that are short and are encouraging because as people have said, “Oh, you give too much encouraging stuff.” I said, “No, I’ve got so much negative stuff coming at me, I’ve got to counter it.”

Brendan Corr
Yeah, the antidote.

Peter Irvine
If you don’t sow into yourself, no one else is going to. So I just give these three devotionals and you’d be surprised how spot on they are for me.

Brendan Corr
Right. I think if you’re open to the leading of God’s Spirit, he’s going to bring you the food that he knows you need, right? Through those devotions.

Peter Irvine
Yeah, correct.

Brendan Corr
So you obviously have a very strong sense of God being involved in the things that you do, and not just involved but leading you in the decisions that you make and informing your heart’s response. Can you tell me how did that start for you? Where did you first encounter God and find that He wanted to be leading your path into the future?

Peter Irvine
Well again, it’s a growing journey. And probably the realisation of a real commitment came in the teenage years despite me being in Sunday school for as long as I can ever remember, and believing. But actually real encounter was teenage years, and spending time in prayer and reading the Word and wrestling with this and the relevance today. But it was probably in the mid 30s, it was one Sunday afternoon, I just remember I sensed God was saying to me, “Your Bible’s too small.” And I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you’re mentally crossing out chapters and verses and books that people are telling you, and books you’re reading are saying are no longer relevant today.” And I thought to myself, “You know, He’s right.” Well, of course He’s right. And from that day onwards, the Bible just opened up from beginning to end of what he has to say to me about life, relationships, leadership and business. Right from Genesis to Revelation. And actually, the Maxwell Leadership, someone said, “Where did you start?” I said, “Genesis One.” It took me four and a half years to get to Revelation. Just the amount of stuff, in the book of … We don’t go to Leviticus or Numbers. I joke with people, the Book Of Numbers I thought was a telephone directory. But I said I was really staggered by how much came out of that, that I didn’t realise was hidden in there.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. So I was actually going to ask you, what you’re commenting now speaks to it. I was going to ask you, has being a Christian in business made it harder to do business?

Peter Irvine
I’d say not as much in the early years. Certainly as we hit the Gloria Jean’s days, we had people who said, “No, I don’t believe in your values. I don’t want to join your company.” Which I thought was great because they weren’t engaged, they’ve got to be engaged with us. Other staff members got upset, but I said, “Isn’t it good? We know before they start that they’re not with us.” Even though they weren’t Christians, some of the staff members. The opposition from the media and the social media hacks, if you like, just started to really tear the company apart because of being Christians and linking us to Hillsong Church; that they owned us, which is not true. Even Christians believed it and wouldn’t come to our stores. The problem is; the rest of the community could even care less and they came. So, it’s funny where your real friends are sometimes. So the criticism and then people wanted to sue us. I mean, the amount of stuff we went through, that sort of area. This day and age, I guess at my age you do care, but you care less, because I’ve got the microphone if you like, the platform. If they invite me to speak then I’m really going to share. Don’t invite me in.

Brendan Corr
Can you unpack a little bit for us? You hinted there that the company that you were operating adopted a particular way of doing business or existing in the business world. You talked about the values of the company and that it was a point of division for people to feel that they were in or they were out. What sort of values were you running in the company that was different to anyone else?

Peter Irvine
All we did from the beginning was; we set about some vision. It took us a while to get some values on paper like living with integrity, a culture of joy and passion, building lives and changing lives, those sorts of things. But even before we got that, whenever we interviewed anyone for a job, we would share the vision and values and who we were and a lot of people accused us of only hiring Christians. Actually, it was further from that. We actually saw a few staff members become Christians and suppliers and franchisees and others over a course of the journey, just from the association, and in fact new franchisees who were interested in a franchise would say to us, “We really love the family values.” We found out they didn’t understand what that meant. For some of them it meant that they could yell at us a lot and we would jump because that’s what happens in their family. So we had to train them to think it’s going to be a bit different to that. But what we wanted to do is to say if we promise something we’re going to … If we make a mistake we’ll apologise and fix it and move on. We would do things front to front with suppliers, with banks, with everyone. So we could be trusted. People liked us because we’re sort of friendly-

Brendan Corr
As in nice people to be around? Nice people to deal with?

Peter Irvine
I try to be careful, not preaching, but everyone knew where we stood and what we did. And so if they didn’t want to join us because of that, that’s great. If you don’t want to be a franchisee because of that, funny enough, no franchisee wasn’t a Christian. They actually wanted to be part of it because of it. So it was the least negative people with those. It was just the media who didn’t understand franchising, coffee, the concept. We started with a takeaway cup, that sort of media didn’t understand because of the Australian culture. We broke a lot of mindsets when we started, but if we hadn’t done it, we wouldn’t be here today.

Brendan Corr
So in the coffee industry, did you come up against the idea of fair trade and all those sorts of big economic issues?

Peter Irvine
Well, not in the early days, because no one knew anything about it. But fair trade came onto the scene. My partner, who was a coffee specialist, he lives in a coffee grain region. He roasted coffee for years. He knew the people around the world in coffee, and he said to me, “I’ve read all the documents on fair trade because that’s now the big thing”. And he said, “I’m still not convinced it’s fair trade. There are too many people still clipping the ticket. So the growers aren’t getting the margin everyone thinks they are”. And that not just applies to coffee, but tea, sugar, wheat, cocoa, everything. And so he said, “I’ve done the research, looked at it and we’re going with Rainforest Alliance because it’s a group that represents them all, but they don’t take a margin. But they go and make sure the plantations provide housing, the chemicals are stored away from the product and in a safe area. In a lot of the plantations, it’s very dangerous to work. The Rainforest Alliance, you can’t be a member of it unless you follow all these guidelines”. So the whole standard and price for the farmers went up, significantly. And you’ll notice that people like McDonald’s have had Rainforest Alliance for many years. In fact, McDonald’s copied just about everything we did, and I just laughed when they went with Rainforest Alliance. Because they regarded us as the benchmark back then. Because I knew people in McDonald’s.

Brendan Corr
That decision, to follow a particular line of sourcing your product must have had economic implications for your company. What was the decision? What was the driver to do that sort of thing?

Peter Irvine
Well it did, but keep in mind under fair trade, the pricing is expensive anyway. The coffee price is driven internationally by the group that manages it, and the markets manipulated. According to if they want to get more money. And you only need a frost in one plantation in Brazil, and the whole world goes into meltdown. And it doesn’t really have much significance on it, but they use it as an excuse. But putting that aside, we were already premium price because we were buying the one or two top percent in the world. It gave us a quality product, better taste, better everything. But we reflected that in the price of the cup of coffee we were selling. So we established a benchmark that people said wouldn’t work, but eventually everyone went to that benchmark.

Brendan Corr
But the decisions you’re making about the product, the sourcing of it, the handling of it, the marketing of it and the distribution to your clients were based on those values that you had at your company about serving people, being integrity.

Peter Irvine
Well, we inherited through the franchise, the rights we bought for Australia in 19 … Well, it was finally signed in 1996, that it was based around a quality product of cocoa, tea, coffee, syrups and everything. And we trained in America, so we understood why those products made a difference in the actual cup we deliver. Of whatever it is. And so we adhered to that, well, we had to under the franchise agreement anyway. But it was a point of difference to the rest of the market. Actually, in the end, the whole market moved up of sourcing better quality coffee, the barista training, everyone thought of barista, they laughed at them. These days, they get paid a lot more money than normal retail workers because if you’re good, you’re in big demand.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Interesting. Peter, you’re obviously talking with a lot of deep knowledge about the business. How important was becoming, not an expert necessarily, becoming well informed about the business you’re involved, in versus just relying on God’s goodness and God’s favour to bring about the success that your company enjoyed?

Peter Irvine
Well, there’s a couple of key things here. One is that I knew nothing about coffee or tea when I got involved in it. I understood some about franchising, working closely with McDonald’s. And obviously a bit of marketing, and leadership in a sense. Mind you, there was only me in the office, and an accountant two days a week, and a receptionist for a couple of mornings. And that’s all we could afford. So that’s how we started. And my partner still had his other business in coffee and tea that he was doing so he could be paid. So we started there. So I had to find franchisee lease sites, negotiate, then fit outs, get them built. Started training until we started adding a few more people and my partner got more involved in the business. He handled the roasting of the coffee. I started to learn about coffee etc. I’m not an expert, but what I learned is a lot about the business. What I’m sharing you about coffee or tea is just about everything I know. The people who really know, my partner knows a whole lot more. My oldest son became an expert in coffee, worked for us for 10 years. He became the primo barista. He understood the whole coffee thing, and so they know a whole lot more. But that’s okay. That was not my calling. I saw my calling in the end, to manage franchisees and relationships because, you keep those healthy, which we did have in those times. As soon as anyone else got involved, relationships went bad, and another company didn’t look after franchisees, who bought the business. It went down further. So I saw a role and I learned it from the head of McDonald’s, how he’d kept relationships. He was probably a bit more hard nosed than I was, but I did learn some tips, so it’s part of the journey. I believe God has the ideas, God helps solve problems, and the realisation came to me, although this had been happening for a while. When I was having quiet time, when I finished full time of Gloria Jean’s, I was just down in the afternoon without any interruptions. Have a quiet time. People do it at other times, and I would open the bible, this is the being honest stage of everything. And you say a prayer. Next thing, 30 minutes later I wake up. Felt really guilty.

Brendan Corr
That’s the peace of God that…

Peter Irvine
This was happening every day. I thought, every time I wake up, I’ve got all these ideas or solutions to things. Then I got really more guilty. So I thought I’ll write it down, and then I come right back spreading the word after that. And then I realised, or the Holy Spirit prompted me, is; God’s bursting ideas and solutions at … I would never even have thought up. And they’re coming out of that time with him and because I talk all the time when I’m awake with Him, I could speak to Him while I sleep. And then I sort of come out when you wake up. Now, I know it might sound weird to people. But I then came across a verse some months later in Isaiah, just trying to think. I think it’s Isaiah 10, I’m not sure. The Message version is actually really good. God says “I have things to tell you, brand new. You will never have thought of them, and you can’t say I thought of these all along.” And I thought, yeah, that’s exactly what’s happening. So I could ring people and say, “I’ve got solution to the problem”. They go, “Wow, that’s fantastic. Where did you get that from?” I said, “You don’t want to know.” When they pressured, I would tell them, and then it’s like, “Oh”, like a disappointment.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s fascinating. So inspiration in a practical sense of how do we solve this problem?

Peter Irvine
Yeah, but I could be sitting in church and a message or worship and something comes to my head or you get your mind back on this. And suddenly I realise it’s actually related to something I asked about some weeks ago or yesterday or this morning.

Brendan Corr
That’s wonderful. That’s marvellous. Peter, can I take you back? I was intrigued to learn, I didn’t realise until our conversation today, that you had already established a successful career in marketing before you ventured into Gloria Jean’s. And I was intrigued by the fact that you spoke very strongly, very passionately about your preference, your belief that education would have done you … Of anybody who could have said, “Actually it doesn’t matter. I made good, I worked hard. I enjoyed success without education”. What gives you the sense, the commitment to say, “I wanted my children to go as far as they could and I wish I had gone further in my schooling”, when you had reached such a pinnacle of success?

Peter Irvine
Yeah. Look, the reason is there are a lot of major entrepreneurs in the world who failed college and school and … You know, the Branson’s and there’s a whole lot of them. And I know people personally, but deep down, there are a lot of struggles, basic stuff that I would’ve learned staying in school, that would’ve probably helped a bit further along the track. Mind you, I picked it up as I went. In the early years, I was of the view, you work to get by and pay bills. The revelation came; we’re not here to … We’re here to succeed and be successful, to be a blessing to other people. And we’re not here to get by and pay bills. We’re taking up space on the planet. If all we’re doing is just for ourselves, using up everything and not here to be God’s instruments, which, we’re his people. That’s what he wants us to be. That’s the command, anyway. And I had to learn a lot of that over many years, and it took me longer than probably some people. In the end, the funny thing is; I’ve been doing a lot with Nyack College in New York, a Christian College, been going for 100 years, to their MBA students, and pre-MBA and undergraduates. And three years ago, they awarded me a doctorate.

Brendan Corr
Wow. Congratulations!

Peter Irvine
I got this email and Sue said … Together, we laughed. If only they knew.

Brendan Corr
That’s fantastic.

Peter Irvine
So, it’s funny. God brings the recognition.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, indeed, indeed.

Peter Irvine
I wasn’t even looking for it. I didn’t apply or anything. Totally unexpected.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Well, fitting recognition for obviously what you’ve mastered, in terms of being able to succeed in business and start business. Peter, you ended that first company at the lowest levels, as a graduate straight out of school. An early leaver of school. Ended up as CEO. What do you attribute that rise, from entry level to corner office…

Peter Irvine
I could always say I was the last man standing, but…

Brendan Corr
A Steven Bradbury situation, huh?

Peter Irvine
Yeah. And I’d worked through various departments of the agency, not creative because that’s certainly not where my strength is, like production or … Just as a junior. Then pre-production, then media planning, buying national media director. Then one day they said, “We like you for general manager”, and I thought well, good. I’ve never asked for it. They’d felt that I could do it because of the way I managed it. Our media department became highly recognised in the industry. It wasn’t the pinnacle and I go, okay, that’s at least not in the direct limelight of CEO or chairman. Anyway, I did that for a number of years, and then ended up working on the McDonald’s account directly because the marketing, I didn’t like anyone who handled that account. There was 50 people in our agents working on it. So I got that. So there was a huge amount of travel around the country, with franchising meetings, et cetera. Learned a lot about franchising, and learned a lot about … People get irritated, pay them nothing. That’s a good training ground. So God had something in mind. And then two years before I finally resigned to leave for Gloria Jean’s, I wasn’t aware that was coming. I got back from holidays, the chairman called me in and says, “The managing director’s going to run the Dallas America office for the agency over there, and the other working directors in the company want you to be managing director”. And I said, “Well, I don’t think so”. Firstly, I didn’t think I was qualified. I didn’t have all the expertise. He said, “No, everyone wants you”. I said, “Well, I’ve got to go and pray about it”. He had no idea what I was talking about, but he said, “Yes, of course you do”. So I get home and I said to Sue, “Well, guess what happened? So tomorrow I’ll say no”. She said, “No, I think you should do it”. I go, “It’s not the answer I wanted”.

Brendan Corr
Can’t we talk about this?

Peter Irvine
One of the pastors, we just moved to Hillsong. At that time, Mike Murphy was looking after business people. He said, “I think you should do it”. I said, “You haven’t known me long enough”. Anyway, I went in and said yes, so I woke up 5:00AM the next morning and said to myself, don’t think about this. You won’t get out of bed.

Brendan Corr
Too big a deal, right?

Peter Irvine
On the drive in, I thought we’re going to set a vision and a mission and a plan. Now, you understand, back in 1994, that vision and mission were only being talked about. No one knew a lot about it. People were, for very expensive amounts of money, selling their expertise to help you write it, and it was all rubbish.

Brendan Corr
The consultants.

Peter Irvine
Yeah. Anyway, we’ve got a guy in, it was a moderator, helped us do it. We came away with a vision, and I said to the guys, “We’re not closing the door and forgetting this, we’re going to make this happen”. And looking back for two years, the agency won more clients than its history, generated more turnover, made more profit. We rewarded in the city office, 200 people with huge bonuses. The whole 200 people of them. Never had it happen before, every year for two years. And it all came out of setting that vision. But I believe God … I didn’t think so, wanted me in that. What he gave me was the idea is; you get people who are not your strengths, good people, and some of them are paid more than myself. And most business people will not do that.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s interesting.

Peter Irvine
But I had to get people that paid more, and when I turn up with a client with them, the client listens.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Right. Yeah. Find the best people you can. So what I’m hearing, Peter, is that your career was developed partly by finding the things that you were good at. Finding things that were your sweet spot, and a natural fit.

Peter Irvine
Which was difficult through that days.

Brendan Corr
But also not shying away from challenge. Being willing to have a go at something that may have been a bit out of the ordinary or a bit unexpected, and be willing to place yourself in a situation where you’re going to be stretched or challenged. And to surround yourself with the best people that you can find.

Peter Irvine
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
Did you have anybody in that early stage of your life speaking into your life, or giving you help and direction and mentorship?

Peter Irvine
Yeah, we moved to Hillsong in the year that I actually took on the MD role. And it had to be God’s timing because the teaching from the pastors and visiting guys from overseas and ladies. Messages just spoke to me. I took notes. In fact, I walked out of church with another business guy one day, and he said, “Have a look at all these names I got this morning. I can use this all the time this week at work”. And I’m going, “Oh, okay. Well I’ve sort of been taking some of this, and using it. I’m not the only one”. And it was those years that helped me grow, phenomenally. And then I started to read and look at things, and get the right input in my life. You’ve got to understand, internet and social media was only in the embryo stages, so not like it is today. I mean we get so much misinformation as well as good information, but at least there’s access to it, and easily. Then it was harder, but the thing I got was the message from church, and putting in my car, and listen to. Some of them, I started playing again at home, taking notes. I can apply this tomorrow, this week, in this situation. So I certainly had to say the church through their preaching, was very relevant to my situation. And then starting to get hold of a bit of John Maxwell’s books. There’d be a few others that really helped, but it’s getting the right things that are going to speak into your life, and practical. But it’s not just reading. What are you doing with it?

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Applying the things you’re learning. And you’re clearly talking about an attitude where you’re learning all the time. You’re learning on the job, you’re learning at church, you’re learning in relationships that you’re forming, and it’s pooling that together and saying, “I’m growing as a fully rounded person”.

Peter Irvine
Yes.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. That’s terrific. So you reach the pinnacle in your company, you’re managing director, and you get this challenge to go off and start something brand new. Walk away from all of that. Was that a scary thing to think about?

Peter Irvine
But funny enough, no one asked me that. Even when I saw Gloria Jean’s, no incoming in a sense. I think because it was God’s plan. He was preparing. So when the time came to leave, I was ready for the new challenge, despite no income. I had money coming out of advertise so I could support ourselves. So no, but a lot of people had that problem, and they want to go back or whatever, I don’t think I ever did in those areas. I think over the years, one of the things I did want to share with younger people is; nothing is wasted in your learning. And a lot of them earn a few dollars doing casual work, whether it’s school or college or whatever. But I say to them, no, you’re building your attitude, your career, your future. What you’re doing now, you’ll be surprised what you will learn that will catapult you to the next stage. And I believe that’s how they offered me the managing director’s job with DDB, the agency, because I was faithful. They didn’t understand that. I was faithful doing my job and doing it properly and having an interest in the company, and supporting it. And those … who were supporting me, who were above me. And I think I felt confident if they promoted me, I wasn’t going going to knife them.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Gotcha. Well that’s a nice way to bring our conversation, Peter, back to the focus of what we’re trying to do. One of the questions I was going to ask you is; what advice would you give to a young person who’s at the early stages of thinking about what the future might hold for them, and what they might become? You’ve sort of partly answered it in that response. To say don’t waste a moment. Don’t waste an opportunity to learn and to grow. Is anything else that you might want to leave with our audience.

Peter Irvine
Well, certainly, I would … You’re either watching videos, YouTube, programmes on TV, social media and the like. Take half an hour a day, and actually get something … Or even a few minutes, get some of the devotionals, get some of the positive stuff, go to my YouTube channel, free. There’s so much stuff available, good stuff that’s free, that you should do. That will help you, and you’re not looking for a zillion things. Thinking; what is one thing I can take out of that, that can make a difference today in my relationships with my parents, with my brothers and sisters, with my friends? Am I listening to the right people? The right voices. Don’t listen to too many voices, but am I listening to the right ones? And then be loyal to those that are paying you money to do work now. Because you’re probably going to ask for a reference, which is going to be really important when you go for a job sometime.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s good.

Peter Irvine
Also, you’re learning. And if I did something for someone and they paid me only for a couple of hours, I’d probably in my workload and everything I did, would probably give them the day. And I would probably work longer and not expect to get it done properly.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. So, learn the practical things but also learn about how to be the right sort of person in the moment. And learn to hear the people around you. So we’ve talked a lot about learning through this conversation, Peter. Learning at school, and what’s the potential for that. Learning on the job, and learning through relationships. Last question before we wind things up is; what do you feel like you’re learning at this stage of your life?

Peter Irvine
I’m probably learning more now than I ever have, and God said, “What are you doing with it?” Because I’ve got so many distractions, useless things, difficult people. Every time you touch something. And you know you’re on the right course because the enemy doesn’t want you to do that. And so I’ve got to sit down, I’ve started preparing more talks when I speak to Christian business or other business people. For church services, for leadership, I’ve just got a thing came through. I’m going to put another one up on my YouTube channel is; what are retailers doing in China with this virus in the city that’s closed? And they’re actually doing some innovation coming out of it. And I want to put that up on a video. And I know that will bless people because through the Business On Purpose, they ran one of the videos I did on disaster recovery on my YouTube channel. Which is just seven or eight minutes, five minutes, whatever it is. And they had over 16,000 downloads. So you get the right subject, and people want to know.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s great. Well Peter, it’s been fantastic talking with you. We celebrate all the things that God has been able to do through you, and to hear a little bit about what he’s done in you. And what he continues to lead you into new opportunities of service. We really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and your experience with us, and we know that will be a blessing also to the people that are able to listen to us. So may God continue to unfold his plan and purpose for you and thank you for your time.

Peter Irvine
Yeah. Do you want me to finish with a story?

Brendan Corr
That’d be great, yeah. Finish with a story.

Peter Irvine
Yeah. Oliver Wendell Holmes was asked why he was still studying Greek and his 90s.

Brendan Corr
Good question.

Peter Irvine
And he said, “My life’s not over yet.”

Brendan Corr
That’s good.

Peter Irvine
And he said, “That’s all the time I got left.”

Brendan Corr
Yeah, right. Make use of what’s today. The opportunity the day brings. We thank you for the today that you shared with us, Peter, and may God bless you.

Speaker 3: Thanks mate.

Peter Irvine
Okay, and let’s see those that listen go forward.

Brendan Corr
Amen. Amen.

Peter Irvine
Okay.

About Peter Irvine

As Co-founder of Gloria Jean's Coffees in Australia and as one of the team members who helped launch McDonald's in Australia, Peter Irvine has over 40 years' experience in building businesses to phenomenal levels of success. Today he is a sought-after keynote speaker and business consultant who travels the world challenging audiences to dream bigger and to achieve greater success in life and in business. He is the author of two business books and a regular speaker at industry forums and events, including Franchise Council of Australia events, the National Retailers Convention and the BRW Franchising Round Table. He and his wife live in New South Wales.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).