THE BLOG

Brad Paterson: Push Yourself and Think Big

02/25/2015 08:12 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015

This is part of the #CareerAdvice series - featuring successful professionals who share their advice to people who would want to take their career to the next level.

Push. Learn. Think. Listen.

These are probably four of Brad Paterson's favorite verbs. These verbs are part of sentences which have resonated in his life and his core values.

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Brad Paterson VP & Managing Director, Asia-Pacific at Intuit

Push yourself.
Learn new things.
Think big.
Listen actively.

These sentences are common, concise, and simple yet very powerful if one applies them to their daily lives. These simple sentences have the power to make the common unique as well as turn your life around by 180 degrees.

These sentences have been Brad Paterson's mantra - principles he lives by.

These are the same sentences that keep him dynamic and relevant no matter how many times the business landscape changes. These are what keep him at the top of his game.

Humble Beginnings, Hugely Impactful Career

Brad came from a family whose male members have a knack for starting their own businesses. His grandfather and father have a small bakery and consulting practice respectively. He found this common trait later in life when he started desiring to start his own business.

Prior to all of these, however, Brad worked as a customer retention officer for a telecommunications company after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Newcastle in Australia.

After taking several other jobs in the IT&T industry, Brad joined his father in his consulting firm. This, eventually, jump started his career in international business. The opportunity came when he was offered a regional position at only 25 years old.

The offer came with a catch - he should be willing to relocate to Singapore.

His doubts and hesitation regarding the big move were put to rest with his father's encouragement to go for it stating that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

As the saying goes that 'Father knows best,' Brad was grateful that his father forced him out of his comfort zone because it broadened his horizons and made him more open, flexible, and
adaptable.

After the Singapore stint, he found himself back in Sydney with a more challenging role - help start PayPal Australia.

However, fate must have destined him not to stay in Australia for a long time because PayPal gave him a regional position which brings him back to Singapore. He worked with PayPal for a few years, but eventually decided to pursue his lifelong dreams - to start his own business.

However, there must be something about him that attracts pioneering organizations and companies because halfway through his personal pursuit, Intuit approached him to head their Asia Pacific operations.

He had second thoughts at first but as he learned more about the leading business and financial management solutions provider for small businesses and its advisors, and its core values, he discovered that it mirrored his own.

Thus, the next most logical and wisest step is to join the organization. He did not regret that decision because at Intuit, he was able to build an amazing team while keeping close tabs with Small Businesses in the APAC region.

Precious Lessons from the Workplace
There is a saying that if we constantly keep our eyes open, there is always a lesson to be learned in every situation. A very keen and introspective observer, that's what Brad did - learn from every experience he had. Most of those lessons have become his guiding principles which led him to where he is right now - the place of success.

His first job as a customer retention officer taught him the power of listening. When you truly listen to people instead of trying to sell them a solution, people will see the genuine interest and concern you're showing them. That genuineness is the most essential factor that will cause people to stay because they know you truly care.

On the other hand, working at PayPal taught him the power of small teams. He discovered that no matter how small the team is, they are able to achieve the impossible if they cooperate and push themselves to be always dynamic, relevant, and relatable.

Where the Fearless Tread
There are many adjectives you can use to describe Brad and his principles but one word that stands out is fearless.

He is never afraid to fail. He is never afraid to get out of his comfort zone. He is never afraid to think big. He is never afraid to keep quiet and just listen. He is never afraid to maintain his integrity.

On failure and thinking big, he said that one of the precious advice he got from another CEO was the mindset that it is OK to bat .333, which means it is OK to try and fail. The focus there is you have tried rather than not try at all.

He further added that failure is inevitable. You can never stop it from happening. Everybody is bound to fail. You cannot control it. However, you can control how you react to it or how you view it. Your reaction to failure will determine whether you will continue to fall or stand up and succeed.

When you fail, never be afraid to ask questions in order to get down to the bottom of things. Go back to the game plan and examine why it worked or didn't work. As he said, the answer often lies in the observations rather than the answer.

The odd home run of course is great. Most people and organizations fear failure. However, we really only learn from our mistakes. Of learning and getting out of his comfort zone, Brad said that learning does not necessarily mean getting more education.

Instead, valuable learning mostly comes from experience and observation. When you begin to observe people and understand the how and why of their actions, you will gain powerful insights to make you more effective and efficient. It also helps you innovate and create powerful solutions that will really work.

Of listening actively, Brad always quotes his current CEO Brad Smith who said that, 'You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio.'

Active listening, according to Brad, does not mean that you wait for the other person to stop speaking so you can start talking. Instead, it means understanding a situation so you can glean insights and experiences that will inform the choices you make in the future.

This kind of listening will help you remain "present" and "in the moment", which, in today's age of hyper information consumption, is more important than ever in helping you build relationships at work - and at home!

Of maintaining integrity, Brad always encourages his team and the people he works with to always 'do the right thing.' The advice might be overused and sounds old-fashioned but integrity can always take you places which are farther than you can imagine.

In fact, "Integrity without Compromise" is the cornerstone of their values at Intuit.

He further added that "if you'd be embarrassed to have your mother read about this on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, don't do it."

Simple yet powerful advice.

These are the golden nuggets he give to anyone who would ask him for advice. In fact, he said he would give the same advice to his younger self should he be given the chance to go back in time.

Learn more from Brad by connecting with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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