Glenn Keys - The Human Face of a Global Business

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In this week's episode we hear from co-founder of Canberra based Aspen Medical, Glenn Keys. In this edition of the podcast, Glenn discusses the values that underline Aspen Medical's success and the complementarity of a business partnership. Additionally, Glenn shares how he manages his weaknesses and where he fits humility into his business leadership. 

Shownotes - Glenn Keys

8:30 The complementarity of a business partnership

10:05 How do you resolve difficult conversation at the strategic level

10:44 Aspen medical’s Business Journey 

14:23 What do you value most about your business partner? 

18:06 Were you nervous starting the business? 

20:37 Do you become stressed? 

23:08 Have you always been competitive?

26:56 Glenn’s decision making process

31:26 What is something that moved you in your career? 

35:48 What values underline Aspen’s success? 

38:42 What keeps you focused on your beliefs? 

41:56 How will you keep Aspen’s values strong? 

43:38 What do you like about humans? 

45:49 What gives you life outside of work? 

49:36 What are you proud of as a father? 

51:16 How did you deal with crises in the business? 

53:54 How do you manage your weaknesses?

55:40 Where does humility fit into business leadership?

1:00:16 Staying focused and leveraging strength

1:04:59 Is fixing things in your nature? 

1:10:36 How fathering an intellectually disabled son changed Glenn 

1:17:01 Three points on how to live life

1:17:57 What are you most proud of through your journey with Aspen Medical?

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FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Jonathan Doyle:     Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Canberra Business Podcast of, I've got another wonderful guest with us today in the studio, Glenn Keys from Aspen Medical. Welcome to the Canberra Business Podcast.

Glenn Keys:         Oh, thank you very much. It's an honor to be here.

Jonathan Doyle:     I'm looking forward to it. Aspen Medical has a global footprint doing amazing things, but the, the truth that not many people would know is that it started in a moment of great crisis, and this was the moment where you had to decide whether you would develop a career in business or pursue your, your heart's desire as a professional bell ringer.

Jonathan Doyle:     So take us back, mate. We always like to do this at the start, we like to know some of the back story. And everybody has, um, Michelle Melbourne from Intelledox was, uh, was a gifted [inaudible 00:00:37] bell-ringing, please tell us how did this happen?

Glenn Keys:         Yeah, it's a slight exaggeration to say a professional bell ringer.

Jonathan Doyle:     Okay.

Glenn Keys:         But no, I was in England actually, uh, when I was with the military doing, um, my flight test engineering course, and we had just moved into a new house in a new village, and the guy who was moving out invited us to the pub for his farewell tour.

Glenn Keys:         And I'm standing there chatting away as you do to the locals, and this guy quite tall lawyer was looking me over, and I thought, "Bloody hell, I've broken some unwritten British pub rule that you don't wear jeans on a Wednesday.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Or you don't drink cold beer.

Glenn Keys:         In Lent or something.

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         Whatever it was. Anyway, I said, "Is there a problem?" He goes, "No, I'm just looking, you've got, it looks like you're quite fit." He said, uh, and I thought, "Hmm, that's a bit odd. Why, why would you be saying that?" And he said, "Oh, we've got a Bell Ringing group here."

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         And I went, "What, like the ones on the table?" He said, "No, no, no, in the steeple of the church. You know, with the ropes and everything." And I went, "Oh, I'm not really sure that's my thing." He said, "Look, we only ring for about half an hour, an hour, and then we come to the pub for the rest of the night.” I said, "I'm in."

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         "Let's give it a go." I said, "Do, do we have to ring on Sundays at church and stuff?" And he goes, "Oh no, we're not good enough for that though. The priest doesn't trust us to ring on a Sunday.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So we just ring on a Wednesday night.

Jonathan Doyle:     Okay.

Glenn Keys:         I, I went down and never been in a steeple before this, in, in this particular church there were eight bells.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         Uh, eight ropes, and you, uh, it's quite complicated, you have to ring the bell up. Now, so, it's a particular way they ring, and I started practicing and, and we would all ring for half an hour, an hour, and then we'd got to the pub for two or three hours afterwards. It was great fun.

Jonathan Doyle:     There you go.

Glenn Keys:         And then we, uh, we actually got good enough that we got to ring on the morning of Mothering Sunday, which is Mother's Day.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Uh, to, to ring the village to come to church. And when we left, my wife was pregnant with our very first child.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         And we got home, we'd sent them a note that Siân had been born, and about three months later we get a little cassette tape that they had rung a half peal, which is a time period, a half peal on the bells on a Sunday to celebrate the birth of our daughter.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow! There you go.

Glenn Keys:         Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Jonathan Doyle:     So how old were you, uh, with that such?

Glenn Keys:         Uh, that's a good question. Probably that’d have to be 20, 25 years ago.

Jonathan Doyle:     [crosstalk 00:02:52] because I was thinking before, when I, when I saw that you had that background of that. Normally when guys are younger they're, you know, they get into music. It's usually guitars or drums to impress the ladies but, uh, you know, bell ringing, uh, mate, thanks for sharing that with us.

Glenn Keys:         (laughs)

Jonathan Doyle:     I wanna, I wanna jump in. This is, um, this, we're gonna talk business. We're gonna talk about a whole bunch of great stuff, but we always like to talk about the back story a little bit. Tell us a little bit of your back story family wise, like where, where did you grow up? And, uh, what's the family back story?

Glenn Keys:         So I grew up in Newcastle. Mum and dad owned and ran their own businesses, they had two shops. They did, uh, gifts, so, you know, gifts for people. They did toys and they did wool, uh, Patons wool.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         So, we grew up that, you know, every Saturday morning because this is when all the shops closed at Saturday lunch.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Every Saturday morning we'd work there every school holidays, particularly Christmas we'd work in the shops. We had two shops, one in Mayfield, one in Hamilton.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And we lived above our shop, and so I, you know, grew up being involved in business. I think the other thing that was great was that mum and dad were absolute equals in the business.

Jonathan Doyle:     Right.

Glenn Keys:         Mum knew what to buy, so she knew what people would buy, and dad could sell ice to Eskimos.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         So it was a great balance between the pair of them. Mum would do the books, dad would be down because we had wool, we had all of this additional stuff, you know, button holes, and, and, uh, cuffs and collars, and dad had a knitting machine. He would do the knitting machine. So, it was a very egalitarian way to grow up.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And to get used to seeing that. So, uh, for me, it was a great model of gender equity without really being told though, that or having it forced on me.

Jonathan Doyle:     [crosstalk 00:04:25]. Did they ever argue over business?

Glenn Keys:         They didn't argue. I remember one case, so you remember the Batman TV show?

Jonathan Doyle:     I do, the original Adam West, yeah, yeah.

Glenn Keys:         With Adam West. You got it. And, uh, back then there was no ordering online or anything. There were travelers, and a traveler would come around and he'd have a station wagon.

Jonathan Doyle:     That's right. Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And he'd have one of all of the toys or whatever they were selling in there.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Dad had been away for the day, came home, and mum said, "Oh, you know, John whoever, the traveler, just came around and they've got these new Batman suits." And so they were in a, you know, a container ,a little plastic bag thing.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And have the, the hood and the cape and the utility belt. Dad said, "Oh, okay." Mum said, "Yeah." So, uh, dad said, "Oh, how many did you buy?" Mum said, "I bought a 100." And dad said, "You're insane."

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         "We're gonna have to give them away."

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         “I can’t … You know, there's so many of them.” Mum said, "Look, I don't think so." You know, "Glenn and Shane," Shane's my brother. "[inaudible 00:05:14] they watch it all the time, their mates running around pretending to be Batman and Robin and the Penguin.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, yeah.

Glenn Keys:         “I think they'll sell." Dad said, "No, you're wrong." Gone in a week.

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         Gone in a week. Dad …

Jonathan Doyle:     And he, he was a sales guy.

Glenn Keys:         Dad come up and went, dad come up and said, "You know, great idea we bought those Batman suits. That was really clever."

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, yeah, good idea I had.

Glenn Keys:         Yeah.

Jonathan Doyle:     Um, it's interesting, the founder of, uh, Hewlett Packard famously said that nothing happens in business until there's a sale.

Glenn Keys:         Hmm.

Jonathan Doyle:     I always liked that because you make business so complex, but at the end of the day if there ain't a sale you don't have a business. By the way you talk about that complementarity in your parents that you have that, your mother who's got that sort of, sounding, it sounds like more analytical. She's organized, she knows what has to happen and he can sell.

Jonathan Doyle:     In your own business now like you've got, you know, Andrew Walker as a partner, is something of that concept of partnership that you saw witnessed very young, does that play, has that played out in your own business life over the years?

Glenn Keys:         Oh, absolutely. I mean, Andrew and I were mates from school. So we knew each other at school. We were best men at each other's weddings. Andrew is a doctor and, and an incredibly, separately successful medical business career.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         He had a huge number of day surgery clinics around Australia, uh, that he sold and did incredibly well, quite a number of other businesses as well, after hours GP services, all sorts of stuff. So Andrew's medical background is incredibly strong, and also understanding that side of the business. And where I came in was the understanding of government businesses, tendering …

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Project management, operationalizing, that sort of stuff. So there, there was a really, really good mix, and we've then rolled that out across the company.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         So, you know, the people that we have running our projects in Iraq or in indigenous health or in mobile surgeries or any of those, they are fantastic in those areas, we know what we can bring to them.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         But we absolutely rely on their inherent skills base. We are not the smartest guys in the room by a long way.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah. So you mentioned that, you know, you were talking about your parents, you say, uh, well, I call it in my own marriage because Karen and I worked together for many years, I call them robust discussions. So you're only, you know, you talk about your parents with the Batman, uh, suits, and your dad's brilliant idea to order them, but then …

Glenn Keys:         (chuckles)

Jonathan Doyle:     When you have these tough conversations in your own business life, you, you, you, you've, you've, you've been on record as saying that with Andrew, you know, unless you can both convince each other, um, you don't go ahead. So in jumping forward a bit here, but, but, how do you resolve difficult conversations in your own at, at the strategic level of your own business? How do you do that?

Glenn Keys:         In pretty much the same way. It, we'll have the discussion, sometimes we may need to come back to it two or three times.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         But we will have that discussion, and, and we'll present it. And both of us are willing to change our opinions, which I think is, is a key part. You're not just sitting there [inaudible 00:07:50] in stone. You're willing to go, "Oh, I hadn't seen that, maybe, yeah, let's give it a go and we'll have a look at it and see how it goes."

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow! I've got a whole bunch of stuff I do want to ask you, but, but give us the, the overview of Aspen's evolution. It starts with the NHS under the Blair government I think.

Glenn Keys:         Mm-hmm.

Jonathan Doyle:     And you guys, uh, are, are, are coming into the NHS, and the hospital system they had to shorten orthopedic waiting times, but that's a long time ago now in the evolution of this business. Take us through the journey.

Glenn Keys:         All of our initial contracts were all overseas.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         So we actually won a consultancy in England to begin with to review orthopedic surgery. We leveraged that into a delivery contract.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Where we cleared 5,000 hip and knee replacements and 7,000 minor orthopedic procedures and 5,000 outpatient appointments across seven sites in the North of England in 12 months. Uh, we then won the contract to rollout a complete healthcare solution in the Solomon Islands. So, you know, we are managing projects not in Australia, not, not even locally to us, but in foreign countries with different jurisdictions and roles.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We then grew from there into doing work for state governments, our next big contract was in Caboolture, taking over the emergency department there. We then grew into Timor where we rolled out a very similar model to the Solomon Islands. We grew defense work where we took over bases at Puckapunyal and Albury until slowly we were then running every single defense base in Australia, and we're now sitting there with sort of five key areas.

Glenn Keys:         So we do defense work around the world, we are in 16 countries now around the world, over 2,000 staff. So defense, indigenous, we have the largest single indigenous health contract in Australia, the Remote Area Health Corps.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         As of late last year we'd provided 5,000 health professionals into remote indigenous communities.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         In the Northern Territory alone. Public health like surgery waiting lists, running emergency departments, dental waiting lists.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         The resource sector, we're the largest single provider to the oil and gas industry in Australia. We've got air and medical evacuation aircraft that we own, uh, that are now conducting AMEs around Australia and in Africa. And then finally, humanitarian, disaster management development work.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So we've just finished a major contract in Iraq where we ran trauma hospitals and maternity wards.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And we did over 47,000 surgical cases and delivered 3,000 babies in Iraq in the last 15 months.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow! I have a bunch of questions. Let's be, let's, let's jump in. The first thing I wanted to ask you is, uh, you and Andrew grew up in Newcastle, so usually, not always, but often when people build businesses like this they've, they, they come from maybe the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. They've, they've gone to Cranbrook or, or Scots and they've got this amazing, you know, sort of pathway almost paved for them to build something as, as effective and as big as you have.

Jonathan Doyle:     What do you think, looking back that your background in Newcastle, that's a, that's a working town, what do you and Andrew bring from that initial experience in the business? That-that how you grew up there?

Glenn Keys:         Both our parents owned and ran their own businesses.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And Andrew's dad particularly ran several businesses.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And so we'd both been brought up in that environment that business wasn't some distant …

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, unreal sort of ethereal idea, it was …

Jonathan Doyle:     Sort of around all the time.

Glenn Keys:         What, what happened in the house every single day.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And we were always involved in it. We had both developed, you know, our own little businesses at school and all of that sort of stuff.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So we'd got our feet wet doing those sort of things individually.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I joined the military straight out of school. I was 16 when I, I joined the military and went to Duntroon here in Canberra.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         But Andrew did medical school, and, and Andrew then actually started his own businesses while he was at university. So he'd had a, a longer business career than I had had, uh, developing his own business. And, and we'd stayed good friends and mates for a long period of time during that independent development if you'd like.

Jonathan Doyle:     What do you admire about him in terms of the, for, for a partnership to last and be as effective as it has, what do you, uh, value about this, about him as a person?

Glenn Keys:         He knows his stuff, he's incredibly passionate about the business ...

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And, and around its delivery. You know, I don't think I know anyone who can go through a set of financials like Andrew can.

Jonathan Doyle:     Right.

Glenn Keys:         He can literally flip through them and then stop and go, "Oop, there's a problem with that."

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         And [crosstalk 00:12:13] go, I'm still going, "I'm on page three. Where are you?" You know, trying to play catch up with him. He is very, very quick to understand the interpretation and derivation of those numbers.

Jonathan Doyle:     Was the medical background though was his?

Glenn Keys:         Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Jonathan Doyle:     So where did he pick up his finance stuff?

Glenn Keys:         Oh, well, it was just there.

Jonathan Doyle:     He just picked up.

Glenn Keys:         I think he's just good at it. He's also an amazing doctor, you know, quite honestly, he, uh, his understanding and grasp of medicine as a field is really quite astounding.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Really. So his ability to be able to take those two areas of, of business finance and medicine and draw them together has been, you know, an absolutely key element of his success.

Jonathan Doyle:     And on a personal level, what, uh, character traits do you value about that partnership? Like, he's, he's obviously professionally gifted, what keeps you two walking the journey together?

Glenn Keys:         He's very loyal. He's very, very committed. He's, you know, very loyal to people that commit to him, and that's a fantastic trait.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         It really, really is.

Jonathan Doyle:     It was funny, you talk about his, he can just spin through financials. My father used to tell me that apparently Napoleon could read his muster list, um, sometimes up to half a million troops, and recognize errors on the, on the papers. So some people just have that phenomenal gift. I want to ask you about Louise who we had on, one of our first guests talked a lot about opportunity, about the ability to look around you and go, you know, "There is something we can fix."

Jonathan Doyle:     So I want to talk about when, when you and Andrew were first looking at this issue in NHS, and then it, it grows from there, how did you first say, "Hey, there's an opportunity here"? And what happened for two to pursue that opportunity?

Glenn Keys:         So I was working for my current employer, I was over in UK doing some work. Andrew and I both have a very, very good friend who's a doctor, professor actually in the UK. I rang him to say I was in town and he said, "Oh, can you come up for dinner?" I said, "Mate, I can't. I've got meetings, I’m going straight to Heathrow, I'm on the 11:00 plane out tonight." He said, "I'll meet you at Heathrow."

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         "Let's go." He said, "There's a Hyatt just at Heathrow, I'll meet you there for dinner." So I turned up for dinner and we were chatting. He's a really good friend. Andrew and I were both at his wedding. We, Andrew introduced me to him when he was studying in Cambridge.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And Oxford. Uh, Damien said, uh, "Right, Tony Blair is gonna completely revolutionize how healthcare has done in this country. He's gonna change waiting lists, he's gonna do all of this sort of stuff, but he's gonna need people from outside the country to come and do this." And I said, "Oh, okay then." And he said, because most people don't know but the NHS is the third largest employer in the world.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Only the Chinese Army and the Indian Railways has more people than the NHS.

Jonathan Doyle:     That's right.

Glenn Keys:         He said, "So subsequently a lot of the private healthcare has all come out of the NHS."

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         So there's a bit of group thing going on within the country. So I came back and I said to Andrew, "Great opportunities, medical business, you know, you should have a look." And Andrew said, "Look, it is, absolutely." He said, "But, gosh, a lot of this is with the government, and its government tendering, and its project management, its people management and operationalizing stuff." He said, "I, I run a High Street retail, large complex retail businesses, but retail.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         “Not government contract tendering stuff.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And I said, "Mate, that's a, that's easy. I do that every single day of the week." And he goes, "Great, well, if you do that bit, I'll do the medical bit.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         “And we'll see how it goes." So that's where it started.

Jonathan Doyle:     Were you nervous starting or was it just a sense we're gonna have a crack at this? Do you, you remember looking back being, uh, did you feel like you were biting off more than you could chew or was it one step at a time?

Glenn Keys:         So, you know, I had three kids, one with an intellectual disability.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So we had a mortgage, when living in Canberra I had a well paying job. I wasn't super happy in it, but I had a well paying job. And I had a job as long as I want it. I may not have had a career but I had a job.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right? So very good stable guaranteed. And Andrew and I had been talking about this, and we'd been chatting to Damien and putting it stuff together and I'd, "Oh, you know, I'm gonna think about this." Anyway Andrew rang one Sunday morning and said, "Right, I've been chatting to Damien, you know, you need to make a decision." I said, "Yeah, okay then. Well, look, let me have a think about it. We'll chat at the end of the week." He said, "No, today."

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         He said, "You need to make a decision today because I think we need to move on this."

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And, uh, I said, "All right. I'll call you back at the end of the day." So I went out and I cleaned the car.

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         For nine hours. Uh, it was immaculate.

Jonathan Doyle:     The cleanest, wasn't it?

Glenn Keys:         Well, the …

Jonathan Doyle:     What, what year was this?

Glenn Keys:         Oh, this is in 2003.

Jonathan Doyle:     Okay.

Glenn Keys:         So, yeah, no, it was absolutely immaculate. The engine underneath, the wheels, and everything. It was just, it was beyond clean.

Jonathan Doyle:     And is this what you do when you're facing …?

Glenn Keys:         No, that what I did then.

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh, what you did then, okay.

Glenn Keys:         And so I, um, I came back in and I spoke to Mel, and I said, "Look, you know, I'm thinking that I'll do this." And I said, "And I sort of thought if it doesn't work, you know, I could go back to my old employer perhaps." I said, "I always get a lot of requests out of defense to come back as a reservist, I can go get a couple of hundred days. Worst case I could join up again, I could be an individual consultant." A lot of consulting was in Canberra. "I think I got four or five paths if it doesn't work."

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         "What do you think?" And my wife is relatively conservative in her view which is a good foil to me.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because I'm happy to take a few risks. And Mel said, "Oh no, you, because we'd been talking about this for quite awhile.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         She said, "Oh no, you should absolutely do this." And I said, "What?" She said, "Yeah, I've known since you spoke about it." And I said, "What? You couldn't give me a hint?"

Jonathan Doyle:     You couldn't tell me?

Glenn Keys:         "Bit of a push?" She said, "No, you needed to get there on your own."

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         So we, uh, we took the risk and started. Yeah, and I was nervous because, you know, I'm, I'm walking away from a well paid guaranteed job to setup a business that was like no other in Australia at the time.

Jonathan Doyle:     So let me ask you, just related to that, and, a, a moment ago you were talking about the sheer complexity of what Aspen's now doing globally, and I know you've got a great team. But faced with that decision back in 2003 and complexity in general, do you get stressed? Do you wa- wake up at 2 a.m. staring at the ceiling? We ask that question [inaudible 00:18:06] a lot of the entrepreneurs and business people we have, [inaudible 00:18:09] with a lot of stress. I mean back then you, you get stressed by the complexity and all that stuff.

Glenn Keys:         No, not really.

Jonathan Doyle:     No.

Glenn Keys:         Of course, there’s always moments of stress, right. You know, moments of stress over a very, very difficult customer or a contract coming to an end, or, uh, a really difficult bid that you’re doing. And, of course, you’ll get stressed. To say I wouldn’t have any stress in 15 years would be …

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, it would be a lie. But in the main, no, I, I really enjoy the problems, I, I’m a little bit competitive, you know, there is no contract for coming second so.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Winning is the only thing that counts.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, I know, there was a major bid that we’d won and had run and had been a real staple of the company for awhile, was up for re-tender. And I’d been thinking about it, we had a big session the next day, and I, I don’t, I, I never wake up at 2:00 in the morning.

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh.

Glenn Keys:         I never wake up at 2 in the morning. I might have trouble going to sleep.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And I work and I, I actually work quite well late, but once I go to bed I’m asleep.

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         Yeah. And I might wake up at, I don't know 6:00, but I never wake up at 2:00 in the morning and wander around, but on that particular occasion I was lying in bed thinking about it and I thought, “You know, this isn’t helping.” So I got up, I pulled the tender out, I went through the tender, highlighted everything, write a PowerPoint to present to the team. Here is the key issues, here is some win themes, what else do you think we need to do? Blah, blah, blah. Finished it up at about, I don't know, 2:00 in the morning or something, closed up, went to bed.

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         Slept like a, slept like a log till it was time to get up and get the kids to, to school and walked in, said, “Right, I’ve been through the entire tender, here is all the key issues, here is the discriminators, here is where we need to focus. Let’s go from here.”

Jonathan Doyle:     So you’re not a ruminator, basically when, when the pressure is on it’s, what are the necessary action steps here we need to [inaudible 00:20:01]?

Glenn Keys:         Yeah, yeah. Uh, of, of course I do ruminate, you know, and I’ll, I’ll mull and, you know, particularly over things I’ll take stuff and I’ll, it’s like I put them in the back of my head and I’ll work through them.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         To see what did they mean by that, what should we do. But, you know, I’m pretty comfortable making a decision.

Jonathan Doyle:     So one of the things you talk about being passionate about in the business is there’s a nice line you have where this idea of being able to deliver healthcare where others say it’s impossible, and you also love the people that can make this happen but, uh, you mentioned before being competitive, have you always been that way, you’ve always had some aspect of competitive nature?

Glenn Keys:         Look, uh, I have, I’ve not always been in the right place to do it, but certainly I think I’ve been competitive, I’m a bit of [inaudible 00:20:46] fate, right, that I think sometimes you put in a right spot.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, when they say, “Oh, you’re very lucky.” Sometimes I think you’re presented with opportunity, and then it’s what you make of that opportunity.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And some people will go, “Oh my god, you got presented with that opportunity and look what you did with it?”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And you’re lucky. And I think other people have opportunities that they miss them.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So but I’m also a believer that in our lives we have a time in our lives when it counts. And, you know, do I think at school or at uni that was really me, no, not really. I sort of was not, you know, I don't think I shone particularly, I got by, I did okay. I think I did better in the military. I think once I’ve got out of uni and I was a young officer I think I did pretty well, I enjoyed it and I thought I was good at it, and I reported well and I was doing well. When I was in the couple of jobs I thought I did okay and I did pretty well, but I think, you know, right now this time with Aspen this is the arc in my life, this is the bit that I was sort of meant for if you [crosstalk 00:21:50].

Jonathan Doyle:     Really. Yeah, it’s interesting, there’s a, there’s a lot of, uh, in a lot of history like I read a brilliant 4000-page biography of Lincoln a few years ago. It was meant to be the best one that, it’s been written, and you see this long, long period of preparation, you know, I mean he, it wasn’t until 1860 that he really was the right man in the right place at the right time, and the amount of failure and challenge and difficulty that he went through and suffering that he went through before it was the moment.

Jonathan Doyle:     So this idea about delivering healthcare where others say it’s impossible, when I was taking notes I, I wrote down the word ‘belief’ like at some level you must be driven by a strong belief that the execution of a particular thing can happen, right, like it’s a mindset that leads the execution. Talk to me about that level of self-belief or belief in your company or your people. It seems to be pretty strong.

Glenn Keys:         Look, it is, you know, we, we often talk about all the projects we’ve done and delivered on, but, you know, there is a, there is a large number of projects we walked away from.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because when we evaluated, when we looked at them, I just went, “Oh, I don’t see how anyone is gonna do that.” So we know enough about making assumptions.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         We know enough about challenging ourselves and going, “Is that the only solution? Could we do it this way? Could we consolidate things? Could we get people out? How do we make all of these things happen at the same time?” We are very open, so as in, and by that I mean, I’m not just sitting around the table going, I’m the smartest guy in the room.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because I know I’m not. I’ve got brilliant people around the room. I know the decision rest with me.

Jonathan Doyle:     So …

Glenn Keys:         So when things fail they’re my failures, I own those, but I will take advice from everyone around the room because it all counts.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         But when the call is made, its mine.

Jonathan Doyle:     You’re talking about a few key things that that have come up in the notes. I’ve asked you sort of what is it that you really love doing day-to-day and you talk about the, developing the strategic direction and pursuits, and you just mentioned that like things you walked away from. If your X factor really, if you’re real that is open, I’m guessing here that your ultimate value- add at this moment in the business is evolution is this strategic direction and deciding what you go and don’t go on.

Jonathan Doyle:     So what I want to ask you is, you’ve got an engineering background, in the Australian Financial Review you talked about, if someone says, “Take that hill,” you’re very good at going, what is every, you take a blanket statement, take that hill and you can break down every single part of that. I want to ask you about your decision-making process around what you pursue and don’t pursue. Is this intuition, do you just look at all the stuff and go, oh, and you go with that or you’re totally head driven, what, how do you make these big decisions on what to go for and leave alone?

Glenn Keys:         Absolutely intuition at the start.

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         At the start because you look at it and you go, “Oh yeah, you know, we can do that. Yeah, that, that sounds pretty cool, I think we can make that happen.” You know, there are times when you do that and then when you start to break it down, you look at it, you go, you know, there is no way we can cut this. And then you need to be strong enough to go, all right, we thought we could do it, but now when we’ve broken it down we can’t, so let’s just call it quits and move on, we’re not gonna push you with that. So there is that, it’s got to be a mix of both.

Jonathan Doyle:     So you’ve been able to put hospitals in Mosul and stuff, you know, when you’re talking about you look at stuff, you know, we can’t do that. I mean, you’re putting hospitals in Mosul and all the stuff you’re doing in remote areas. What can’t you guys do? I mean, you’re looking at spreadsheets and go, we just cannot make that work on the numbers or is it the, is it conflict zones, what, what is it that you feel someone is, we’re just gonna leave that alone?

Glenn Keys:         So sometimes it’s the numbers. We’ve won work where when we got into it with the customer, they, you know, that was just unrealistic in what they were prepared to pay by way of overhead and margin.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         And we got to a position where I went, honestly if you can find someone who can provide it for that price.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You should take it.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I should warn you, I think the quality you’ll get will be dreadful.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         But it’s your call, crack on, we’ve done that. There is another one we did, which was a huge one in the UK very early on when we started, which was an outsource for defense in Germany.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Basically for the British Army in Germany. We’d been shortlisted, they really liked us, they really liked us. Now we knew the incumbent was very hard to get rid of, it was a not-for-profit.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Whose patron was the queen.

Jonathan Doyle:     That guy.

Glenn Keys:         Right, so but, they’d been there forever.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         They had a bit of incumbency, complacency and the customer really liked it. So we’d spend a lot of time and effort being there, looking at it. And then, um, a major opportunity came out in Australia, one major. And we just went, uh, I don't know, I don't think we can bid on both.

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         Because we just didn’t have enough resources in the company to bid on both. I had a telecon with my team who were cyclical, a little worried about the workload here, we looked at it, and I said, “You’re right, okay, I’ll ring the British MAD until and we are withdrawing. And they got, “Are you sure you don’t want to think about the other night?” I said, “You come to me because you’re worried. I’ve heard all of you, you are right, we are withdrawing.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Okay, so I rang them, I sent them an email, I said very sorry, you know, blah, blah, blah. And the Brits came back and said, “This is dreadful news. If we extended the tender, would you be able to stay in?”

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         They really, really wanted us to stay in.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And I said, “No, I’m really sorry, this is a major piece of work, uh, you’d need to extend for two months, and I know you can’t do that.” And they went, “Yeah, you’re right. Well, would you come and see us next time when you are in England?” I said, “Sure.” So we, and our argument was if we are going to generate work overseas we need to do it here, and if we don’t bid on this bit of work and win it in Australia, then how is it I can go overseas and say, “Oh, couldn’t do something in Australia, but I can do it to you.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, sure.

Glenn Keys:         So we said we have to win this, and that was a key part of us growing our defense business in Australia. That was really hard to do, but it was the right thing to do. So that was another reason to walk away.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And the final one was one, again, it’s been a long time winning, it was in the Middle East in a conflict zone, we won it, I sent one of my guys over, he was going to actually move over there to help set it up, and he rang me, and my wife and I were on our very first holiday away without the kids ever.

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         And I do a two and a half phone call in the middle of this wandering around in the hotel in Singapore. He said, “I’m really worried about these guys’ security.” They’ve lost as in dead 54 local staff.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Killed because they don’t have proper protection in the vehicles and this and that and the other, and he said, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “We’re not doing it. We’re gonna walk away.” So we’d spent two and a half years bidding on it, spent a bunch of money to and from and had been selected and we walked away from it because we couldn’t guarantee the safety of our own staff. And I’m, none of us, Andrew or I, we are not in business to get a phone call at 4:00 in the morning that one of our staff has been killed because we didn’t take appropriate risk management.

Jonathan Doyle:     With all the places that Aspen is working, and obviously you’ve traveled to many of them, what’s something you can look back at and say moved you? Or what have you seen, what have you experienced in your travels on a human level that’s made you proud of what you guys are doing but, but it’s been memorable and moving for you?

Glenn Keys:         I’ve got to tell you there’s just so many things really because of what we do. You know, to go to, I’ll give you a local one. We were servicing an indigenous community with, uh, health professionals. You fly to Alice Springs, you get in a light aircraft, you fly to Tennant Creek, you get in a vehicle, you drive six hours to the place you’re staying, you leave your bag and then you drive an hour and a half to this community.

Glenn Keys:         And there is one nurse there supporting your community of 32 indigenous people, of which 20 of them are children. Right, without our nurse there, that community has to fly every single person out on an RFTS aircraft to Tennant Creek, but because our nurses in that community they stay home. Their kids go to school, they’re learning local culture, you know, they, they’re growing and developing their community. They had a whole, all the program is going on because we had a nurse in that community. We were holding this 32 person community, 99.9% of Australians would never hear of.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         In their lives. And yet we were helping making that whole. That was very powerful. When we were contracted to setup Ebola clinics in Africa, a lot of people might know we did the Australian government’s response. What they may not know is that we did the US government’s response as well.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         And we’d won that before the Australia government contract.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         So we were running four Ebola hospitals on behalf of the American government in Liberia, and then we setup home a, an Ebola hospital on behalf of the Australia government in Sierra Leone, and then we took over two of the hospitals on behalf of the UK government. But that very first hospital that we setup, the very first person to what they call graduate, so this was a girl who had Ebola, her mother, her father and her brother had all died of Ebola, she had survived and she was the first person to leave our clinic having now been declared Ebola free.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Right. We had to find her grandparents, bring them in, we have to brief them on, you know, what it had meant and what she’d been through. And our staff made a wall about, you know, sort of four meters long and two meters high, painted white, called The Wall of Hope. And what happens is when you’re leaving the Ebola clinic, you have to go through a chlorine shower, it’s the final wash, your clothes are taken and they’re burnt, new clothes are provided, and then they come out of this treatment centre. And all of our staff who had been in full personal protective equipment have never been able to touch that person.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         For the whole time they’ve been treating them, now they can.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         So all of our staff would be there to hug them.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Because health professionals, you know, it, it is a, it’s a very tactile profession and you’d not been able to do that at all. They would hug them. We’d give them a big certificate to say they are Ebola free, and then our staff who had made this big white wall of hope take that person across little [inaudible 00:31:52], I still remember, put a hand, she picked a color and she put a hand in his primary color of paint, put a hand on the wall and then wrote her name.

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         What’s interesting is she is the first person to come out and she was the fifth person to come in.

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh, really?

Glenn Keys:         So, you know, the four people who went in before her didn’t survive. And so to see that wall of hope with all of these different handprints now over it and names, tiny little children’s hands, huge enormous baseball, basketball player hands on it and the names on it is incredibly powerful that we changed the community, that we’ve kept families whole because of that.

Jonathan Doyle:     So, so for that to happen, what would you say are some of the values that inform this business that you’ve built? You can send a memo saying you will construct a wall of hope, it will be this high and you will hug patients for this duration, but obviously that’s not what happened. What do you think are some of the core values because I’ve, I can say, I, I know people that work for you who like you and like, and I’m working in the business.

Jonathan Doyle:     If you go online and look at the former staff kind of you’ve looked at it, but I looked at it today, people who have left Aspen or finished with Aspen. And the vast majority, vast of feedback is that was a really positive experience. That’s relatively rare in big corporate. So what are some of the values making this sort of stuff happen? What do you honestly think? You guys have been able to breathe into the DNA of the business that that make that happen.

Glenn Keys:         Look, I think we’ve done it since day one. Andrew and I have always had a very strong philanthropic bent around how we’ve grown and developed Aspen. And it’s certainly something I’ve said as guidance to other people, do it from day one.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So it doesn’t mean they have to give lots, but it might be a bit of time, it might be a bit of support. One of the big things that we do is respect, and I think, you know, if there’s a single word, its respect for the, the position that we have. You know, I’ve, Andrew and I have been incredibly lucky, we were brought up by loving caring families, good friends, brought up in a great city in Australia, we had a great education, we’ve got our health, we’ve got great families of our own and we’ve been able to found a fantastic business. If we didn’t give something back, if that, any of that we deserve a bit of a slapping really.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And we’ve done that from day one, and that’s grown into now that we have the foundation, we have, we are a benefit corporation which is an external representation and auditing of what we do as a business around not just philanthropy but sustainability and employment and all of those sort of things, we do match giving for our staff, we do a whole range of activities.

Glenn Keys:         So I think that that respect we have for the position we’ve been granted, for the opportunities we get for the people we work for and the patients we treat, I think that flows through everything and I think our people see that. And so you don’t need to sit back and say, make a wall of hope and make sure you get a good photo and …

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And treat people well with respect. They do that. I mean, in, in the Ebola work, we had 200 expats, people from outside Africa come into Africa to run that project. We employed 800 Africans.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Who we trained as well. We did not get one single infection across any of our staff, either non-African or African, a 1000 staff, not one single infection in all of that time.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         And I think that’s because we look at every one. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Australian or African or Iraqi or wherever, we look at all of our people and say, how would I want to be treated if my family was in Iraq? And the war was happening in Mosul, how would I want to be if I was living in Africa or in, and Ebola was ravaging my community? How would I wanna be if I was an indigenous community, and we needed care.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         Is that we, we try to treat every single customer and every single patient as if it was us. I, I always say to people what we have to deliver I wanna be able to take my family and then get that care there. I’d trust my family to be treated in any of our facilities around the world.

Jonathan Doyle:     So where does this honestly come from because there is, there are plenty of people in business who are extremely mercenary and we are joking with some previous guests about, it’s all about buying the next yacht. Where does this come from? I mean, it’s a belief, but can you look inside yourself and go, is this something you grow up with, were you grow up in a new …? What is it that keeps you focused on those sorts of beliefs?

Glenn Keys:         [inaudible 00:36:29] personally, you know, my mum and dad were always very good to other people. You know, they never crowed about it, you know, but there would be family members who would need help, there would be friends who needed help, and mum and dad always did that. And what’s interesting is my dad’s recently moved into residential care, so I have a Christmas last year, my whole family had to go and clean out my dad’s house, 45 years of living in one house.

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So we went through everything. And I found letters from family members I’d never knew, dad, mum and dad never told us. He’d written to them asking for money to help with staff and mum and dad had obviously just done that because then there was a letter of thank you and everything. I, I don’t think any of that money has ever been repaid.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I don't think they ever asked, but for them I think they saw themselves in a pretty privileged position.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Which was, you know, they were white Anglo-Saxon independently, you know, they have had their own jobs, they had their own business and they lived in a great city with families and their health.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         What’s, what not to be happy with ...

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And are you happy with another yatch? Are you happier with another thing? If there’s anything we, as a family we’ve spoke about having to sort of clear up my dad’s house is, “My God, we have a lot of stuff we don’t need.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And what’s been interesting is because all my kids came and helped, we were all there cleaning up. And it’s not like mum and dad had a lot of stuff, but you know 45 years you get a lot of stuff.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right, you just accumulate. So we’re just working our way through giving stuff away, selling stuff. And all of us came home, all five of us came home and just went, “You know, I don’t need that. I’m just gonna clear that out of the cupboard, I’m gonna sell that. I’m, I’m gonna give that away.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because I think we’ve all realized that what’s far, far more important than anything else is your health and your happiness.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right. And the happiness comes from great relationships with people, it doesn’t come from owning a yatch.

Jonathan Doyle:     The brilliant biography of John D. Rockefeller, Titan, is, is a brilliant read. I mean, he died with a personal fortune in today’s equivalent of 460 billion, and Gates is worth maybe a 100. So he’s the richest person in human history by miles.

Glenn Keys:         Yeah. Yeah.

Jonathan Doyle:     But it’s interesting, you know, the, the studies are pretty clear that that wealth alleviates unhappiness to a point, and globally it’s about 200 grand. Anything over that doesn’t exponentially increase human happiness. So it’s kind of like once people have a baseline of being able to provide for their needs and they’re comfortable in however they want, then but I think our culture is obsessed with this idea that if we just accumulate more and more and more, and Rockefeller sort of was a, uh, a great example of that not being the case.

Jonathan Doyle:     How are you going to continue this legacy like, you know, atrophy in businesses? We can look at many businesses that over the years. Have you thought about that? I mean you still got a long way to go in your business career, but legacy and how you are gonna keep these values taken over. What, what has to happen in your organization for these things to stay strong?

Glenn Keys:         Look, it’s really good question. Andrew and I talk about this on a pretty regular basis to be honest. And part of it is us both staying engaged. So right now Andrew is in Southern Sudan.

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh.

Glenn Keys:         He has just been through Sierra Leone, Liberia, Southern Sudan and Somalia looking at all of our clinic operations personally.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So not taking on a report, not sitting in an office somewhere waiting, he’s out reviewing all of those clinics, identifying what’s going really well, what we could learn for somewhere else, what needs to be changed, what savings we could make. And, you know, my strength is around business development, and I’m doing the same thing.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         So, you know, tomorrow I’ve got a review of one business units, all their business development activities, the strategic stuff, the relationships I do. I was only chatting with my younger son last night [inaudible 00:40:17] around staying hungry.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right. Is, you know, saying to people, just because we are a couple of thousand people in 16 countries, it doesn’t mean we get to be lazy.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We need to be hungry, we need to celebrate winning the one paramedic on a rig as much as we do winning a 10 or $20 million contract over there. We need to, to be excited about both and work out how do we get both and how do we get hungry and stay hungry to do that. That hunger, that passion to go, you know, and prepared to sit there at Saturday night at 10 o’clock, finishing a proposal to get it off to the Middle East so that when they wake up on a Sunday morning it’s there.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You need that every day. And to be honest I, Andrew and I both love that, you know.

Jonathan Doyle:     And it’s still staying fresh for you?

Glenn Keys:         Hmm, absolutely.

Jonathan Doyle:     You talk about relationships internal and external, what do you like about humans?

Glenn Keys:         The diversity is just incredible. I just, you do talk about luck because you think, you know, I’m the luckiest guy in the world with all the stuff that I’ve ended up with being, you know, as I said, white Anglo-Saxon male English speaking, you know, you’re putting four lotteries already, bro.

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh yeah.

Glenn Keys:         To think, you know, generic twist, I could have ended up living in a village in the back blocks of Africa somewhere. So but how are people overcoming adversity, how they deal with stuff, how people even with very similar backgrounds can have completely different thought processes and bring different ideas or stuff? I love learning from other people, talking to other people.

Glenn Keys:         My family know if we go to an event, I’m gonna be out chatting to people until they’re stacking chairs on the tables because I just love that. I love talking to people about how did you get to hear, what made you think of that? How do you overcome that? How do you, how did you make that happen? I love learning from people around what they’ve done and where they’re going and what drives them or doesn’t. Uh, I, I find, you know, I just, I enjoy interacting with people so much because I get so much out of it.

Jonathan Doyle:     Are you, are you an extrovert by nature?

Glenn Keys:         I think someone else probably needs to discuss. I’m not a jump up on stage and hook the spotlight, but I’m very comfortable getting up and giving a talk. You know, my wife will say, “You know, what are you doing?” [inaudible 00:42:31], “I’m writing a talk for such and such.” “It must be important if you’re writing it.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         Because normally I’m just pretty comfortable standing up there with half a dozen bullet points or a slide and just talking to stuff. So I’m pretty comfortable in that environment, and I’m pretty comfortable meeting new people and getting into an environment I’m not entirely known for, so I don’t mind that. But, you know, jump up on stage and wear a party hat, properly not, but extrovert in the fact I’m pretty comfortable icebreaking and talking to people, yeah.

Jonathan Doyle:     So we are gonna talk a little bit about Project Independence because that was something that you mentioned you love doing outside of your professional work life as such, but in terms of this extraversion theme, what do you, what do you do, say if you’re tired or, what, what things give you life outside of the travel and the work and the complexity and the people. Do you, do you read, do you walk, what, what do you do just for you sometimes?

Glenn Keys:         Well, look, I, I love being with my family. To be honest, our younger son is doing medicine, he is home for a couple of weeks before he heads off overseas for six months, so spending time with him, you know. Dinnertimes with the family is properly one of the things I love most when all five of us are around the table. You know, a great meal, couple of bottles of red, chatting, you know, your dinner takes two hours, then that’s absolutely fantastic.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because people will be talking and joking and will be, you know, sparking off each other and talking about movies or books or politics or what’s been in the paper or what’s, you know, it’s just, I love that more than anything else. I could do that every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Jonathan Doyle:     Why? What specifically when they’re all sitting there, what, what gives you life in that?

Glenn Keys:         Once again I’ve got an amazing wife who has been incredibly supportive, incredibly smart woman in her own right. She is a social worker, she is heavily involved [inaudible 00:44:22] across Canberra, she is a incredibly generous person. Uh, I am definitely a better person because of her.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And, and the guidance that, you know, I start to wander a little off the tracks, it’s not like she pulls me but she’ll ask the question that makes me go, “I didn’t thought of that.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, I, I tell the story of, you know, when we started Aspen, you know, I was working at a, um, a defense company and it was the start of the second Gulf war and we were watching the tele and they were running through all the missiles, and I said to her, “We make that one and that one and that one, and these guys make that one and we make the last arrangement. So how do you feel about that?”

Jonathan Doyle:     Really?

Glenn Keys:         And I went, you know, “I don't feel good at all.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I think I should do something else. So, you know, that to me was one of those points if it’s time to do something.

Jonathan Doyle:     Just that.

Glenn Keys:         So, you know, she is incredibly perceptive and, and incredibly supportive probably to the detriment of herself. You know what I mean.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So I’m very lucky to have her. And then the three kids are all quite different, but I’m incredibly proud of all of them on what they’re doing and where they’re going and, you know, what they’ll do in their lives and they’re good people.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know what I mean, and so to sit down at dinner is like having five adults around the table [inaudible 00:45:35].

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And it’s, you know, you know, I just couldn’t be happier. Uh, I do enjoy reading a lot.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So I, I typically I’ll have, you know, a whole pile of books. I probably, I think I’ve got two more books for my birthday on the weekends, I’m probably sitting there with 15 books at my bedside table.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So I try to do a non-fiction and a fiction.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And flip those, I’m just finishing reading, um, Tim Flannery’s Future Eaters at the moment.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Which is just a brilliant book.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I’ve just added it to my list of people who come to Australia you want to read these, now its four books but ...

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So I, I read a lot, and then my wife and I’ve got some friends and we, we do sort of walking holidays.

Jonathan Doyle:     Okay.

Glenn Keys:         So I’ve just done a five-day walk in the Blue Mountains which was just brilliant.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And we’ve walked in Tasmania or in the Great Ocean Road and Italy and stuff, it’s just been brilliant.

Jonathan Doyle:     I’ve got, I’ve got three kids under ten, so my experience of family dinners will be different than yours right at the moment, but I’m looking forward to the promised land of what you’re talking about.

Glenn Keys:         But, uh, there wasn’t a single stage of our life with the kids that I didn’t enjoy.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Whether it was standing there and, you know, those lovely cold Canberra Saturday afternoons, watching soccer.

Jonathan Doyle:     [crosstalk 00:46:41].

Glenn Keys:         Being at the AFL.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Being at, at the school with the kids.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         There wasn’t a single period I didn’t enjoy throughout that time. Each of them was different and unique.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And was just wonderful memories.

Jonathan Doyle:     I wanted to ask you like, I’ll get back to businesses in just a second but, you know, with the complexity of your life and the travel, what are you proud of as a father? What do you think, uh, what can you look back on saying, well, that part I did that about well. What do you, what have you done well there?

Glenn Keys:         I think they have an incredibly good sense of what’s important in the world more so than I had, their interest in the environment and social issues, other people, supporting friends who might be struggling particularly with mental health issues.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I mean I don't remember at all thinking about friends having mental health issues or whatever.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         When I went through school I’m sure they were, I’m sure they were struggling, but I didn’t have any sense. But if I think now about how my children have spoken about helping friends or supporting friends that are struggling or to support social causes, you know, people talk older people, our age disparagingly about youth, but I, I think we are beyond lucky that they are there. I’m sure they’re gonna get there into their 50s when we are walking around with a walking stick and go, “You let this for us.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We’ve now got to sort out the fact that there is not enough water, not enough food, too many people.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Environmental issues. And I think they will.

Jonathan Doyle:     Right.

Glenn Keys:         But, yeah, I, I’m incredibly proud of the young adults that all of our three children have become.

Jonathan Doyle:     Great. A couple of more business questions and then I want to talk about a last couple of things, but I always ask people about a moment of crisis, and you talked about and all the experience around cash flow and as business listeners know cash flow is king. So I want to talk about that moment and you talk about how you learned to draw on the best of others and not do everything yourself. Can you take us back to that moment to, you don’t have to give us detail of such an issue, but you, you have a cash flow crisis early in the business, a lot of people listening will know that feeling, how did you experience it personally and how do you navigate out?

Glenn Keys:         So I was pretty much running the business day-to-day and we were really struggling. We had a major, a couple of major projects going, uh, big cash flow issues. Uh, and one of them I hadn’t structured the cash flow model well out of the customer. So we would make all of our money back over a 12-month contract, but to be honest the bulk of it was coming at the end.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because they hadn’t given the volumes we’d expected at the start. And we just didn’t have enough cash flow through the business, even though over a 12-month period we’d be fine. I’m sitting in bed reading, chatting to Mel, and I said, “You know, I’ve got the funniest feeling, I’ve got like this little butterfly in my chest.” “Oh my god, are you having a stroke?” I said, “No, no, no, I’ve got no pins and needles, but it’s just like, like a little butterfly, it’s quite odd.” Then she said, “I want you to ring Andrew.” And I said, “It’s 10:30 at night, I’ll ring him tomorrow.” She said, “I want you to ring him now.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         So I rang him, and I explained and he said, “Yeah, that’s, that’s called a heart palpitation, that’s a bad thing.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         And I went, “Right.” He goes, “So this would be happening for a reason.”

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         I said, “Oh, okay.” He said, “How are things are going?” I said, “Oh, look, okay, we’ve got a bit of a problem with cash flow at the moment.” [Inaudible 00:49:56] said, so just explain it to him. So I explained, and he said, “Right, I’ll be in the first plane tomorrow.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh yeah.

Glenn Keys:         For Melbourne. And I said, “Oh, no, no.” He said, “Yeah, I’m coming up.” She he stayed for a week and we had some really significant cash flow issues. And Andrew said, “Right, so we cannot afford for the projects to go wrong, so you manage the project and I’ll sort this issue out.” And so that’s exactly what he did.

Glenn Keys:         He lined up all our creditors, spoke to all of them, negotiated with them, did all of the deals, staged the cash flow, did all the payments. I was running the project, so we never skipped a beat in either area, but, you know, I couldn’t have done what he did.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Then what he did absolutely made that issue be resolved and me keeping the projects going making them work, work to treat as well.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So I sort of setback and went, “Hang on, this is silly, I’m not good at all things. I need to find the right people who are good at the right things and get them to do that.” And so that was a real eye-opener for me that, you know, just because you’re sitting in a chair doesn’t mean you have to make every decision, doesn’t mean you have to be good at everything. It means you need to know where your weaknesses are, and you better go find the right people to, to deal with those issues yourself.

Jonathan Doyle:     Let me ask you on that question, uh, there’s two schools of thought on weaknesses, one is, you work on them and, and try and ameliorate the worst of your weaknesses. The other one is you kind of ignore them and plug that gap with other skill sets that other people have and you apply these strengths. Where do you fall on it on the weakness strength argument?

Glenn Keys:         I disagree with the second scenario, which is you ignore and then plug the gaps because if you’re ignoring it you’re not gonna plug the gaps.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         So I think that the start, the foundation point for either decision is to work out what your weaknesses are.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And that requires a degree of self-awareness, self-awareness is not something that we are taught very well.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So understanding what you’re good at and you’re bad at, and the worst one is when you think you’re good at something and you’re not, that’s, that’s the worst possible scenario.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, “Oh, I’m a great people person.”

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         And why do people keep leaving?

Jonathan Doyle:     Confirmation bias [crosstalk 00:51:55].

Glenn Keys:         Yeah. So understanding the gap first and then deciding, is this something I can correct?

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right. Or is this something I need someone else? That’s the decision point. So, you know, if someone said to me, you know, “We need graphic artwork done.” And I go, “Oh, we can’t do graphic, but I can learn graphic arts.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         That would be, uh, first up it would never work because unless we’re after stick figures I’ll never gonna get graphics artwork. So why try to do that? Why not go and get someone who is really good at it and plug that gap?

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And so to me you got to think, “Well, this is absolutely fundamental and critical to my job, in which case I better learn it, or not be in this job.” Right.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Or go get someone who can do that for me because as long as I can interpret what they’re telling me and then build it into, you know, synthesize it into a solution, then I can afford to buy that in. But you got to be self-aware and continually come back to be self-aware.

Jonathan Doyle:     But that’s self-aware thing is, it can also be expressed as in the concept of humility, right. I mean, there’s a brilliant book, Humilitas, which is see it as a, as a crucial skill, the ability to be humble enough to go. When you say this several times about not being the smartest guy in the room, what does humility mean to you? Are we talking about the same thing here when it’s about recognizing your weaknesses? Where does humility fit into business leadership?

Glenn Keys:         I think it’s absolutely fundamental, I think it is absolutely fundamental. The moment you walk in and go, “Guys, you need to shut up and listen because I know exactly what I am doing. And, you know, I’m not really interested in your views because this is what we are gonna do,” you know, then you’ve lost the case.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared to make a decision. And I remember a particular scenario we’ve been approached by a customer who wanted to sole-source a bit of work to us.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And I got everybody in because quite honestly that was a little ethically challenging, but it was really good work, a good margin. And I said everyone around the table, all the exec and I said, “Right, I want everybody’s opinion here. And I don't want you to feel like because someone said X, you need to say X, I want everybody’s opinion.” We went around the table and I was surprised, there was quite a diversity of opinion.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         But I asked everyone, “What do you want to do and why do you think we should do this?” I went around, I got to the end, I said, “Right, okay, thanks very much.” You know, asked a few questions, we’re not going to do this business.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And, you know, I genuinely wanted everybody’s opinion, I genuinely wanted their thoughts and how they would go there, but in the end of it it was our decision, we needed to take, Andrew and I needed to take responsibility for that decision. And so we’d go, well, we’re not gonna take that bit of work, we are just, that’s gonna damage what our profit looks like. But guess what, that’s not where we’re gonna go.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         And so I think humility is really critical because you’ll never know every topic, the best you could ever do.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right. And you’ll have blind spots, so to ask people and be able to go, “Wow! I missed that, that’s a really important point I’d not thought of, I’m prepared to change my opinion. Thank you very much.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         That’s really, really critical to do, and it’s hard to do. And to be honest the more success you get in business and the more [inaudible 00:54:58] get ask, do a podcast or give a talk or, you know, give an inspirational speech, whatever, the harder it is to do because people are going, “Oh, that was fantastic. Thank you. It’s so inspirational, you did this and the other.” You have to keep coming back and going, “Yeah, I’m just the luckiest guy in the room today.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And I’ve got to keep making sure I listen to that voice.

Jonathan Doyle:     You talk about in that crisis moment, you, you expressed this reason, you have to find a way to let everyone contribute. I want to talk about, when you walk around your people here or overseas, uh, how do you find the best in your people? Is it [inaudible 00:55:34] as building relationship, do you feel you have an ability to just spend a little bit of time with somebody and go, “Ah, this is their X factor and …”? How do you get the best out of your people?

Glenn Keys:         Everybody talks about first impressions, but I’ve got a whole pile of first impressions I’ve turned around, you know.

Jonathan Doyle:     Mm-hmm.

Glenn Keys:         Because there are people like me who sell pretty well.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right, and so you have to work out, “Am I just being sold to or am I hearing the truth?”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I think Andrew and I both have a similar model, which is that we do a lot of management by walking around, talking to people.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And you have to be prepared to do that. You have to not be talking to them, you need to have them talking to you.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because I can sit there and repeat the same story a thousand times to people, but what really counts is when you say to people, “So how is it going? You know, how do you find it? You know, what do you think we’re doing well? Is there something we could do better?” And, you know, I just ask five or six probe questions and listen to them.

Glenn Keys:         It’s amazing that, and then though you’ve got to synthesize that because you can’t take just the one person’s view, you’ve got to take the 25 people you’ve spoken to both overseas or at a site and back here and synthesize it and go, yeah, so I’ve heard some of this on this arc, I’ve heard something here, but in actual fact I really think, you know, this direction right here, that’s where we need to go because I’ve synthesized all of that.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         That ability to be able to take all the data rather than going, “I heard one person who gave me confirmation bias and told me we’re doing well or we’re doing badly, so I believe them.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         That’s easy and yet very dangerous.

Jonathan Doyle:     One of the last things I want to ask you was around talking about the best advice you’ve been given and you talk about having a laser focus on key issues, what counts, knowing what you want to achieve and not getting distracted. I want you to talk to us about that because for anybody in entrepreneurship or business, there is an enormous number of things you could do on any given day.

Jonathan Doyle:     What are your filters? How do you leverage yourself when you walk in there each day? What stops you chasing the bright shiny object or the next crisis or micromanaging something? How do you honestly do this? How do you develop your focus on particular things? Is it self-knowledge that you know what you- your leverage is? Talk to us about your focus and about not being distracted and leveraging you- your real strengths.

Glenn Keys:         Uh, look, it’s a really, really good question, and I’m sure that when my wife and others listen to this, you know, that we’re interested to hear because there’s so many things I think it could do.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, you just hit back and go, “Oh my god, I was talking to so and so.” We, you know.

Jonathan Doyle:     You can do that.

Glenn Keys:         That’d be even a great cause to be involved in, right.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         There’s great things we could do. And so time is the biggest restrictor, so that’s the first cut.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Do, do I, do we as a business have the time to do this? Do I have the time to be involved in this bid or, or that particular cause or whatever? And time is really, really critical. No one has worked out how to make us live forever, so we’ve only got so many breaths and we’ve got to make the best of them while they’re here.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So then the overlay comes as well, what’s the most important thing to be doing here? And sometimes it is taking time to sit down and, you know, go to the movies with the kids or read a book or … I sat up last night chatting for an hour or so to my son about some stuff. You know, just time to do that, you know so that’s still a very, very important thing to do. If you come back to business, we still only have a certain amount of time. Now I know that my danger is I’ll go 17 things here we could do, let’s do all of them, right. And so for me walking away from an opportunity, uh, just a little bit of me die.

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         Every time I do that because I go, “Yeah, but we’re just working extra hour tonight, we could get that in.” Right.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And I realize that’s unfair to the staff. So I have to look at it through their lens too, not just my lens. I have to look at it through their lens. Then you come down and say, “Well, is this a brand-new opportunity that we’ve never done?” I won’t say a chance to do that, or is this an opportunity that is just a natural leverage from where we are now, I’m taking this one reference site and I’m multiplying it out by five times. Is that something I could do? Now I’ve got an extent contract, how do I keep that rather than lose that? Well, I’m winning another one.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         So, you know, you then get around to efficiency, what’s gonna be the best use of time?

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We’ve been asked to do lots of stuff outside direct healthcare, which we’ve never done because we go, “There’s so much to do in healthcare.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Outside of work you’ve mention Project Independence before.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         I give a lot of time to it because I think it’s really, really important.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, if you have an intellectual disability in Australia, you have the lowest rate of home ownership of any sector in the country.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         Any sector. Your typical accommodation journey will be to leave home, move into a group home, and a group home is standard, usually a standard residential home that’s got three, maybe four bedrooms. And to share that with three or four people that you never got to pick.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         You know, when we left home or a uni or whatever, you know, that’s what we went through in our 20s, but when you are 30, 40 or 50, is that a way to live?

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         No. And so Project Independence they’ll ask you to buy your own home out of your pension. It’s the only home ownership program like it in the country, perhaps internationally, and we are dramatically changing people’s lives because of it. So to be able to look at that and go, well, here is the program and nothing else exists like it in the country.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We are creating an opportunity for people with an intellectual disability to own their own home, and then over time step away from Project Independence into truly independent living. Go buy an apartment or a house with a mate or with your partner or across town because it’s close to your job because you can now do that.

Jonathan Doyle:     You can do that.

Glenn Keys:         That you would have never ever had that opportunity to before is so life-changing, so dramatic, how do you not get passionate and excited and make the time to make that happen.

Jonathan Doyle:     To do that.

Glenn Keys:         To me it’s around, what is it that resonates? You know, there will be other people who listen to that and go, it doesn’t sound very interesting at all. And that’s cool, but there will be something that for them resonates. And, and just makes them want to stay up till 2:00 in the morning, or go do it on a weekend or go on five, five mates to help them deliver that.

Glenn Keys:         I always find that amazing, you go back to humans. What I love about humans, it’s what drives us, what makes us decide to run a pipe band or collect money for some [Vincent de Paul law 01:01:49] to a housing project or, you know, so close for people in Bangladesh, uh, all of those things are wonderful, and they need to be done. And everybody has potential, every single person has potential to do something. We all gave that time, we all found that resonance issue and exploited the potential we have within ourselves. Even it’s only an hour a week, an hour a month. The world is a significantly better place.

Jonathan Doyle:     So listening to you, it’s almost as if you look at the world whether it’s through Project Independence and I want, I want to talk about that more in a minute, then point people to it. When you look at the healthcare situations in remote areas, it’s like you look at the world and kind of go, we could fix something here, we could do something, this seems particularly to your nature, right, like you see the way things could be, yeah?

Glenn Keys:         Yeah. [inaudible 01:02:36], I do struggle when people go, no.

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs)

Glenn Keys:         You know, that just really annoys me because you haven’t even thought about it.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, a phrase I, I sometimes use, so, so what does success look like? Let’s just say, what would this be if it was to work?

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So when we started, for example, started Project Independence, I just followed the idea of, we needed more social housing, you know, the ACT social housing waiting list has grown by 25% since 2012.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         All right. There’s over 250,000 people on social housing waiting list around Australia.

Jonathan Doyle:     Hmm.

Glenn Keys:         So we need more social housing, and you can’t expect government to go out and fix every problem.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         So I’m a big believer that collaboration to great thing: government, community business together. We produce better answers than anyone trying to present it on our own. We also believe that we have responsibility as citizens.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, that Roman idea.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You could be a Roman but not a citizen.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right. And citizens meant that you contributed, you gave service, you are in the military or you are a politician, or you are in the public service. You did something to contribute to your society.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We all call ourselves citizens, we should all do something, and to do something you need to look at what do you need to do to be better than today. What’s the solution look like, once you’d defined the solution, well, then you can work your way back, and go, all right. So we were looking just at normal housing, and my son who has got Down’s syndrome said one day, you know, he was designing the home that he wanted to buy when he left home, a bit of a slap in the face because I naturally send the other two would- but not him.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         So I went into my group a little completely volunteer committee we had and said, we are gonna change the model, they are gonna buy them. I went, “Oh, I won’t work, there’s just not enough money in the pension.” And I said, “Well, let’s assume there is.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         How would we make enough money in the pension to buy a house? Well, we’ve done that.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         And it’s, it’s now working, we’ve got 20 residents buying their own homes now.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Out of their pension around Canberra. We’ve got 200 expressions interest out of Melbourne for the model that we’ve developed and grown here in Canberra for us to export to Melbourne. Two groups in Sydney want us to build there. So, you know, find the problem to find an answer and then work back to how you get to the answer. And that’s, it’s regardless whether it’s Aspen or it’s Project Independence or the Canberra Business Chamber or the Invictus Games or, you know, the other things I’m involved in. All of those relate around, let’s find an answer and then work how we get to there rather than going, “Oh, that looks really hard.”

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs) There is so much in that, like when you talk about, you know, this, the Roman idea of, of, of the good society, and I have like postgrad backgrounds in that sort of stuff and, you know, we don’t want to go down this path along but, you know, I think culturally and politically there is a decrease in a sense of I think independence and interdependence. So one of the great things I think a business can do is the generation of wealth being able to do these sorts of things is something we can be really proud of. I mean, we, we take at least 10% of what we create in our businesses and we can do some really cool stuff that as you know.

Glenn Keys:         Yeah.

Jonathan Doyle:     And I think, but you should be proud of it.

Glenn Keys:         Look, I do, and I think sadly we’ve lost some words that have got tainted through discussion, but I do think, you know, entitlement is a real concern.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         And I know that Joe Hockey went and effectively quarantined the word nobody can talk about entitlement anymore without thinking of Joe, but I do think we should be sitting back, I mean, what can I do? Now that doesn’t mean that you have to have a successful business and, and all of those sort of things. Uh, you could just be someone and some of our greatest volunteers are people who are working in not high-paid jobs.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Who give up their time again and again and again to help others. If every person kicked in and did that. You know, imagine where we’d be. And to me that’s why I think that citizenship model is important …

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because, you know, it’s a little like Kennedy, right, don’t ask what, what your country is gonna do, but you, what you can do for your country.

Jonathan Doyle:     Do for your country.

Glenn Keys:         People see that in a, in a far more, you know, almost a military service orientation.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         But, you know, just helping out someone at the shops, helping out a neighbor.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         All of those things contribute. Now the other good thing is, of course, all the research shows that contributes to your own health as well.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah, 100%. Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Right, that you are all better because of it but, you know, I think that’s the thing that drives me is, I think I’ve ended up in a incredibly lucky privileged honored position. And so I’d better give something back, and it’s something where I think I’ve got the tools and the wherewithal and the training and experience to do that.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah. When I wrote my first book I had eight steps and I think that the final step I wrote was fundamentally in that I’ve always taught in the keynotes and seminars around the meaning of life. And people, just some people disagree but I think the fundamental vector of being human ultimately is around the concept of contribution that, you know, that famous French proverb, “Richest person in the graveyard is not the goal of life.”

Jonathan Doyle:     So you’re speaking about something incredibly important and very human that, and the science plays it out that, that human happiness is often linked to the quality of relationships, things like altruism, service contribution. So it’s good to be talking about them, I want to ask you one of our previous guests had, his eldest daughter has a major physical handicap. It was really beautiful talking with him about that off air, but the experience with your own son, how has it changed you on that journey with the intellectual disability? What, how is that shaped and changed you over the years?

Glenn Keys:         Oh, dramatically. I had had very little engagement with the disability community before that. Ehren has Down’s syndrome, we didn’t know until after he was born.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         That he had Down’s syndrome. My wife is a social worker and so she had a lot more exposure and understanding than I did, but for me it was just like completely out of leftfield.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         It meant that I got involved with the Down’s syndrome association first up in Toowoomba and then here in Canberra. I then got involved with Special Olympics.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Which is sport for people with an intellectual disability. I’m now on the board of the [Indie II 01:08:43] and then obviously Project Independence is about housing for people with an intellectual disability. I am a significantly better person because of Ehren and because of my exposure to the disability community.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         When I see sacrifices family make.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Particularly if you’ve got a child with quite a significant disability, be it physical or intellectual, you know, one of the parents will typically drop a career or take a backseat. So suddenly therefore not only are their career aspirations on hold or stopped altogether, but to even more so if suddenly their ...

Jonathan Doyle:     Income.

Glenn Keys:         Socio-economic position is significantly damaged. They don’t blink at that. You know what I mean, they don’t, it’s not a discussion point because they know what’s most important is their child, the person they’re caring for.

Glenn Keys:         So, you know, that’s been important because as I said earlier on, pretty competitive. And to see the sacrifices my wife has made for our family, for me in work and for our family, but also to make me realize that, you know, every single success our son has had whether it’s walking and speaking or getting a job or graduating or whatever was enormous. I think our other two kids have benefited because suddenly I went, “Well, you know what, some of those things that I might have thought were really, really important.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         “You know, not that important, and I need to put these things in perspective.” So he’s given me and the community has given me a degree of perspective I doubt I ever would have had.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow! What do you love most about Ehren?

Glenn Keys:         You only said it today. I’ll give an example. So we’ll be sitting at the dinner table, we’ll have dinner and Ehren will give a very big happy sigh.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, just did this, aah. I go, what does this mean? He goes, “Best day ever.”

Jonathan Doyle:     (Laughs)

Glenn Keys:         And I go, “why was that?” He said, “Well, you made me bacon and eggs for breakfast.”

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow!

Glenn Keys:         “Mum’s made us lasagne for dinner, I had dancing today and we are watching Doctor Who tonight, like best day ever.”

Jonathan Doyle:     (laughs) Its gratitude.

Glenn Keys:         But also what you need to realize is, you know, I can come home from work and I kind of had a really, really crap day, and I’ll be sitting there going, oh, you know, I’m upset about A, B or C or whatever, and then Ehren will launch into best day ever, and you go, you know what, you’re right, yeah. At a table, um, in a warm home, loving family, I’ve got food on the table, got a job, I’ve got friends and family, best day ever.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow! It’s so beautiful to hear, I years ago worked with an American marine captain and he had this like quote every day where he used to go, “Jonathan, you know what, Jonathon, every day above ground is a good day.”

Glenn Keys:         (laughs) Yeah.

Jonathan Doyle:     And when you serve in the front lines in Afghanistan, I guess it’s true, their gratitude of just, uh, you know, we probably take so much for granted, and I think people with Down’s, the capacity for love and affection and kindness and stuff is something quite beautiful.

Glenn Keys:         You know, it’s also no guile, you know.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         You know, when he is happy, you know when he is unhappy.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         He can get, he can get unhappy, you know, you talk about, you know, you can get stroppy with his siblings or with us or with whatever, you know so, he, he’s got the full range of emotions, he is never just always happy.

Jonathan Doyle:     Always happy.

Glenn Keys:         But you know exactly which one it is.

Jonathan Doyle:     Oh yeah. Let me, let’s wrap-up, I, I want to talk just Project Independence is, I’m gonna point everybody to the website, it’s a brilliant initiative. And how can we support you and how can we support Project Independence? You’ve got the Luton Ball coming up in August.

Glenn Keys:         We have the Luton Charity Ball, I have to say Richard Luton is an amazing individual with what he’s done with the Charity Ball.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We made some good money last year.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We’re really, they are hoping for five or 600 people, so we desperately need people to buy tables.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         Particularly businesses to come along, bring your customers or your staff or both along.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         Because I think they will see what you are doing …

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         To help create charities. So heartily [inaudible 01:12:41] and ourselves are the recipients this year, which is just terrific.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         We have a website which is just ProjectIndependence.com.au.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         There is an opportunity to make a donation and, look, it doesn’t have to be cash, it can be volunteered time, it could be as friends or Project Independence. We are building our third house in Phillip, we’ve still got a bit to go, we’ve raised quite a bit of money but we still have $800,000 to raise.

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         Any opportunity which doesn’t, look, it doesn’t have to be money, it could be someone saying, “I’ll donate all of the bricks or…”

Jonathan Doyle:     Sure.

Glenn Keys:         We’ll pay for the windows or we’ll pay for the tiles or whatever.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         All contributes and all helps. We’ve got that and we’ve only got two people in our office, Rachel, who does an amazing job is our manager, she is brilliant. And then we’ve had quite a bit support, The Snow Foundation here in Canberra, amazing, amazing local group have been strong supporters of us for a long time and they actually fund our admin person as well, which is just terrific.

Jonathan Doyle:     So that’s ProjectIndependence.com.au, I’ll put that in the show notes, if you are listening, if you are involved in business, get yourself a table, this is a great chance to, to support something really worthwhile, you know, local Canberra community and, and have a great night with a bunch of good people. So I’m gonna put that in the links. I’m gonna ask you a final question, and I’m gonna ask you differently than what I normally do.

Jonathan Doyle:     I, I always ask people, imagine, you are on stage and you, you’re giving a keynote or a short input to a 100 young business owners and they’re starting out. And I always ask people, what are the three pieces of your best business advice that you’d give? But I want to ask you something slightly different. What are, what are your three best pieces of human advice that you’d give, uh, what are the three things that you’ve learned in your life so far that you think people should know about how to live?

Glenn Keys:         There’s nothing more important than family, absolutely number one is really, really critical. The other is, is that every person counts. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the driver in the taxi, whether it’s the CEO of a major corporate, prime minister, doesn’t matter, every person count. We all contribute, we all deserve the respect that we would ask for ourselves, so every, every person counts. And then the final bid is the one you actually said, which is, you can earn all money in the world but you can’t take it with you.

Jonathan Doyle:     Yeah.

Glenn Keys:         So just think about what else that you can give back. It may not be money, it may not be goods, but it could be time, it could be just giving people just some attention, letting them know they are of value, talking to them, you know, buying them a cup of coffee. It might be all you can do, that will be more than you were gonna do.

Jonathan Doyle:     100%. I’ll sneak a final one, You know, look, in the Aspen journey so far, what are you most proud of so far in the whole journey?

Glenn Keys:         Oh, that’s, that’s incredibly difficult to answer. Look, I’m actually proud of what we’ve delivered regardless of where it is, regardless of whether it’s providing care for Ebola, the work we’ve just done in, in Iraq where we’ve treated 47,000 civilian casualties and delivered 3000 babies. You know, in some of the most challenging environments, indigenous health, dental waiting lists, really what I’m most proud of is what we’ve created as a company.

Glenn Keys:         And it’s not me, it’s not even me and Andrew, it’s every single person that works in the company. The hours they give, the time they give, the commitment they give, I could sit there and write the best tenders in the world, but without the quality of the people we’ve got delivering we’d be lost.

Jonathan Doyle:     Wow! So Glenn Keys I want to thank you, my friend, on behalf of a lot of people, it’s been an absolute privilege to do this interview, and thank you for your humanity for sharing out with us your business wisdom. Thank you for building something good in the world. There is plenty of stuff in the world that isn’t good.

Jonathan Doyle:     When I get to meet people and talk to people who are building something, that is making a positive difference both in the social level and the professional corporate level, thank you for your witness as a husband and father and as a man in the community and all that you bring and we wish every success at Aspen, and thanks for making time for us today.

Glenn Keys:         No, thank you, it’s been a real pleasure, a real pleasure.

Jonathan Doyle:     Thanks mate.