Crucible Leadership: The Book That Almost Wasn’t #88

Warwick Fairfax

October 19, 2021

It’s taken Warwick Fairfax more than 30 years to write his book, CRUCIBLE LEADERSHIP: EMBRACE YOUR TRIALS TO LEAD A LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE, and have it published. Why such a long time? He  explains this week in conversation with cohost Gary Schneeberger that losing control of his family’s 150-year-old media dynasty in a takeover bid that ultimately failed at a cost of $2.25 billion was too painful for too long to relive on paper – or a computer’s hard drive. But his perspective began to shift after he gave a speech at church about the lessons his trial taught him – and those who heard it told him for months afterward how much hope his story of moving beyond his crucible gave them. He explores circumstances and emotions he’s never discussed publicly before as he walks listeners through the process that led to the book now being available on brick-and-mortar and virtual bookshelves all across the globe.

Highlights

  • Why Warwick never wanted to write a book about his crucible (2:19)
  • He never considered defending himself (8:18)
  • The turning point that led to him being open to writing a book (14:20)
  • Finding the seeds of the book in a talk to his church (15:31)
  • How reading through the Bible in 90 days led him even closer to writing the book (18:07)
  • Lessons from Warwick’s book journey that can help others moving beyond crucibles (19:59)
  • Other inspirations along the way for Warwick (23:04)
  • The importance of trusting the process (31:49)
  • An excerpt from the audiobook version of CRUCIBLE LEADERSHIP (35:54)
  • The publishing journey begins in Australia … (41:55)
  • … and moves to America, where the vision for the book grows (44:41)
  • They the U.S. is ultimately a better market than Australia (48:09)
  • How it feels for Warwick to be a published author (52:25)
  • A special message for Warwick from his wife, Gale (55:29)

Transcript

Warwick F:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership. I began thinking in the back of my mind, “Huh, if my story can somehow help people, I wonder what that would be. Is it a book?” And I began my thinking from there’s no way at all, ever in this millennium or beyond will I ever write a book, period, with a couple of million explanation points, there’s no way. It started shifting slowly, but like moving a aircraft carrier and I begin thinking, “Hmm.”

Gary S:

The out of that unexpected thought, that hmm, was born the book released today, Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show. Depending on when you start the clock, it has been more than a 30-year journey or a little less than half that for Warwick to write his book and have it published. Why such a long time? That’s what we talk about in detail on this week’s show. Warwick explains why in the immediate aftermath of his crucible, which was losing control of his family’s 150-year-old media dynasty in a takeover bid that ultimately failed at a cost of $2.25 billion that it was just too painful to relive on paper or on a computer’s hard drive. But his perspective began to shift after he gave a speech at church about the lessons his trial taught him, and those who heard it told him for months afterward how much hope his story of moving beyond his crucible gave them.

Gary S:

The rest might not yet be history, but it is now bound between two covers and available to all who want to live and lead with significance. So let’s discover how that happened. So we’re going to go through three pieces, three bits, three areas from how Warwick got from step one, I don’t want to write a book after his crucible. Step two, I’m calling it, I may not want to write a book, but I’m being called to write a book. Stay tuned, you’ll hear why. And then part three, How do I get people to read it? Now that it’s written? That’s kind of the dance that we’re going to go through here.

Gary S:

So, Warwick, when you say you didn’t want to write a book, when I first heard you say that was a bit shocking, because there is no shortage of books on the takeover of your family’s media company that was your crucible when it fell through. There’s a book, not to bring up old wounds, but there’s a book called The Fall of House of Fairfax, there’s a book called Fairfax: The Rise and Fall, there’s a book called Stop The Press: How Greed, Incompetence (and The Internet) Wrecked Fairfax, there are other books out there. And I think where I want to start here is, your voice is in none of those books. Was there never a time where you felt like, because the impulse for a lot of people, it’s not just a desire, it’s like a gut reaction an impulse, “I want my side of the story out there.” That’s not your story. That’s not what you wanted. You really didn’t think, “I need to get my side of the story out there,” after the takeover failed, did you?

Warwick F:

No. It might be puzzling for some, but just to go back a bit. I mean, what I went through was so painful as most listeners hopefully know, losing 150-year-old family media business. I’m a person of faith started by a strong person of faith losing a $2.25 billion takeover having a company with TV, radio and newspapers, 4,000 plus employees, 700 million in revenue, fall out of family hands, going to bankruptcy, cause ill feelings, understandably, with some other members of my family, moved to America where I’ve been for more than 30 years because my wife’s American. The whole thing was just so painful, I just wanted to forget. I just didn’t want to think about what had happened. I didn’t know if it was to move on or was there somehow just forget, even going to Australia back in the nineties was painful, because I would be thrust in front of memories and the house I grew up in, a large house in Sydney on the water and just family members and mostly were gracious, but it was just so painful.

Warwick F:

And the other beat of the story is it’s hard to understand maybe, but I’m not wired, maybe it’s wiring or values to defend myself. I’ve never been one to say, “Oh, I was right,” because I brought a lot of it on myself. I didn’t have a desire to explain this, let posterity to decide for itself what my part it in and maybe it’s my faith. Ultimately, from my faith perspective God judges all of us and we’re accountable there, but just this whole kind of I was right or they were wrong or just trying to defend yourself, I’ve just never been one to try to defend myself. It’s just not in my DNA, I just think if you are a big man, a big woman, so to speak, you don’t get go when they’re all defensive and just defend yourself, I don’t know, for whatever reason. And I also didn’t like the limelight, I just never had a feeling that I wanted to defend myself and put my side of the story out there. A, I’m not like that and, B, I just wanted to forget. I did not want to relive it.

Gary S:

It’s interesting because you say a lot on this show. When you have a crucible you have to deal with it. Don’t stick your head in the sand, don’t not get out of bed. And I want to make it clear to listeners that that’s not what you’re talking about, you’re not saying that’s what you did. You’re saying that the action that you took was, at least on the subject of a book, inaction, which is a pretty powerful action given what was being tossed at you. So, I just want to make it clear so people don’t hear you say, “I didn’t want to deal with it.” That doesn’t mean you didn’t want to deal with your crucible, you did. You grew your family, you raised your family, you and your wife, Gale, did all of those things, but you specifically in a box sort of set aside this idea that, “I need to have my side of the story told because it’s just not that important to me.”

Warwick F:

Yeah. I mean, so in the nineties… Yeah, I mean, I tried and applied to a bunch of jobs, but it’s hard for a kind of ex-media mogul to get a job. Nobody believed I’d be humble enough to get just some regular job. And yeah, I mean, I tried to move on as best I could. It was difficult, I’ve got to say, but eventually, kind of the mid-nineties I worked in a local aviation services company and business financial analysis. So, I was trying to move on in that sense, but the idea of reliving memories and writing my side of the story and let me explain myself I just feel that’s lame and, it’s going to sound arrogant, almost beneath my myself.

Warwick F:

It’s like a lot of what I did I brought on myself. It’s not quite as simple as it’s all my fault. There was rifts in the family going back decades, well, almost generations. But I don’t want to write some tell-all book and just start causing more harm, more friction in the family by just explaining my side and, “Hey, look what other family members did throwing my dad out as chairman in 1976.” Whatever it is, I wanted to move on with my life and I did not want to write a tell-all book explaining my side. And it was so painful that I didn’t want to relive it.

Warwick F:

So for multiple reasons, if anybody asked, “Hey, are you thinking of writing a book?” It’s like, “No, it was painful.” I have no desire to write some tell-all oh, woe is me. Those books are boring and lame, and I just wanted to move on with my life. I didn’t want to go back and relive past agony for some reason. It just seemed to be no point. What’s the value in that? Of whining and complaining and whinging, as we say, in Australia, which is whining squared. No whinging. So I wanted to move on, accept my lumps and let posterity or God or whoever make the judgment and I just have to accept that for better or worse. That was kind of my attitude, so to speak.

Gary S:

Yeah. And it’s important to say, and I’ll do this as your public relations guy. When you say it was beneath you to respond in a book, what you mean isn’t what most people would think is , “It’s beneath me.” I don’t think you mean that, what you mean is it’s antithetical to what your character is. It’s antithetical to who you are. It’s not how you’re wired, is to defend yourself. That’s fair?

Warwick F:

Exactly. It’s against my values, which is just to me defending myself and saying, “Oh, look what I did.” I mean, most of it was my fault, so it’s not the easiest thing to defend. But it’s not just a case of, “Oh, that’s what God would want us to do, never defend ourselves.” It depends on the situation, but my wiring is not to defend myself, I’ll do my best and let people make their own judgments. I’m not even saying it’s the morally correct, necessarily, it’s just how I’m wired for whatever reason.

Gary S:

Right. Right. I have no idea how you’re going to answer this question, so this is the fun part. I said at the top that there’s some things that we’re going to talk about that we haven’t traversed before, and this is one of those areas. You talk so often Warwick about feeling when the takeover failed after it had succeeded, when it ultimately failed, and you felt like you’d let your ancestors down, your family down. I wonder, was there a part of not wanting to write a book in addition to what you just talked about about not wanting to defend yourself, not wanting to go crawl inside that pain again for no good purpose? Was there a part of it even a slice of it that was you didn’t want to put your family through that again either? You just wanted to move on the entire sort of Fairfax family, from your perspective, you didn’t want to get that back out in the news again if you could avoid doing that.

Warwick F:

Yeah, I think that’s fair. I didn’t want to put my family through it all in some big public spat and what have you. And yeah, as you mentioned, I felt like I let my family down, parents, relatives, caused friction within the family. I felt like I let God down in some naive view, founded by a person of faith, the company, John Fairfax. I thought maybe God had a plan to resurrect the company image of the founder. I’m a person of faith, so that sense of letting God down was crushing.

Warwick F:

And I was raised Anglican, but maybe from a Catholic theological point of view where you talk purgatory, maybe I subconsciously felt I deserved to be in purgatory. I deserve to be blamed for all of this, so why defend myself? Whatever was thrown my way maybe I felt like I deserved it, and so I deserved to be there while incoming arrows came my way. Maybe there was some fatalistic, “I deserve this pain, so don’t defend yourself.” I haven’t thought about it quite that way, but maybe there was this weird purgatory view of life in those days. I deserve whatever I was going to get kind of mentality.

Gary S:

Fascinating. Yeah. And again, to me, that’s extraordinarily fascinating because we’ve been working together for more than two years and I’ve never heard you sort of talk about it in that way. So, I hope listener what you’re hearing from this is some aspects of this story that just haven’t really been unearthed before, haven’t been talked about before, because Warwick has not. Until this book, I’ll say it again, Crucible Leadership, Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance out today if you’re listening to this podcast on the day it is released on October 19th, you really haven’t spoken about a lot of the things that are in this book until this book. So what you just said makes perfect sense. All right, it seems like we may have gotten past the first negative section, right? The “I don’t want to write this book.” Is there anything else in the “I don’t want to write this book” section that you feel you need to say before we move on to how we started down the on-ramp to the road that led to the publication of the book?

Warwick F:

Not really. It was all so painful, I deserved it and I wanted to try and forget anything to do with Fairfax Media and my past life, and move on. I guess in a couple bullets or so, that’s what I was feeling.

Gary S:

Well, and we could have saved like 15 minutes of the show by just doing that. But I think it was far more interesting to get the more robust discussion of what was going on. So, we’ll move on to section two of this, the turning point, the pivot point, the inflection point. And this is where the book where your mind changes a little bit. I’ve headlined this in my notes because I kind of know what you’re going to say, but section two is, “I may not want to write a book, but I think I’m being called to write a book.” Tell us what are the first breadcrumbs of that? How does that come up? When does it happen in the process in terms of after the takeover? And what brings it to life?

Warwick F:

Yeah, I mean, probably the key event was when I gave a talk in church in 2008, which I’ll mention here in just a second. But there was a few breadcrumbs before then, in which I mentioned I got a job in an aviation services company doing analytical kind of things. I then from there round about 2003 felt like I wasn’t using all the gifts I had and I was playing small. Not that it was beneath me, but I felt like I had some gifts I wasn’t using. So, assessment I did with my career coach seemed to line up with executive coaching. I got certified as an International Coach Federation executive coach. I began to see, I had a leadership perspective and the questions I was asking. So my self-esteem began growing a little bit. And then right around 2007, about a year before that talk in church, I became an elder at my church. It’s a non-denominational evangelical church in Annapolis, Bay Area Community Church, around about, these days, about 2000 odd. And then I got on the board of my kids’ school, Annapolis Area Christian School, a Christian school.

Warwick F:

So all of those I began to see that I had a leadership voice and I could actually contribute to things in life and society in a meaningful way. So my self-esteem, drop by drop, brick by bricks, began to come back.And really, a turning point, a pivot point, if you will, one of the biggest ones occurred, as I mentioned, in 2008, when the pastor of our church, Greg St. Cyr, he was giving a message on the life of David who was being persecuted by Saul because he was a good man and Saul felt jealous. So he was hiding in a cave feeling sorry for himself. And so, the pastor asked me to give a message on a righteous man falsely persecuted. I said, “Well, it’s not me, I brought a lot of trouble on myself.” And so, I gave like a 10-minute talk. And weeks and months afterwards people said, “What you said really helped me.” And I’m thinking, as I often say, there weren’t any ex-media moguls in the congregation that I know of.

Warwick F:

It’s one thing if you’re talking about cancer, abuse, loss of a loved one, sadly way too many people go through that, but how can you identify with losing a $2 billion company? I hadn’t looked at it in a while, but as I reread kind of the speech I gave what’s eerie is that there’s so much in there that I talk about today, yesterday, the last few weeks, last few months. It’s what the book is all about. I hadn’t decided write a book at this point, but the whole thing about the book, the world looks at, and I’m reading from the speech I gave in 2008, “the world looks at all this as a terrible loss. To me, personally, it represented freedom from bondage, the freedom of expectations. I can now be free to be myself, to be exactly who God wants me to be.” And I said, “God has provided for me financially, not to the degree I had before, but more than enough of me and my family. I’m truly blessed. God is faithful.”

Warwick F:

So, it’s like I’m talking about this stuff, and I talk about this today. But kind of the next kind of beat in the story is, I began thinking in the back of my mind, “Huh, if my story can somehow help people, I wonder what that would be. Is it a book?” And I began my thinking from there’s no way, at all, ever in this millennium or beyond will I ever write a book, period, with a couple of million exclamation points, there’s no way. It started shifting slowly, but like moving a aircraft carrier. And I began thinking, “Hmm.” And this was around about April 2008. Within a few weeks, again, a person of faith, elder at my church, et cetera, obviously I read through much of the Bible. They had these 90-day Bibles and ways of doing it. So I decided I was going to read through the whole Bible in 90 days, figured out a plan with some advice. Each day I would read a chapter in part of the Old Testament, part of the New Testament, a couple Psalms, Proverbs. And I began on May 28th, 2008 and finished August, 13.

Warwick F:

And I would write typewritten notes. I mean, it’s kind of bananas, but it’s over a hundred pages of typewritten notes, like Microsoft Word notes. That’s not mean to say everybody should do it this way. I’m not saying that’s at all necessary, but I just felt there was something about that speech that’s like I just felt like I need to get in touch with, from my perspective, God and His wisdom, because I felt there was something there, given the congregation’s reaction.

Warwick F:

And it was somewhere along the lines of the middle of that as I’m getting in touch with my most innermost truth, the depths of my soul, the depths of everything I believe, and the depths of everything that I am, I felt like God telling me, “You need to write a book, and it needs to be a lessons-learned book.” But the combination of that speech in church and doing the intense Bible reading and journaling, I just knew it was from the Lord, and I knew I needed to do it. And obviously, it was going to be painful, but the call was clear. And so, the long journey began in 2008 because of that.

Gary S:

Let’s rewind a little bit for the listener who may be going through his or her own crucible. And as we say all the time, you’ve probably not lost $2.25 billion, but it’s a crucible and it hurts and it’s knocked the wind out of your sails, and it’s changed the trajectory of your life. In your story, are the breadcrumbs for bouncing back from any crucible? You say it all the time, Warwick, and it’s been interesting for me. This is our 88th episode. Early on, you weren’t saying this, but as we talked to more people on this show, you began to say this. And you say it often, and that is, it starts with one small step, right? The journey back to moving, as the title of the show is Beyond your Crucible, is one small step. For you, that one small step was saying yes to your pastor asking you to give a sermon illustration, right?

Warwick F:

Exactly. And that was not an easy step, because talk about my story it brought, I don’t know if it was 2000 people then, maybe it was 1500, who knows what the numbers were? But a lot of people. I was like, “I don’t want to do that,” but I just felt like the Lord saying, “Trust me, you got to do this.” And I’m not somebody that’s comfortable speaking in front of people. I’m reserved, shy by nature in some sense. It’s the last thing I wanted to do, but I felt like if this can help people, if this can help one person, I need to do this. It’s not about how I feel or how I feel comfortable. If this can help somebody, then I got to do it. But yeah, that was a step of faith, a step of obedience from my perspective. And it was not a small step to get up in church and talk about what I went through, It was no small step at all.

Gary S:

I forget exactly who it was when we did the series on resilience. I think it might have been Lucy Westlake who said this. We asked her to define resilience, and I think she said, “Say yes.” Right?

Warwick F:

Yes. Exactly.

Gary S:

The idea of resilience is to say yes. And that’s what you did. As difficult as it might be, you said yes to something that was a challenge. You can’t say yes to something if your head’s in the ground. You can’t say yes to something if you’re in bed sleeping it off, sleeping through it. To your point, that to move beyond your crucible you have to get up, do something, keep moving forward. That, yes, even that difficult, that scary yes, right? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do something every day that scares you.” You had to do something that scared you, and that was the turning point that led us to where we are today.

Warwick F:

Yeah. I mean, if it’s in service of others then it’s worth doing. And so as I look back, those are the two key moments. To talk in church and reading through the Bible in 90 days was incredible. But as I look back, look, I’m a person of faith, so I believe God orchestrates things. There are a couple other things that led me to think, “I can do this, and this could work.” I had a friend, Margie Warrell, who’s Australian, who I met at some coaching conference in Washington, DC, somewhere around 2006. And she’s somebody with a lot of courage and confidence. And she weaved her story into a book and originally self-published, and then she sold enough that she was able to get it published. And I thought, “Boy, that’s pretty impressive.” I mean, she has a lot of get up and got a lot of courage. And another pivot point is, I was at a leadership conference in California, I think it was in Palm Desert, I believe –

Gary S:

I used to live near there. I might have been there at the same time, who knows?

Warwick F:

Yeah. Well, you never know. I think it was probably like a Marriott, one of these massive places with pools and the whole setup. And this was one of the top leadership conferences you can go to. You had people like Patrick Lencioni and Jim Collins, and certainly people of that caliber. Well a guy got up by the name of Michael Abrashoff, who is a former captain in the U.S. Navy. And he wrote a book called It’s Your Ship. And he wasn’t Mr. professional speaker, but he was weaving lessons from his time in the Navy on that ship into a lessons-learned format. Every chapter was a different theme. And each chapter talked about an aspect of being on that ship. And I thought, “Boy, that is interesting, that lessons-learned, weaving your story in a thematic way around different aspects of leadership.” Again, at the time, I wasn’t thinking, “Let me write a book,” but those were foundations that were set. So once I’d done the 2008 talk in church and I’d done the extensive Bible reading, I just began to think, “This could work.”

Warwick F:

And the other thing that really hit home is, he in a sense was up against some of the most prolific writers and leadership great speakers. He was just a normal guy. He wasn’t Mr. professional speaker, but yet people were transfixed. And we’re talking about vice presidents, senior business leaders in the audience, because he was sharing a story, and he was sharing themes of leadership and parables and allegory. And probably the highlight for me is when somebody asked him, “So, what’s something that maybe you felt like he could have done better?” And I don’t know that he was anticipating it. He said, “When you’re in the Navy sometimes you’re really competitive. It’s kind about winning.”

Warwick F:

He was in the Pacific Fleet making your ship the best ship in the Pacific Fleet. And I was so focused on, quote-unquote, winning, that I could have done a better job of sharing what I’d learned on my ship with my fellow captains in the Pacific Fleet, because we’re all part of the U.S. Navy, right? We’re all meant to Navy, country first, not that he didn’t put his country first, but rather he was so focused on, quote-unquote, winning. I thought that was remarkably vulnerable and valuable piece of advice that he gave. Again, the value of vulnerability for a purpose. So there were all these seeds that were sown, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, so that you add them all up to the talk in church and the extensive Bible reading. It all added up to, “I know what I want to write. I want to write a book about my story, but through themes of leadership.” And that’s when the beginnings of the outline was formed.

Gary S:

Yeah. What I love about that story about the guy at the leadership conference who told stories of other leaders is that is what you did you do in Crucible Leadership. What’s great about that is it aligns perfectly. Again, we’ll talk about your personality, your character, who you are. I could right now as a test text 10 people who know you and ask, “Could you imagine Warwick ever writing a full-on memoir. From page one to page 290 it’s all about just Warwick.” And every one of them would say no.

Gary S:

In fact, I’m going to ask Jack, our producer, who’s hiding in the background to just send me a message on Zoom, Jack, and asking me if you could ever imagine Warwick writing just a memoir, it’s all about Warwick. I don’t think anybody who knows as you thinks that would happen. So you found a way to tell your story, but to weave it together with other things that is more than just, “Here’s what I went through.” It’s, “I understand what you’ve gone through and you can learn from what I went through how to get beyond what you’ve been through.” And you can also learn from other leaders throughout history. That’s a perfect construction for the book

Warwick F:

Absolutely. I mean, so as I was writing this book, I wasn’t talking about what I went through to justify myself, it was largely… I don’t diss or talk badly of other people. It’s really more about, I’m talking about my own mistakes and I’m reasonably harsh about that, but it was all because, “Here’s what I did, don’t do what I did, but instead do some of the things that other members of my family before me and other great inspirational faith, historical leaders did.” It was all in service of the reader. It was in service of leaders at all levels. As we like to say from the boardroom, from the corporate suite to community leaders who may just want to reclaim their neighborhood, their neighborhood park for kids. It was all in service of others. I was writing about some of the most painful things I went through, not to justify myself so that people would think, “Oh, look how bad he is,” or whatever, more self-flagellation. That wasn’t the motive at that point, it was all about in service of others. If it can help other leaders at all levels. That was the driving mission behind the book.

Gary S:

And the phrase that you were searching for a few minutes ago, a minute or so ago, is from the board room to the living room, which I have been trying to get us. I have been trying to get us to say about Crucible Leadership since the outset, and this is the first time. So on this celebration day, when Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance comes out, we hear it will help you become a better leader from the boardroom to the living room. There you go.

Warwick F:

Indeed. Indeed.

Gary S:

Thank you for saying that. I feel good that’s out now. That alleviates my crucible, but I have this great line, and I want it to be used, and now it’s used, so I feel better. The process of writing, you mentioned it was painful, that’s what kept you away from it for a while. I actually know, but people would assume the writing process was had its own pain with it.

Warwick F:

It did. I mean, I began in 2008, it took at least five years to write the first draft. In part, life does get in the way, but think about writing about some of the most painful stupidest, or just painful experience you’ve ever gone through. I couldn’t do much more than a couple hours a day and I had to take a break. I mean, this is so painful, reliving my worst mistakes or just the worst experiences I had, but I kept going in service of others. I didn’t have some detail plan. I mean, I had a chapter outline of maybe 10, 12 big themes, and I knew I wanted to do it in lessons learned. I wanted the theme of authenticity, an earlier draft I was thinking authentic leadership. Somebody else has that title which had different, more scholarly work.

Warwick F:

But as I began writing that first chapter, the themes began to coalesce the three strands. I realized my story would be the keel of the boat, but then I wanted to talk about my father and the lessons in leadership I learned from him about my great, great grandfather, John Fairfax, and the lessons I learned from him. I love history, so I wanted to weave in lessons from historical leaders, as well as lessons from inspirational and biblical leaders. So that was all formed by the time I was in the middle of the first chapter. And so what I would do is, I would sort of write a chapter at a time. So if I got to a chapter and I thought, “Gosh, I want to weave in a story about Washington,” I would stop and say, “Let me find a good book on George Washington.” I’ll read it, make notes on it, and then figure out how can I write about it in two or three pages? And so, obviously, I had to pause a bit to read the book and write the notes before I finished the chapter.

Warwick F:

And so, I would just go chapter by chapter until it got done, until that first draft got done. And it did take probably around five years. It’s just a long process of very painful… Yes, life gets in the way, but every time I stopped and read a book takes a while to read a good book and write notes on it from page one to page 500, or whatever it is. It was a long process, but I trusted the process.

Warwick F:

I mean, it’s going to sound weird, I prayed every day, it’s not about me. I had this mantra, if you will, that I would pray to God and I would say, “Let my words be your words, let your words be my words.” I just wanted to make sure that I was writing what I felt called to write from my inner soul. And I just started and I just kept going, and eventually, that first draft got done, but that was the end of step one, just finishing that first draft. It was a long, long journey, just even after that first draft. It wasn’t like, “Hallelujah!, Let’s go get it published.” It wasn’t remotely that simple.

Gary S:

That puts us at kind of the point that we’re going to shift a little bit into the next chapter of the journey in a bit. A couple things we want to do before that. One thing I want to do is, one of the things you just said… I mean, we’re talking here about the journey for you in writing your book, Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance, which is out today if you’re listening to this episode, when it drops, October, 19th. A lot of the words that you said, if you took writing book out and put in another crucible, finding a job, or learning to go on after the loss of a loved one, or a divorce, or something painful, or a business failure of your own that’s less than $2.25 billion. Whatever your crucible may be, that idea of you said it was a long process, but you trusted the process. That really is a bumper sticker for how you move beyond your crucible, right? Follow a process and trust it.

Warwick F:

Yeah. I mean, whether you believe it’s God or your true inner self, your inner soul. I think most people are spiritual. You know when it’s, to your very core, the depth of what you believe is true and what you believe is right. Trust that and trust yourself, and trust the process. I mean, I just went step by step, page by page, book by book that I was researching, and trust that, that it will work out and just keep moving forward. One more step, one more step, and eventually, five years later the book got written. Well, it would’ve been easier after six months saying, “Oh, my gosh, maybe I’m only on chapter one.” I can’t remember after six months or so. I can’t imagine it was more than two. It’s like, “My gosh, this could take decades.” I mean, I could have said, “Forget it.” But I didn’t because I felt like this is too important. This is in service of other people.

Warwick F:

I didn’t use the word a life of significance, but if I had it’s like this is about helping other people live their lives of significance, bouncing back from their crucibles. It wasn’t fully formed, but that’s what kept me going. One more step, one more step, because this is too important. We’re just going to keep going, trust the process, and trust that call that I felt. And that, to your point, yes, I think everybody that’s been through a crucible has that potential. And the key is that vision that anybody has, if it’s in service of others, some higher calling that links to your deepest held values, that will fuel the perseverance, the resilience, as we say, to keep moving forward. But that’s the key, that inner call, that sense of in service of others, that’s the key to getting something that may seem impossible done.

Gary S:

That is a good place for me to say this, if you’ve listened to this show in the past, listener, that one of the things I say in pretty much every episode is the captains turned on the fasten seatbelt signs and we’re getting to the point where we got to land the plane soon that’s my way of saying it’s getting close to time to wrap up. I’m not saying that now, I’m bringing in the plane metaphor to say this, this would be a good time for some inflight entertainment as it were, because you’ve done an audio book, Warwick, in addition to the actual written book, Crucible Leadership, you’ve done an audio book of you reading it yourself.

Gary S:

And we have an excerpt that we want to play here because it continues the thought of the section we were just talking about, you feeling called by God to write your book, staying on that path, continuing to do it. It was hard, but you pushed through. And this excerpt gives a nice flavor for the audio book version of Beyond the Crucible. So, I’m going to say, let’s roll tape, as they say, or as they used to say.

Warwick F:

It has taken years to get to the point where I am now. It has been a voyage of discovery to find out who I am and to live in light of it. It has taken years to throw off the weight of others’ expectations and to only live in light of who God made me to be, to cast a vision all my own and make that vision a reality. Growing up, one of my dearest wishes was that I would never become world-weary. Somehow, through all the trials leading up to the takeover of the family media company, and all the trials since then, I have not become cynical or lost hope. I have been a bit battered and bruised, but I have persevered. How has this been possible with all that has happened? It’s only been through God’s strength.

Warwick F:

There are some great scriptures on perseverance that have encouraged me along the way. These are two of my favorites, “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. These scriptures talk of how trials test our faith and give us the opportunity to persevere, which helps us become more mature. There is a refining fire, the crucible, that trials offer. I may not consider it pure joy when I consider all the trials I’ve been through, but I absolutely believe that God has a plan for my life, and I try to allow the trials I’ve been through, make me a better person and try in my own way to help others.

Warwick F:

This thought that God did not mean me to be in charge of the family media company, but has another purpose for my life has been a source of immense comfort. The belief that God does not make mistakes has been a huge and helpful thought for me. Without my faith, and the thought that God is in control, there is no way I would’ve persevered through the trials I’ve been through. So long as I put my faith in God and realize that my significance is not in what I can do for God, but in what He did for me by sending His son to die on the cross for my sins, I can put the things that the past behind me and persevere, and move on to live the rest of my story as God intended.

Gary S:

So what is it like, Warwick, to read your own book as an audio book? I mean, what kind of experience was that?

Warwick F:

Well, it wasn’t easy. I was with the good folks, with Jack and Whitney and the team at Content Capital in Austin, Texas. And they have a tremendous team and do a great job. But yeah, it took most of a week, four or five days to do, but it was kind of strange to just read this book out loud. Yeah, it’s a whole other, I don’t know, it’s a whole other experience as you go through. It was actually kind of enjoyable in some ways. It’s not easy, but if this can help other people it’s worth doing. Some people like audio books, you hear my voice and it’s reliving all these moments. It was not an easy experience, but it was is definitely a worthwhile experience, there’s no question.

Gary S:

Before we move on to section three, which is I’ve titled this, how do I get people to read it now that it’s written? Before we leave the reading of it, I need to say, I said in that segment that if I asked 10 people who knew you well, “Can you ever imagine Warwick would write a book that would be just about himself given his character that’s says that’s not who he is? And I said, I would ask our producer, Jack, who’s in the background as we’re doing this. Jack has indeed confirmed that, no, he cannot imagine you doing that. That’s not in your character to do so. So, all right, let’s move on to the third part. So we’ve gotten over, I don’t want to write the book. We’ve gotten the book written feeling that God had called you to do it and empowered you to do it. Now, you’ve got a manuscript in your hand, how do you get people to read it? A book isn’t a book after all until it’s published. How did that publishing journey start for you?

Warwick F:

Well, it was a long journey. So, I had this notion in my mind. So we’re talking around about 2013 or so, about five years after I started writing it, that I would pursue a publish in Australia first strategy, because my notion was very few people have heard of my story in the U.S., but in Australia it was one of the biggest corporate takeovers in Australian business history. Fairfax Media was this iconic brand, if you will, and there could be some interest. So I went down to Australia and followed up subsequently, and I was able to chat to literary agents, to publishers. And they were definitely intrigued, because sometimes if you’re not a published author just talking to a publisher is not easy, but given the level that this company was at and the magnitude of the story they were kind enough to give me a hearing.

Warwick F:

And so, some was like, “This is intriguing, but we want a tell-all book.” And even then it’s a lot of years after the company went under in 1990, even if it had been a total tell-all would’ve got published, who knows? But some they want memoirs that are like that. Just throw the dirt around. Just tell us your perspective. They might have even have said, Charitably your truth, right? Just go for it. And I would rather the book not be published than do that. It was like a never ever will I do that no matter what. I would rather the book never see the light of day than do that, it just against everything I believe in. And then others would ask me, “So, what genre is it? If you had a bookshelf in a bookstore,” which not as many of those, “but in concept, where would it go?” And I said, “Well, it’s part memoir, it’s part leadership, part self-help, part faith, maybe part inspirational.” That’s the wrong answer to say to a publisher.

Warwick F:

“What bookshelf is that on?” And I could say, “I don’t care. It could be on five or six different ones.” Totally wrong answer. They want to know a shelf. So that wasn’t helpful. And I didn’t want this to be pigeonholed as a faith-based book or a pure leadership book or pure memoir, because my goal was more thematic. Yes, it’s a leadership book at its heart, but I wanted to tell stories of inspirational, historical, faith leaders, my own story, my dad’s, John Fairfax’s, my great, great grandfather. It was clear in my mind what I wanted the book to be. The vision of the book was crystal clear and I didn’t want to compromise the vision. So another lesson, when you believe in your vision, persevere. Compromise can be a good word, compromising your vision when you feel it’s a calling, not a good idea.

Warwick F:

One publisher, a business publisher in Australia offered me some very good advice. Well, a couple different publishers. One said, “Well, Warwick, I know your story isn’t as well known in America, but I would pursue an American publisher first, because they’re going to have a blank slate attitude. They’re not going to have all these preconceptions about what your story should be.” A lot of people’s minds are made up or they just have certain preconception of what happened and how the story should be played. So one publisher said, “You should pursue a U.S. publisher. Another one said, “Warwick, in the business space, in the business leadership space, you need a brand. You need a following of dedicated followers that when your book comes out will want to read it.” Well, I have a Harvard MBA. I get the concept of branding, gosh, that made sense. I was pretty set on Australia first publishing, but at that point it’s like, “Okay, I get it. I probably need to be open to other things.”

Warwick F:

And so through a friend of a friend by some miracle, I don’t think it’s a miracle or an accident at all, some divine help, I got connected with Cheryl Farr who runs a branding and marketing organization called SIGNAL in Denver. And so, I gave her the manuscript. And as we went through it, she and her team very insightfully said… And it wasn’t called Crucible Leadership back then, I don’t know if it was Lessons Learned in Leadership or whatever the working title was. But Cheryl and the team said, “The story, isn’t the takeover. The real story is how you bounce back and how you can help people bounce back from adversity.” And we came up with this phrase, “lead a life of significance,” and said that’s collectively that’s what it’s about. And so then that whole branding thing, we said, “Well, we need to write a blog, and we need to get the message out there.” Cheryl had known you, Gary, and your firm ROAR for a number of years. You said, “Well, I think it might be time to get the word out about it.”

Warwick F:

And so, we started us talking and you said, “Warwick, I think there could be a podcast here.” And so you had a buddy Steve Reiter, and Right Turn Media definitely helped us along the way with the podcast. And so, you’ve done a lot of work in radio and that kind of thing with Focus On The Family and Hollywood, and obviously, many years in journalism. So, the whole vision began to grow beyond just a book. It began to grow into social media and blog, podcast. And then, in more recent past, well, we need to get the message out through events and speaking. And so, I brought on board Kerry Childers at Kerry Childers Consulting, who’s helped us with that. And then as we began to think audiobook and progressing our podcast still further. We’ve got in touch with folks Casey Helmick at Content Capital and Jack, and Whitney. So, the vision just progressed to where we are today. I mean, each step of the road and all these folks that I’ve mentioned have been extremely helpful.

Gary S:

And what ended up happening is that the book, Crucible Leadership, birthed the organization, Crucible Leadership, or vice versa, or they were both birthed kind of at the same time. There’s a symbiosis there, I think, that’s interesting. One of the things I love about what you were just about people telling you in Australia, that the U.S. was probably a better market. I think that’s true because in Australia, and this book is being released in Australia today as well, in Australia, the story is, I think, first, about you, the takeover, the aftermath, and then secondarily about bouncing back from your crucible and all those things. I think here in the U.S., your personal story may not be as resonant here in the U.S., but the lessons from your story might be more resonant here. Less sizzle more steak, if you will, but I think that’s where your vision will come true. And you never wanted this to be about you, and here in the U.S. it’s going to be, yeah, about you, but I think it’s first the lessons you learn that readers can learn from the book, secondarily, the memoir portion.

Warwick F:

Yeah. I think what you say, Gary, is profoundly true in Australia, certainly Australian media. I mean, if you are a journalist at Sydney Morning Herald or some of the other Fairfax Media papers, your life has been directly affected by what I did and subsequent decades of management, which some would say mismanagement, there’s whole books about what happened after the takeover failed. And even then people somehow find a way to blame me even in the decades since when I wasn’t even in control, but somehow things would be magically different if the Fairfax family were in control.

Warwick F:

But yeah, I mean, it’s true here in the U.S. the story is interesting, but they’re not so fixated on the story, they’re able to say, “Okay, that’s interesting. But okay, what can I learn from this? How can I translate this into my own life?” They’re not so fixated on the story that they aren’t able to see, “Okay. What does this mean for me?” So I think you’re right. It is easier for a U.S. audience to look at it and say, “Okay, that story is interesting, but what does this mean for me in my own life, my own vision? And how do I come back from my crucible? So they’re focused more on the lessons learned aspect than all of the drama and the saga of the takeover itself. So, that’s very true.

Gary S:

That sound you just heard, listener, was the captain turning on the fasten seatbelts sign, indicating that we have to put the plane on the ground here in just a little bit. Before we do that though, Warwick, first, I want to give you a chance if there’s something that you want to share about this journey that you’ve not shared to please do so, and then I have a question for you after that.

Warwick F:

One thing I wanted to mention is, I mentioned that in Australia I was concerned that people were trying to pigeonhole this as memoir, self-help leadership, inspiration. Again, somebody mentioned to me, the great folks at Morgan James led by David Hancock and then the imprint, Mount Tabor Media, that’s being published as part of Morgan James, Chris McCluskey. And both Chris McCluskey and David Hancock when they read the manuscript, they believed in it, and they believed in it as written. Yes, we condensed it a bit because it was a little long, which is always a good thing. Less is more. But they didn’t say, “Well, we’ve got to pigeonhole it.” They said, “No, we believe in what it is.” Yes, it’s a leadership book with aspects of memoir and inspiration, self-help, historical, but they didn’t say well less God or less leadership, or less self-help or whatever. So I’m so grateful for the folks at Mount Tabor Media and Morgan James in believing in this book and getting it published today. So huge, huge, thanks to those folks.

Gary S:

As people hear this, Warwick, it’s the first time in anyone besides you and me and the production team is going to know what’s in the book in any detail. You’re a published author, how does that feel? How does that feel at the end of the journey that you’ve just spent the better part of this last hour describing?

Warwick F:

It’s an interesting question. It feels gratifying, I’m very grateful, thankful, I’m blessed. But I’m not one to sort of sit back and kind of do a dance in the end zone and spike the football, and say, “Yeah, look at me I’m so wonderful.” It’s not in my nature. And one of the things I’ve been very focused on is, just because I have a book that’s been published by a great team and a great publishing outfit and have a great team, yourself, Cheryl, and so many others, Keri. Okay, that’s good, but what’s the next step in the journey? Because it’s about the message, it’s about helping people, it’s not spiking the football and saying, “Oh, look at me.” I just don’t think that’s helpful. And just because I have a published author doesn’t make me better or worse than any other human on the planet.

Warwick F:

And so I’m a great believer in don’t spike the football, be thankful, be grateful, but this does not make me a better human being than anybody else. And so, I’m grateful, I’m thankful, but I don’t have the spike the football mentality, I’m thinking, “Okay, great. This is good, I’m thankful. What’s the next step? How can I help more people bounce back from their worst days so that their worst day doesn’t define them? How can I help people have hope and healing so they can lead lives of significance, lives on purpose dedicated to serving others?” I’m focused on how can I use this book and the podcast and everything we do to help others recover from their darkest days. The journey continues, the mission continues, the vision continues, and we’ll see. One more step, one more step, and we’ll see where it takes us, but I just want to be faithful to the process, be true to what I’ve been called to and let’s keep going. So that’s kind of my mentality.

Gary S:

That sound is the plane landing on the ground. It does so, Warwick. I’m going to coin a phrase. Now that the plane’s on the ground and everybody’s getting things from the overhead bins, I’m going to coin a phrase. What you just said, Warwick, the phrase is, that’s Warwick being Warwick, right? That’s Warwick being Warwick. Your lack of ego in the worst sense, in the most damaging sense, that’s who you are. You started this process. You talked about it here. “If my story can help some people I’ll get up in church, even though it’s difficult, and I’ll speak.” And moving on now that the book’s out that’s exactly where you’re at. I have one more thing to say, and that’s this, the captain, as everybody knows if you’ve ever flown in an airplane, doesn’t just turn on the fasten seatbelt sign. He or she also communicates with the crew sometimes and the crew then passes the message along.

Gary S:

And I do have a message for you, Warwick, direct from the cockpit. It’s from your wife, Gale. She sent it to me this morning to surprise you during the recording of this episode when your book comes out and I’m going to read it to you now. “Warwick, this is your co-pilot. As someone who has been in the passenger seat with you through your years of turbulence I am so proud of your accomplishment. I know there were days you could only write for a short time because it was so draining on you to relive all the events of the past that brought you here. You held onto your belief that God would make something of the ashes left behind. I’m so impressed to see how you have used some of the toughest moments of your life to encourage others. I am looking forward to seeing the way your story and the wisdom gained from other leaders throughout history encourages others to live a life of significance! Love you, Gale.”

Warwick F:

Wow, that is just mind-blowing. I mean, that’s incredible. Wow, that is just such an amazing… I mean, she gets it. She gets what it’s all about. She gets why I’m doing this. I’m not quite sure what to say, that’s just remarkable. She’s been with me for 32 years. I mean, she gets it. She gets why I’m doing this. She gets it. I’m so grateful. I’m so blessed to have her as my wife. And that was another thing, be a different podcast, but I definitely thought the Lord’s calling saying, “This is the one I have for you in life.” And that was one of those steps of obedience which I am so, so blessed by. So yeah, following the Lord and His calling from my perspective can lead to tremendous blessings. So I’m so blessed.

Gary S:

Listener, we will see you next week.

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