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Sticking to your guns

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Jonar Nader speaks about peer pressure and about leaving school at the age of 14. He speaks about the price we pay when we stick to our guns and follow our heart. The audio contains background noise due to the location. Further below is a transcript of the video.

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Here is the transcript:

Female: So, what are your credentials in life?

Jonar Nader: Well, I don’t like the term credentials because what you’re saying to me is what’s your brand because if I said to you, I’m an Oxford boy that means, you know, I’m lardie da and my parents are rich. And if I said to you, I’m a Scotts boy or a Harvard boy, what does that mean? It means it’s a brand, right? And then people say, what country are you from? Some countries have brands. Isn’t it funny that the US of A if it were a brand that could be trademark, it would sit next to Dunhill and Cartier. It has this image but when you delve deep down and scratch the surface, what is it? Yes, the US is a fine country but it’s got its own pretty messy problems.

Female: Yes.

Jonar Nader: But it projects a beautiful image. Now – so therefore, when people ask me, what’s your business card, who do you report to, what company do you work for, where do you …

Female: Where do you come from sort of thing?

Jonar Nader: Yes. They’re trying to pigeon-hole me. And that’s why you’ll find on my business card, it actually says post-tentative virtual surrealist.

Female: Now, what is a post-tentative virtual surrealist? Did you make that up or what?

Jonar Nader: Yes, because again, I’ve always been either the youngest or the oldest or something. So, in my corporate life, I was always the youngest manger. So, I have a team of people twice my age, three times my age that would be reporting to me. I’ll be the Senior Manager but I never used to boost about it. So, we’re going to a meeting, everyone would be of equal standing, we’d all do a great job, and I was just humble and sit in the background. And they’d ignore me because I was a genius. So, they thought, meaning they’re outsiders.

Female: Yes.

Jonar Nader: My team knew that I was the leader but I let them have the power. And so, wherever I went, people would want to know what title have you got, who do you report? And I thought, what do you want to know that for? So they can abuse me, they can see if I’m useful to them? And if I don’t have a good title, they’ll just move on and have a nibbly with somebody else. So one day, this lady insisted. She said, ‘But what are you? Are you a clerk, a manager, a director, what are you?’ I said, ‘I’m a post-tentative virtual surrealist.’ And she said, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting.’

Female: Yes .

Jonar Nader: She was so stupid like, you know, these abusers who go around networking. And that title stuck and we’ve made a lot of fun with it but I use it now.


Jonar Nader: I use it now to sort of say, ‘Stop. I don’t have a title. I’m a nobody. I’m not a dentist. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a Harvard. I’m not an Oxford. I am me. You take it or leave it.’ And furthermore, what I know is based on what I have gone in search of and what the blessings have come my way to learn. I didn’t sit in a lecture theater to be told about the facts of life. I went out and felt them. And now, people said to me, ‘Gee, you’re so lucky and whatever.’ What do you mean lucky? You know, I left school at 14 and had terrible, terrible times growing up. So, I made my own success and I made my own life and I’m still learning. And everyday I learn. You can see me in libraries until midnight. You will catch me researching things like – and that’s life. What do I need doing an MBA for or PhD to impress whom? So, this …

Female: Because not only were you high up in the corporate world, you’ve also not only written this book but you’re quite interested for precise writings for dictionary, Butterworths legal dictionary as well, Formula One racing magazines. I mean, you’ve done it all in the writing world, haven’t you?

Jonar Nader: I’ve done all sorts of writing, yes. And I’ve interviewed the most famous to the most humble and the most outcast. Writing was an interesting thing for me because English is my third language and when I got to Australia at a very young age, I couldn’t speak English. I didn’t know how to go around the place. I didn’t play cricket. I didn’t eat Vegemite like they all used to do in Australia.

Female: Or skip cornflakes.

Jonar Nader: Nothing. And I was a real outsider. And there wasn’t that much compassion in the classroom from the teachers down. And so, I was forced to learn English the hard way. In so doing, I fell in love with language because now I understood English, a bit of French, I understood Arabic, and I realized that in fact, the brain works in a very strange way because the way you think in Italian is not the way an English person thinks. It’s really weird. And so, I started writing because I love words. I wrote for fashion magazines, art magazines, architecture magazines, became editor of those magazines, and really enjoyed it.

Now, writing was always a hobby. And to this day, I’m an author but I don’t really think I’m an author. I’m an educator. I’m out there to make change, to do things, to pass on my experiences. So, I didn’t write the book to make money. And as you know, most authors can’t make money and you know, not unless you’re selling in the millions. And that’s pretty tough for us Aussies and New Zealanders, you know, we’re not exactly in the millions stakes. And you know, a lot of hype to sell a few million books, but I’m going to the US on the 23rd of June anyway.

Female: Now, the thing is with this book, I mean it’s – I would mention briefly the Carnegie, incredibly I think the one thing and it’s that what a lot of people have never heard of you is the title, How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People. And a lot of people and their all thoughts have been, I mean, ‘What’s – what’s this guy on?’

Jonar Nader: Yes.

Female: Losing friends, I mean why did you come up with this title?

Jonar Nader: Oh well, several ways. First by the way, it is a frivolous title but that’s the attraction. In the world of marketing, you have to, you know, standout. But actually, I didn’t engineer that title. As you know, there’s a famous book called How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Female: Now, are you sort of doing a back stab at that?

Jonar Nader: No, you know, what had happened is incorporate life, I used to have bosses who’d come around with a stack of books and they’d throw the books down and say, ‘I want you to work on this.’ The next month, they come with another book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, or Service, America, or The One Minute Manager. And I, ‘Look, you know, we’re schizophrenics. Which do you want us? You know, you keep finding.’ They come and say, ‘Oh, find the way.’ You can’t find the way in a book, you know, like that. And he says, “Try the things at this.’ And people used to, when we had the How to Win Friends and Influence People month, he’d – we had a meeting and during that meeting, someone was so furious with me. They were angry because I wouldn’t go their way. I wouldn’t sign the program they wanted me to sign off on. And I thought, what’s the point of employing me as a Marketing Director, giving me responsibility on millions of dollars if I can’t make the decision? If you want to make the decision then why do you employed me?

Female: Exactly.

Jonar Nader: What basis of expertise you’re bringing to the table? So, this manager said to me in fury, ‘Jonar, you sure know how to win friends and influence people.’ And I exclaimed in anger, ‘No, but it sure seemed like I know how to lose friends and infuriate people.’ Because everybody in the boardroom was absolutely furious that I wouldn’t go their way. And I thought, well …

Female: And the title was born.

Jonar Nader: The title was born and then I realized there and then as I’d known all my life in the school bus, in the school ground that if you stick to your guns, if you follow your heart, I mean, I never smoke and the flak I used to get at school for not going around and smoking or popping tablets or drinking. I mean, kids used to bring little Jim Beam bottles into their pockets and when the teacher wasn’t looking and everyone thought that was cute. The weirdest thing is I left school at 14, 10 years later there was a school reunion, pure chance I knew about. I went to this school reunion and the same kids who used to pull that bottles like these had come with two bottles in their hands, a balanced diet.

And I – it clicked and I thought, what seemed harmless… And these guys have PhDs and they were studying medicine but they were now brickie’s labourours, unemployed, and bums. And I resisted and I paid the price for resisting. I was teased every step of the way. I didn’t get a tattoo when they got a tattoo. I didn’t do my earring when they got the earring. I didn’t – they used to – you know, all these rituals and we used to – we thought that people in the highlands are barbaric, you know, all these barbaric things but the rituals that go on everyday in school, in society, at work, the way people carry on, if you want to resist that, you’re going to have to lose friends and infuriate people by accident not by choice.

So, if you want to – live true to yourself, be prepared to lose friends. I don’t say be rude. I don’t say be, you know, bombastic about it. But if you can’t stand firm – people are carrying on about our Prime Minister in Australia as to how they’re saying, why isn’t he apologizing for the aborigines, et cetera. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter for this discussion. But what matters is this guy has been consistent in his approach ever since he became Prime Minister and everyday, they hound him. You know, they talked about sexual harassment going down and going darling, no means no. The guy has said no and they keep harassing him to change his mind. The PM has a firm mind. Like it or not, don’t vote for him.

Female: Yes.

Jonar Nader: But somehow they think that the more you nag, the more someone is going to change their mind. But the more you embarrass them on the front page, that’s what I called character. That’s what I called firmness. That is a brand. A brand is something that is immovable and unshakeable. And so, should the personality be. If I know you, you should be who you are. Of course, you grow and develop for the better, please. Not this wishy washy being. Oh, will you marry me? Yes. Forever? Yes. And then next year, I want a divorce. But you said you’d never leave me. Oh, that’s different.

Female: That – that was – that was last year.

Jonar Nader: Yes. Well then, hang on. I speak English and you said you will never leave me. What do you mean? Never until 12 months? Speak English or don’t speak at all.


Jonar Nader: And so, don’t – you know, don’t be so flippant with – with words because words become thoughts and thoughts are who you are. And we are – say, we are what we think you know. So, what are you thinking? What are you saying? And that’s why I deconstruct a lot of notions. People talk about teamwork. I say, there’s no such thing as teamwork. People talk about empowerment. I say, no one can empower you and I explain why. They talk about motivation. I say, there is no such thing as motivation. You have to understand these things. We use them so flippantly and so loosely.

Female: When – one thing – what’s one thing you want people should take away from your book? People that come in today and get it or just want to get it?

Jonar Nader: Well, if you – if you force me to give you one thing, I’d say this, that if someone stole you a lovely gold watch or your car, you’d do something about it. You will do something about it. When someone steals your time they are stealing your life, what are you doing about it?

Female: Yes.

Jonar Nader: That’s what I leave them with.

Female: Right. Well, thank you very much, Jonar. Now, you’re off – after this you’re off back home to Australia and then the USA?

Jonar Nader: Then the good old USA.

Female: To promote it.

Jonar Nader: Six city tour, New York and all the way back west to LA.

Female: Oh, fantastic.

Jonar Nader: Yes.

Female: Thank you very much. You certainly – one of your mottos is, give me a microphone and you’ll give us an opinion.

Jonar Nader: Yes.

Female: You certainly done that today.

Jonar Nader: I like my microphone. Yes.

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