'Don't Be Intimidated!'


I don't know if it's just me, but I seem to always learn a lot more when things go wrong, rather than when things go right.

Sometimes these moments take on a special power of their own, and change how we think, work and operate well into the future.

I was fortunate to be able to interview Denise L'Estrange-Corbet recently. Denise is co-founder of World – the fashion lable and is celebrating 25 years in business this year. For her services to New Zealand fashion, Denise was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002, and is author of All that Glitters , her bestselling autobiography in 2008.

In 2011, she was also voted the second most trusted female in the Reader's Digest "Most Trusted" list.

Her Light Bulb Moment - Don't be intimidated

"When Francis Hooper and I established World in 1989 we were very naive," Denise says. "We had never run a business before, employed staff, or even looked at a lease."

However, despite these initial challenges, they took on a small store in Auckland's High St, designing quality denim clothing that became very successful, very quickly.

Due to this demand, Denise and Francis took the opportunity to team up with a local freelance denim manufacturer with all the machinery they required.

All went well for six months, until Denise received a devastating call one afternoon. "The manufacturer phoned to say he could no longer make our garments. We were perplexed of course as we always paid our account on time and never asked to queue jump."

Digging further, Denise was shocked to find that the real motivation as to why their partnership had ended was far more sinister.

"Bully boy" tactics

"A large retailer in the same street as us had become seethingly jealous of World, and the traction our brand was getting."

As this competitor was far bigger than World, he threatened to cut off his contract if the manufacturer continued to make clothes for them.  "Sadly, he stopped making clothing for us and supplied product solely for "bully boy".

Of course, "bully boy" then stopped supplying him, and the manufacturer went under." To add insult to injury, this large retailer then bought all the machinery at knock-down prices.

"I was furious," Denise recalls. "And I challenged bully boy on his actions. I very quickly learned to never, ever be bullied by anyone, regardless of how big or rich they are.

Bullies are bullies because nobody stands up to them, and I was not going to be one of those people.

At the time, I couldn't see what I could learn from this, but realised later that it was a 'light bulb moment' in my career".

Not being intimidated by others has helped WORLD to become New Zealand's leading contemporary fashion brand, and is proudly focused on New Zealand made products.  At the end of the day, its vital to believe in your product, believe in your brand, then go out and change the world!”


Tom O'Neil


Tom O'Neil is a leading international specialist in human potential and personal achievement, he is an author and contributor in career achievement to various global career guides and software packages.

You may also like:

Hoof It!
By Dr Richard Norris
$19.95 USD
Find Out More

Filed under Business Coaching. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on