Welcome to the Wednesday Perspective for 3 February  2021!

Medicare, Amazon and a liberating email reminded me of the power of invention this week. 

You take action, and there’s a good chance you know that most ideas (usually) never end up looking like how you imagined them on day one. That’s because ideas evolve as you learn, and compromises are needed to bring your vision to life. 

Whether today is a one step forward, two steps back, all steps forward or all steps back kind of day, keep these three events in mind.


The Medicare health scheme was introduced in Australia on 1 February 1984. Funded by a 1% levy on incomes, this was perhaps one of the most profound government moves to benefit its citizens. It’s hard to imagine Australia without it. It’s easy to reflect on Medicare’s origin and financing plan 37 years on but imagine what the first version of Medicare must have looked like and the debates and compromises necessary to arrive at the essential service that it is today. 


‘Invention is the root of our success. If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive’.

These were Jeff Bezos’s comments earlier this week after announcing he would step down as Amazon’s CEO. From selling books online to building business units to serve Amazon’s supply chain, which became dominant companies in their own right, it’s hard to remember that Amazon was a start-up. But it was, and it began with a brave decision, perhaps like the one you’re mulling right now…

A liberating email

A good friend sent me the email I sent to investors and supporters when I closed my first venture. It was a reminder that inventions can fail. It also reminded me just how grateful I am for the education that came with backing myself. That ‘failure’ became my ticket to play in the game known as entrepreneurship. 

If you are contemplating the closure of a business or side project you started, are proud of it, but it’s simply not working, know that it wasn’t for nothing. You’ve learned more than you realise. And this letter might help you frame how to communicate a change and signal your next play.

I was never so anxious to press SEND, nor more relieved after I pressed that button. 

8 May 2013

Dear friends,

As some of you are aware and after five years in operation, HSC & Company will close on 30 June 2013.

As a founder, closing a business is a difficult decision. As a leader however, I know it’s the right one. It has been a remarkable journey for all that have been involved in the creation of HSC & Company. As the managing director from start-up I have learned much about being a professional and many things about being human.

We are humbled by the impact our firm has created. We began keenly observing developments across the philanthropic sector almost eight years ago. Since then we took risks, backed ourselves and learned from our mistakes. I’m pleased to say that the outcome was the establishment of an independent management consulting model focused on problem-solving at the nexus of funders and social pioneers.

Our ambition resulted in advising top tier corporate clients and influencing families, working with senior members of the philanthropic community, developing a unique array of intellectual property and contributing to public policy.

So as my last set of reflections to share with you, I wrote down what I learned along the way. It was a very long list but I distilled it down to these few.

On Starting a Venture

  • Apply laser-like focus to defining your market and value proposition
  • Leverage the virtual world and outsource anything that distracts from meeting a client’s needs
  • Telling the truth matters, especially if it is unpalatable

On People

  • Always surround yourself with outstanding people
  • Industriousness, intrinsic curiosity and strong values are the most important traits
  • Drive without empathy only gets you halfway

On Philanthropy and Social Innovation

  • Profit drives philanthropy – not the other way around
  • Establishing a ‘Not-For-Profit’ as a means to create social impact should be a last resort
  • Today’s generational change is the epicenter of tomorrow’s social impact

I don’t know what my next social foray will be. All I know is that I have a very large itch to scratch.

Thank you for being interested in our firm and for contributing to its success. Should you wish to stay in contact with me or members of our team please find us on LinkedIn.

Good luck and all the best.

Phil Hayes-St Clair

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