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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Sep 29, 2021

My guest this week is Warwick Fairfax, a leadership adviser who helps people uncover their unique path to effective leadership through the learning power of story and an enlightening path of self-discovery.

Growing up in a prominent family-owned media business in Australia that he eventually led – and lost – Warwick has both witnessed and experienced the challenges of high-pressure, high-impact leadership.

After losing the 150-year-old family business, Warwick examined not only his own shortcomings and losses, but also life principles and lessons he learned from family members that came before him and some of history’s greatest leaders.

5:07 – Warwick 101

  • Warwick’s brand, Crucible Leadership, is about getting past setbacks and failures to lead a life of significance dedicated to serving others.
  • He grew up in a very wealthy, privileged background in Australia. His family owned a 150-year-old massive media business.
  • He spent many years trying to live up to his family’s expectations.

9:16 – Company’s ideals

  • Warwick’s family felt like the business had strayed from its ideals.
  • Money, influence and prestige changed people’s perspectives, and there was fighting among the family.

12:30 – Company goes south

  • After Warwick took over the family business, the company went south. As a reserved person who doesn’t like the limelight, it was a nightmare for him to deal with and very brutal.

15:03 – How he rebounded

  • Warwick was fortunate that he came to America and married his wife. He realized God loves him unconditionally and he is more than his mistakes.
  • He was never attracted to money, and it’s not vitally important to him.
  • He and his wife had kids in the 1990s, and his background was irrelevant to his children.

20:45 – Finding his identity

  • It took years for Warwick to find his identity and purpose.
  • You have to stop comparing yourself to others. Warwick does his best work, but he is not defined by what he does.

25:38 – Crucible Leadership

  • Your worst day does not define you. Sometimes your mission in life comes out of a crucible.

28:26 – Life is about evolving

  • He tells his children that life has a habit of evolving, and you need to make the best choice you can at the time.
  • Trust the process and trust yourself.

34:16 – Get to know you

  • Favorite TV show growing up? Skippy the bush kangaroo
  • Favorite meal? Artichokes and cheesecake


Your self-esteem isn’t about how good a meal you cooked or how perfect your house is or how successful your business is.

I’m not somebody that’s ever been attracted by money. I’m not against it, but it’s not something that’s vitally important to me.

I try and do my level best at whatever I do, but yet, I’m not defined by what I do.

I’m trying to wean my self-esteem off of success and achievements.



Warwick Fairfax is the founder of Crucible Leadership, a philosophical and practical breakthrough in turning business and personal failures into the fuel for igniting a life of significance. He has been hailed by Forbes as offering “compelling insights for anyone who would like to wake up feeling inspired by their work, but doesn’t” … insights rooted not in a checklist of glib to-do’s but in his own experience at the epicenter of one of the most spectacular business failures in the history of his home nation of Australia.

Fairfax was only 26 when, as the fifth-generation heir to a media empire bearing his family name, he led — and lost — a multibillion-dollar public takeover bid. The result? The company founded by his great-great grandfather slipped from family control after 150 years, leaving him to examine not only his own shortcomings and losses, but also his life’s principles and the lessons he learned from family members who came before him and some of history’s greatest leaders. It has been by shaping these insights as a leadership adviser that Fairfax has enabled others to learn from what he describes as their own “crucible experiences” and emerge to lead a life rooted in who they are. His journey has opened a door for men and women from all walks of life to not only bounce back from failure, but to become the leaders they were born to be.

Fairfax is the author of Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance (Mount Tabor Media, 2021). In the book discusses for the first time his thoughts and actions in launching the John Fairfax Ltd. takeover and explains what he learned about himself from that devastating failure — who he was and was not, what his unique design, purpose, passions and vision really were.

He shares insights from his experience and interviews other leaders who have leveraged their crucible moments to live and lead with significance on the podcast BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE, available through all major podcasting channels.

Fairfax holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. He is an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified executive coach. He is an Elder at Bay Area Community Church.

He lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with his wife, Gale. They have three children who are in the process of developing their own unique paths to lives of significance.


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