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5 strategies to turn your worst day around

Tolga Kumova, Samantha Wills, Hayden Cox and Gretta van Riel. Source:, Haydenshapes, Instagram/@tolga_kumova, Yahoo Finance.

When jewellery designer and businesswoman, Samantha Wills discovered her partner of three years had been cheating on her, her world collapsed.

She’d regularly find herself lying on a bathroom floor, attempting to fill her lungs with oxygen while spilling all the tears she could before she had to begin her day as the glamorous and successful jewellery designer that Australia knew her as.

“When we're grieving, the world doesn't stop,” she told Yahoo Finance.

That’s the thing about the worst day in your life - to everyone else, it’s just another day.

But the other thing about those days is that they’re just one day, and a lot of the time, they can be turned around.

Five successful Australians share how they did it.

Samantha Wills: Align your professional self-worth and your personal self-worth

Wills preached female empowerment and self-worth, but when she discovered her partner had been having not just one but eight different affairs, her reply was: “Please don’t leave me.”

It was a jarring moment; how on earth was this her response?

“I knew instantly in that reply, that that was why I was in that dark time,” she said.

“What was next for me in life was [I] needed my public and professional self-worth to match my personal self-worth and I was in that darkness to align those two.”

“And it took me a long time to put the pieces back together, but it was in that darkness I had the idea to launch the Samantha Wills Foundation.”

The Samantha Wills Foundation has a goal of empowering women in business and facilitating a platform for women to support each other through times of isolation and frustration.

Tolga Kumova: Return to your routine

Tolga Kumova, Australian rich-lister and mining magnate, had always been good at his job and good at making money.

As an assistant stockbroker, his parents gave him $250,000 to invest on their behalf which he turned into $700,000.

But then it all went belly-up.

“I remember it like yesterday,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“The company that held the assets that I was trading through went bankrupt. You try going home and explaining to your mother and father how you were doing really well, but it wasn't really your fault that the bank went under.”

At this point, he didn’t want to be breathing. His father - who had worked as a cab driver for more than 20 years, only to lose it all - had to leave the room, he was so upset.

But his mother helped him get through it.

“She said, ‘Son, do you know what? The money you lost today, one day you're going to spend it and you're not going to care. It's going to be irrelevant to you. The day after, you'll do it again, it's still going to be irrelevant, and the day after’.”

“And she said, ‘You are that smart. You are that intelligent. I know you are incredible. Don't worry about it. Just go get it back.’”

The next day, Kumova returned to his office, he had his coffee, and began his usual routine.

“I went into the office and I felt like, "I'm going to make all these back and then some." I started trading for my clients. I was in a such a motivated position that nothing or no one was going to stop me.”

Gretta van Riel: Fail first

“It was an absolute disaster,” is how Gretta van Riel, the woman behind social media sensation, SkinnyMe Tea described the first batch of tea sent from China.

She’d spent $1.3 million on the order which was held in a Hong Kong warehouse before being sent to Australia, where it was held in customs for another week.

“Then we finally opened up the tea, super excited to start shipping it out. We'd just run out of our Australian manufacturers' product and the tea was compost, basically. It was disgusting.”

“I wouldn't even let my team touch it without gloves on. It had metal bolts in it, had springs in it. You could just see it was wet and dirty, and disgusting, and we sent it off to be tested just for a laugh. And it had a choline, all kinds of bacteria in it.”

And she handled it the way you would expect: cried. Her lawyer told her there was very little chance of getting any money out of the supplier, and she realised she had to cut her losses.

“That did become one of my biggest learnings; fail first. Resilience is how quickly you can get over your failures, basically.”

“And that is what you need when you're starting something out.”

Andrew Maloney: Own up to it

It’s one thing to owe someone for last Friday’s poke bowl. It’s another thing to be in debt for a restaurant felled by Sydney’s lockout laws.

Andrew Maloney, the founder of, found himself in this situation in 2015 when his brother’s Kings Cross restaurant, the popular Jimmy Liks was forced to shut its doors.

The lockout laws had just come into effect, and Saturday dinner trade fell by a cataclysmic 30 per cent.

Worst of all, Andrew had been guarantor. He still remembers the phone call with the landlord, who expressed worry for Andrew.

“That’s a bit of a hurdle,” he said.

He was up for way more than he had lying around, but knew he was about to come into some major cash - he was in the process of selling, which would ultimately go for millions of dollars.

But he didn’t have that money yet.

“Big tip if you're ever in a situation where you owe someone money, always talk to them,” he said.

“Don't be the person who's dodging their phone calls and difficult. I just fronted up and said to this guy, ‘Look, I can't write that check today. Let's have coffee next week.’”

He had coffee with him every week, just so the landlord knew he was in the process of fixing the problem.

“We had the transaction happening in the background and when it finally happened, it was all fine.”

Hayden Cox: Do what needs to be done

No one wants to destroy one surfboard, let alone 700. But, as Haydenshapes founder, Hayden Cox will tell you, sometimes it needs to be done.

He had partnered with a factory in Thailand, working with them on the design and how he wanted the surfboards to be built.

“I was on the ground, working with a composite manufacturer who would build carbon fiber parts for the Audis and the Ferraris of the world. They've been building surfboards since the '70s,” he explained.

“But the way I build my boards and the set of materials and the way I approached every single process was very different. Very different, but not very different from traditional surfboard manufacturing.”

He wasn’t happy with the first 700 surfboards that had been made, so he had to destroy all of them.

“As sad as it is to destroy that - close to half a million dollars worth of product to destroy - if I didn't get that right I was going to be a failure. And I wasn't going to fail twice.”

He said he’d learnt through working with our manufacturers what he was good at and what he wasn’t.

Now, he had to apply that knowledge to scaling up.

“Your challenges that you face being in business will be just as challenging even when externally everyone thinks you're doing great.”

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