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Victor Perton at Probus Club of Malvern

 (Summary by WL (John) Johnson) 

April Guest Speaker

Victor Perton is a keen supporter of Probus clubs and offered his help for the future.

His work in optimism started with the Australian Leadership Project.

John Brumby asked Victor to be Commissioner for the Americas. He lived in San Francisco, with an office in Madison Avenue, New York, as well as one in Chicago, Washington DC and later in Santiago, Chile. The aim was to direct foreign investment into Australia, and to promote Victorian exports into the USA.

It turned out to be easy at senior company levels because of the stereotype of Australians being relentless optimists!

His next role was as Senior Advisor to Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott for G20 meetings in 2014. Again, they found complete acceptance for Australian leadership initiatives at those meetings.

When Victor returned to Melbourne in 2015, he was surprised at the negativity he found.

As a result, a survey was done, and it was found that the three things differentiating Australian leadership from global leaders were egalitarianism – off the ‘Richter’ scale for that! Second – self-effacing humour, and thirdly ‘no bullshit’ plain speaking.

He spoke at the Global Integrity Summit in 2017, where much was said about corruption, media freedom and other, mostly negative issues. Victor spoke at 3pm on the last day about the case for optimism, which resulted in a book endorsed by Helen Clark (NZ Prime Minister). This was the genesis of his Centre for Optimism.

Before going around the room asking what makes each of us optimistic, he suggested we remember that the leader looks like the person you see in a mirror; ask yourself, What makes you optimistic? Ask your family and friends too.

Thirdly, surround yourself with optimists. 700 years ago, Mother Julian of Norwich wrote ‘The Revelations’ - the oldest surviving book written in English by a woman. She wrote that ‘All shall be well – all manner of things shall be well’. This was when the Black Death had killed 30% of the England’s population. Harvard University and the American military often say ‘Good things will happen, and things will work out in the end’.

Optimism is the underpinning of resilience.

Victor gave numerous examples for claims that optimism is good for health: sleep, partnership, business and strategic success, innovation and resilience, and he followed this by audience practical laughter practice!

Victor has a list of good optimistic habits, one being keeping a ‘Gratitude Journal’ by your bed, to write the best thing that happened today, then read it before the news in the morning!

Another, used by Surrey University/American Military, called ‘My Best Self’, is that, about every three months, spend up to 10 Minutes visualising (and recording your thoughts) about a day in your life two years ahead, assuming all has gone well for you.

Victor then went around the room, inviting members to explain the ways in which they were optimistic

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