Tamara Simon's Weekly Blog
Business Insights for RTOs
from my favourite Movies, TV Shows and Books
(and some other bits and pieces)

Reset Yourself and Your RTO – Part 1

As it’s AFL Finals Season, I thought I’d reflect on some RTO business insights from an AFL sporting club (and it’s not mine 😊).

For those of you who don’t follow the sport of AFL /Aussies Rules.  AFL supporters (like many who follow any sport) very proudly wear their scarves and their hearts on their sleeve.  

Every club has long standing rivalry (some may say passionate hatred) between different clubs eg Hawthorn and Geelong based on historical win/loss ratios, personalities and onfield ‘incidents’; or it could simply be based on geography like the 2 WA or SA teams. 

Ask any parochial AFL supporter and member if they follow the trials, tribulations and successes of another Club, and the answer is usually, “Why would I?” or “just to see who’s out injured when they’re playing us”. 

And yet, we know that great lessons can be learnt from looking at those who are doing things differently and making amazing inroads through the power of leadership.  

In this week’s blog and next week’s, I, as an avid Hawthorn Member, am going to take an inside look at lessons from the Carlton Football Club to help RTOs get back on track.

Insights for RTOs

For those who don’t follow the sport, the Carlton Football Club had been floundering for at least the last 5 years. 

They have continuously been near or on the bottom of the ladder, had skilful players who looked good on paper but couldn’t translate that to consistent on game performances, traded players who they felt weren’t up to scratch and yet are now flourishing at other clubs, and had players disengage and ask to be traded because they know longer believed or felt part of the Club.

And isn’t this a place many RTOs find themselves at least once in their business journey?

Then a change came into the Club in September 2015 with the appointment of new senior coach, Brendan Bolton, and what a difference he initially made in such a short span of time. 

A qualified school teacher and natural leader, he set about resetting not only the structure and system of how the Carlton Football Club played on the field; but he came in with a clear strategy to reset the whole football club.  This Reset was captured in a number of 30 minute videos called The Journey and I wanted to share some of the key messages.

The Journey Episode 1 – Inside the Reset of a Football Club


Episode 1 looked at laying new foundations by establishing a new business culture, determining the strategy and structure moving forward, and determining the current and new players needed to start that re-building process.

Key messages/phrases from Brendan Bolton

  • I work for the Carlton Footy Club or I am the Carlton Footy Club (Wow just think about that difference for a moment)
  • What’s the journey like?
  • Don’t just sit there – get on mentally
  • This is a good person who’s made a bad mistake
  • 1 in – all in – The Musketeers approach
  • Where am I in all of this – in the middle or at the top? (I’m in the middle – deliberately)
  • When it becomes more about you in this room, you’ll see me get a bit edgy. When it becomes more about us, you’ll see me smiling.
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable because our players love comfort and will gravitate back towards that. So we need to keep them uncomfortable – not stressed or anxious, just uncomfortable
  • Don’t just sit there and be a recipient – really understand and be a participant
  • The game doesn’t wait for you – be ready to go post warmup
  • I expect it… we expect it
  • Thorough, genuine and transparent process – no entitlement
  • I learnt our future is strong

What’s Next?

Translation for anyone running (or aspiring to run) an RTO

  • What excites you as a RTO Owner/CEO/Manager and what gets you annoyed? Do you really know these things about yourself?  Does your team?
  • Are you really understanding and participating in all your RTO business activities (even the ones you don’t like or aren’t as good at) or are you being what I call ‘The Reluctant RTO CEO’ – wanting the title but not all that goes into the role?
  • Are you uncomfortable in the direction and activities of your RTO or are you stressed and anxious? If you’re the latter, what needs to change to get the balance right again?
  • Are you ready to get stuck into your RTO every time you step into your RTO business or turn on the laptop/tablet?
  • Are you waiting for clients/students to come to you or are you out there engaging, building partnerships and looking for new ways to meet the current and future needs of your clients/students?
  • Are you holding grudges against those who’ve made mistakes?
  • Who’s really running your RTO – you in the centre of everything or everyone and everything else?
  • Are your systems and processes thorough, genuine and transparent so clients/students and your team can help build a simple, profitable (and compliant) RTO business?
  • How are you treating your support network – your family and friends who just know when you’re down and need a helping hand?
  • What have you learnt about your RTO business? Is your RTO’s future strong or does it need some more work and a rethink?

Even if you’re not a football supporter, I strongly encourage you to grab a coffee or a drink, disengage from life for an hour to truly engage and watch these videos.  Then be an active participant by embracing the messages and seeing what you can adapt, adopt and apply for you and your RTO. 

And here’s my final thought:

And here’s the unfortunate kicker for myself as the beloved Hawthorn member. 

Brendan Bolton was one of our key assistant coaches for many years and served his apprenticeship under one of the most successful coaches of the modern era, Alastair Clarkson. 

Since his appointment, I have watched with interest at Brendan’s progress because as a Business Coach, I love seeing leadership at its best; but as a Hawks supporter, I always hoped (which is terrible I know) that he didn’t get Carlton going too well because I always want Hawthorn’s name to be on that Premiership Cup.

So now I pass the ball to you.

What’s your RTO’s business journey? 

What do you need to reset in yourself, in your RTO and in your team to get you uncomfortable and successful as you build a simple profitable RTO business you actually love.

PS Look for the next instalment of this Reset Journey in next week’s Blog where I’ll share the progress of this 2016 re-build and a 2019 update.

Want some help from Tamara – Australia’s Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach?

If you have found some tips and inspiration from this blog (and I hope you have), I’d love you to please share it amongst your RTO contacts and on your social media platforms.

If you would like some help to take you from STUCK to SOLUTIONS… SIMPLY from someone who’s been there, done that in RTO Land, please check out my coaching services on my website


Or contact me direct:

0438 262 727 or tamara@takeanotherlook.com.au