Rhiannon Rees came home one day and saw her husband dressed in her lingerie.
“I didn’t actually believe that it was true, but over a four-month period I got to realise that he had some issues and wanted to become a woman,” says Rees, who was living in Canada then.
At the time she had a business with 35 staff. “I never had an income of more than $500 a month because I was making many mistakes in my business.”
Today, Rees is a successful entrepreneur, business and elite performance coach and published author.
She has worked with NRL players, the Spice Girls, actors from The X-Files and Grey’s Anatomy, and even farmers who are going bust.
After her husband left, Rees decided to housesit for a few weeks so she could save on rent money to pay her staff.
That was not enough. So she took a job cleaning restaurants.
Three years and more than 40 houses later, Rees says she was too tired to ask for another housesit.
“So I borrowed a tent, and lived in that for about three months until I got a call from my mum that she was desperately ill.”
She moved back to Australia at the end of 2008 to look after her mum. And her homeless problem was solved.
Rees now coaches others in Australia and overseas.
“They come to me with an issue and I will transform that issue.
“What I do is I am constantly taking away glass ceilings. I am constantly reprogramming my clients’ self-limiting beliefs.”
They might have the best idea but the timing is wrong or their idea might not be right.
She gives an example of coaching a cattle farmer to have the confidence to increase the value of his product from $4 for a kilo of beef to $18.
Rees has set a target for six years down the line. “I am building a $33 billion business, but 98 per cent of my income will go to charity. I have had that plan for quite a few years, and it’s a 2021 goal and I am on track with what I am doing.”
So what can other small business owners learn about resilience from her?
“A lot of the time small business owners will quit. They will quit at a point where they may have just succeeded, because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. They might have the best idea but the timing is wrong or their idea might not be right.
“What I get my clients to do is no matter what the ideas are, we need to test them – measure them very regularly.
“So resilience is very important.”
Rees has seen her share of adversity, but says it can be a friend to small business owners. “Adversity can be the best thing that happens to them because it actually allows them to become more of who they are and open up to more choice. But you need to see adversity in a different light.”
Christine D'Mello is a freelance journalist who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.