“This might sound weird,” Exclusive Networks managing director, Dominic Whitehand, said.
“But I believe that my biggest strength is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).”
In acknowledging those three little words, Whitehand subscribes to the notion that every weakness has a corresponding strength.
“I use my OCD to fine-tune the detail in everything that I do, so that it is as exact as I believe it can be,” he explained.
“This fuels strong communication skills and the ability to interact with people in a specific way, as well as a strong belief system and a considered vision for what people want and how to address that want.
“Although OCD is usually considered as somewhat of an affliction or negative disorder, I believe it can be reversed and used extremely positively.”
In extracting the positive from OCD - displaying discipline rather than disorder - Whitehand epitomises how turning a perceived weakness into a prevailing strength acts as a key separator from success and failure.
Billed as the hallmark of leadership, such self-awareness helped Whitehand build a local distribution business which caught the eye of a global giant, following an initial $4,500 investment.
It’s a story Whitehand takes pride in telling - how himself, Sharon Whitehand and Jonathan Odria each laid down $1,500 on the table to start WhiteGold Solutions in November 2002.
Over a decade later and Exclusive Group came calling, acquiring the business in August 2014.
“My greatest achievement has been to firstly work with and succeed with my wife and my best mate,” Whitehand said. “We’ve had no major conflicts or differences of opinion in fourteen years.
“This business is the sum of all three parts - any one or two without the other/s simply wouldn’t have worked in the same way, as we all bring dramatically different skills to the table.
“But I believe our greatest collective achievement has been to provide young Australians with an example that you can achieve what you want, in the face of incredibly strong international competition, if you put your time, heart and soul into it in this industry.”
For technology has always been deeply engrained into Whitehand’s psyche, once again reflecting his ability to turn an obsession into an idea for future progression.
“I’ve always loved technology and in particular personal computers, game consoles and gadgets,” Whitehand said.
“Anyone who knows me will tell you that I always have the latest tech gadgets as soon as they are released - it’s a real weakness for me. But the upside is that I think it keeps me in touch with the technology industry as a whole.”
Following initial plans to enter the legal profession, Whitehand missed out on studying law at university in the UK, subsequently “falling into technology” as a result.
“I just missed out on the law course I wanted to join in Birmingham but they offered a new degree course on Industrial Information Technology, so I looked into it,” he recalled.
“I spoke to two barristers, a solicitor and two heads of IT at large organisations through various family and friend connections and they all said that IT was the most promising direction to go in.
“So I went for that degree and graduated in 1992. I’ve never regretted that decision.”
Likewise, Whitehand has no regrets about packing his bags and relocating to the other side of the world, emigrating to Australia on May 5, 1996.
“I knew that I would stay forever within about three days,” Whitehand admitted. “Australia truly feels not just like my physical home, but also my spiritual home.
“In twenty years it has given me everything I have – and I constantly try to pour my everything back into it.
“I was always drawn to Australia inexplicably from a young age. In fact my Mum apparently told my Dad she had a very strong feeling that I would emigrate when I was older, most likely to Australia – that was when I was about four years old.”
Over two decades on from first stepping onto Australian soil, Whitehand is leading Exclusive Networks into its next phase of growth, drawing on his ability to think global, but act local.
In steering the distribution ship, Whitehand believes his success has been down to observing a set of key leadership characteristics, leading from the front, but also by example.
“I believe a great leader is someone who can listen more than they talk,” he said. “Someone who leads by example and is prepared to stand side-by-side with their followers, no matter how hard it gets.
“Someone who takes calculated risks, but isolates those risks to themselves rather than their followers as much as possible.
“Finally, someone who can observe their allies, enemies and competition is as much detail as they can and act on their observations to position their organisation for success, in the most ethical way possible.”
This article originally appeared in the November issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here