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Lesson #3: “To be successful, you need to fail”
"Telstra came to dealers and said, 'Who wants to grow and open some shops? We will support you with a few dollars but it will be up to you to make the stores ongoing entities,'" recalled Ilhan. "Well, most dealers wanted more guarantees, but me, who had nothing, said I'd do anything. I knew if they supported you with three or four shops they were not going to leave you in the lurch.
"You know, I was the only one who put his hand up. Out of 20 dealers or more, I was the only one who did take the risk, and it was the best decision I ever made."
Learning how to deal with failure and make it back is something that comes with adversity, said Ilhan. "You give me any person who has had a crippled child, had to bring themselves up, single parents - anybody who has had adversity in their life, I'll take them any day of the week," he said. "And that is my point - they are made because of experience. You are not born with it."
Ilhan credits his own childhood with teaching him how to handle failure and rejection. "When I was a kid my parents couldn't drive me to soccer training, so I would walk the four kilometres every week," he said. "You know what? I didn't get picked for a game all year. I was about 13 and I used to get disappointed. But I still walked to training every week.
"Then next year I got a couple of games but kept getting dropped. But I kept on walking to training. The following year they made me captain. That was a good lesson for me about perseverance."
According to Ilhan, failure is part of life. What matters is knowing how to fail, and how to make a comeback. "Don't let anyone say you can't do it," he says. "To be successful, you need to fail. The more failures you have, the more successes you will have. People just don't get that."
From not making the soccer team to nearing bankruptcy from his business expansion plan, Ilhan has been to the bottom. But he has managed to make it back each time.
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