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Transcript: The Gift of Adversity (EP25)


Intro (with music): Welcome to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. This is a podcast where we talk all things, culture, leadership and teamwork across business and sport.


Brendan Rogers: Hello, everybody. I'm Brendan Rogers, the host of The Culture of Things podcast. This is Episode 25.

Today, I'm talking with Sala Takiveikata. Sala was born in Fiji and moved to Australia in 2010.

Since coming to Australia, Sala has graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from Macquarie University and is currently working to achieve the Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) qualification. She is also completing her Masters of Commerce at the University of Sydney Business School.

Sala and I met through LinkedIn. When I spent some time talking with Sala, she shared some of her background and the level of adversity she has overcome. I was inspired by her positivity and strength.

I felt a responsibility to bring Sala's story to life. So today, this is what we're going to do.

The focus of our conversation today is how we can harness adversity and use it as a strength to help us achieve in life.

Brendan Rogers: Sala, welcome to The Culture of Things podcast.

Sala Takiveikata: Hi, Brendan. Thank you for having me on today as a guest and for giving me this opportunity to share my life journey on this platform.

Brendan Rogers: Thank you, Sala. Look, it's an absolute pleasure having you on today. And when we caught up a week or so ago and had a bit of a debrief around this episode and talking, I was even more fascinated by your story and the journey you've had in this, all this adversity you've overcome. So I don't want to take away from this story. I want you to spend as much time as you can sharing the bits and pieces of your journey. So let's get into this. How about you just start with your life in Fiji as a young one? What was this life about? Just set that story up a little bit.

Sala Takiveikata: Thank you so much, Brendan. As you have mentioned in your introduction that I moved here in 2010, prior to that, I spent, my early childhood years in rural and regional parts of Fiji's main Island of Viti Levu, where my Mum taught in various primary schools. I'm the youngest. I have a twin brother. So we are the youngest of five children. And most of our family time was devoted to farming the land and growing crops and vegetables for our own personal consumption. The acreage of the land we lived off was about an hour drive from Fiji’s capital city in Suva, and it was obtained by my parents through a list.

Looking back now, it was one of the most memorable times of my life, seeing my whole close-knit family in a loving environment and every member of the family happy and healthy.

Brendan Rogers: I learned the other day that you're a twin.

Sala Takiveikata: Yes.

Brendan Rogers: Tell us a bit about the relationship that twins have.

Sala Takiveikata: Being a twin is totally a different relationship altogether. It's different from your relationship with your other siblings because the bond you shared is something that is very special. Something that you shared ever since you were in your mother's womb I would say, so you know, the bond is very strong that you share the same feelings. You feel the same way. If one of you is sad, the other one can feel it as well. So that is the special bond that twins shared between each other.

Brendan Rogers: And how challenging is that for you, Sala? Because I know you're living in Australia and your twin brother is in Fiji. What impact does that have on you?

Sala Takiveikata: It's more like, sometimes, when I'm at home doing nothing and you feel like there's something is missing from you because when you grow up together, most of the things you do together, you go to school together. And when we’re growing up, we attend the same grades, the same classroom. So in everything we do, we shared it together. And so, when I moved over here, that's kind of something that is missing from my life. Even though we are both old now and we're trying to move on with our own lives, but you know, one way or another, we’re still missing each other, the bond. That's why, sometimes, I would always call him to check on him up. And, you know, I can feel that whenever I call, he shared the same feeling as well. So he'd be so happy to hear from me and for us to cheer one another up. So that is something that, you know, it cannot be taken away, the bond that we share as a twin.

Brendan Rogers: I know that also, you've shared with me that your twin has gone through some challenges with mental health. And how has that impacted you and your life?

Sala Takiveikata: It really affected me as well. ‘Cause I didn't, I never thought that I would see him in that situation. As a twin, we grew up together in a happy, healthy environment. And when you see him, all of a sudden, when you see him in that condition, in that situation, it's really painful, but you somehow, you gotta do what you gotta do. You got to keep pushing. You need to be strong and keep moving on with your life. Although I know that he is part of my life, but I need to be strong and keep moving forward. And indirectly, I want to show him that no matter what, we will go through this together one way or another.

Brendan Rogers: Outside of connecting with your brother, and I know you're regularly talking with him and supporting him. How difficult is that for you being so far away?

Sala Takiveikata: The fact that he is still affected psychologically and still needs some ongoing psychiatric care, sometimes it can be really hard, especially when you're trying to make conversation with him because of his situation, his condition. Sometimes, you'd feel like he’s not interested at all. It depends on his mood really. And that kind of hurt me. And sometimes, it really pains to see him when he does that because for me, it is something that I'm not used to. The conversation we usually shared before, it's starting to, you know, that is something that I'm missing out now because of his current situation.

Brendan Rogers: Sala, I want you to share some of the details around your family and what actually brought you to Australia, because it's quite a unique story. And certainly, I wouldn't say a lot of people would have really experienced what you've experienced. Tell us a bit about that journey.

Sala Takiveikata: I will share that into two parts.

My journey, as I've shared before from my early childhood, and it was always a fun, loving family. We always work together as a family, do everything together as a family in a happy environment. It was a very happy family. Everyone, all our relatives and our families, they know how happy our family was. Not until when me and my twin brother were 9, that's when everything started to change. That’s when we experienced firsthand the effects of a failed marriage as my parents began their long battle for custody over me and my twin brother in a divorce. So, at that age, I could not make sense of it. I could not understand what was going on. Me and my twin brother, especially being taken to court and being asked by the magistrate on who we wanted to live with or who we prefer to live with.

Those are the questions that at that age, we could not understand. We could not even answer. It was just too much for us. That was when we were 9, until we were teen finishing off high school. We were going through that as a family. And it was me and my twin brother that were affected the most because we were still young. We were still in the age where we still need the parental guidance, parental love. Our family’s setting but it was taken away from us so early that we couldn't handle it until we both reached high school. Finishing off high school in 2004 as a year 12, and you know, for me, personally, I wasn't even ready to do something with my life because I was still trying to comprehend what we've been through with my twin brother.

And the second part of we were trying to recover from that. My Dad, he was involved in some political dilemma back home that we saw him first jailed in 2004, just when we finished off high school. So, you know, the battle continues from there. For me, it feels like it's an ongoing battle from around the age of 9 ‘til finishing off year 12, which is around at the age of 17 or 18. And, you know, it was a very traumatic experience for both of us, me and my twin brother, to see my Dad being jailed, especially when we were still trying to recover from my parents' separation. I turned out to be an alcoholic, Brendan, because that's the way of, for me, it's a way of escaping my pain just to get over, trying to get over what, you know, what we've been through. And unfortunately, my brother, and also the side of seeing my brother being psychologically and severely affected, it really affected me as well because he's my twin brother, someone I'm close to and that kind of added more pain into my life.

He started to develop attitude and behavioural issues and had to be continually sent for psychiatric care. It was just more than I could handle. And at times, I contemplated taking my life away. And further into late 2007, that was the second attempt to imprison my father in the late 2007 and also in 2009. So that was, in 2009 was the third one. It was more than I could handle. And you know, my family being continually harassed by military regime that had instigated a coup and overthrown a democratically-elected Fijian Government forced my father to make an arrangement for my departure to flee Fiji and seek for a better life, you know, Australia.

Brendan Rogers: Sala, you are so strong. Thank you so much for sharing this. And I know that you're okay to further talk about this. Share with us a little bit more about the, I guess, the length of time that you battled with alcohol and what that really did to you as a person.

Sala Takiveikata: Well, for me, because I was still young back then, you know, straight from after high school, you know, you’re out there in uni, it was the university back in Fiji, where I spent a few years there to do my degree, you know, and you have to deal with people because of, my Dad was one of the public figures back home. You have to deal with people, criticism, you know, and that's something you cannot control. So for me, there wasn't any way, other way I could think of to find peace. So alcohol was a way for me to escape my pain. At that age, I thought, “Oh, this is one of the best way”. But it created more problems for me. It affected my studies. It affected the way I see things. You know, it really clouded my judgment most of the time, but for me, the way I see it, no one was there to sit down with me just to talk with me, to ask what was wrong with me. People would just judging. Left, right and centre without even understanding what I was going through. And that's something that hurts more. Looking back now, I realise that how lucky I am and how blessed I am to be in Australia. It's totally a different environment where I can improve myself, develop myself, and also try to heal, to recover from all the traumatic experiences I've been through.

Brendan Rogers: Sala, I want you to tell us about that time, where you just shared a little bit about the impacts of alcohol and more around your mindset of what you felt you couldn't control. What was that moment where you said, “No. I need to take a different path and I can control this and what I'm doing.”

Sala Takiveikata: Ah thank you, Brendan. You know, there's a saying that goes that “You cannot heal in the environment that broke you.” And I totally agree with that because when you’re in that situation, and you are in that environment where everything, all the negativities surround you, you just, you know, you just couldn't think anything positive. So for me, better than, other than my life would always be, I will always be an alcoholic throughout my life. The battle for me to overcome that, it was really hard back then, because probably, because I was still in the environment where everything is going all the negativities, the brokenness, family separation, and my Dad being involved in the political situation back home. So for me, it was really hard to find my way out. And also, maybe, because the people I hang around with kind of contribute as well in my life, you know, the way I see things, ‘cause you cannot live a positive life if you still hang out with negative people. I wouldn't say negative, but people who would not be able to help you to overcome what you're going through,.

Brendan Rogers: What was it that took you to that point of saying, “I need to get out of this environment.” There's generally always a moment in time or something that's happened that has made you stand up and say, “No. This is not for me. I need to move forward.”

Sala Takiveikata: You know, Brendan, we, as an individual, we know ourselves better than anyone. And for me, while I was going through that, I knew deep inside me that I have the potential, that I have something within me that I need to tap on. Even though I was in the situation where everything seems to be impossible, but within me, I knew that as I've always wanted to be an accountant, I knew that one way or another, I will become one in accounting one day, but I just need to do something to take a different path in order for me to finally fulfill or to finally achieve my goal. Because back in Fiji, I've been, I was a failure as well. I failed all throughout uni. Even though deep inside me, I knew that, “No, this is not the real me, this is just,” for me, the way I think back then, “this is just one season in my life. I will overcome this, but I need to find a way to overcome this. I know there's a way.” That's something that I always keep telling myself back in Fiji. And so, it happened that I asked my Dad one day, “I wanted to go to Australia”. And I'm so happy that he also agreed with me that I need to come out of Fiji. That was in 2009.

Brendan Rogers: And how did that happen? How did you get out of Fiji?

Sala Takiveikata: I just applied for a visa to come over here. And the next thing you know, I found myself in the plane. I arrived in Australia in early January 2010.

Brendan Rogers: I want to frame this up a little bit. You've mentioned your Dad had been in prison for a couple of years, and then, they tried to put him back in prison in 2007. They succeeded in 2009 to get him back into prison. And he's actually serving a life sentence as a political prisoner. Is that right?

Sala Takiveikata: Yeah.

Brendan Rogers: What does that mean for you as far as, how do you, you're in Australia, how can you interact with your Dad? What sort of interactions do you have with your Dad?

Sala Takiveikata: Well, when I first arrived here, we always write to each other through letters. ‘Cause you're not allowed to use email and those sort of things. I just want to be more clear on that. So, he was first jailed in 2004, and then, he got out in 2006, and they put him back in 2007. He got out again and then, but then, his court case has been ongoing since he got out in 2007. And in 2009, it was, you know, he knew that they were going to put him back in prison, you know, with all the hearings and stuff going on. That is why I asked him if I could come over to Australia because I couldn't handle everything that is going on, you know, just too much for me. So, when I asked him if I could come over here, that's why he agreed. He's happy to support me on that, to pay for everything, my fares to come over. After a few months into Australia, I learned that he was given a life sentence. So, it was around April in 2010. I arrived here in January. And he's still serving his time now in Fiji.

Brendan Rogers: So your dad's in jail in Fiji, you're in Australia as a political refugee.

Sala Takiveikata: Yep, that is correct.

Brendan Rogers: If you decided to jump on a plane today and move back to Fiji, is that possible? And if it is, what does life look like for you there?

Sala Takiveikata: There's no future for me back in Fiji, Brendan, given that my Dad is still a main man that the government of today, that they are targeting now in Fiji. So, because I'm, you know of my name, surname, there is no way. There's nothing for me back in Fiji. My future is bleak in Fiji in terms of trying to look for work and all those things.

Brendan Rogers: Let's look at life in Australia now. Your Dad made steps to get you across to Australia. And also, your older brother is here as well. You're one of five from memory, there's still some of your family living in Fiji. You're in Australia. You're making a better life as your Dad wanted you to have a better life.

Sala Takiveikata: Yes.

Brendan Rogers: Tell us about life in Australia for you now.

Sala Takiveikata: Oh, it's amazing. I'm grateful for this country. I'm grateful for the government of Australia for giving me the opportunity to be here indefinitely. And I used everything that I’ve been through, especially now, Dad being still in prison as a fuel to motivate my journey here. To be in a country where everything is accessible, where you can access to anything - education, work. It is such a blessing. And that kind of changed my mindset to focus more on the blessings that's in front of me because you cannot undo whatever you've been through in life. That will always be part of your life no matter what. But the only way you can change is your perception towards it. The way I see it, my Dad is, because of my Dad's situation, enabled me to be here. And that is something that will always be at the back of my mind every day here to make use of my time here to make my Dad proud.

He's in prison and I'm here. I have the freedom, all the freedom, so I need to make use of that and show him that because of his downfall, it's now, it's a blessing in disguise for me. That is why I am working so hard, trying to make a life, trying to make a living, trying to make a name as well in this land. Even though I know that there will always be setbacks, there will always be roadblocks, detours ahead of me, but because I've realised how far I've come in life and the challenges, the adversity that I’ve overcome, I know that I can do anything now because where there is a will, there is always a way.

Brendan Rogers: You've overcome adversity in Fiji and you've taken yourself out of that environment, and you've come to a new environment in Australia. Well done for the strength and the courage that takes to do that for starters.

Sala Takiveikata: Thank you so much, Brendan.

Brendan Rogers: You've worked hard in Australia, but also, I know that Australia has not been without its challenges, a Fijian lady coming across different cultural diversity. Tell us about some of those challenges you've experienced being an islander or a Fijian person in Australia and trying to make your way forward.

Sala Takiveikata: Oh, you know, I thought that coming to Australia was going to be easy. And especially when you come out of that environment in Fiji, but once I arrived here, I realised that the challenge will be much bigger than before. Given the new environment. I wasn't ready, especially finding, when I arrived in Australia, I wasn't ready, given my past experience, but I realised that I had to adapt and make use of the opportunity that was being afforded to me by the Australian government, and without having my parents and my siblings here with me and being thrust in a totally different environment with a foreign culture, it was really, really difficult. It's a struggle to try and make sense or try to understand what's going around me in a totally new environment. You know, one thing that I've realised that great people and great nation will become great and powerful and more influential when they are, because they are well-informed or educated. So these perceptions or these views encouraged me to pursue my education despite the pain. And I saw how well-structured out, everything was accessible. The information is just out there on the internet, where I realised that I had to do something. So as soon as the government of Australia, my application for asylum was successful, I was trying to be courageous enough to go to TAFE, it was in Granville TAFE, to enrol and begin my education journey.

Brendan Rogers; Tell us about that moment, because again, it wasn't just, as you said, you needed to do some TAFE first. Tell us about how you actually enrolled yourself in TAFE.

Sala Takiveikata: It's funny. It was the most funniest day ever because I searched on the internet which TAFE offered the course that I'm interested to pursue. And it happened that because the time I always, I was in Lidcombe as well, and it happened that Granville TAFE was the closest TAFE that offered my course which is accounting. So, I just decided to hop in the train. You know, I was still new. So, most of the time, I use Google to help me get into my next destination. Yeah. So, I just hopped in the train here. I got off at TAFE Granville. It was about a 20-minute walk from Granville station to Granville TAFE. I walked straight into the administration building and enquired about my course and the options they have. So I enrolled on the same day and began attending classes straight away.

Brendan Rogers: So, how long did you spend at TAFE?

Sala Takiveikata: Three years because I did my Certificate III to Advanced Diploma. And from TAFE, I went on to enrol in Macquarie University where I graduated with my Bachelor of Commerce - Professional Accounting in 2016.

Brendan Rogers: Well done, Sala.

Sala Takiveikata: Yeah. It's easy now when I'm sharing my story with you, but back then, it was very, very tough, especially when you’re still new, you know, I was worried about, “Oh, they will be laughing at my English.” You know, my accent, you know, when you're still in a new country, I was a bit intimidated as well. But then, “Yeah. I got to do what I got to do because I know that one way or another, I need to do something with my life,” given that I don't have any of my parents or my family. Back then as well, my brother was still in Fiji. My older brother is here now. So yeah, I had to keep telling myself, “No, you gotta do this. You gotta do this. You gotta go and do something. You got to go and grab the opportunity out there. You can’t just sit around here. The ball is in your court now. Whatever you’re gonna do with it, it's up to you. You've been through so many things in life. You're now in a totally different environment. So why not keep pushing yourself? Why not make something out of your circumstances, make something out of your pain? So now, looking back, it's been a journey full of struggle, but I am grateful. I'm more than grateful to be in a country where I can become anyone who I want to become in life, where the opportunities are endless.

Brendan Rogers: And I have to ask Sala, why accounting?

Sala Takiveikata: Accounting, I always loved accounting when I was in high school. I always loved playing around with numbers. I'm not the person who loves to write essays or to read a lot, so when your option, I know that I have to take on is anything around numbers. So that is why I chose accounting. And not only that, apart from that being an islander, we always love doing what we find ourselves comfortable in. And accounting is something that, the way we see, it's only for the, for instance, only for the Indians or for the Chinese. So for me, I always keep telling myself, I need to challenge the status quo. I need to show, prove others wrong. That Pacific Islanders do that as an islander, as a Fijian. I can become whoever I want to become in life. I can do what others thought that it's impossible to do.

Regarding my work life, I have shared that my journey here, it was more like discovering who I am in a new environment. And I've noticed that between the perception of what's being offered in uni in the classrooms or in the textbook and in the reality is totally different. So my experience with work culture was a rude awakening, especially with my first corporate job after graduating, because it was the first time for me to work, especially in the corporate environment, to work with people from different backgrounds, different cultures, different beliefs, totally different from me. So, and you know, it was the first time for me to experience or to taste at what some people would call office politics. I didn't even know that that term exists until my first job. And at times, I found it very difficult given that English is my second language to communicate or to try and get the message across.

Sometimes, there's always a misunderstanding between me and my colleague, because some of the things that I deemed to be funny, some of them would find it so, you know, to be offensive. So, you know, these are some of the things that, of the challenges that I went through, especially, and also being in a minority, especially in my field, that is another challenge. But, you know, somehow I learned along the way that you cannot control how people, their reaction to you or how they see you, but you can just control, about you, yourself, your emotions, your reactions, and also your perceptions towards everything. So that is something, my take away from my first corporate job. So, you know, after my first job, I realised that things were getting a bit better, a bit easier because I use some of the lessons I've learned from my first one and implemented on my life, you know, so that I don't have to repeat some of the things that I've done on my first job, especially on my second job. So now, while in the process of looking for another role, what I'm doing, I just keep developing myself, keep trying to make sure that while in the waiting season for me to keep polishing up my skills - soft and also technical as well - and also to try and keep an open mind that people are different with different perceptions, with different expectations. All I can do is just to make sure that I put my, give my best in everything I do as I journey on from here.

Brendan Rogers: You've talked a lot about your personal circumstances and the adversity and overcoming that. What is it really that has given you that sort of drive, that sort of work ethic? Taking it in your stride and say, “You know what, this is just another hurdle to overcome.” ‘Cause a lot of people don't overcome these hurdles. What do you think that is about you that’s given you that drive?

Sala Takiveikata: Thank you, Brendan. First of all, what drives me the most is seeing my Dad in prison at a very old age. He just turned 73. To see him in that situation kind of always remind me, “You got to do something. You need to do something.” You know, he has sacrificed a lot and because of him, I'm here in Australia. So I need to do something. I need to keep pushing. I know that there will always be obstacles ahead of me, but I need to keep pushing and also, to see my twin brother in that situation, and because we are really close, that kind of another reason for me to keep pushing, for me to keep striving for the best in life. And also, while I was in Macquarie Uni, I came across this mentoring program being run by the university to offer assistance to children from high school who come from a refugee background.

And I was fortunate enough to have crossed paths with this young Somalian boy who lost his entire family who was slaughtered in the Civil War back in his country. At first, it was hard to get him to hold a conversation, seeing how discouraged his attitude at first. But right there and then, it made me realise that my past experiences serve a purpose and equipped me to empathise with him or to understand, or to relate to him on a, you know, on a human-to-human level. So, once I shared my story and my struggles, he began to open up and realise that education is the most powerful tool to unleash the chains of the past, or to take you out or to bring you out of your situation or out of your problem. So, towards the end of the mentoring program, it ran for three months, my time with him resulted, helping him resulted in him being determined enough to pursue electrical engineering. And I notice the shift of level of confidence. And on the final day, it happened that on the final day, when wrapping up the programs, he says to me that he's going to make use of the education here in this foreign land. And one day, he will go back to his homeland and become the Prime Minister.

So, those were what made me realise. It really left an impression on me and made me realise that my purpose, to understand that I have a purpose in life, that my journey ahead will always be riddled with setbacks, detours, but it is my purpose that calls me to help those who share similar life stories like me, or are faced with some form of adversity. And even though I have a traumatic past, I shouldn't limit myself to go out there and help other people who may need my help. So these are some of the things that kind of changed my perception, that kind of helped me to keep pushing, knowing that some people are there who will need me, one way or another, one day for me to be a light to them, to be a blessing to them, to show them that it can be done, that, no matter how hard it is, no matter how painful it is, there's always the light at the end of the tunnel.

Brendan Rogers: Wow, Sala, that's an amazing story and how you're giving back. And certainly, that statement from that young refugee Somalian boy, wanting to become Prime Minister and help his own people. I know you're an extremely humble person, but I want to ask you, how did that make you feel?

Sala Takiveikata: Thank you, Brendan. I don't know how to describe my feeling that day. I felt so blessed that day to be able to create a change, to be an agent of change in someone's life, someone who was defeated, who was still traumatised and to see the transformation in his life, I feel so blessed. And I feel like there's more to come, that more people out there need me. And that's why I should never ever give up no matter what. The benefit is just out of this world. Even if you cannot pay, put a monetary value on it, it's just out of this world. And that is something that I always love doing. Even when I'm in Sydney uni or wherever I go. I always look out for who is there for me to talk to, because those are some of the things that I didn't experience then when I was going through my own battle.

No one was there to sit down with me and to talk about, for me to share my problems. So alcohol was the way for me to escape my pain. When I know that how that was, that is why I always look out for people out there. Someone is going through something. I want to be an agent of change, be a blessing to show that, to be there for someone to know that no matter how hard it is, he or she will overcome it, that I'm there just to listen and to be a vessel and just to be there and encourage that person that he or she is not alone because that's something that I didn't experience it myself.

Brendan Rogers: Sala, you've overcome so much. And thank you for sharing that experience with us. What advice would you like to give people based on your own experience of overcoming so many adverse situations that can help people move forward?

Sala Takiveikata: I realised that we are indeed not alone in this world. We, one way or another, we all have stories and experiences. And my case is not unique. We all have issues. We face some kind of adversity from time to time. But one thing I've learned that once you discover your purpose, and it can only be discovered through challenges, through adversity, it gives your life an existence, meaning, you know. Once you know the reason why you are put on this earth. So if you're someone out there who's listening right now, if you're going through some sort of adversity, that adversity, it happened to you for a reason. Use that adversity to discover more about who you are in life and why you are here in this world. You know, we only have two choices - either we allow that to break us or we allow it to build us up.

So please know that you are not alone, that one way or another, you will overcome it, but you yourself need to find the way out of it. For me, it was through serving others. Be there for other people. Even in the midst of your pain, in the midst of your hardship, go out there. There's someone out there who will make you realise that what you're going through right now is worthwhile and it will be worth it in the end so keep fighting, keep pushing, keep focused on your purpose, and not your pain or not your failures, or not on you’re hardship. Focus on why you're going through and the reason why you are put on this earth. As the late Chadwick Boseman, he really hit the nail on the head when he said, “When you are deciding on your next steps or your next jobs or your next careers, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career.” Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet. And also, Mahatma Gandhi put it this way, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” So in order for you to come out of whatever you're going through right now, you need to be in the service of others. You need to be a blessing to others. That is the only way you will realise how blessed you are to be in that situation.

Thank you so much, Brendan.

Brendan Rogers: People will want to get in touch with you just to even offer a thank you for giving them the inspiration that I know you've given me when we talk every time. How can they do that?

Sala Takiveikata: Thank you, Brendan. I can be in touch through my email address which I will be forwarding it to you. And also, on my LinkedIn profile, Sala Takiveikata.

(Music plays)

Brendan Rogers: When reviewing this episode, I knew I had to finish with something different. That something different, unknown to me at the time, was that I had already done my three key takeaways at the close of the interview. Listening back to this, I could hear the raw emotion in my voice. Here is the close with my three key takeaways from my conversation with Sala.

From my side, what I have to say to you is I know that you're looking for work now. There's a few things that really stand out for me about the sort of person you are. Just in what you’ve shown today with the level of humility and vulnerability and sharing your story is a massive trait of any leader to have.

Secondly, if we look at your work ethic and what I've learned about you and what you've shared today, in regards to how you overcame some of those challenges through your life in Fiji, how, you did struggle a little bit with your studies in Fiji, but then taking yourself out of the environment, and you spent three years at TAFE, then you've done your Bachelor of Commerce at university, and now doing your CPA and your Master's program in commerce, that shows an extraordinary level of work ethic.

And thirdly, your awareness about your impact on people. So you’re people-smarts and your level of emotional intelligence to me is first class from what I've seen. So if we base it on those three categories, and somebody being an exceptional person for an organisation and in a team, then I personally would hire you in a heartbeat. What I just said... 

Sala Takiveikata: Thanks you so much, Brendan. I appreciate that.

Brendan Rogers: An absolute pleasure. I just want to say thank you so much for allowing me to give you this platform, to share your story of courage and strength and adversity and how you've used that and the gift of adversity to overcome everything you've overcome so far. And I know how you'll move forward in the future. Keep fighting that good fight. Keep moving forward. Sala, it's been a privilege. Thank you very much.

Sala Takiveikata: Thank you so much, Brendan. Once again, thank you for being a blessing to people like me, for preparing this platform is a way for us to share our story and you are a blessing. I'm sure not only to me, but most people who share similar life experiences as me. Thank you so much, Brendan.

Brendan Rogers: As we were finishing up, Sala shared a last piece of advice, which has helped her, and I know it will help you. Here it is.

Sala Takiveikata: Our mindset is the most powerful tool that anyone can ever have. It's one of the best assets in the world. So once you program your mind for success and victory, you are unstoppable. 

If you have any questions or feedback about this episode, please feel free to send me a message at brendan@brendanrogers.com.au.

Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Until next time. 


Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit brendanrogers.com.au to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.