November 1992 saw me arrive in Sydney. I’d crossed the equator for the first time.

Once again I pounded the pavements. The results were much the same as in New York. I had no experience working in restaurants or cafés, and because I wasn’t an attractive, young female, it was difficult to get a job.

Luckily, a friend of mine worked at a budget hotel, and an opening came up there.

Pretty soon I was working there full time, including night shifts, when I was responsible for a 200-bed hotel.

The work wasn’t difficult and mainly involved checking people in, checking them out and taking money.

The hotel itself had quite a lot of character, and contained a huge amount of characters.

There were about 50 permanent residents, some of whom lived on benefits, guests receiving support from the government after getting out of prison, travelers and those just staying in town for the weekend.

During the seven or eight months I worked there, there were enough incidents to fill a book.

Rocks were thrown through the window, one guest was carried out wrapped in bedsheets by the crews of two fire engines, and one guest ran into reception dripping, dressed only in a bath towel, looking for his ‘new girlfriend’ who had made off with his wallet while he showered.

There was rowdiness, drunkenness, ribaldry, and also a lot of good times.

The pay was good, and just about helped the good times outweigh the bad.

The job was a means to an end as I lived the life of a Sydney beach bum, but I realised, having also worked in retail, and now in the customer service industry, that perhaps it wasn’t my forte.

Never again, I said.

This has given rise to the idea of the Never Again List.

We often say never again, only for the pain of the mistake or incident to wear off, leading us to repeat it.

This is what the CB Hotel taught me about business. When you say never again, more often than not you have the right idea.

Compile a Never Again List and refer to it when tempted.


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