Business guru advocates developing a Midas touch
Pádraic Ó Máille is an expert in productivity whose business therapy sessions counsel discipline. His new book aims at helping the indebted regain control
Padráic O’Máille in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.
An article in Forbes magazine in 1988 predicted that, because of advances in technology, we would all be working four day weeks in 25 years time, finishing up around lunchtime on Thursday and going back to work on Monday morning. We would become members of the “leisure society” that one of the founders of modern economics, John Maynard Keynes spoke of in his famous 1930 essay, Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren, when he predicted that we would be working 15 hour weeks by 2030 – for the same pay.
However, 25 years on from the Forbes prediction, Galway business guru Pádraic Ó Máille points out that the vision of the utopian leisure society seems further from reality than ever as the advent of email, smartphones, mobile devices and social media mean most of us are working longer hours than ever.
“Instead of us having more leisure time, the antithesis has happened. Many people are so swamped by modern technology that they are under more pressure than ever before. We are accessible by email and phone 24 hours a day, this technology permeates our entire life and impacts our stress levels.”
Ó Máille has just written a personal development guide in the form of a parable called The Midas Power which he claims can get readers “from powerless to powerful in seven days”. Having worked with some of Ireland’s most successful business people, athletes and leaders over the past 25 years, he has learned that attitude, more than any other factor, is the prerequisite to success in any endeavour.
“With the right attitude you can move mountains. With the wrong attitude you will be overcome by a grain of sand,” he asserts.
Business in the blood
A commerce and marketing graduate from University College Galway, Ó Máille was born with business in his blood. His father, Pádraic senior, opened the iconic shop Ó Máille’s on Dominick Street in 1938 and was the first retailer in Ireland to trade in Aran sweaters.
“My father saw a niche market back in the 1930s to sell tweed to the people of Connemara and the Americans. Although it was regarded as poor man’s cloth at the time, it was very appropriate for farmers and fisherman as it did not retain water. Providentially, my father got the contract to make the clothing for The Quiet Man in 1951, opening up the whole US market and the export market is where the business is today. My cousin Ger runs the business now and I am not involved any more but I am very proud of the connection.”
Having worked in a number of general management positions after college, Ó Máille became very interested in the area of productivity and time management. He went to Canada to train in time management and became one of Ireland’s first time management consultants back in the 1980s. He began working with business people like Pádraig O’Ceidigh of Aer Arann and Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s who were at the time just starting out.
During the Celtic Tiger years, Ó Máille found there was a great demand for his skills as a business management consultant. However, it was with the demise of the Celtic Tiger that his business really started to take off as his skills were increasingly sought out by people feeling the desperation and desolation of being in debt.
It was in direct response to the pervasive negativity in Irish society precipitated by the recession that he set up the Smacht business therapy programme which, as the title suggests, stresses the importance of discipline for success in business and life. There are no shortcuts, no “get rich quick” schemes, he says. Discipline is a very powerful strategy that he feels should be taught in schools instead of being feared.