Archives For Passion

Foreword

One thing I have learned is that for the most part, people express the same idea but they express it in many different ways and with many different words. It is the details in the expression, the words, and combination of words used, that give a story its colour, its texture, and brings it–and its lessons–to life.

We are unique combinations of our beliefs, values and life experiences. Differences notwithstanding, we, and our experiences, are important. Therefore, there is value in compiling and sharing these stories and the multitude of ways in which ideas are expressed. Combined, these stories weave a wonderful tapestry that exemplifies just how rich and beautiful life can be.

And who knows? An inadvertent remark or detail in the retelling of a story can stand to attention and have an impact in the world of a reader. And with that exciting possibility, perhaps the most valuable thing I can do is create the space where the stories of those whom I admire and respect can be shared.

Below are people that I have come across on my own life journey whom I deeply admire and respect. Whether it be their tenacity or courage, or relentless drive or passion, each individual generously reveals a different lens in response to the questions I regularly pepper them with.

As we continue on our sharing over this anthology, I will share tidbits and anecdotes as to why I hold them in such high esteem, and what I love most about them. In turn, I hope that you do too.

How did your business come to be?

Old ways have got to give for new beginnings to happen

Ai-Ling Wong. Founder at The Decorateur, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

My entrepreneurial journey started at the age of 25 where I worked in one of my family businesses; a trading business which had no family members running it but only hired people. Thrown in to the deep end, it was a steep learning curve. In spite of the little experience I had, slowly but surely I increased sales 30% year-on-year.

After 12 years running the business, our Singaporean business partner started meddling and telling us “what to do”. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for us to reach the point where we could not see eye-to-eye.

Not wanting to cause more stress to my father–who was Chairman at the time, I offered the Malaysian Managing Director position to the Singaporean partner, and gave him 3 years to prove himself (as he claimed he could increase the business turnover). I then embarked on my new interior design business which took off swiftly.

Fast forward 3 years, the Singaporean partner did not manage to meet targets, and I was asked to return. By that stage, I was too entrenched with my growing interior design business to return to run the trading business.

A negative experience sometimes happens for a good reason. In other words, old ways have got to give for new beginnings to happen. In this case, despite my dissatisfaction towards the Singaporean partner, I have him to thank for the better opportunity to start my new business.

Little did I realize how much my company would grow to improve the lives of our supplier partners, team members, and many others around the globe

Andrea Grisdale, Founder and CEO at IC Bellagio, Board Member at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Bellagio, Lake Como.

My business was created out of my love and passion for all things Italy and travel.

When my company was founded back in 1999, it was a great opportunity to live the life I wanted to live, that is, improving the lives of others through travel and all things Italy. This gave me opportunity to enjoy not only all that this beautiful country has to offer but be able to share the best of it with those from afar.

Little did I realize how much my company would grow to improve the lives of our supplier partners, team members, and many others around the globe.

My business came to be from of a mixture of: (1) a pinch of chance; (2) a hint of right timing; (3) a bag of hard work; and (4) the audacity of sticking through challenging times

David Fastuca. Founder at Ambisie, Founder at Locomote. Melbourne, Australia.

My business came to be from of a mixture of: (1) a pinch of chance; (2) a hint of right timing; (3) a bag of hard work; and (4) the audacity of sticking through challenging times.

My business partner and I almost gave up on our efforts to create a business for ourselves after struggling in our very early days with a variety of other businesses.

Sticking “with it” and having the courage to persevere led us to opportunities in industries we knew nothing about. Isn’t life funny?

Serendipity has been a strong theme throughout my career

Jamie Skella. Chief Operating and Product Officer at Mogul, Former Chief Product Officer at Horizon State. Melbourne, Australia.

Serendipity has been a strong theme throughout my career. I focus intensely on the things that I’m interested in, then keep an open mind about the opportunities that present themselves without deliberate planning. In the case of my most recent project, Trax, it came to be on these same familiar terms.

Trax combines esports, cryptocurrency, and digital product to capitalize on a gap in the market; each of which I have accumulated vast amounts of knowledge in during past years.

I deeply admire specialization yet having a “broad T” has enabled me to combine knowledge sets to identify and seize opportunities that would have otherwise been missed. I imagine this is how many of my future businesses will come to be, as the effects of a broad T only continue to compound positively over time.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it all again? Absolutely. Without question. Without hesitation.

Kym Huynh. Founder at WeTeachMe, Former President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Melbourne, Australia.

WeTeachMe was born from: (1) a chance encounter between strangers at a weekend hackathon; (2) the sharing of an idea that the strangers believed in and could get behind; (3) a bag full of enthusiasm and dreams; (4) a sprinkling of youthful optimism and nativity; and (5) a willingness to throw caution to the wind and give things a good go.

The following years saw these strangers: (1) bond over weekly meetings at local cafés eating complimentary biscuits and cake the staff brought over; (2) spend their days, evenings and weekends hunched over dimly lit computer screens obsessing over the business, the strategy, and the product; (3) chatter excitedly about grandiose ideas and what the future could bring; and (4) experience joy as their vision came to life before their very eyes.

What these strangers didn’t anticipate, however, was: (1) the many hard lessons that would need to be learned; (2) the overwhelming stress would at times cripple one another and cause burnout; and (3) the difficult challenges that would need to be navigated as part and parcel of the journey.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it all again? Absolutely. Without question. Without hesitation.

The learning curve for me was steep… but life-changing. The relationships and friendships I had were tested… but the ones that survived will last a lifetime. The experiences tested me… but have changed me for the better. All these things are things that no amount of money can buy.

I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur. I just started walking and just continued walking.

Raymond Chou. Founder and CEO at Infront Consulting APAC. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur. I started selling cookies when I was 14 to help the family, and a lot of the “entrepreneurial spirit” was learnt along the way.

In my working life, I could somehow never hold on to a job for more than a year. I would join a company, work to improve the systems and efficiency, and once achieved would get bored. After some years of this, I went into self-employment and established myself as an IT trainer. I started off by teaching Microsoft Project, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint.

After some years of this, a friend coaxed me into starting a business of my own and said that he would invest in me. I jumped on this opportunity and have never looked back.

Did I plan it all? Did I have a grand vision? Not at all. I just started walking and just continued walking.

Sometimes we’re hard on ourselves in regarding to having a plan. But do we even have enough knowledge to even have a plan? As a young 24-year-old, I did not possess the knowledge of business, and did not have enough life experience to create a grand vision. Is that wrong?

Perhaps it is more important to not stand still, and to take steps forward until one day you can see what your grand vision is.

My business came to be by asking myself one big question

Ron Lovett. Founder and Chief Alignment Officer at Connolly Owens, Founder and Chief Community Officer at Vida Living, Author at Outrageous Empowerment. Halifax, Nova Scotia.

My business—VIDA Living—exists to revolutionize affordable communities, and came to be by asking myself this one big question: “What if I had to restart the affordable housing industry? What would it look like?”

From there the second question was born: “What if we treated tenants like customers?”

The rest, as they say, is history.

My company was purchased for $1 and now has a market capitalization of about $80M. Not a bad return on $1.

Tony Falkenstein. Founder and CEO at Just Life Group Limited, Founder and CEO at Just Water, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Auckland, New Zealand.

I once worked for a publicly listed company, and started a division to rent out fax machines. The public company went into receivership, and I purchased the fax division for $1.

From renting faxes, we moved to water coolers, water delivery, ventilation systems, Solatube and hot water cylinders.

Just Life Group is now a public listed company in its own right and has a market capitalization of about $80M. Not a bad return on $1. (And I still own/control 80% of the company.)

My business started on a bet

Tui Cordemans. Co-Founder at Koh Living. Melbourne, Australia.

For some reason, I expect people to have serious and purposeful responses as to why and how they started a business. For me, it started on a bet. I was an unemployable twenty-something-year-old and wanting to live my highest values (travel and fun).

During my twenties, I left a business behind in Germany and when I moved to Australia, I had to get a job. 3 short-term jobs later, I decided I was not made for the employment market.

During that time, my best friend (now business partner) were planning our holidays. She wanted to go to Vietnam but didn’t have the funds. I offered to give her some to which she responded that she would only accept if I started a business when I came back from my 3‑month stint travelling Nepal and south-east Asia. With that at the back of our minds, off we went on our travels.

Towards the end of our respective trips, we reunited in Bangkok. Sitting outside an Israeli restaurant, we drank ice-cold beers and shared photos of our holidays. We were bent over with laughter, so much so that a lady approached us and asked if she could join us. She was curious as to why we were laughing so much you see.

As fate would have it, we ended up having way too many beers and started talking about business. This lady turned out to own a distribution company in Melbourne, Australia selling homewares. She had been travelling around the world sourcing new products and was on her way home.

We both thought that this sounded amazing, and sounded like the best job in the world.

After this encounter, my friend went home and I was left with the task of finding product. On a budget, I trawled the Chatuchak market and came across some colorful unique candles. Not having ever bought a candle in my life, I put $1,000 worth of candles on a credit card and my friend went about trying to work out how to get them to Australia.

We don’t sell those candles anymore, but a lifetime later, we have one of the most recognizable tourist brands in Australia. And true to form, our business continues to fulfill our highest values of travel and fun!

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

Call to action 

My goal is to help 1,000,000 people. My wish is to have these articles shared 1,000,000 times through the various social networks. For this reason, I provide this collection online for free and all I ask of you is this: If any of these articles have helped you in any way, please take a moment to share on social media, email to someone you think will find benefit, or print and leave it on the desk of someone whom you believe has the motivation, but lacks the tools to take themselves to the next level.

Don’t miss out on any new articles. Subscribe via email using the form at the bottom of this post and I’ll have the articles delivered straight to your inbox. Alternatively, you can also follow me on my various social media accounts: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Foreword

I have a confession to make: I get extremely excited every time I come across a creative person, or a person that holds within them such exuberance that it often manifests itself in a delicious cacophony of quirky character traits, unique stylistic choices, tangential thought patterns and behaviors, and an uncanny knack for seeing the world in a way that most do not, that when all combined, I find equally intoxicating and endearing.

For me, it’s the creatives that push the boundaries of what we collectively believe is possible. They dare to imagine, dare to dream, dare to believe, and in their own process of creation, create the world as they see it.

In this editorial series, I reach out to a curated list of creators who not only live and breathe the art of creation but undertake to pass on their learnings to the next generation of creatives. I find this combination of creativity and education noble, and use this editorial series as a way to delve deeper into these minds in the hopes that we too, can get a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of such noble creatives. Who knows, perhaps we will learn something along the way too.

How did your classes and workshops come to be? Why do you teach?

I didn’t anticipate that students would want to continue after the course ended. I never intended to continue Fitzroy Painting long-term but here we are

Adriane Strampp, Founder at Fitzroy Painting. Melbourne, Australia.

Fitzroy Painting started in early 2009 as a small 8‑week beginners’ course in oil painting. The Great Financial Crisis was in full swing, and my art classes were a means of keeping the studio, and the proverbial wolf from the door, until the art market picked up again. As a painter with previous teaching experience, it was a no-brainer to hold a class in my studio. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was that students would want to continue after the course ended. I never intended to continue Fitzroy Painting long-term but here we are!

The students had other ideas, and so the original Monday night painters became an ongoing weekly class (many of whom are still with us today), and another beginner’s class was added. That soon filled too and demand for more classes continued as our reputation spread, and more people wanted to join. It’s been a slow and very organic growth, growing with demand. More classes have been added, along with more tutors, each of us professional practicing artists foremost, with a passion for teaching and sharing our knowledge.

The power of food to bring people together is both so simple and natural and yet so surprisingly wonderful

Angie Chong, Founder at The Humble Dumpling. Melbourne, Australia.

I had worked in the world of commercial cookery for multiple decades and was feeling burnt out. I took a few years off to really give myself time to think about what was important to me, what inspired me, and what brought me joy. I knew it was something to do with food and with people.

I was fortunate enough to have learned so much about food and food culture from my family and in particular from my mum. I grew up in a very large extended family and every weekend we gathered in the kitchen to cook and eat together. Sometimes that would mean 40–50 kids, aunties and uncles gathered around the kitchen, sharing a meal!

It was the memories of these times; of laughing, cooking, sharing stories, and eating together that inspired my classes at The Humble Dumpling. The power of food to bring people together is both so simple and natural and yet so surprisingly wonderful. Setting the classes in my home felt more like inviting friends over for a fun family lunch. Really, I didn’t so much create these classes as much as I just provided a canvas for people to do what comes naturally.

I hope that everyone who comes to a class will be inspired to continue to bring people together through food in their own homes.

Bree, Sarah, and I established The Windsor Workshop to help us unleash our unexplored inner creativity and to help us slow down and team up.

Belinda Galloway and Bree Hankinson, Founders at The Windsor Workshop. Melbourne, Australia.

Bree, Sarah, and I established The Windsor Workshop to help us unleash our unexplored inner creativity and to help us slow down and team up.

We wanted to bring together like-minded people to partake in artistic pursuits that nurture our wellbeing. The promotion of local artists was also at the forefront of our minds in addition to being able to provide a talking point and a sensory experience for those who attend.

We all have backgrounds in artistic industries so when the opportunity to fuse our creativity and education arose, we simply could not refuse!

I asked my grandma to show me how to sew. At that time I was also bought a sewing machine as a gift. I was immediately smitten.

Danielle Francis, Director at Thread Den. Melbourne, Australia.

I have always had numerous creative hobbies, and in my early 20s, I dove deep into vintage style, mid-century furniture and décor, and 40s/50s fashion. So that I could reproduce patterns from that era, I asked my grandma to show me how to sew. At that time I was also bought a sewing machine as a gift. I was immediately smitten.

From that time until 15 years later, I never put my sewing machine away. It was always out on the dining table, or a desk, or now a dedicated space.

I was working in a corporate job and I had this dream of one day owning a haberdashery store. The job I was employed for had evolved over the years into that of training, and I discovered a joy for teaching people.

In an effort to balance work and life, I had a habit of participating in creative workshops, and one of those was a knitting workshop at Thread Den. Through that knitting workshop, I subscribed to the mailing list and attended other workshops as well.

One day an email popped into my inbox saying that they were looking for a new owner for Thread Den. It was my dream. It was about 15 years ahead of time but I decided to take the plunge i.e., leave the corporate world and run a business teaching people creative endeavors.

I’ve never looked back. I love it.

As a deaf person, with training on how to teach Auslan and develop a curriculum, l sought to combine the passion l have for Auslan, my deafness, and the opportunity to work from home

Darren Roberts, Founder and Director at The Auslan Company. Melbourne, Australia.

The Auslan Company came about for two reasons: (1) l wanted to work for myself in my own time and with my own hours so that l could look after my young children following separation from their mum; and (2) l was finishing my Bachelor of Education (Auslan) Languages Other Than English course at La Trobe University and was considering what the next step was.

As a deaf person, with training on how to teach Auslan and develop a curriculum, l sought to combine the passion l have for Auslan, my deafness, and the opportunity to work from home. Thus I created The Auslan Company in 2004.

Today my children have all grown up and l still have the passion and love delivering Auslan to workplaces, to families of deaf children through the NDIS program, to childcare centers, and in schools as an Auslan Languages Other Than English subject.

I really see it as my responsibility to inspire and mentor the next generation of coffee professionals

David Seng, Director at The Espresso School, Board of Directors and Head at Barista Guild for Australian Specialty Coffee Association, World Certified Judge WCE WBC. Melbourne, Australia.

The Espresso School was born out of the back of a cafe I was working in more than a decade ago. The owner graciously allowed me to run classes after hours which was how The Espresso School got its start.

There are plenty of reasons why I love teaching people about coffee, and one of my biggest motivations is I really see it as my responsibility to inspire and mentor the next generation of coffee professionals.

This is my way of giving back to an industry from which I have gained so much. I love seeing my students make their mark on the coffee world. Nothing makes me prouder.

There is nothing quite like putting your hands in the mud and creating something completely new from the earth

Denholm Lappas, Studio Manager at Clay Talk @ Montsalvat. Melbourne, Australia.

Clay Talk’s creation is a natural extension of Montsalvat’s already rich history as a place where art is made, taught, shown, and experienced. What started as a humble studio to reinvigorate the love of clay at Montsalvat has grown to include some 80 students and studio artists, and 6 kilns including gas, electric, and wood firing.

There is nothing quite like putting your hands in the mud and creating something completely new from the earth. The final process of transforming your material through the process of heat permanently solidifies your artwork and is an incredible experience. Nothing quite compares.

Clay Talk’s goal is to provide a place to engage with the art of ceramics and provide a holistic learning experience to a complex and multifaceted art form by providing regular classes, studio time, and advanced workshops taught by practicing artists who are experts in their field.

I take inspiration from others and I hope that my students can come away from my workshops confident and full of enthusiasm

Frosa Katsis, Founder at The Early Settler Aromatherapy Melbourne, Australia

I love science and how understanding it can explain processes and why things work. When I started making and teaching candle making it made sense to me that if I explained the science of my “cool” method, students would get it.

As to how we got started, I found a love for teaching and sharing my knowledge. I love to see other candle makers succeed in hobbies and small businesses.

I take inspiration from others and I hope that my students can come away from my workshops confident and full of enthusiasm. Most of my students are women who seek a hobby or seek to start their own business, and we have a growing number of men entering the industry.

One day, my students asked if they could see my studio which was located in those days inside a nearby warehouse. They saw it and immediately they wanted to move the classes there!

Graham Hay, Expert Ceramics Educator. Perth, Australia.

Soon after graduating from Edith Cowan University with a BVA majoring in ceramics and then a BFA honors (also ceramics) from Curtin University I was receiving more and more requests to give workshops with artist groups, art teacher associations etc. (now over 300 in a dozen countries).

So I decided to set up flexible adult pottery and sculpture classes at a local community center which proved to be very popular. One day, my students asked if they could see my studio which was located in those days inside a nearby warehouse. They saw it and immediately they wanted to move the classes there!

A few years later we moved the classes to a light-filled building in a nearby inner-city park. That was 20 years ago!

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

Call to action 

My goal is to help 1,000,000 people. My wish is to have these articles shared 1,000,000 times through the various social networks. For this reason, I provide this collection online for free and all I ask of you is this: If any of these articles have helped you in any way, please take a moment to share on social media, email to someone you think will find benefit, or print and leave it on the desk of someone whom you believe has the motivation, but lacks the tools to take themselves to the next level.

Don’t miss out on any new articles. Subscribe via email using the form at the bottom of this post and I’ll have the articles delivered straight to your inbox. Alternatively, you can also follow me on my various social media accounts: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Foreword

One thing I have learned is that for the most part, people express the same idea but they express it in many different ways and with many different words. It is the details in the expression, the words, and combination of words used, that give a story its colour, its texture, and brings it–and its lessons–to life.

We are unique combinations of our beliefs, values and life experiences. Differences notwithstanding, we, and our experiences, are important. Therefore, there is value in compiling and sharing these stories and the multitude of ways in which ideas are expressed. Combined, these stories weave a wonderful tapestry that exemplifies just how rich and beautiful life can be.

And who knows? An inadvertent remark or detail in the retelling of a story can stand to attention and have an impact in the world of a reader. And with that exciting possibility, perhaps the most valuable thing I can do is create the space where the stories of those whom I admire and respect can be shared.

Below are people that I have come across on my own life journey whom I deeply admire and respect. Whether it be their tenacity or courage, or relentless drive or passion, each individual generously reveals a different lens in response to the questions I regularly pepper them with.

As we continue on our sharing over this anthology, I will share tidbits and anecdotes as to why I hold them in such high esteem, and what I love most about them. In turn, I hope that you do too.

What was your first entrepreneurial project? What was your biggest learning?

I had to learn to accept and work with differences in thought and methodology, reset my brain to embrace diversity, and to see the differences as opportunity and not a challenge

Andrea Grisdale, Founder and CEO at IC Bellagio, Board Member at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Bellagio, Lake Como.

The first entrepreneurial project was becoming a tour guide in Italy. Italy was a country that was not my own, I was taking exams in a language that was not my own, there was non-stop paperwork, complex protocols, and never-ending answers that were not set in stone or black or white.

Back then, I wanted everyone to work in a way that was aligned with my brain and work methodologies. Experience in the field taught me that accepting other people’s way of work can bring the same, if not better, results.

I had to learn to accept and work with differences in thought and methodology, reset my brain to embrace diversity, and to see the differences as opportunity and not a challenge.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and if I had known the enormity of the task ahead, I may have been too frightened to go for what was in both by my heart and my gut

Daniel Dickson, Managing Director at Amarco Enterprises. Sydney, Australia.

My first entrepreneurial project was one that I was unaware would take me on a 23-year journey.

I, and my business partner, saw an opportunity to secure a distribution agreement for a product and service that we are passionate about, and we pursued the international headquarters located in the United States for 5 months before receiving the horrible fax message (yes a fax) that the idea of us being a distributor was no longer being entertained. They thanked us for our time and recommended that we continue our purchases through the normal distributor.

We were devastated because we were near-obsessed, and had formulated a clear plan on how we could make this venture work. I woke up at 11.30 pm one evening, went to a 24-hour printing business known as Kinko’s Printing, and I sat there with my 1 GB laptop and wrote my first business plan. I subsequently printed it, bound it, and by 11 am that same morning my sister (who was travelling to the United States) had it in her hand to present to Headquarters.

One thing I learned is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and if I had known the enormity of the task ahead, I may have been too frightened to go for what was in both by my heart and my gut; the knowledge of what we could achieve together.

My sister—naturally we did not present her as my sister—presented the case on behalf of our company, said that they needed to consider this business plan, and that we are not taking “no” for an answer. Headquarters agreed to a face-to-face meeting and subsequent training but with no promises. For the next 6 weeks while we prepared to go to the Los Angeles-based Headquarters, we borrowed $120,000 (23 years ago) against my parents house so that we could make the launch of this in Australia as big as we possibly could.

In that 6 weeks, we expanded on the business plan, hired the staff that we did not have, and invested in the infrastructure and resources that we also did not have. The preparedness that we put into the plan, combined with the enthusiasm and passion, enabled us to pull the entire thing off.

After coming back from our training in the United States, we executed on the $120,000 launch. We spent the entirety of the money in 7 days with not one guaranteed account on our books. We had media, we had PR, we had celebrities attend our launch, and within the next 18 months we opened 118 accounts with a 3‑staff business.

Fast forward 23 years and we now have nearly 300 high functioning accounts, a team of 40, and we have undertaken some amazing initiatives that allow our company to be one of the leaders within our industry. I look back at the lessons learned and know that if I knew all the things that were ahead, I may not have enthusiastically jumped into. However, the knowledge and passion we had for something that we felt was underdone was enough to fuel the creation of a team, a following, and an amazing client base, and a business.

I look back with a smile and a warm heart when I recognise the saying “fake it till you make it” has so much more relevance than what people give (with a caveat). Our moves were well-calculated, we knew our numbers, and we threw our inhibitions to the air and recruited like-minded, passionate people.

Greatness requires passion not just for the monetary ends, but for the means that gets you there

Jamie Skella. Chief Operating and Product Officer at Mogul, Former Chief Product Officer at Horizon State. Melbourne, Australia.

I left school at the age of 15 to pursue the running of my own small business. I created custom PCs for consumers, built networks for small businesses, and developed websites for anyone that needed one.

I learnt two key things in those early years of business. The first lesson, unsurprisingly, is that focus is essential. Spreading myself too thin meant a lack of specialisation and a lack of ability to effectively market myself as a credible expert, given the breadth of services being offered.

The second lesson was a reinforcement of the need to shed offerings that I didn’t love: while you may be good at something without loving it, you’ll never be truly great at it unless you do. Greatness requires passion not just for the monetary ends, but for the means that gets you there.

I decided then and there that I too wanted to be drunk with power

Kym Huynh. Founder at WeTeachMe, Former President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Melbourne, Australia.

I was 8, and there was a girl in school who always had extra pocket money to buy treats at the canteen for herself and all her friends; Sunnyboys that was a gift from heaven on a hot day, frozen oranges cut in half that felt like the first taste of water after a long day exposed to the desert sun and heat, salt and vinegar crisps that we would squash into crumbs so that they would last longer as our fingers grew tainted with salt and grease, Red Skins that would glue your teeth shut and colour your tongue a velvet red, and addictive sherbert lolly bags known as Wizz Fizz and would send you to the highest happiness peaks known to children aged 6–8. Oh how I envied the power she yielded every time she walked around the school yard with those golden $1 and $2 coins!

I decided then and there that I too wanted to be drunk with power.

I discovered at home towers of paper; white, beige, granulated and patterned, and spent my recesses and lunchtimes selling these sheets of paper to my classmates at 50c — $1 a pop depending on the perceived rarity of the paper in question. This venture lasted just under 1 week and I had secured enough funds that would make me king of the playground indefinitely, until I was called into the Principal’s office; to which promptly brought an end to “Kym & Associates Paper Co.”.

I learned a few things:

  1. Your world changes when you have resources at your disposal i.e. the $1 or $2 coin, and sometimes, the resource is a lot closer within reach than we think it is (it didn’t take long to acquire $1 and $2)
  2. People purchase based on relationships and whether or not they like you, even if the product is widely available
  3. The sale comes from the ability to market the product in a way that makes it interesting and unique
  4. Business longevity is a concern when the business is built on foundations that are contrary to rules and regulations #outlawlogic

The acceleration of success doesn’t come by choice, but rather, it comes when we have NO choice

Raymond Chou. Founder and CEO at Infront Consulting APAC. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I was 14 years old and my first entrepreneurial project involved selling cookies, that my mum baked, at school. Years earlier my parents separated, and the income that dad supported us with was really never enough. So I told my mum that I wanted to help.

Selling cookies in school wasn’t easy. My friends didn’t really have enough money to buy an entire box, so my teachers bought the cookies in support. Knowing that I couldn’t rely on just my teachers’ support, I floated the idea that my friends could buy an entire box if they pooled their funds.

Unfortunately, soliciting sales at school was frowned upon, and I was called up to the Headmaster’s office a total of 5 times. I consider myself blessed to be left off the proverbial hook with warnings in what I can only assume is the understanding of the Headmaster, who understood my intent behind this venture.

There were 3 key lessons here: the first being that the acceleration of success doesn’t come by choice, but rather, it comes when we have NO choice. It’s during times of crisis that we are pushed to move. And so we move.

The second being that if you have a way for people to get what they want and make it easier for people to get what they want, they will buy. My friends could not afford an entire box of cookies, and if I had fixated on my go-to-market strategy, I would never have sold any boxes of cookies. It was when I educated my potential customers that they could pool their funds, the deal was done.

Finally, if you ever get caught selling cookies at school, a good story will help.

Sometimes, one needs to look at opportunities from different perspectives to uncover value and opportunity

Ron Lovett. Founder and Chief Alignment Officer at Connolly Owens, Founder and Chief Community Officer at Vida Living, Author at Outrageous Empowerment. Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The first entrepreneurial venture I did pertains to when my mom used to take us skiing in the United States. On these trips I purchased baseball hats bring back to Canada. I learned that I could sell them for the same price that I bought them, for but with the United States/Canadian exchange rate, I would make 30% profit. This was my first lesson in arbitrage.

On reflection, the key lessons I learned from this venture are:

  1. Sometimes, one needs to look at opportunities from different perspectives to uncover value and opportunity
  2. There are advantages in being able to provide products to people that they cannot normally get their hands on themselves
  3. Store your inventory in a safe place; a hard lesson I learned when my dog stumbled upon my baseball hat collection and bit the tops off all of them

Even when you are under time pressure, don’t sign any agreement without reviewing it carefully and preferably with legal advice

Tony Falkenstein. Founder and CEO at Just Life Group Limited, Founder and CEO at Just Water, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Auckland, New Zealand.

Maybe not my first entrepreneurial project, but certainly my first entrepreneurial real business.

I was working for Polaroid as a Finance Manager, and was amazed at the cost an agency charged for placing employees. So I thought I would start a personnel agency, but stay at Polaroid until the new business was making enough money to employ me.

I hired 2 mature sales ladies who had experience selling medical insurance and had the attitude I was looking for, and I called the business “Vogue Personelle”. I’m quite proud of the branding; I utilised the French tricolour in my logo, and placed Vogue magazines at reception.

We had been in operation for 2 months, and I was thinking in another month I would hand in my notice to Polaroid, but then I got offered the job as General Manager which effectively would make me the youngest General Manager in the Polaroid empire. I decided to sell the business fast, and I got screwed by another larger agency, who not only got the business for virtually nothing, but also took the incoming fees from the placements my team had made.

My learning: even when you are under time pressure, don’t sign any agreement without reviewing it carefully and preferably with legal advice.

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

Call to action 

My goal is to help 1,000,000 people. My wish is to have these articles shared 1,000,000 times through the various social networks. For this reason, I provide this collection online for free and all I ask of you is this: If any of these articles have helped you in any way, please take a moment to share on social media, email to someone you think will find benefit, or print and leave it on the desk of someone whom you believe has the motivation, but lacks the tools to take themselves to the next level.

Don’t miss out on any new articles. Subscribe via email using the form at the bottom of this post and I’ll have the articles delivered straight to your inbox. Alternatively, you can also follow me on my various social media accounts: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Foreword

One thing I have learned is that for the most part, people express the same idea but they express it in many different ways and with many different words. It is the details in the expression, the words, and combination of words used, that give a story its colour, its texture, and brings it–and its lessons–to life.

We are unique combinations of our beliefs, values and life experiences. Differences notwithstanding, we, and our experiences, are important. Therefore, there is value in compiling and sharing these stories and the multitude of ways in which ideas are expressed. Combined, these stories weave a wonderful tapestry that exemplifies just how rich and beautiful life can be.

And who knows? An inadvertent remark or detail in the retelling of a story can stand to attention and have an impact in the world of a reader. And with that exciting possibility, perhaps the most valuable thing I can do is create the space where the stories of those whom I admire and respect can be shared.

Below are people that I have come across on my own life journey whom I deeply admire and respect. Whether it be their tenacity or courage, or relentless drive or passion, each individual generously reveals a different lens in response to the questions I regularly pepper them with.

As we continue on our sharing over this anthology, I will share tidbits and anecdotes as to why I hold them in such high esteem, and what I love most about them. In turn, I hope that you do too.

What’s something you wish people knew about what it’s like being an entrepreneur?

There’s more to being an entrepreneur than drinking champagne

Andrea Grisdale, Founder and CEO at IC Bellagio, Board Member at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Bellagio, Lake Como.

I wish people could understand that being an entrepreneur truly means being 360°. In other words, it’s not all drinking champagne, being surrounded by amazing people, and having a team of people working “for you”.

The amount of energy that is required, the number of sleepless nights one endures, the constant questions that inhibit our minds, the constant search to improve and to do better, and the sense of responsibility that an entrepreneur carries on their shoulders are aspects that most people do not see nor understand.

Entrepreneurs top most health statistics on the wrong side

Ben Ridler. Founder at RESULTS.com. Auckland, New Zealand.

Being an entrepreneur is a privilege which affords us a lifestyle that most people think they would love. What many don’t understand is the personal cost.

Entrepreneurs top most health statistics on the wrong side; particularly for mental health where our numbers are appalling. Two thirds are diagnosed with a diagnosed mental health condition, and nearly half diagnosed with with two mental health conditions. We also have higher rates of heart attacks and cancer than most of the people who work for us.

Stress and diet are the two biggest contributors to the state of health in the western world, and as entrepreneurs, we need to be cognisant of the impact of stress, and do everything that we can to offset it. This ranges from diet to mindfulness, and exercise to knowing how to switch off. The way I see it, there is no point in being successful financially, and not having good health.

Having been in this game for a long time now, learning to manage stress and understand the role it plays in health has been a big part of my journey. Full disclosure, I thought I was handling it OK, and by OK I thought that drinking a bottle of wine each night and having a “blow out” on the weekends was “business as usual”.

After exiting my last venture, I decided to focus on health and relationships before rushing into my next venture. In that time, I changed my relationship with health, money and ultimately myself. Learning why we need release valves and choosing ones that were better for my health was a big move. Moving away from alcohol also made me learn to deal with emotions instead of charging on and ignoring them.

Learning about sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and how to not stay in a stressed state for long periods was also lifesaving; my way of operating was not sustainable.

The sad fact is that few entrepreneurs have long careers because it’s a brutal, life-shortening role and comes with huge cost. For example, with COVID-19, many entrepreneurs have to let people go, and making those tough calls isn’t something we do without it taking a huge toll on ourselves (as well as the people it impacts).

Ultimately, redefining success and creating a vision for myself that was not about what I could attain but who I could become, and the values that I will live, has been a journey. As I head back into the world of business, I’m excited about testing this new approach to managing energy and health as part of my journey to be the best that I can be.

The mind of an entrepreneur is a gift and a curse

Daniel Dickson, Managing Director at Amarco Enterprises. Sydney, Australia.

I wish people understood the sheer amount of thought pattern processes and activity in the mind of an entrepreneur, and the way they see opportunities when other don’t. It’s the gift, and at the same time the curse, of an entrepreneur.

There are approximately 70,000–80,000 thoughts that adult humans have each day. I often feel that there are 140,000 thoughts that go through my mind before lunchtime, so I think the biggest thing is how to understand and harness that the energy and enthusiasm of an entrepreneur who often don’t put time against capabilities and abilities to perform tasks in that time i.e. they often overcommit and often complete things up to 75%.

The mind is more flighty, and definitely more scattered, but the part of the brain that triggers fear around risk is often more relaxed in an entrepreneur and, although they will be calculated, they are still stronger risk-takers than others.

You’re working 80+ hours a week for yourself so that you avoid working 40 or so hours for someone else

David Fastuca. Founder at Ambisie, Founder at Locomote. Melbourne, Australia.

Being an entrepreneur means you’re basically working 80+ hours a week for yourself so that you avoid working 40 or so hours for someone else.

So whatever you’re doing, make sure you really care about the problem you’re solving because you’re going to be tested many times throughout your journey.

What distinguishes entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs is their appetite for risk

Jamie Skella. Chief Operating and Product Officer at Mogul, Former Chief Product Officer at Horizon State. Melbourne, Australia.

People often believe that entrepreneurs are more ruthless, or more creative, or more driven, or more intelligent, or are otherwise “ideas people”. Yet, the key difference between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs is simply their appetite for risk. What are you willing to risk to become your own boss? To pursue a new idea?

After all, your endeavour may fail. It will in fact fail 9 out of 10 times. The odds are stacked against you.

In the meantime, you’ve sacrificed time with friends, job security, perhaps even the stability of your marriage. So, is what you’re passionate about worth that sacrifice, even if it all ends up failing? That is what it means to an entrepreneur, and that is what separates everyone else from them.

Kym Huynh. Founder at WeTeachMe, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Melbourne, Australia.

If you change the way you look at the world, your world will change

Being an entrepreneur gives you countless opportunities to practice making conscious and intentional choices in: (1) keeping things simple; and (2) choosing how we approach problems/reach to events.

I’m in constant amazement with: (1) how prone people are to making things more complicated than they need be; and (2) how quickly people get bogged down with the little details i.e. things that won’t matter in 10 years’ time.

On simplicity: The act of keeping things simple, is complex (and dare-I-say the ultimate sophistication). Simple problems require simple solutions. Complex problems require even simpler solutions. This type of thinking is rare.

On how we look at problems: The idea–that things that can signal the end of the world to one person and can result in what I call “analysis paralysis” or “constipation via contemplation” can be inconsequential to another–is an intriguing one, and speaks to the idea that how one looks at the world is how one experiences the world. For example, where one sees obstacles and problems, another sees opportunities for learning and growth. In the former, life is a struggle. In the latter, life is a journey of learning, expansion and growth.

How you look at the world is how you experience the world. In other words, if you change the way you look at the world, your world will change.

No one sees the grind, the long nights at the dining room table while the partner and children sleep, and the hours glued to the computer screen while friends are out having fun

Matt Woods. President at Coastal Mountain Excavation. Whistler, Canada.

As an entrepreneur, you have a blank canvas to build your future. You have the freedom to create a lifestyle and business you’ve always dreamed of, and once you’ve been at it for a while, you really get to see what you’re made of.

Having a normal job and being an employee for some people is enough i.e. working 9–5 and going home to the family at the end of the day and leaving your work behind is enough. For an entrepreneur, however, it’s never enough. The thrill of the hunt, and working and grinding like you’ve never known possible is so ultimately satisfying that it makes all the long days and nights worth the struggle.

For me any challenge or roadblock is just another opportunity to buckle down, problem solve, and work my way through any situation that in the past I would have considered impossible. It’s the ultimate opportunity to prove to yourself who you really are, show yourself what you’re made of and what you’re capable of.

The sense of accomplishment, of self-satisfaction, of gaining confidence, of leading people, and of building something together is incredibly rewarding. It’s not the destination that matters at all, it’s the journey and the lessons learned along the way that really teach you what the human brain and body can endure for an extended period of time.

There is also no such thing as an overnight success. Most people think entrepreneurs have a great idea and somehow, boom, overnight, they’re incredible wealthy and successful. No one sees the grind, the long nights at the dining room table while the partner and children sleep, and the hours glued to the computer screen while friends are out having fun.

It’s all the toiling, the will and the fight that entrepreneurship gifts you. Sometimes it’s really hard to appreciate it, but you need the experience, the wins, the losses, the grit, and the determination to see it through to completion that allow you to look back and be extremely proud of yourself.

Entrepreneurs are the crazy ones

Raymond Chou. Founder and CEO at Infront Consulting APAC. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Many people start their entrepreneurial journey reading about someone successful in a magazine article or Facebook post, and think to themselves, “I want to be rich and time-free like him/her”. And then once the business starts, reality hits EXTREMELY HARD because they discover that the two things they don’t have are: (1) money; and (2) time. Ironic isn’t it.

And then there are some that start their business because they have a different driver, motive or purpose, and no matter how hard things get, they keep on keeping on.

Steve Jobs once said: “Entrepreneurs are the crazy ones. The ones who push the boundaries. Who don’t say no. Who never seem to die.”

Entrepreneurship is tough! On many days most of us will say, “This is not worth it,” because it affects not only ourselves but everything and everyone around us. But those of us who are successful push forward because in some way, we want to change the world; even just a little bit.

We work 16 hours a day so we don’t have to work 8 hours a day

Ron Lovett. Founder and Chief Alignment Officer at Connolly Owens, Founder and Chief Community Officer at Vida Living, Author at Outrageous Empowerment. Halifax, Nova Scotia.

We work 16 hours a day so we don’t have to work 8 hours a day.

Entrepreneurs can see the future well before others

Tony Falkenstein. Founder and CEO at Just Life Group Limited, Founder and CEO at Just Water, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Auckland, New Zealand.

One estimate is that non-entrepreneurs make up 92% of the population. Even if it is a little less or a little more, the fact is that most people are non-entrepreneurs, and think very much the same way. Non-entrepreneurs do not realise that entrepreneurs think so differently.

Entrepreneurs can see the future, well before others even start the process. So, entrepreneurs see the end result and go backwards to the start position, while non-entrepreneurs start at the beginning and work through a process.

The entrepreneur’s mind is like a computer insofar as it does the analysis so quick that it arrives at the end result within seconds. Once non-entrepreneurs understand this, they can go through the process from the beginning, as a check on the entrepreneur’s end result (when they work together).

I’ll caveat this with stating that the entrepreneur’s end result is not always right, so the non-entrepreneur’s check is important, but it shouldn’t slow down the entrepreneur moving forward.

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

Call to action 

My goal is to help 1,000,000 people. My wish is to have these articles shared 1,000,000 times through the various social networks. For this reason, I provide this collection online for free and all I ask of you is this: If any of these articles have helped you in any way, please take a moment to share on social media, email to someone you think will find benefit, or print and leave it on the desk of someone whom you believe has the motivation, but lacks the tools to take themselves to the next level.

Don’t miss out on any new articles. Subscribe via email using the form at the bottom of this post and I’ll have the articles delivered straight to your inbox. Alternatively, you can also follow me on my various social media accounts: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

After I launched my business online, I started selling cupcakes at the markets. I set my market-selling date before I registered my home kitchen because I knew that if I set a date, and put down a deposit to sell at a farmers’ market, I would be pushed to tick off all the tasks on my list: (1) create the product line; (2) create the flavours; (3) create a menu; (4) register a business name; and (5) get the food registration, etc. I wanted to work backward with a timeline. If you have a goal and you don’t have set a date, you tend to let things drag it on. That’s how I made myself accountable for making my business work.” — Sheryl Thai

I started thinking about how other entrepreneurs work because I didn’t feel like an entrepreneur. I didn’t think I was an entrepreneur. I knew that I had a “small business owner” mindset because I wanted to do everything and didn’t want to delegate. That realisation was a defining moment. There was a time when I was so tired, I was taking cupcakes out of the oven, and my arms couldn’t live the trays because of how heavy they were. I remember dropping them and I broke down and ran off to the cupboard upstairs. I locked myself in there and cried for an hour. I needed to change and figure out how to be an entrepreneur. That’s when I started finding other people that was doing what I wanted to do and started learning from them.” — Sheryl Thai

I picked up the phone, called up a law firm, and said, “Hi! I can build websites for you.” The lawyer said, “No. You can’t. Good luck.” He hung up on me. I was crushed. After that, I felt like I was a terrible salesperson for a very long time. When I consider sales with WeTeachMe, I find that WeTeachMe touches on who I am and my core values, so I don’t really need to “sell it”. I talk about the “why”. Why am I passionate about WeTeachMe? Why am I passionate about learning? Why am I passionate about education? And why did I start WeTeachMe? I found that our first 100 customers bought into me.” — Kym Huynh

One of the most exciting things about starting your own business is that you get to create the world as you see it. You get to instill it with the values that are important to you. And you get to fill it with people who align with your values.” — Kym Huynh

Our decisions on who we hire, celebrate, or fire is based on values. When your values are clear and simple, they provide a framework for people to make decisions; what to do, and what not to do.” — Kym Huynh

Our lives are so short. Things can happen through no fault of our own. We might be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I do not want to spend an iota of time doing something unless I am incredibly passionate about it.” — Kym Huynh

I believe in this idea that learning is something that you carry with you for the rest of your life, and it’s one of those things that no one can ever take away from you without your consent. In life you can lose your job, your house, the clothes on your back, but you will never lose the knowledge in your head, and with that knowledge you can always start again.” — Kym Huynh

The one you want to listen to is the one that has achieved you want want to achieve. I say to this person, “Teach me everything you know. I’m going to sit, I’m going to absorb, and I’m going to be willing student.” — Kym Huynh

With goal setting, the most amazing thing is when I have clarity in my 10 years goals, and break that down into years 5, 3 and 1. I started achieving my 3 year goal in 1, 5 year goals in 3, and 10 year goals in 5. Every year I reset the 10–5‑3–1. It’s this incredible accelerated pace of achieving goals.” — Kym Huynh

Sometimes you can be your own mentor by reading. I love reading. I listen to podcasts nearly every day. It’s about continual growth. I ask a lot of people what they listen to and what they read. I believe that success leaves clues and so you find people that have done it or created something that you want to create, and you can learn from them. It’s a shortcut.” — Sheryl Thai

Before I was made redundant, I had already starting little things on the side and baking cupcakes for friends and family. When starting a business, sacrificing your Friday nights is just one of those things that you have to live with. I was at home and waking up and thinking about my business way past midnight. Weekends were dedicated to improving my baking skills and to learning as much as possible. I did for that a good year before I was made redundant at my job.” — Sheryl Thai

There really is no concept of “full time”. It’s all encompassing. It’s all I think about, all the time; from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. It’s not segmented 9–5 5 days per week. It’s just… life. Life melts into this big cacophony of everything.” — Kym Huynh

The days are long and the years are short.” — Kym Huynh

What’s really helped me is realising that a lot of entrepreneurs go through the same thing.” — Sheryl Thai

The bigger my businesses is, the more money I make, and the bigger my challenges are. For me, I now see my challenges as a privilege to deal with them because it means that I’m growing. The challenge is a learning for me.” — Sheryl Thai

With thanks to

Sheryl Thai founded Cupcake Central (and League of Extraordinary Women) because guess what — she loves cupcakes! Her passion has risen out of her kitchen to 5 store locations across Melbourne with millions of cupcakes served and just as many diets broken! Sheryl describes how she discovered her passion and what she did to be able to enjoy the sweet taste of success.

Kym Huynh is a Founder at WeTeachMe and the driving force behind Masters Series. Kym discovered his passion for teaching after a bad car accident prompted him to think about what was important to him in this life. He’s now planning to turn his passion into the world’s biggest school without campuses.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

Subscribe to show

Show brought to you by

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

Our strategic alliance partners: MYOB, SitePoint and Entrepreneur’s Organization.

Our media partners: Startup Victoria and Digital Marketers Australia.

Our content partners: Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this show are linked websites are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.