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Published on 28/02/2017
Traditional education will teach you that to have a successful job in a chosen field, you must secure the necessary qualifications to meet the standards expected. In fact, for many professions like dentistry and even carpentry, the key to establishing a rewarding career is fundamentally about the long-term commitment and acquiring the skills and experience within a chosen field.
In today’s generation however, this myth or practice is shifting, and many aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs entering the workforce are adopting another method to achieving their career ambitions. For them, the art to mastering their profession is more about following their passion, leveraging on their talent and skillset, and constantly re-inventing themselves and applying their talent to whatever commercial opportunity that presents itself.
This philosophy and career path has been demonstrated by Aussie serial entrepreneur / TV personality - Jamie Durie, over the span of his 25-year career. In a recent discussion with Jamie, I was able to explore and better understand the jagged road he had taken, from starting out as a model with Manpower during his humble years in the 1990’s, to building his international reputation as horticulturist, environmentalist, author, disruptive furniture designer, and TV host.
Vision is Paramount:
Over the many years of interviewing people that have had a diversified yet successful career, what I uncovered to be more truth than myth, is the fact that ‘vision’ was instrumental to their success.
From the age of 16, Jamie already envisaged a career in entrepreneurship. He was able to harness his entrepreneurial spirit, and leverage on his passion to disrupt traditional horticulture and evolve this field of study into numerous commercial opportunities. Apart from hosting popular TV shows like Backyard Blitz, Jamie established his landscape design company in 1998. Jamie has received 34 design awards and has been praised at international garden shows across the globe, and recognised as an industry pioneer, encompassing landscape design and rejuvenation of landscape, furniture, sculpture and gardens. In addition, Jamie’s ongoing commitment to sustainable practices and environmental conservation, won him praise by US Vice-president Al Gore.
So, how do you accomplish your career ambitions through diversification and re-invention ?
Re-invention is Paramount:
We often hear about the humble beginnings of serial entrepreneurs / game changers that re-modelled themselves to adapt to shifting trends to seek opportunity or gain the support of their fans. Some of my favourites include Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and even Frank Sinatra. Frank’s diversified career hinged on his passion born from his Sicilian heritage; inherent talent and intuition to seek opportunity within the world of entertainment, politics, and business; and his ability to regularly adapt to new career opportunities, whilst staying fervent and resilient in a competitive and cut-throat industry.
As with Jamie, what I learnt was the importance of ‘diversification’ as being key to a rewarding career path. Mitigating the risk across a range of industry sectors, as well as developing the necessary strategic connections with key partners was a long term strategy that worked well.
Talent vs Capital:
It is often argued that cash is king, and any aspiring entrepreneur looking to disrupt their market must have the support of equity partners, banks, or venture capitalists even before starting out their journey. Whilst this harsh reality is true, like it has been for Australian tech start-up CliniCloud, that raised $5.0 million in funding to help launch their first product, for the majority of start-up business owners, ‘talent’ is the more powerful currency that cannot be compromised, says Jamie.
On a personal note, I feel that talent needs to be harnessed and balanced with smart investment and risk-taking. Too many talented aspiring entrepreneurs fail to get off the ground purely on talent, as they are unable or are unwilling to take the necessary risks in the early start-up phase, or aggressively re-invest their earnings into their business.
The Ripple Effect of Industry Influencers:
In the realm of architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator. He designed over 1,000 structures, of which 532 were completed. In his attempt to design unconventional structures, and earn the reputation of being a pioneer in his industry, his success was attributed to constant re-invention. Today, we commonly use the term ‘disruption’, to signify the extent to which re-invention or innovation takes place.
One of Frank’s favourite quotes was ‘an idea is salvation by imagination’. For me, this signifies the importance of imagination as a means to disrupt. For Jamie, Frank Lloyd was a key influencer that propelled his own ambition of being the next disruptive designer of the 21st century. In addition, the Dalai Lama was another influencer that shaped Jamie’s mindset and view to life.
The direct impact that pioneers or game changers can have on aspiring entrepreneurs is somewhat unmeasurable. However, as we have seen with Jamie Durie, industry mentors or influencers can dramatically shape the way we think and fuel our passion for success. We observed this with Andy Grove who shaped Steve Jobs’ thirst for innovation; as well as Nelson Mandela that inspired Oprah Winfrey to focus on philanthropy.
For me personally, shifting gears from an engineering profession to pursue an entrepreneurial career back in 1997, was largely influenced by Ray Croc with his radical mindset and his quest to disrupt the fast-food industry.
This article has been exclusively written by Federico Re for Silicon Valley Globe magazine for the February, 2017 edition.
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