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November 5, 2018

Entrepreneurship is a State of Mind

In my teens I was a huge heavy metal fan, I had hair down to my waist and I played guitar in a band called Stentorian, which loosely translates to loud and powerful. One of the metal record stores I used to frequent in Melbourne’s CBD was called Metal Mayhem and it had a quote emblazoned above it front door that read “heavy metal is not a fashion statement, it is a way of life”.

Fast forward 20 years and today I draw parallels between the undying passion and devotion that heavy metal fans have for the genre — a testament to bands like Iron Maiden selling over a hundred million records with zero radio play — with the commitment and devotion that an entrepreneur must have to their craft.

Today, I solemnly believe that entrepreneurship is not a job title, it is a state of mind and a way of life.

It’s not enough to update your job description on LinkedIn, print some business cards proclaiming yourself ‘managing director’ and bask in your newfound title. While a lot of books focus on the how of entrepreneurship, so many neglect the most important ingredient — your state of mind.

As Ben Horowitz, of VC firm Andreesen Horowitz, puts it, ‘The most difficult skill a CEO has to learn is managing one’s own psychology’.

Most of us have been brought up and socially indoctrinated with values that push us towards accepting the status quo. Go to school, get good grades, complete a college degree, land that job, climb the ladder, paint that picket fence white, be comfortable. This is the narrative that first found a home on our black-and-white television sets in the postwar world of the 1950s. Breaking the ‘school, taxes, death’ narrative takes time. Like culture change in a large company, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I broke the narrative in my own life through a revelatory, somewhat serendipitous series of hops, skips and jumps, not rather than an overnight epiphany.

Here’s a summary of the past 14 years of my professional career:

  1. 2005: Customer Service @ Westpac Bank
  2. 2007: Administration @ Dun & Bradstreet
  3. 2009: Completed master’s degree in Professional Accounting
  4. 2009: Financial Audit @ Victorian Auditor-General’s Office
  5. 2011: IT Risk @ Ernst & Young
  6. 2013: Founder of Madhouse heavy metal nightclub
  7. 2013: Risk Management @ Macquarie Bank
  8. 2013: Startup Founder @ Hotdesk
  9. 2015–today: CEO/Co-founder @ Collective Campus, Co-founder @ Lemonade Stand, host of podcast Future Squared, keynote speaker and published author.

More and more people are finding themselves in unfulfilling roles.

At the same time, many are becoming conscious of the fact that work doesn’t need to suck and are seeking out purpose in addition to personal profit. For example, one-third of Australians have freelanced, with the number set to increase. This follows the US, where the freelance economy has been growing three times faster than the rest of the job economy since 2014.

That’s because the narrative is shifting, and it’s time to shift with it.

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