I didn’t go to school. Correction. I did, for a short time and I hated it. I never really dealt well with the need to ‘’box’’ or ‘’format’’ what a school boy should be and besides, I was way out of the mould anyway. I was a good boy, great with numbers but disliked Maths due to the teacher who took an instant disliking to me. I was also great at sport and could have gone professional, but in those days if you didn’t gain good results academically, opportunities elsewhere were just closed off. So I went off in the direction of the only thing I felt truly comfortable with – cooking. Having watched my mother lovingly preparing food for my family for so many years, I decided to leave school and pursue life as an apprentice chef.
And so I learnt on the ground. The hard way. Long hours, rough treatment, terrible pay. However with that came an early understanding of responsibility, work ethic, attention to detail and organisation. For this I am very grateful as those qualities have shape the businessman I am today.
I was recently asked if a lack of a formal education had ever disadvantaged me in any way? My answer was that it only did in my own mind. I have always struggled with writing; both in sentence structure and eloquently getting my thought process down on paper (by the way, someone is helping me here J). Has this ever stopped me from going for it though? Definitely not.
With all that history in mind, I am fascinated to watch a wave of young entrepreneurs taking the world by storm with strong stance against formal education and their promotion of unconventional ways. This is me, only I’m just realising it. It seems far more acceptable now to go against traditional ways of education than it was when I was brought up. In fact it’s the new marketing tool - “It was the misfit who would not conform to convention who ultimately introduced a new way of thinking” quotes Jack Delosa from The Entourage, who seems to be leading the charge with his ‘unconventions’ and now accredited courses for start-ups. “Be who you are, not who the world wants you to be”.
Those ideas have been around for longer than we think. It was Albert Einstein who said “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. There was an early understanding that to tap into your true purpose and find success and set yourself apart from the crowd, there has be an early facilitation to think broadly and trusting in your own beliefs.
I now very happily speak on the small business circuit. Yes, unconventionally. Yes without a lot of political correctness (the accent helps) and yes with refreshing honesty. Perhaps that all comes from my start in life as well, I don’t paint my humble beginnings with rose glasses and I certainly don’t hesitate being open about the many mistakes I have made along the way. They have , however all lead to the life that I am living today. On my terms.
To finish, I have to share the ultimate irony in this life story. My recent invitation to guest lecture to 300 young Marketing students at Sydney University was one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments that I will never forget. Really? Me? That little boy who never finished school? Wow. Had you told me that 30 years ago I would have thought you were as crazy as my Maths teacher!