I love the concept of everyday Australians escaping the grind, whether that means joining a company they are inspired by, or launching their own company. I live for the idea that those opportunities are open to us if we are prepared to work hard enough.
It annoys people when I say this, but I work on my company most weekends and I also wake up excited every Monday about what could happen that week; even when there are fairly heavy problems to tackle.
Stuart Brown, psychiatrist and founder of Californian based National Institute for Play once noted that “Sunday nights aren’t considered the end of a great weekend but the beginning of something neither the child nor the adult is looking forward to,” when describing the general feel of the family home.
This year almost 200,000 Australians ‘chucked a sickie’ on the Monday following a long weekend. Many of us know the ‘4pm Sunday night blues’ when we think about the week ahead, and the Australian Psychological Society found that 45% of Australians identify their workplace as a source of stress.
When I started my company I wanted to create a place where people could work passionately towards an entrepreneurial vision, but still pay their bills. It took a while to achieve that, but I treasure having seen a concept that sprang from nothing, transform into something that now changes the lives of the people that work within it. While I'm proud of our searing progress, we still have a long way to go. We often talk about the rise of the Aussie start-up culture and glamorise what is hardly a glamorous path. But as an entrepreneur the aim is to do meaningful work that has satisfaction longevity. I don’t believe this means it’s an easy ride, nor should it be.
So why doesn’t everyone with that kind of passion quit and start their own company? For a lot of people the stress and battles that come with running a company from start-up to scale are simply not something that interests them. Perhaps they don’t even have the capacity to make that choice. I know plenty of people with innovative ideas and drive who would hate the responsibilities, and serious sacrifices required to start a business, or, for whatever reason, don’t have the realistic chance to build something from scratch. These are the people you want to hire, and these are the people you want to achieve growth with.
I think that leading a company full of visionaries and entrepreneurs should be one of the goals of any CEO, and is often the holy grail of leadership. Who wants to lead a start-up with uninspired people who just want to know when they can have their next break?
My friend and a favourite woman in business, Christa Billich, leads the Billich Gallery, and I love watching her inspire and empower her team. The ability to partake in a vision—and one as
phenomenal as the Billich Gallery—can inspire employees on even the most frustrating of Mondays. She explained to me how she sees her team: “I love working with a team of fabulous people and seeing them develop their own strategies. In particular, I enjoy seeing them inspire themselves when working on a project, and taking it further—and sometimes with even more interesting strategies—than what I would on my own. Such a team is the most essential part of a good organisation.” The Billich Gallery is about to celebrate 30 years in the Rocks, so I think she is onto something.
The term often thrown around now is the ‘intrapreneur' and can be defined as being a sort of ‘inside entrepreneur’; someone with the similar ability to lead, take a risk, innovate and take ownership but within a larger company. My news feed is now flooded with articles about what makes a great ‘intrapreneur’, and while I dislike the bandwagon, I absolutely love the concept of employees with the same attributes as an entrepreneur.
It’s what I relate to, it’s what I think great companies need, and it’s what good leaders need to manage well. The opportunity to create impactful work lives that do not necessarily revolve around the, ‘Yay it’s Friday’ and ‘Ugh, I hate Mondays’ cycle, is closer to reach than ever.