Formative Jobs Reflection

Formative Jobs Reflection

A few days ago Sarah Stokes, a good friend, past workmate, and awesome designer and coach posted an interesting reflection challenge on Linkedin:

“Friday distraction: the jobs that you don’t mention on your resume or in interviews that you are prepared to share – formative experiences that taught you a lot while not being directionally aligned with your career path.”

Sarah Stokes

As someone who has had a non-linear career and explored many of the things I’m curious about – often in parallel, this question resonated. I’m a big believer in bringing all of myself to my work and being mindful of the things I’ve learnt and how they might apply in various contexts. This was a good excuse to reflect and actually write a bunch of them down. Here’s my reply…

Great question! I’ve only included stuff from my first corporate job forward on LinkedIn… it’s missing loads!

  • Brickie’s labourer & bricklayer from age 2
  • Metal working labourer from age 2
  • Paper run
  • Lawn mowing
  • Car/truck washing – including the next door neighbour’s beer tanker (only washed the outside of the tank ?)
  • Recycling printer parts – stripping & replacing felt runners
  • Ran the school stationery shop
  • Fitness training/coaching
  • Volunteer setting up events & conferences – including AV
  • Nursery labourer (first job out of school in a wholesale nursery in 1992)
  • Westpac (first corporate job in 1993 at age 17)
  • Gangster Snowboards (first startup in 1994 at age 18)
  • Snowboarding instructor
  • Emergency services/civil defence training
  • Bartender (Bar 38 Covent Garden)
  • Dynamic4 (founded living in London in 2001 – strategy, design & tech for small business… and fitness training)
  • Personal trainer specialising in Pilates & spin
  • Co-founded many startups and social enterprises in parallel to everything else since 1994

I learnt how to learn and work hard from a very young age. I fed my curiosity. I took risks. Most importantly I built empathy with people from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences – so I can have a sensible conversation with most people and can ask insightful questions that get into deep detail for their context… which builds a sense of shared experience that goes beyond the surface.

I learnt to share what I know and can do early in my life. How to coach, guide, and support people. How to lead from alongside rather than from a position of authority.

I learnt to see the whole across a broad range of contexts and see patterns. This allows me to find inspiration and possibilities from seemingly unrelated things.

I learnt to rapidly adapt. I have confidence through practice that I can face and thrive in changing contexts. I learnt to see and anticipate trends.

I learnt to love learning in an applied way… about everything I can… and I still do that everyday.