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.