Now thankfully this isn't something that happens every day, but it does happen. Given the fact that my first job was at a gun club, shouldn't mean the chances of being shot increases. Whilst many bleeding hearts will tell you the dangers of shooting, it remains one of the safest sports you can do. I've had far worse injuries from hockey than anything else. Mountain biking and skiing are right up there for the most dangerous sports. However, once again, I digress and so back to the topic.
I'd got my first job as many teens do at 15. However, it wasn't a fast food joint. It was a shotgun club. My job was to put the skeets on the hopper and fire them up so that people could shoot at them. It was a fun job that paid really well. Most of the time I just sat inside a concrete bunker waiting for the buzzer. When I heard that, I'd load the clay and off it would go. This would be followed by the sound of a shot gun and depending on how good a shot they were, it either shattered the clay pigeon, or it would gracefully sail back down to land in the field nearby. The only real hazard of the job was when a clay shattered inside the bunker as it flew out. You'd be shielding your eyes as you were peppered with tiny ceramic fragments as they ricocheted off the solid concrete walls.
The job was fun and often I'd get to shoot a few clays afterwards too, which added to the excitement of it all. One day however, we were on a different range. It was the field and game range. At this range, it wasn't the traditional skeet tower and bunker configuration that we usually worked with, meaning the clay pigeons would be fired from either a tower, or the bunker. Instead, we used a whole range of different styles and sizes of clays which could be bounced along the ground, thrown up into the air, down a gully or every which way possible. It added a remarkably different sort of challenge to it all.
That day, I was stationed high up on top of this rock. When I heard the buzzer, I'd fire two clays up over this rock and the shooter would see them as if they were birds through the trees. This was no worries at all as I was high up and protected by a rock. However, the next range over, something was being fired across the gully and unfortunately I found out the hard way that this side wasn't so well protected.
There had been a few shots now and then where I'd heard the leaves in trees above getting sprayed through with shot, but thought nothing really of it. I was protected by a rock. It was way above my head as it should be. It was all good. However, just as I was loading a double clay, I heard a boom and whipping sound coming at me. My arm suddenly stung before a hot painful burning sensation took over. I grabbed my right shoulder with my hand. Looking down I could see blood, lots of blood and my upper arm dimpled with telltale signs of a spray of shotgun pellets.
I don't remember screaming or crying in pain. It all felt so surreal. One second I was loading clays. Next I'd been shot in the arm and bleeding profusely. I felt my right hand release the clay hopper and I shot the two clays up into the air. It must have surprised the range officer, as I'd let them go too early. He was on the radio to see what was happening.
I said, ‘I think I might need some help. Can you come up?’
I remember the reply was one of grumbles, as if it were so much effort to get up the hill. (Actually, for most of the club members it was, given the fact that they weren't the fittest group of individuals.)
However, when he got up there and saw the blood, his attitude changed. Thankfully, someone in the club had some idea of first aid and it wasn't long before they stopped the bleeding and revealed some nice neat pellet holes in my right shoulder.
Whilst today, I'd be seriously looking into their risk processes and procedures to find out why there was such an horrendous failing in their safety, back then. After I realised that the wounds weren't too deep, the pellets had all been removed and I was ok, it now felt so cool to have been shot at work and as compensation, they gave me and extra $50. All in all, a great day at work.
Kakadu National Park
Last year was a year of travel and adventure. However, it hasn't all been just for fun. The majority of the time I've been working and building a business whilst travelling. Being an entrepreneur is challenging, yet, at the same time, running your own business, especially in the tech world, has some amazing benefits.
To be honest, this isn't something for everyone, as it means you're usually on the go from place to place, reliant on finding reliable wifi networks and living out of a suitcase. Some people find this unsettling and frustrating, which I can understand. However, for me the benefits of being able to travel and work far outweigh the challenges. I never really got to do the whole world tour thing in my 20s and so instead of doing that and then, ‘settling down’ finding a regular job to go to each day and taking on a massive, unaffordable mortgage, I've taken a different path and one which I find creative, exciting and invigorating!
So where did I go and what did I do? I travelled around Australia. I travelled overseas. I explored, I hiked, I canoed, I mountain biked, I skied, I saw ancient aboriginal rock paintings, climbed to the highest point in Australia and tried foods I'd never even considered before, including a wonderful vegan restaurant in LA! I went to galleries and museums, met wonderful new friends and most of the time, nobody noticed I was gone! My emails were still answered. My meetings still went ahead. My business still developed and grew. The difference being, every time I was somewhere interesting, my creativity, productivity and drive increased!
The places I've worked from in 2016
The rest of Australia
The different experiences, the new people you meet and the new foods are all part of the unique fabric of being able to work from anywhere in the world. In the morning, I could be hiking up a mountain or wandering through a gallery. In the afternoon, I could be on a Skype conference closing a deal or talking with the tech team and in the evening (depending on time zone), I could be making calls or working on the business.
But please don't get the impression though that it's all been business class travel and exotic hotels! In the last year, I've spent nights huddled in tents miles from civilisation designing software processes, writing business plans and beta testing software. One of my missions was to kill the notion that as a beta tester you have to be sitting in a darkened office cubicle mashing a keyboard. I remember vividly one freezing night in the middle of winter, sleeping bag over my head, trying to warm my hands on the battery charger as it powered my phone and testing my app to its limits trying to fish out any bugs. I've done conference calls from the other side of the world, framing the camera in such a way to make it look as if I'm in an office, interacted with customers in multiple countries and time zones and successfully managed multiple projects where nobody had any idea where I was. This was all due to the nature and effectiveness of today's technology. Right now, I'm writing this as I'm sitting in a café in Japan drinking an amazing hot chocolate. Believe me when I say that Japan has the best cream in the world!
Why am I doing this? Because I love the variety. It's wildly invigorating! I love the unique cultures I'm experiencing and I love the different foods I get to try. I even ate crocodile for the first time! And let me tell you it doesn't taste like chicken at all. It's like a mix between beef and fish. I baulked though at the thought of eating horse sashimi in Japan. That was a bridge too far and Mr Ed remains safe for now!
At the other end of the scale, I hate routine and for me sitting in an office somewhere isn't in the slightest way inspiring, nor productive. I do my most critical and creative thinking when I'm travelling. It's during this time that I've had awesome business ideas and been inspired to take on different challenges. If you're lacking inspiration or motivation in your business, then find a place or activity which inspires you and go and do it. Don't talk about it. Put it into action!
Working remotely and at times seriously remotely can be a hugely rewarding and fulfilling experience! If you can get the balance right, you can free yourself and discover things about yourself and the world you’d otherwise have never known. For me it's a wonderful and exciting thing to do. If you're in a similar situation where you can free yourself from the traditional office, then give it a go! It may be the life changing shift of environment that propels your business to the next level of success. If nothing else, at least you will have some delicious meals and great stories to tell!
During the January break, I was in the US for business, but took a couple of days out for skiing. I somehow found myself heading up a lift with some venture capitalists. One of them asked me what I did and I explained briefly about software platform. Then they immediately started asking about capital structures, investors, listings and all that crap they talk about in their line of work.
So naturally I started bagging out the whole VC industry. They seemed shocked that I had some other point of view of building a business. But putting it bluntly, the reality is that a VC will want at least a 10X return. They want a clear exit for themselves, don't give a crap about you and they only see $$$ and often don't really understand the underlying business. I said to them in no uncertain terms, most VCs are toxic and destructive to business, because they're thinking short-term and don't share the core values, beliefs and vision of the company. It's rare to discover an investor that understands your industry so well, that they complement and enhance your business, rather than artificially inflate a business with cash, only for it to implode when the Seed, Series A and Series B capital runs out and the whole ‘Ponzi scheme’ collapses.
It was interesting to gauge the response to the idea that a business should only exist when it's solving real world problems. Whilst I seemed to get an agreement out of them on this, it was more of a muted response. This is the reality of business. If you can't solve a pain point or provide a happy satisfying experience to your customer, you're not going to get any money out or them. If you don't get money out of customers, you won't be able to run and grow your business for very long. Under the VC logic, if you inject enough money in, you can keep running this profitless exercise for a much longer period of time before you run out of money, by which time some of them may have already jumped ship.
I got the impression they were under the mistaken belief that everyone wants and needs their money. I've written about this before, but it really is such an important issue, especially for new businesses starting out and it's well worth mentioning again.
VCs believe you need their money, because that's the business they're in. If they're not investing in anything, they're not doing their job. Hence, they make people feel as if they need their money, but at what cost? Do you really need finance? If you do need capital, what other finance options do you have? Explore all possibilities, as having a VC shackle themselves to you has the potential of crippling your vision and ability to effectively run your business. Humour them if you have to but evaluate the real cost of capital to you and your business. You've created something special. Don't let them bastardised it to make themselves rich.
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