But regardless of where the HQ was or what the company did, they all shared one common trait. Direction. Each and every member of these companies knew the direction they were heading in and the change they were making in the world.
I think something we overlook from such a young age is direction. Not the directions you take to get to your friends house, but the important directions. The ones you take as a human which shape where you go in life and the person you become. I'm in the pivotal part of my High School career, where I'm deciding where I want to go in life and what I want to achieve. I’m starting to get asked - What are you doing next year?
I don't remember the time I finally decided I was going to run my startup full time. It was just something that came naturally to me. I was just following my passion. There's a common misconception in society that you have to go to University directly out of High School and for most of the older generation in our society, that's the definition of success.
A large proportion of those we met in the Valley, were either University drop outs, or hadn't even stepped foot in a University. Now, don't get me wrong; if you want to go to University, get a degree and work in your chosen profession for the rest of your life - go right ahead. But don't let society's belief of success mould the person you become. Follow your passion, grab it and don't ever let go.
I’ve always been of the mindset, if you want something, go get it. Don’t let anything or anyone stand in the way. Don’t let your family, friends, teachers, peers or society have a play in what you decide to do with your life. Your life is yours. Not theirs. So don’t play by their direction, play by yours.
We arrived in San Francisco on Columbus Day weekend. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon when we made it through customs and decided to take on the city. The buildings, the streets - it’s an atmosphere I’ll never forget.
We were fortunate to visit Google, which might I add was a highlight of my trip! Hearing about the sheer scale of the company both in the Valley and Worldwide was a real eye opener to how simple ideas made in your mums garage can turn into Global Empires. It was inspiring too see how the company values the importance of culture to its sustainable business model.
That word gets thrown around a lot in corporate entities. Culture. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a trend in the startup environment which has seen a shift in the importance around team culture. Not only are we seeing startups move to a more sustainable model of trust and motivation but a model of appreciation and determination to see their employees succeed both in and out of the company walls. Executives are now encouraging employees to find a balance between work and play, mental and physical health and a balance in work place responsibilities. This became evident when hearing about the numerous work bonuses, benefits and not to mention the equity that majority of startups are offering their employees as a “lure” to join the company in those integral early stages.
Another highlight of mine was visiting a dream study destination - Stanford University. Being given the opportunity to tour Stanford was a privilege and something I won’t ever forget. This is a University I have wanted to study at since I knew about Tertiary Education. We were given the tour from a friend of someone in our group, who was one of only two that gained admission from NZ into Stanford last year. The heritage, culture and history that is embodied into the school campus is eminent from the moment you step foot in it. This place is definitely one I will be back too!
A real passion of mine is giving back. Giving back to my community and those in most need. So, when we visited Water.Org, a not-for profit, NGO, I was particularly excited to see how they use their resources to raise awareness and provide solutions to the growing demand for water and water sanitation projects - worldwide. It was warming to hear how they are doing their part to solve the water crisis that puts 2.3B people in need of basic water sanitation. Hearing from one of their passionate directors reiterated how important it is to follow your passion.
“Man is only great when he acts from passion.”
I think there’s huge value in travelling overseas, especially without the guidance of your family or friends. I think if I learnt anything from this trip it’s that; There is True Strength in Vulnerability.
Vulnerability isn’t just being “a softie” or “having a cry” but it’s being strong enough to stand up for what you believe in. Being able to stand in front of a crowd and show your vulnerability by laying all your cards on the table and declaring your passion. If you’re able to declare what sets your heart on fire, what gets you up in the morning and what you work for - then you’ve enabled yourself to be vulnerable with your surroundings but more importantly, vulnerable with yourself.
Finding your passion doesn’t come overnight - believe me. But I think deep down, everyone knows what their true passion is. Whether that be; cooking, story telling, singing or running. It can be dancing, photography or gaming. A passion is not defined by constraints. There are no variables that can dictate what you declare your passion.
But finding that passion - that’s important.
Mine? My passion is inclusion. Allowing others to be included in conversation, included in a task or included in life. That’s where OLelei comes in. I’ve done a lot of thinking since I got back from San Francisco and I think the number one learning I’ve come away with is; OLelei isn’t an almond milk company. It’s not a dairy-free company. Hell, it’s not even a food and beverage company. It’s a company that promotes and provides inclusion for all. Inclusion for those who don’t otherwise have a chance to be. I’ve defined my passion and put a title to it. Something that most don’t do until it’s too late. So, don’t let it get too late for you.
Don’t shape your passion around your life.
Shape your life around your passion.
That’s my passion. What’s yours?
Published by: Matt Billington