In June 2011 I headed along to the Nokia launch of In Hindsight, an online book featuring the stories of 7 Australian entrepreneurs. The evening was part networking, part panel discussion with 5 of the featured entrepreneurs. Each shared a little of their stories, took some questions and certainly were candid about how they got to where they are today. All 5 entrepreneurs were also there throughout the networking part of the evening, but I couldn’t quite muster up the courage to go and chat to any of them!
At the end of the panel discussion the Nokia In Hindsight Mentoring competition was announced. My ears pricked up - $10,000, a Nokia handset and mentoring with Jamie Fuller, CEO of SKINS - Open Shed could certainly make use of all that!
And the rest of course is history, Open Shed did of course win the competition and that fabulous prize. Being a self-funded start up the $10,000 has been immensely helpful and in fact Nokia gave us two Nokia handsets, one for each of us co founders! But the mentoring with Jamie Fuller is an invaluable part of the prize.
In my previous life as an ‘employee’ I was always someone who sought out mentors, so I already have first hand experience of how beneficial it can be to sit down with someone who has “already done it” and have a candid discussion about your career!
And so it happened that earlier this year Duncan and I found ourselves sitting down to spend four whole hours with Jamie. We knew Jamie had a reputation of “telling it as it is”, which we knew would be of real benefit to us, but it also made us a little nervous.
Having a four hour chunk of time with Jamie was awesome, albeit a little surreal for us at the start! It allowed the three of us to really get to know each other and feel comfortable. Which is of course what you want when you are all sharing the nitty gritty of your businesses. Jamie shared in more detail what he was doing before SKINS and how he came to be involved in it, just as we shared what we were doing pre-Open Shed.
Once we delved into an Open Shed focused discussion Jamie certainly lived up to his “tell it as it is” reputation and he pushed us on issues that we knew we had been avoiding, which was really useful! We had actually been wasting a lot of time and energy avoiding these issues, rather than having a frank discussion about them. Jamie certainly didn’t give us the “answers” (which I don’t think is the role of the mentor) to these issues, but rather he pushed us to acknowledge and discuss them and made a few suggestions about a way forward.
We will be meeting with Jamie a couple of times throughout the year and he is also happy to be on the end of Skype or email at anytime. Already a quick email to him to ask whether he knew someone within a particular industry has borne amazing fruit, thus cementing my thinking that while Nokia has given us an amazing opportunity it is up to us to make the most of it. I will keep you posted throughout the year as we do this!
*Image reproduced from In Hindsight by Nokia