How To Create A Successful Career And Work From Wherever You Want
What we learned at Brisbane Drive School, our free event in partnership with Toyota Yaris: ‘How to have the freedom to work from anywhere you choose’.
The career landscape is changing. Our generation has an impressive grasp of technology and desire to question the status quo, which means we’re creating the roles we want and carving out our own pathways. We know that to get a job done well, we don’t have to work within a traditional, fixed, office environment.
Creating tailored and flexible working environments makes for productive, happy and stress-free individuals. So if the ability to work from wherever you want (be that the office, your living room or even a Mexican beachside bungalow) makes you happy and more likely to produce your best work, how can you achieve that – and successfully? Our Drive School event with Toyota Yaris in Brisbane delved into this question.
We assembled a panel of inspiring and location-independent entrepreneurs and business owners to discuss how they created a career where they can work how and from wherever they choose. Hosting the night was social entrepreneur and CEO of Spur Projects, Lee Crockford, with panellists including YouTuber Jake Rich; Adelaide-born, NY-based founder of CAKE digital and Typographer at TheWRITING, Tania Debono; and co-founder and Creative Director of The Beach People, Victoria Beattie.
They were full of sage advice – after all, they’ve gone through a lot to get their ventures to the successful places they are today. This is what we learned.
First off, you’ll have to take a risk
Your ideal situation will require a leap of faith. Tania started out in PR before dabbling in social media and advertising, but the sheer amount of online shopping she was doing was a clear red flag that she wasn’t happy. She knew she should just go for it and be her own boss. “What’s the worst that can happen?” she asked herself. Tania decided failure was a small price to pay for the potential pay off.
Working day and night to make success a possible reality, Tania remembers living off tinned tuna, knowing that to get by while she launched CAKE digital and TheWRITING, she’d have to make sacrifices. “Luckily the risk paid off, and I didn’t even have to go through all my tuna!” she laughs.
Jake was finding that even when he tried to push himself into existing moulds, they didn’t fit. He would go to castings (like Big Brother) and each year be told he wasn’t quite right. Jake eventually made it onto Big Brother through perseverance, but the whole experience taught him a lesson he now uses constantly in his life: the importance of up-skilling.
Jake would spend hours online learning how to create videos, or be out making videos and practicing different techniques, until he honed the skill set. Then it was onto the next set. This is how you and your talents stay relevant, fresh and unique to yourself, says Jake. It also gives you a stronger platform to launch your own venture, or get a promotion at work.
Tania agrees: “Working for yourself is not for everybody, but try it. You up-skill and create the job you want”.
Victoria and her sister Emma have always been beach bums. Growing up in the sleepy Northern Rivers area of NSW by the beach, after Emma had her first child, they knew the lifestyle they had was something they couldn’t give up for a job. That left the sisters with one option: start their own thing and base it in Kingscliff.
It was scary at first; despite their swift journey to exceptional success thanks to ‘The Roundie’ beach towel, there were times when they didn’t think they’d be able to pay their bills. Despite initially hoping to start a business and take a step back once it was stable, Victoria has to laugh at the irony: “now we work more than ever!” – so it makes it even more important that it’s on their terms.
Learn when and where you’re most productive
Tania has a rule: “get out the door”. If you’re freelancing or working for yourself from home, she believes that you’re most productive out of the bedroom. Going outside will help you meet people and prevent you from falling into a rut. “You need to get dressed, and get outside. If you’re inside all day working in your pyjamas alone, you can go a bit cuckoo. You can forget how to talk to people!” says Tania. “It’s extremely important”.
Having insight into how you can maximise your productivity is key when you’re either working for yourself, or working for others but from an offsite location. Are you a morning person or are you far more focused at night? Do you find the buzz of a co-working hub inspiring, or do open plan spaces scatter your work flow? Have a play of different ways of working, environments and times of day to figure out your magic mix.
Victoria knows the positive impact flexibility in work hours and location has, so The Beach People leads by example: from 10am until 2pm staff work from the office, and outside of those hours, they’re free to work however they’d like – as long as they get the work done. “They’re absolute rock stars,” gushes Victoria.
Jake works part-time at Gelato Messina, and part-time for himself creating content, as he knows that he is more productive when he only has an allocated time each week to get his creative projects fulfilled. He, like Tania, also says there is immense benefit to networking. “I know the idea of networking sounds lame, but don’t think of it like that,” he says. Chatting to people can open up opportunities you never dreamed would happen.
Do the work and trust the work you do
“You need to make your own rules – but then you need to stick to them,” says Tania. It’s one thing to take the risk and make a stand for working how you want, but then if you lose all routine and discipline, the quality and quantity of your work will suffer. Jake completely agrees: “If you have a burning desire to do something, it’ll happen. But you’ve got to do the work. You have to act on the thought.”
Your ideal career won’t happen by itself, and it’s not just about luck, either. Jake is a believer in the notion that luck is when preparation meets opportunity – it’s why he is constantly learning, hustling hard and honing new skills – so he feels confident enough to take an opportunity when it’s presented.
You also need to back yourself. “I was constantly asking myself ‘can I actually do this?’” says Jake, who always found having unwavering confidence a “huge challenge”. He has realised that having “unshakeable belief in yourself” is so important for success.
And learn how to stop working
Victoria is similarly strict with her routine, but for her, that’s about switching off. “People can wait,” shrugs Victoria. Come 5pm, laptops are put away and she’s heading down to the beach. In the evenings, phones are out of the bedroom – her and her husband use an alarm clock instead.
Having down time is just as important as working hard, because it creates balance and allows you time to connect with your loved ones and community. It also forces Victoria to really figure out and focus on what her priorities are. How does she manage to run a company and knock off at 5pm religiously? By knowing what things only she can do, so she’s able to delegate the rest.
Tania still struggles with switching off, saying she could easily work all night, every night because it’s for herself. But she recognises that burning the midnight oil will eventually wear her out, and is actively trying to train herself out of having her laptop in bed.
Value your time
A running theme from the evening is how strongly each panellist values their time. And when you value your own time, your time becomes more valuable. Tania believes in learning to push back or educate a client as a way of standing by your own work.
You also need to trust your intuition and say no to brands or opportunities if it doesn’t feel right. Both Jake and Tania say that the lure of more money doesn’t pay off in the long run if you wind up working with a brand you don’t believe in or doesn’t align with your own. In those instances, you can wind up damaging your own brand, or you could miss out on a different opportunity that was far more suited to you and your business.
To really forge the path you want for yourself you’ll have to take risks and establish a new way of working, and despite it potentially being a rollercoaster towards the start, making changes in your life and career that speak to your core will ultimately make you happier than you thought possible.
Catch the event for yourself by watching our wrap up: