Field Report | Canberra

It’s amazing what a community of passionate people who have, on paper, nothing in common, can do when they put their minds to it.

I recently had the privilege of attending the Australian of the Year awards in Canberra for 2015, representing our fine state as the Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year and be in the running for the national award. I should also add that I was one of only a handful people across all of the awards actively passionate in the business field, which is often unrepresented in these awards - but enough about that.

So for two and a half days with our packed program, I was being bused around Canberra, going from one formal event to another, all of the time getting put with six other finalists (the ACT Finalist Patty Mills was ‘stuck’ playing basketball in the USA) in my category along with the other twenty two finalists from other categories, giving us all opportunities to find out how we all tick. Yes, we had a guest that joined us at all of the events, which for me was my lovely wife - but here were all these people who have done things we've heard about or that we should've heard about, and I couldn't help from meeting with them!

It’s easy to come back from an event like this and talk about having a great chat with the Prime Minister about how cultivating the small business economy will help Tasmania into the future, or surprise Senators about how much has been achieved without government funding, or having a casual conversation with the Governor-General - even hopping up on stage in front of a national audience who heard about what I stand for. But that’s not my highlight.

Mine was the opportunity to spend time with people who were passionate about different fields - environment, film making, social advocacy, deaf advocacy, science, indigenous issues and community lead social work - who really I should have nothing in common with. But because we are all passionate about others, we in fact have everything in common. And importantly, we all have skills that each of us can benefit from and ways that our paths should cross again and again in future.

It’s incredible to hear the perspectives of others and add insights to your own understanding. I can help you get young people get excited about education and business, but I now know how film making breaks down social tensions, how to say some phrases in AUSLAN and recognise how hard it is for people who are deaf in our society and environmental issues in countries I know of but have not even considered amongst others.

The reason I wanted to share this with you all is because we have an opportunity. We can choose to exist in a community and stimulate each other, no matter what field we are involved in but especially in the start up space. You might walk into a room at any of the Start Up Meetups around the state and not have anything in common with the group on first glance, but realise the underlying passion is enough to start a great connection. The person that helps you solve that problem you face could be in the room. Those involved in start ups are not people who are just working for a dollar, but there is a passion that goes right to the bones of everyone involved - and it’s a passion that doesn’t switch off for a social function.

I found this passion when talking to Drisana, Chantal, Kristin, Yassmin, Genevieve and Thomas. We’re now actively working together on projects after just two and a half days together - and some of these are in areas none of us are currently involved in! We’re starting up ideas and social projects. But what drives us underneath is what has melded us together, and drives us to do more.

As a Start Up community - we can do the same.

(And yes, for those who may have wondered, I didn’t take out the national award - sorry! Drisana from WA who is deaf and a massive deaf advocate deservedly got the award, but there is no way that I would’ve liked to have been a judge because I thought everyone was doing such great work.)

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