I recently had the privilege of completing an incredible development program called Venturer Mission III. The mission unfolded in the picturesque landscapes of Queenstown New Zealand and saw participants hiking wilderness trails, climbing mountains, pack rafting river rapids, and swimming in freezing glacial lakes. To say the least, this was a once in a lifetime adventure!
The Venturer program is led by the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur’s Adventurer-in-Residence, Ben Southall, and connects active members of Queensland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ben has a true passion for fostering people development in the great outdoors. This passion was apparent to all participants, and it is Ben’s enthusiasm and energy which distinguishes him as a world leader in this space.
The goal of the Venturer program is to strengthen networks, push participants to their limits, and advance the skills necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs. Notably, skills such as resilience, problem-solving, emotional intelligence and leadership were developed through the demanding physical activities and challenging conversations.
My experience was jointly sponsored by the QUT Business (Management) School, and Elaine Stead, Head of Venture Capital at Blue Sky Alternative Investment. This sponsorship is a reflection of both QUT and Elaine’s commitment to student entrepreneurship and the development of resilient leaders in the Queensland community.
As written by a past Venturer participant, ‘the true value of the program cultivates from undistracted, genuine and meaningful conversations’. I could not agree more. It was the people who I met and engaged with that I really learnt from. I would like to thank each of the participants for their commitment and for sharing their stories:
– I was extremely fortunate to connect with the founders of Orange Sky, which offers the world’s first free mobile laundry service for people experiencing homelessness. The team of Nick, Lucas and David spoke of their experiences, highlighting the power of a conversation and the positive impact this can have on people’s lives.
– We were able to interact with an international business-management consultant, Daniel, who is helping rural Australian communities and businesses to compete with increasing urbanisation. His experience strongly aligned with my professional interests and I thoroughly enjoyed our thought-provoking discussions.
– I became close friends with a number of university students and young professionals who are emerging in Brisbane’s entrepreneurship space. Emma, Connor, and Lachlan have a range of technical skills (including IT, software engineering, business and law) which provided unique perspectives to approaching problems.
– I was able to learn from two start-up founders, Nat and Shaw, who have each had success in operating innovative businesses in Australia.
– The group undertook a variety of personal and team development exercises throughout the week. These were led by Tia, who is an experienced people development coach. The exercises included meditation, journaling, group problem solving, mindfulness techniques and end-of-day reflections. These proved to be a great challenge to a number of participants, including myself.
There were two distinct learnings which have captivated my thoughts since completing the program:
1) My approach to group activates and leadership
The group completed a variety of complex problem-solving challenges. Upon reflection, I believe that establishing a collective motivation for completing each challenge would have been the best first step for the group. Through asking a simple question like ‘why do we want to complete this task and how are we feeling?’, we would have better understood the group dynamic. This would have significantly improved the process taken as members would have expressed their opinions and mindset. In assuming a directive role at times, I placed greater focus on the outcome rather than the process, which I now recognise must be balanced.
2) An appreciation for disconnecting and being present in the moment
For seven days the group completely disconnected from social media and from communicating with family and friends. It was this disconnect that encouraged our deep conversations and allowed us the time to reflect on individual experiences and goals. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the program and have actively reduced the time I am spending online.
The Venturer Mission III was a life-changing experience! I encourage everyone to visit this page and see what Ben has planned for Mission IV. We will shortly be releasing video content of our adventure. Feel free to contact me with any questions.