This week I was honoured to attend the annual University of British Columbia (UBC) Finance Club annual wine and cheese event presented by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society Vancouver. The goal of the annual event is to connect students with finance industry professionals to help students learn about what a career in the finance industry entails, and the club did a stellar job creating a great environment for this to happen. You can find out more about how the club helps students on the UBC Finance Club Website and by visiting and liking the UBC Finance Club Facebook Page.
At the event, the buzz in the room was energizing and uplifting, with a group of enthusiastic young people from the student community, who eagerly listened to stories from industry professionals like myself about our experiences on the job, in business and personally, with topics ranging from what our daily activities look like, and thoughts about personal investments, both financial and developmental. From my position in the IT Department at Vancity Credit Union, I shared about the finance industry from the perspective of the co-operative business model and information technology.
Life Purpose and Goals – Getting to Know Yourself
I invited the students I spoke with to discuss their own educational direction, aspirations, hopes and dreams for their future, and was impressed with many of their personal attributes, including their savvy in the financial space, their passion for pursuing opportunities in the industry, and desire to bring about positive social change using financial tools. I encouraged them to solidify their great thinking and bring it into being in their lives using these four steps, which are derived from the classic book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill:
- Definite Major Purpose: Perform self-examination and discovery, then write your their true purpose in life, with specifically what you want to achieve short and long term. Then read it daily to cultivate a burning desire to achieve that purpose based on your passion and vision of who you want to become.
- Positive Mental Attitude: Deliberately decide daily to create and cultivate a positive mental attitude that leads to happiness.
- Written Plan of Action: Quantify your definite major purpose by writing down life, vocational and entrepreneurial goals that are specific, timed, achievable, measurable, and prioritized, then creating an action plan to achieve those goals.
- Mastermind Alliance: share your definite major purpose with one or more trusted friends who want to support you in reaching your goals, and then meet regularly to compare notes and support each other.
Happiness?? Unrealistic in this Modern World??
Ok, I hear you thinking, “why the heck I need to decide to be happy all the time? Life is difficult and I need to be realistic. I will get happier automatically as I achieve my goals.” Well, this is the way I thought for many, many years, and nothing changed, until I began following the steps above. I found out that happiness comes from inside me, and it is a decision that I make inside me. If I allow circumstances to dictate whether I’m happy or not, I am allowing outside forces to to control how I react to ever situation that comes along. From past experience I found that brought me only misery and despair. Instead of becoming more happy from the success I did have, I actually became less happy. Even though this principle is mostly contrary to popular thinking, it has been scientifically proven that happiness leads to success, not the other way around. Psychologist and researcher Shawn Achor says:
“We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards?”
Dr. Achor explores this question in this fast-moving and very funny TED talk, where he argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive:
Another excellent resource I use to cultivate happiness in my life is http://www.livehappy.com/, founded by entrepreneur, best selling author, and personal happiness coach Jeff Olson, . His best selling book and community called The Slight Edge, with its message that making small constructive decisions every single day is the key to a world of personal success, has helped millions of people live the life they’ve always dreamed of.
Are You Entrepreneurial?
One definition of entrepreneurship is “the process of designing a new business, i.e. a startup company offering a product, process or service”. I asked the students if they see starting a business in the future; most I talked to said they would like to get a job first to get some experience, and then the idea of their own business is a definite possibility. But entrepreneurship doesn’t need to be venturing out and starting something brand new right away. Cultivating personal entrepreneurship is a fantastic way to grow and cultivate an attitude of innovation and constant improvement, which will add value if you’re in a job or your own business. And by starting your own small business with the intent to make a profit, you enjoy all the tax benefits that are accorded to any size of corporation. Personally I have started many businesses, and have always had one going on the side to sharpen my innovation skills to be more valuable to my employer, and there have been a couple of times where I was on my own and had to use that innovation to get going.
The entrepreneurial business model I have landed on in the past few years is that of “relationship marketing”, that is the process of building relationships with people, helping them define their true needs, then offering them a product that may help them meet those needs, if that’s what they want. Relationship marketing when grown into a network also allows people to create their own entrepreneurial network to help reach their own goals, thereby improving their personal lives. The resulting business becomes a Social Enterprise, defined as “an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being”. This is the mission I am on, and is why in my LinkedIn profile I add the title “Social Entrepreneur” in addition to being an employee of a wonderful organization which is also a Social Enterprise. Feel free to connect with me on Linkedin if you like.
So do you aspire to be an employee or entrepreneur or a combination? Only you can answer that very personal question for yourself with lots of learning and introspection. To help you get started, one of the clearest descriptions I’ve seen of the differences between being an employee or an entrepreneur is given in this video by Robert Kiyosaki, best selling author of Rich Dad Poor Dad:
Applied Entrepreneurship – A Live Event
Some colleagues of mine and I are passionate about supporting young people in their life journeys, so we are sponsoring an evening event in the near future called “Applied Entrepreneurship”, with some great training by industry thought leaders on topics including:
- Why happiness is a prerequisite to success, not a by product, and how to get more happy in advance of success
- The contrast between being an employee or an entrepreneur/investor
- How to be an entrepreneur to add value to your job or school life
- How to create and blend a small business into your rhythm of your life at school or work – it IS possible
- The personal tax advantages of a small business
There will be nothing offered for sale at this event – it will be just pure great content and learning, with some great giveaways and a special free gift just for attending. If you would like to be sent an invitation to Applied Entrepreneurship, enter your name and email below.
Let’s Continue Discussing and Keep in Touch
Feel free to leave a reply with your comments or questions and I will respond. If you got value from this blog and would like more, enter your name and email below and you will be added to my list to be notified of future blog posts in addition to being added to the invitation list for the Applied Entrepreneurship event.