The Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, led by Mark Sowerby, has recruited a globetrotting adventurer to help inspire emerging entrepreneurs in the state.
Ben Southall has spent the past 10 years exploring the world from Africa to Asia, Australia and beyond in a journey that has seen him racing to the top of some of the world’s highest mountains and kayaking for four months across the Great Barrier Reef — all in the name of breaking down “mental barriers” about the planet we live in.
Through these adventures, Southall tells StartupSmart, he has gained deep insights into what it takes to challenge doubt, create solutions and truly innovate.
And in his new role as “Adventurer in Residence”, he’ll be using these lessons to develop the “Venturer” program — a series of training initiatives to build tenacity, resilience and emotional intelligence in new and established entrepreneurs based in Queensland.
While the program’s dates and pricing are still to be determined, Southall says he will spend the next 12 months setting up two programs that will feature one-on-one or group workshops, seminars and mentoring.
One program will run from Australia and the other will be held overseas in a location to be determined, he says.
“People will very much have their heads down and bums up,” he says, referring to founders working intensively on their startups.
But to break new ground, he believes everyone needs to step out of the daily grind, connect and collaborate with others and rethink problems.
“We’re becoming more and more citified and we’re losing touch with great outdoors,” he says.
Through Venturer, Southall hopes to help founders move out of their comfort space, address internal hurdles and change their mindsets in the hopes that this will empower them with new ideas and concepts to be stronger entrepreneurs.
“It’s taking their work environment to a different space,” he says.
Southall previously landed the “Best Job in the World” in 2009 with Tourism Queensland — a six-month contract that included a $150,000 salary and rent-free stay at a luxury $3.5 million villa. He says like many startup founders, he was surrounded by doubt when he first embarked on his globetrotting adventures.
“A lot of friends and family told me I was stupid,” Southall says.
But Southall says anything is possible with passion, resilience and confidence in one’s mission — from pushing physical barriers, to changing mental mindsets and taking on global markets.
“If you can take a step back from those problems, [you] realise there is a solution,” he says.
“That’s why it’s so relevant to innovation and startups.”