The people that surround you

Jo blowing out the candles on her cake

Blowing out the candles on my birthday cake

It was my birthday on the weekend, and I celebrated with afternoon drinks and nibblies in the park near our house in Tel Aviv.

At one point I looked around at the 30 friends that had gathered and realised that a bunch of them had created their own businesses – in areas as diverse as tourism, food, fashion, photography, software and TV.

people in a park

Friends gathered in the park for my birthday picnic

The inspiring friends around me included:

  • The founder of the website The Vegan Woman
  • The amazing Jess, who is on the brink of launching her very own fashion label for rock-climbers and active people, called 3RD ROCK
  • The guys from the high-tech start-up Soluto, with their millions of dollars of investment
  • Scott with his growing community of landscape architects on Facebook and his new website
  • A food lover turned chef now suppling her amazing cakes, cookies and quiches to cafes around Tel Aviv
  • Inbal, who left her law career to follow her passion for amazing Israeli food and wine, launching a culinary tour company called Delicious Israel
  • A friend who invented a way to turn regular TV and films into 3D – he is something of a genius
  • My husband Amit, who created Stick Around and his own photography business
  • And a handful more friends who work for small businesses, start-ups, and as freelancers.

The more I thought about it, I realised just how inspiring the people around me are. All these friends are creating their own success in work that fulfils them.

I’m constantly searching for inspiration – I even started a monthly meeting to hear people speak about their inspiring careers. Yet sometimes we don’t look under our noses for the incredible stories we are surrounded by every day.

How are the people surrounding you influencing your career decisions?

Jo and Amit

Amit and me while everyone sang Happy Birthday

Is an entrepreneur a rare sight in your city?

The place that you live can have a big impact on the inspiration you find around you.

I love that Tel Aviv is filled with people taking risks and creating their own businesses. Israel is considered a hub of innovation, with the highest number of start-up companies per person in the world. Another factor influencing the high number of start-ups here is that the economics just don’t make sense – you can have a good job but not get paid enough to maintain a decent lifestyle. This makes Tel Aviv a place where people take risks, following their dreams to do what they love.

Perhaps the feeling I have about Tel Aviv being super inspirational is a reaction to living in Canberra for five years. It is a city where 40% of people are employed by the government or defence with great conditions and comfortable wages. The allure of the easy life means there are a lot of people putting off their dreams in that city, and instead become ‘married’ to the public service. Not a particularly inspiring place for entrepreneurs.

Is your city a hot bed for entrepreneurs and small businesses? Or is everyone just working for the man?

Learning from the people around you

Are people around you who inspire you to follow your dreams?

Here are my top tips on how to harness their knowledge and experience:

  1. Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions about what it’s like starting your own thing. There are no stupid questions when you’re around friends.
  2. Share. Be honest and open with your friends – share your fears and challenges, and you suddenly discover that you are not alone.
  3. Start a group to discuss business. I’ve already talked about the Escape the City meetings I initiated, and about mastermind and accountability groups. Escape the City is a fantastic dose of inspiration each month, and a really great network to be part of on our Facebook page.

I recently started an accountability meeting with my friend who also works from home. We discuss our goals, what we achieved in the previous week, our plans for this week, things that we’re stuck on and opportunities that we’re trying to follow. Even though we work in different fields, we give each other another perspective on what we’re doing, and it makes us feel less alone in our work.

You might remember that Amit and I tried to have daily accountability meetings, but these were a bit too close to home (literally!). So don’t be afraid to try having accountability meetings with a few different people, in person or via skype, for your accountability meeting.

Jo Savill is a writer, science communicator and entrepreneur. Stay up to date with Jo’s writing by signing up to her newsletter
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