Mike Parsons
innovation. storytelling. lifehacking. music

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How To Overcome Uncertainty And Make Bold Leaps Of Faith

 

My career has been a patchwork of different roles and opportunities across four countries. There’s been some hits and many misses along the way. And I wanted to share some learnings from my journey.

I’m not perfect. Instead, I’m a student of life. So here are a few thoughts that are the foundation of how I made several leaps of faith during my 20+ year career.

# Live the life you dream

After a lazy six years in high school, and many missed opportunities, I stumbled into University. I was studying Science Psychology having never met a psychologist.

After seven weeks I quit university and moved out of home four weeks later. To the despair of my parents, I spent two years DJing and working at record shops.

Three years after quitting university I co-founded NuDance the first Australian internet radio station in 1997. Despite the venture failing, this gave me the chance to understand the Internet and launched a lifelong passion for technology.

Convention with all my classmates was to get a university degree. Yet, at that time of life, it was not right for me. I knew it in my bones. I dreamt of music and DJing, and I’m so glad I heard the call.

My advice is to close the gap between your dreams and what you're doing today. Make your dreams happen.

# Listen to your inner voice

At the age of 24, I arrived in Amsterdam to run a startup that had raised millions in funding. Soon the stock market crashed, and it felt like everything Internet-related was cursed.

Given the Internet crash, the board called for a complete change of the business model. But my heart wasn’t in it, despite the boards' desire for me to continue.

But soon after leaving, I got a call from Publicis to work as a freelancer for a few months. For the subsequent dozen years, I worked in advertising, and I went on to run four advertising agencies.

When I was ending my time at the Amsterdam startup, I had no idea that I would find such happiness and adventure in the ad industry. But I listened to my inner voice and lept into the unknown.

# Solve a problem you care about

After 16 years abroad, I was struck by the dire situation for Australian rugby when I returned. Poor results and worse crowds. I was shocked that one of the great rugby nations was struggling.

I really love the skills of rugby - tackling, passing and kicking. I particularly like the art of kicking. So I decided that if Australian rugby was going to improve, I needed to contribute. I would become a Rugby Kicking coach.

I leapt into action. I watched a tonne of YouTube videos and obtained three coaching certifications from Rugby Australia. I also became the kicking coach at Petersham a leading Sydney rugby club.   

In the two years I’ve coached at the club I’ve worked with dozens of players. In fact, I had the good fortune to work with George Montgomery and Chris Bell the highest scoring players in NSW Subbies rugby 2017 and 2018.

The story here is more than the results. This a successful journey that started with solving a problem I cared about. My work as a volunteer, brings me deep satisfaction and happiness.

# Obstacle is he way

After a long time in advertising, I decided to reset things. I wanted to master product design and I could hear the call of Silicon Valley.

So I pivoted from the comfortable surrounds of a successful ad agency in San Francisco to give startup life another try. And it was hard. Really hard.

I cut my salary, invested my own money and spent several years working incredibly hard. If that wasn’t enough. I was part of a successful startup where the co-founders couldn’t agree on how the business should be run. So after designing the Nike Soccer app and enjoying massive success, the party came to an end and we went our separate ways.

After two difficult years, my next startup had some success with Virgin and IKEA and was acquired in a few years.

There were times I thought about giving up. But in those moments you need to double down. Be stoic! Because you have to fight. If it’s not hurting, then you’re not challenging yourself.

# Always be learning

After working in radio in the early days, I always wanted to return to it at some point. Fast forward to 2017 and podcasting was calling me.

Together with my New York-based friend Chad Owen, we created the Moonshots Podcast to investigate the great innovators of our time. The show has more than 35 episodes and been listened to over 11,000 times.

The most significant gift from the Moonshots Podcast is the learnings. It’s like going back to school again. By decoding the likes of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, my mind has expanded in ways I could never have imagined.

I encourage you to go out into the world and make your dreams come true. And if you listen to your intuition, you’ll be halfway there.

You may want to start by solving a problem you care about. And without a doubt, you’ll encounter difficulties and uncertainties. And that’s ok. As long as you keep learning, it will work out fine.