Back in the 20th century, we witnessed many great pioneers that revolutionised our world and brought opportunity and commodity to the everyday person, including Henry Ford with his motor vehicle; Thomas Edison with his incandescent light bulb; and let’s not forget the Wright brothers with the mighty aeroplane.
Nowadays, the pioneers of today are commonly referred to as the ‘Disruptors’. This buzz word seems to pop up all the time, especially in the world of entrepreneurship and within the start-up community across the globe. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in innovation, technology advancement, and a new mindset and attitude, across a range of industries.
A Mindset Experiment:
In an effort to understand what drives these disruptors, I was compelled to initiate an experiment that would examine the common threads amongst these unique individuals. In particular, I was curious to know what inspired these individuals to go against the grain of common practice; what challenges they faced in their earlier efforts to launch their new ventures; how they managed to compete and remain ahead of their game; as well as the importance of leadership, strategic partnerships, and venture capital. I was also interested to look into the future of disruption, and how this will manifest itself across the globe, and what changes are likely to take place and the impact this will have on the ecosystem.
To accomplish this goal, I interviewed five Aussie Disruptors across five sectors, including Education, Food and Agriculture, Technology, Health and Wellbeing, and Social Entrepreneurship. My endeavour was to identify their key traits, philosophies, experiences, insights, values and beliefs around the subject of ‘disruption’, which I could summarise with around 150 words for each candidate. My contingents included:
Omar De Silva (Education – ‘The Plato Project’):
Avoid red tape; work outside the comfort zone; engage in trial and error; go against the grain; implement new delivery mechanisms; engage in mindful leadership through demonstrated authenticity; have compassion; leverage on your entrepreneurial spirit; provide education that is relevant; deliver value; have self-awareness and apply strategic thinking; foster social entrepreneurship instead of trading social value for a commercial outcome; build strategic partnerships to leap frog progress, build awareness and shared value; cash is the lifeline of new business; remain pragmatic about the outcomes achieved from the investment made; it’s difficult to achieve success on a grand scale without a close team and community support; success hinges around influential leadership; hard work beats talent; invest your time in constant learning; self-awareness, passion, and dedication is key to success; focus on your own niche market; private and nimble businesses can best manoeuvre around competition; help others achieve success;
Phillip Bradley (Food & Agriculture – ‘Applied Permaculture Design’)
Develop a culture where humanity is complimentary to the human environment; engage in creative and regenerative methodologies to promote production; make a positive contribution hinging on one’s passion; make a difference by restoring harmony within the local environment; rise to the challenge; collaborate with partners that share the same ethos and are willing to tackle the same issues; vision cannot be achieved as an individual but as a team and through collaboration; disruptors present, discuss and disturb traditional practices; to disrupt you need to demonstrate the ‘reality’ instead of talking ‘concepts’; engage in crowd funding using shared interest and shared passion; skill, application and practice is key to success; talent is key especially with effective communication; innovation must happen at grass-root level within the local environment; engage influencers within Government to take interest in the local community;
Stephanie Moroz (Technology – ‘Nano-Nouvelle’)
Bring technology into practical existence; solve global problems using technology; implement renewable energy sources that can match demand; disruptive thinking is essential to overcome barriers; take a leap to find a different solution; strategic partnerships is most important for securing venture capital; create something that fits the customer’s need; a talent for science and relevant education is necessary; opportunities are endless; broader population ideally should have stronger education in science and critical thinking; renewable energy and energy efficiency have made enormous strides; bring technology to people in ways that can dramatically improve their lives without the harm to the environment;
Diana Bordean (Health & Wellbeing – ‘YOUnique’):
Help clients overcome barriers and empower them to find their wellness; to disrupt you need to serve the wider community with a greater purpose; make a difference; see a gap in the market using a holistic approach; work together and bridge the gap to serve the community; use technology to provide accessibility and convenience to people around the world; to compete, strategic partnerships are key; you can’t beat people skills; have the right connections and serve people with their core needs; a holistic approach to providing wellness to clients is key; it’s best to function with inner peace and gratitude; a happier person makes a happier workplace; governments should provide the necessary resources within the community for people to live a better lifestyle which will promote wellbeing and a healthier mindset;
Mia Munro (Social Entrepreneurship – ‘Miako Social Enterprises’):
Correct humanity’s imbalance through social enterprise using a profitable and sustainable structure; educate all humans from design to manufacturing to purchasing; demonstrate and activate transparency and sustainability through social innovation, education, and sustainability; build global partnerships with fair exchange that honors culture, values and worth; create new choices for customers through blockchain style technology; build a transparent economy; encourage charities to become sustainable commercial enterprises; create new choices through education; reverse the old cycle to reduce drain on humans emotionally, physically and financially; strategic partnerships are essential to disrupt; engage in crowdfunding; consider bringing on aligned investors; communicate and influence others in a gentle and non-confrontational manner; determination, passion, integrity and persistence; gaining real world knowledge is the greatest gift; allow innovation and creativity to manifest; serial entrepreneurs must respect humanity; support humans to make new choices that serve them, their fellow humans, the environment and the animal kingdom; avoid egotistical greed; build ethical businesses and provide exceptional education on the new paradigm;
The Common Thread
So, is there a common thread amongst serial disruptors and what is their formula to success ? Based on the experiment, this all depends on the interpretation of their philosophies and values, as well as the industry sector they represent. For me personally, a shared vision, combined with passion and determination, and a collaborative spirit amongst key stakeholders are still my favorite ingredients to achieving ultimate success in whatever shape or form.
This article has been exclusively written by Federico Re for Silicon Valley Globe magazine for the February, 2017 online edition.