‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’ – Chinese Proverb
This post is perhaps chronologically out of place. Unbeknown to me at the time, this event would be the one that put the last 2 years in to focus and gave me all I needed to take my next step on my escape and never look back. It was the very first Escape event that I’d been to and the only reason I decided to go is because I saw it in an escape newsletter and had a spark of an idea. A dear friend at work always dreamed of opening her own deli and I thought that perhaps this would give her a nudge in the right direction.
As it happened, while I sat there listening avidly to Patrick, talking through his journey it dawned on me that it was the first time I had heard articulated what I secretly thought in my head but was too afraid to say out loud for fear of ridicule or rejection. Also, I’m pretty sure that I had not yet consciously acknowledged these ideas and hearing them repeated back to me finally hammered it home. Life is too short to let fear hold you back. You can’t waste a single week, day even, doing something that doesn’t excite you and the only regret you will ever have is not starting sooner. I’m already feeling that one!
Patrick spoke about his path that led him from being a city lawyer to creating a hugely successful TV show, becoming the head chef of fantastic food delivery service Hello Fresh and, in the process, finding love. It all sounds like a perfect fairy tale, but what stuck with me was, actually, it was anything but. There was a definite trajectory and in hindsight you can connect the dots as to what allowed him to take the opportunities when they eventually came knocking.
As a lawyer, driven by a passion and curiosity for food he worked evenings in restaurants and in his work canteen for free, learning, on the job, the skills he would later need. He took an opportunity to attempt a TV show in LA which didn’t work out quite as planned, but the lessons learned proved to be invaluable. A bold meeting with culinary genius Heston Blumenthal, meant that he was invited to spend the day in the Fat Duck kitchens with the chefs, later learning that he was the first person such a offer had been extended to. Creating youtube videos of himself making dishes and honing his presenting and editing skills would also prove useful. All of this motivated by a love of food and faith that by following what you love eventually a opportunity will present itself and you will be in the right place at the right time to take it up.
This led him to a point where he received an email from a woman who spotted him on youtube and invited him to Italy to work on a TV show. He knew immediately that this was what he had been working towards and dropped everything and flew out the next day and never looked back. That was the show that proved to be incredibly successful worldwide and that woman turned out to be the person he is now with today. Next came the invitation to work with a couple of people on this exciting new start up – Hello Fresh, which is now the market leader in its field. It’s easy to suggest that all of this came about by some sort of luck or good timing, but to say that would be wrong. Having been to a few Esc events and experimenting with my own escape there is a definite patterns in successful stories:
1. The passion – without this you will not be motivated to persevere through the tough times. A truly big idea that excites you, backed by passion and hard work is a powerful combination that is hard to stand in the way of.
2. Faith in what you are doing – at the time, Patrick, and others I have heard from, didn’t know exactly why they were doing everything, except that they were excited by it and wanted to learn, often offering themselves up for free out of curiosity, for the experience. It reminds me of the Steve Jobs quote I have mentioned in a previous post:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
Sometimes you just have to trust in the process and trust in yourself that you will be able to achieve whatever you set your mind to.
3. Very little is impossible – you might say that you don’t have enough time or money or skills or confidence, but ultimately none of these need be prohibitive if you are really focused and determined on what you want. ‘Where there’s a will there is a way’ as they say.
4. If you don’t ask you don’t get/what is the worst that could happen? – A general point of taking more risks in life. We are all naturally risk averse, but sometimes the greater risk is in not asking and then having a regret later in life. For me fear of missing out or regret outweighs the fear of taking a risk every time.
5. Just start, start right now! Take whatever small steps you can immediately. Later, tomorrow, if/when I have enough time/money all effectively mean never. Ultimately, you’re only regret will be looking back you may wish you had started earlier. I certainly wish I had started a year maybe 2 years ago on this particular path.
6. Authenticity is key – If you communicate with authenticity and integrity, people will warm to you and want to help you if they can. If you can in some way help them too even better.
I feel like write ups of events like these are going to start getting a little repetitive, as words of wisdom seem to have similar themes!
Patrick also recommended a couple of books, some of which I have read and reviewed in the links below. Of the ones I have read, they have provided even more fuel to the fire and filled me with determination to persevere no matter what. It’s interesting to see where the themes in these books cross over with the the ideas expressed in Patrick and others’ talks:
Think and Grow Rich- Napoleon Hill (a classic for the foundations of success)
4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss (a must read for anyone looking to drastically change how they work and need practical advice)
Get Lucky – Thor Muller & Lane Becker
One Thing- Jay Papasan & Gary W. Keller
Others worth a read:
The Chimp Paradox – Steven Peters (great for understanding our brains a little better and getting the most from it)
Creativity Inc – Ed Catmull (a really inspiring story about how Pixar, the animation studio, sought to create a creative, collaborative workplace)
Check out Patrick Drake here: