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Terry Shubkin

Chief Excitement Officer, Young Enterprise

Fast Five is our quickfire interview series where we hit up some legendary movers, shakers, innovators and changemakers with, you’ve guessed it, five big questions. In this week’s edition, we talk to Terry Shubkin. As well as having what is perhaps the world’s greatest job title, Terry works with thousands of young people in New Zealand every year to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit

Terry Shubkin

Q1: Can you give us three words that describe your life?

Exciting, exhilarating and exhausting.  We have a wonderful weekend called EIA weekend and I tell everyone there (student entrepreneurs, mentors and judges) that it’s all about the three E’s.

Q2: Most entrepreneurs have an origin story- a moment in time or an experience that was the catalyst for their entrepreneurial journey. What is your origin story? 

I think my story, like most is a combination of three things – 1) planning your own pathways; 2) being prepared for disappointments and c) embracing the unexpected.  My journey is the combination of all three things.  1) spending a year with a coach working on “how I make my skills transferable”.  2) Being asked to apply for an acting CIO role then not getting it. 3) Scanning the paper looking for companies to approach to pitch to do some consulting work, and seeing my job advertised.  And then having 24 hours to decide whether to apply, knowing that I didn’t fit the description of what they were looking for.

Q3: Tell us about a massive flearning (failing + learning) moment for you.

I love that word – flearning!  I’m a firm believer in that.  If you’re never failing, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough and taking enough risk.

One time that sticks in my mind was actually the failing of thinking small, thinking like a typical not for profit.

I was at a Board meeting and my then Chairman looked at me and said “Stop thinking small.  If money was no object, what would you do?”.  I felt like I had been kicked a little, and my first reaction was “but money is always an object” Once I stopped licking my wounds, I got into action and spent the next two months with the team brainstorming grand ideas that we thought we could never afford.  Fast forward two months – I presented these to the Board and then walked away thinking “money is still an object”.  That night, we had a function where the then Finance Minister was in attendance.  The next day, we got a call which said “the Minister wants to know if you had more money, what would you do with it?”.  That started one of the best initiatives we have which was the introduction of a team of Roaming Teachers which has helped to grown our student participation by over 60% in five years.

Q4: What do you wish you’d learned at school about starting or running a business? 

I wish that they had taught us that this is a viable pathways to consider.  At my high school in the US, it was viewed as a “college / uni – prep” school so everything was about going down a more traditional pathway.  I think exposure to entrepreneurship in school is so important as it may give you an alternative path.  But it also could be about giving you a different perspective for a “traditional” employment pathway.  Or, it may show you that you can do both.

Q5: What’s one book, website or podcast you’d recommend to aspiring young entrepreneurs, and why?

I love the book Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip.  He disrupted the travel industry back in the day.  His book is an honest reflection of the good and the bad, the ups and the downs.  I also like his focus on creating brand values to live by and make decisions by.  When we embarked on a cultural change programme, we used that as a guiding principle for all of our internal discussion as well as the creation of our own brand values.


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More about this week’s Fast Fiver, Terry Shubkin.

Terry is the Chief Excitement Officer for Young Enterprise, a NZ based charity working with thousands of young people every year to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit.  Terry says that the excitement comes from seeing the potential that young people have and helping them become the business leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators that will make an impact on the world.  These young people aren’t just our future, they are today’s changemakers

Like this? If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to subscribe to Future Anything’s regular e-newsletter for more just like this. You can sign up here!

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