Meet Mentor – Michael White
Meet Michael White
At the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast we are so privileged to have a diverse group of mentors to help our members. Whilst you can already read their professional bios via our mentors page we will be sitting down more often with our mentors in 2019 to gather their insights and sharing across socials and here, our blog. So, if you are an entrepreneur, small business owner or work within a startup and looking to be more strategic grab yourself a coffee and enjoy this read to learn more about Michael.
"Mentors bring specialist knowledge, sometimes, and that can save you heaps in the long run"
How did you get to where you are today?
In 2001 I decided to walk away from a 20 year career in hospitality and become a youth worker. Several years of working with disengaged youth led to me to approaching schools to see if I could assist the teachers stop the flow of young people out the door. Fast forward nearly 20 years and here I am, still working with schools, but thanks to a chance visit to the Innovation Centre, I am now involved with mentoring business owners to help them grow their businesses, and I love it!
How long have you been mentoring businesses? What areas do you specialise in? And, what do you learn from the process of mentoring?
I have been mentoring businesses for around 3 years now, as long as I have been a part of the Innovation Centre. I find that people are people, irrespective of whether they are working in a high-tech, business, or simply want to bring a new flavour ice cream or chocolate bar to market. Everyone wants to maximise their potential, and I like to think I can help with that.
How do you approach risk?
I try and look at risk from many angles as I am a naturally cautious person. I want to know the benefits to taking action, and the potential down side as well. Ultimately though, some of my best decisions have been based around intuition, and going with what I felt was right, scary as that can be at times!
Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? How did you bounce back?
There have been 2 times when I really felt as though I had messed big-time up and might have to walk away from the business. The first was when I had to completely re-brand. It cost me all my savings, but I have since been repaid many times over. The second was more recently when I made a couple of bad decisions which ended up costing me big. These days I call simply call that experience!
Who mentored you, early in your career? And, what impact has it had since?
I have never really had a mentor as such, although many people have given me advice and helped me in my career. I have attended many business training sessions with coaches and mentors, and always get something of value. Perhaps as I continue to grow into the future this is something I will take another look at, as mentoring others I really notice the benefits.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learnt and how is it valuable?
To be one. I started out working with friends, and all of us thought we could work together collaboratively and get stuff done. We were wrong. There were times when it seemed like we were all in the same boat, but everyone was rowing in a different direction. I have had to learn how to a leader, reluctantly at time, but it is role I now feel very comfortable in.
What benefit/s can mentoring have on a business looking to scale?
It is always what you don't know that you don't know that stops the forward momentum in business. Mentors bring specialist knowledge, sometimes, and that can save you heaps in the long run. They can also hold you accountable, which is a good thing when you have a lot on your plate that you need to get done.
Looking for more business insights or inspiration?
How do you manage risk? Who is mentoring you and supporting your businesses journey? We are always on the lookout to support our members, share mentor insights to support our growing community.
Community is everything to the Innovation Centre, as human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop. Join the Innovation Centre community and let us help your startup grow!
If you find yourself looking for a passionate community of startup founders and employees and want to know more about the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast, join us for one of our upcoming events, or apply for a membership here.