Graduate Theory

Josh Farr | On Finding Your Mission

March 22, 2022 James Fricker Episode 22
Graduate Theory
Josh Farr | On Finding Your Mission
Show Notes Transcript

Josh Farr is the founder of Campus Consultancy. He has worked with more than 21,000+ leaders across schools, universities, non-profits and corporates.

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Josh Farr
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Josh:

And so my metric for a meaningful career said, can I do something that's just net positive, but who knows how much you can help people, but can I just do something that's net positive? And can I show up every day and try to help? And in one night, my entire view of that changed.

James:

hello, and welcome to graduate theory. My guest today is the founder of campus consultancy. He's worked with more than 21,000 leaders across schools, universities, nonprofits, and corporates, and he gives more the 300 presentations per year, including TEDx talks and speaking at the Australasian talent conference. Digital in 20. He's formally an engineer with an experience in graduate recruitment. Please. Welcome to the show, Josh.

Josh:

Hi, James. Thanks for having me.

James:

It's great to have you on man. Thanks so much for coming on the show. Your experience in many areas is so unique and so exciting. I'm really excited to dive into all of this with you. But one thing I've picked up from your LinkedIn was this this thing that you did as part of your grad program. So, correct me if I'm wrong with your, the grad program at Lend-Lease, which is. It sounds like a two year program that you've managed to kind of complete it in shorter, shorter amount of time. And kind of the typical experience. I'm interested to hear your experience as a graduate and, and how that kind of.

Josh:

Yeah, definitely. And again, thanks for having me on an excited to chat about it. So the punchline would lend leases. I got rejected from the grad program before I got into the grad program in the same year. I didn't even get an interview to get into the grad program. So I'm always joked that maybe, you know, given I'm not an engineer right now, maybe they were very correct and not offering me a role. So it's definitely not a criticism. Yeah. So, I mean, it's, Lily's a massive company, right? They're an ASX listed company. They're a tier one engineering firm. They've got a market cap of three and a half billion dollars. Like they're just an enormous, enormous organization. So I got in, I originally got, maybe I should say on the region. I sent in an application like everyone else does, you get to the end of uni and you write a resume and you write a cover letter and you hit submit. And they were like due to the high caliber of applicants, we are not going to progress. I was like Devin, another one, you know? And up until that point, I was kind of at uni, I did everything right. I got good grades. I was on a couple of different scholarships. I had work experience. I had 10 different volunteering roles. I had a nice little resume happened. And I, I just didn't, I didn't get in. I realized kind of, as I kept getting rejected that I didn't really know how to get in. I hadn't really done any career work. I've done loads of engineering work, but hadn't really done any career work. I didn't know really what I wanted to do. I was still jumping through hoops. A joke that at university, you know, when you hear you get to first year and first year is really tough. And then everyone's like, don't worry, second year. It'll get. like, okay. And then you get to second year and you're like, this is hard. And then people go, don't worry. Third, year's going to get better. Right. And I was like, this is turtles all the way down. So eventually despite all these rejections, I actually went to an engineering camp. As a student, I was running the civil engineering society. I was the president. We ran a first year. And I went away to that camp and we brought in engineering grad, who was a friend of mine, Mike. And he gave this order like commencement speaks to the first years. And Mike is still with Lenley's today and is like loves engineer. And he's the poster boy for engineering loves it. And he eventually cut a long story. Short, got me a job in the back door. I actually went to work for a smaller company that then got acquired by Lenley. So I was in the Lend-Lease grad pro. But yeah, so met him, got the job company, got acquired. Baulderstone got acquired by Lend-Lease find myself in the Lendlease grad program. And all of a sudden I've gone from this sort of small agile company where you get tons of responsibility to, I still have the responsibility, but I also had the sort of bureaucracy of being in a huge organization that has, you know, dozens of. And they pretty much put this booklet down in front of me and said, here, there are 120 something things that you need to do to be certified as a graduate. And they said, you've got two years to do it. Good luck.

James:

Yeah. That's pretty crazy. And then what, what was your, I mean, that's so interesting how you got rejected and then you're back in there doing your thing. 120 things. That's a, quite a unique way of saying like you finished the grad program, like tick all these boxes. Yeah, like sometimes it's a, it's a time based thing. Yeah.

Josh:

yeah, and it was a couple of years, but they basically said engineering is really hierarchical. So what did you study at uni?

James:

I did maths and finance.

Josh:

Okay. Cool. So there's probably like probably the most similar thing is like, say in a consulting firm where it's like, you're an associate then a senior associate and you kind of work your way up. And it's engineering kind of works like that. But say for us, at least it was in construction. You're an undergraduate engineer, a graduate engineer, a site engineer, a project engineer, senior project engineer, and then. It gets a bit crazy construction manager up until you kind of running your own job. So for me, I went from undergrad to grad and as a grad, you sort of had this two year program, but part of the program was you get assigned to like different sites where I was hired to do the job. I wasn't hired to be in the program. So I was kind of retrofitting this program to my actual role, which was a site engineering role. So I was kind of like. Playing above my pay grade a little bit, but also I had no idea what I was doing. So I had to figure all this stuff out. So the grad program sort of said, well, the way we take you off is you show us, you've got competencies across all these different areas. And because of the nature of the site, I was on, I was able to tick those off quite quickly. So I just treated it like a project that old phrase, like how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? So I just took these 120 things and basically said, I'm going to come into work an hour to an hour and a half early, as many days a week as I can, like, cause you all have days where you wake up, it's raining. You're like screw that. I'm going to sleep until five when I could actually, when I normally went to. So I'd come in early some days I'll be in there at 4:00 AM and I just spend an hour or so on one of these competencies. So it was like demonstrate knowledge of blank. And if I didn't know what blank was, I'd research it. And then I'd write it in my little diary. Or you have to say, for example, it would be, you'd have to have experience in, you know, to make it really simple, digging a big hole. There's there's not the technical language for it, but so I'm gonna be able to say like, you have to dig a big hole. Okay, well, I'm not digging any big holes right now, so I'd have to go through, I'd spend that morning, like going through the site documents and the plans, and I'd find the part of the site that was quote unquote, digging a big hole and I'd then that day go up to them and go, Hey, part of my grad program, I got to do this thing. Like, can I come out? I know in like three weeks, you're planning on doing this piece of work. Can I come out and supervise, not supervise? Can I like shadow? Can I watch, can I take notes? Can I ask questions? I promise not to get in the way I'll be helpful if I can. I just need to do it, take some photos, take this thing off. And one of the cool things I realized in the workplace was like, people were really receptive to someone wanting to learn, and they really respected someone trying to go above and beyond. So that process of breaking 120 dot point thing down into individual days, and then saying, okay, if I don't have this skill, where can I go and get this skill was really, really helpful. And the same thing for people who want to start a business, launch a podcast, et cetera, it's like big task, break it down into little tasks, find someone who's already got that skill, learn off them. And I guess it was kind of like a metal learning. I learnt, I learnt how to learn that uni. I learnt how to learn from a book in this program. I learned how to learn from people, and that was a really big growth trajectory.

James:

Yeah, that's really cool. And I want to ask more about, you've got your doing this thing, presumably a lot quicker. Other people that are in a similar position to you. I mean, how did that feel at that time when you've got perhaps colleagues that are also in the grad program that are kind of doing, you know, they're sort of going for the typical weekend, 24 month period, and here you are like smashing through it all so quickly. I mean, what did that feel like for yourself? Was there any kind of social pressure, like, you know, what did you feel like in that, at that stage with regards to what your peers were doing, did that impact.

Josh:

Yeah, so it was really a it was really on one side, a point of pride and then very quickly I screwed it all up. So I'll tell you that story. So the fun bit first. So from your perspective, yes. You know, I'm doing this great program. I was thrashing it out. They do want this thing within these, where they get all the grads to. And we all sort of sit in a room for a day and they talked to us about one. I can't remember what they talked to us about. And I was asked to present to the grad program. They were like, Hey, you're doing kind of the coolest project out of all the grads. Cause I was on Sydney Harbor. Is it brand guru? If anyone listening wants to search that if you type in brand guru I was on the Harbor. I literally would get to site and watch the sun rise through the Sydney Harbor bridge. Because it's ACE and I was on the west of it. Like we literally watch it rise to the bridge. Yachts would go pass, like have on the water, beautiful project. Like the universe really helped me out. Cause it gave me the best project ever to realize, I didn't want to be an engineer, you know? Like it's, it's so good. You know, like, you know, like

James:

Yeah.

Josh:

You know,

James:

don't like it now, then like it.

Josh:

Yeah. You know, it's I got, don't worry. It'll get better when you're a design engineer. I'm like, no, I've heard this thing before. So, so I'm working on this beautiful project. I get asked to present and sort of caveat to this is because I broke the project down into 120 steps. Like two year grad program has 720 days, but I was like, there's only 120 things. My, if I can do one a day and I was working six days a week, or if I can do one a day, I can smash this thing out. Which was driven by. A strength in the shadow, the strength, there was a desire to grow and a desire to be my best self, which I still hold today. The shadow side of that was the desire to be better than other people. And I know I didn't have this language at the time, but that's what was kind of going with it. Yumi and sort of psychoanalysis says, whenever there's a strength, there's a shadow lurking behind it. Right? Like it's like the tyrant king. We see it right now. What's happening in Russia and Putin and stuff with great power. And then there's this like dark, shadowy thing that follows it. So I believe that's true for all strengths. And without going off on too much of a team, Honesty is a strength. If you go to your local barista and criticize them for the cup of coffee, you're just a jerk, right? Like too much. Honesty is not a good thing. Honesty is a good thing too little is not a good thing. So I think strengths kind of have this sweet spot. So I was doing that. I'd always been an achiever grow, grow, grow, achieve, achieve, achieve, and. Because of that, I smashed out his grad program. I got to go to this conference and speak to all these. I mean, we're in a conference room, speak to all these grads about my project. And before I got up to talk about my project, they had someone else talk about their project. So this was like the number two grad and James, this was his project. It was no criticism of this guy. It was no criticism of this job. But it was a road job. I've worked at road jobs before. I did find it. When I was at uni, this was his job along the side of the highway. There are sound walls. How sound walls are built is it's like. column. Think about the telephone pole and then another one. And then I put a wall in between, right? And then another column. And then another wall. His job was to go down the side of the highway and every eight meters dig a hole, dig out the dirt, put a piece of steel in there, fill it with concrete, go eight meters again, do it again. And he just did that for kilometers.

James:

Hmm.

Josh:

That was the entirety of the job. Right. And you need it, you need sound walls. But I was like, I would rather do anything than do that, like forever, you know, I just couldn't and it wasn't a criticism of him and we need sound more than whatever, but that's what he taught. Then I got up and I just spent the last like year and a half giving presentations on my site. So, because our site was like on Sydney Harbor, it was this big precinct. We had like politicians and sort of influencers and all these people coming to our site. And part of my job was to give to us. So I had this like slick presentation with CGI and photos and behind the scenes and facts and stories like I'd given this presentation 20 or 30 times. And like I'd Moonlight off my job at work to like, if anyone was coming to site, they'd be like, Josh, do you want to give this presentation? I was like, yes, let me talk about it. I love talking about it. I just didn't love actually building the thing. And so I had done this slick presentation. I had the jokes and the stats and all that stuff. And this poor guy sits down after going like click here's another column, click here's another column. He sits down and I get up and in my mind, like the lights dim, the rock music plays. And I just like, wow, the group with his presentation and the general sentiment at the end was like, screw you, buddy. Like you get to work on the Harbor with all this beautiful stuff. And the upside of that was like, I love talking about it. The downside was, I was like, yeah, look at me, look how great this is. And in hindsight, I realized it was a fair bit of ego there and the ego was driven. My belief is because I wasn't truly happy. It wasn't that I was intrinsically loving what I was doing, but it looked good to the outside world. So the way I compensated for not being really happy at work was to kind of tell people about it. And I didn't do it in like a I'm the best way, but I was like, look how great and beautiful this is. I was literally trying to convince myself that I liked what I did and I knew I did it. And so I get back to work. I smashed out this grad program. Then I learned a very valuable lesson. The head of our construction site was away on holidays and I'd like put in for this promotion because like, once you ticked off all the 120 things you could put in to basically get out of the grad program. And so guy came to my site and he sat down with me and he said it was like a senior guy in the company. And he's like, so you want to finish the grad program? And it's like, you know, eight months in nine months in at this time, I'm like, yeah, I finished it. Like, here it is. Here's 120 page thing. Like tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, done it up. And he asked me, he said, what's your end goal? And I was like, what do you mean? He's like, you know, like super sane, you know, when someone asks you a question, you're like, you're like, I know this is a loaded question. I just don't you'll you have more experience than me. I don't know how I'm being duped here. He said, what's your end goal? Like, what do you mean? He's like, well, in your career, where do you want to go? Where do you want to end up? And I was like, oh no, one's really asked me that before. I don't know. And he said, do you want to be a construction manager one day? Which is like the head role on the job, right? He's like, do you want to be a construction manager? And my gut reaction was not her. And he asked me, he's like, why not? Why don't you want to, why limit yourself? Like, why don't you want to go to the top? I said to him, like, I've watched construction managers and I don't want that job. Like, it doesn't look like the thing I want to do. And then his next question was like, well, what do you want. If you're not super happy here and you don't want to go to the top, like where in the middle do you want to finish out? You know?

James:

Hmm.

Josh:

And I was like, oh, I don't really know. I was just like, I just want, I just want more, I just want the next thing, you know, I, I didn't know where to go. So I was like, I'll just keep going up. And I was just trying to say whatever I had to do to finish this grad program. I left that conversation realizing like, wow, I actually don't know why I'm. I'm kind of pretending that I like this and I'm exhausted, but I'm working 12 hour days, six days a week. Like I'm not enjoying this. And I put in for this promotion, I get granted this promotion and then my construction manager comes back from holidays. Right. And so it was very kind gave me a job when I'd been rejected. Like, you know, it was just so great. Such like played a bit of a mentoring role in the early days and he. Furious like he's gone. And then here's this like young whippersnapper who's gone for a promotion, kind of like outside of his scope and his ranks. And I just completely broken the chain of command. I'd sort of gone. Like he employed me. I was under him, his project, and then I'd kind of gone out into the corporate machine and then found my way around it. And I just had broken all those unspoken rules of like loyalty and patience and humility and the message that that gave was. Here's this kid, who's a really high achiever, but he's got a big ego. He doesn't like following the rules. And he's going to do what's best for him. And all of that was true. The problem was the reason I was doing it was I was not happy and I just never articulated that to anyone before. And so when I realized, like I got this promotion, you know, I was teed up to earn a little bit more money and maybe get some more responsibility. I realized I didn't actually want to be there and it wasn't a criticism of the company or the job. It was just that in that moment, I kind of realized when it's like, Hey, you can have even more. I was like, I didn't really want this. And learning that at 22 was a real gift because I realized I didn't have to spend 40 years doing something I didn't like. And then the Australian workforce data from Gallup says out of every five Ozzie workers, less than one of them under 40 loves. Like people need to know that if you look at, if you sit down with five of your buddies, statistically, four of them, and part of you, don't like what you do as I'm like that's depressing. And when I realized that I kind of, wasn't the only one who didn't love what they did. I wanted to figure out, well, what do I do next? Because everything I've done up until now has prepared me to be an engineer. And now I don't want to be.

James:

Yeah. Wow. I think that's super interesting. And I think it's so great that you, like you said, Realize that so strong. And then we're thinking, okay, what am I going to do next then? You know, rather than cause I, like you said, lots of people don't enjoy what they do. They kind of, we'll just, we'll still just stay there and be like, well, the alternative is to take this huge job and go and do something a bit crazy about like, this is a much safer, I don't want to, for whatever reason, I don't want to go out and do these things. So I think it's yeah, really brave of you. And certainly maybe in some ways it gives that you. Realize that so early on, because like, if you find out later and perhaps you have some more responsibility and you're doing these other things, then it's like, the chains are really hard to get out of. I think, you know, like following your passion has a little bit more risk. So I think that's really cool. Hey, how you managed to do that? Because yeah, what, what, what's the next step for you then? I mean, Well, things are not going great here. You've kind of realized maybe that some purchase a little bit, maybe by accident you know, you're realizing you're not super happy. Yeah. Like, you know, what's the next step for you? I mean, it's like, cause you could go anywhere at this stage.

Josh:

Yeah, I mean, to be totally honest, I went a little bit, Peter pan. I just ran away to Neverland. I kind of didn't know what I was doing. And it's funny, this pops up in all in so many movies, like it's what Simba did, you know, kingdom's all a bit scary. Someone comes in, like I'm just going to run away. Like it, that con that kind of theme of that adolescents running away, escaping. I kind of did that. And I had a, my best friend at high school, his older brother, and his best friend when they was sort of at the age where out about 22, had gone over to Canada and went and did a ski season and just went and relaxed and had fun. And at uni I'd worked really hard. I never really had like holidays overseas. Some of my friends traveled during the holidays, but I was always working to pay for uni and whatnot. And so I kind of thought like, W what would a D leave? I'm not loving everyday. What would the opposite of this look like? Like how would I love every day? And I was like, maybe I could just go have this grand adventure. And I've been quite smart and I'd saved up money, which is my top tip, by the way, for anyone who's not loving what they're doing. Like if anyone's listening as a grad, like save money is a really good idea because it gives yourself some cushion. So you can take a month or two months or three months off and also two years in my case and figure out what's next. But yeah, I kind of left. I went well. The decision I made was I can stay in a job. I know I don't like where I can go and have an adventure, do a bit of a reset and try to figure it out. So it started by just having a bit of fun recruited my best mate, we both went overseas, went to Canada, went and lived and did a ski season in Canada. I just wanted to go do something different and have some fun. Met a lot of amazing people. And one of the big things I realized when we were in Canada was lots of people working there, tons of Aussies to start with, but lots of really qualified things. Those people who'd gone to great unis had great degree. Had graduated with all these opportunities and then had come to a similar realization. I don't actually want to do this thing that I'm doing. And on one side that was really reassuring because around lots of other people who were in a similar position and travel's kind of like this, like you meet lots of people who are all a little bit lost. But the other side of that was after a while I sort of thought, well, I don't just want to like wallow in being lost. Okay, this, this is fun. This is really cool, but I want to do something I want to, I want to move things forward. So after a couple of months in a ski season in Canada, which over around the U S had a bit of an adventure ended up in London, like did the Contiki around Europe, like the classic sort of six to seven months. And at the end of that, we'd been to a bunch of countries. We'd run out of money pretty much. And we had to start working again. And as I started to work, I'd realize that. Where I was developing skills quite quickly was in the nightclub industry. And my job was I realized that you could get paid to drink alcohol and party with people. My job was basically promoting nightclubs and it was really fun. Like I had a great time. There were days where I'd wake up and like, my job was to go out and party with the groups of a hundred, to 200 people and be the life of the party. And there were days where I'd wake up where I didn't have to drink the alcohol that day. And I turned to my housemates. I'm like, how excited are you not to drink alcohol today? Like, it was the opposite. You know, maybe a healthier relationship where you'd say, yes, it's a Saturday, we've got a great party on today or a wedding or an engagement party. Can't wait to have a glass of champagne. I would wake up and say, I can't, I'm so excited. I don't have to drink alcohol today. And then inevitably someone and say, Hey, there's this party coming on? You should go. I was just living this lifestyle where I was like drinking and getting people drunk professionally for a living. And it was fun. Like we, people had a great time. Great photos, great memories. Hilarious. But it was also kind of depressing. Like alcohol is a depressant. So after doing this for weeks on end, I got to this point where I was sort of just like spiritually, morally a bit bankrupt. And I started to think like, is this is this the rest of my life? You know, I wasn't happy as an engineer. And I thought I'll just go to the opposite artist party for a living. And then I realized, oh, I'm not actually super happy doing this. And then I started to think like, is there something wrong with me? Am I just not going to be happy? Like, is that how this story. And that was kind of terrifying and having that realization that, oh, okay. I'm not particularly good at making myself happy in the longterm. Like I can in the short term, like I can make today. Amazing. But can I make months on end amazing or will I keep wanting to leave? And I was like, how long can this go for? So yeah, I was kind of stuck in London, running pub girls, feeling a little bit like.

James:

Yeah, I think that's a really interesting question to ask is like, you know, are you not enjoying what you're doing because you just don't like it or, you know, can you just like, are you just not appreciating. Like things for what they are almost. And is, is anything gonna feel that or is that just the way things are? I think, I think that's interesting, but what did you do then? Cause like, you know, you're kind of faced with it's, it's almost like sad, like reality slapping you in the face. Like, Hey, you know, you're, you're not going to like anything. Life just isn't that great. You know, that's quite, it's just, yeah, it's kind of sad when you, when you look at it, but like, you know, what was your. How did you approach that then? I mean, w what was, yeah, I'm interested to hear how you kind of, you know, like how you, what you did after that. Cause it's yeah.

Josh:

Yeah. And for anyone listening, if you are listening one, thank you for listening to don't worry. This story has a happy ending, right? Like the reason I can go into the depths of the darkness of it all. Well, I can tell you, I screwed up at work. I was driven by my ego while I was getting people drunk for a living while I was feeling depressed. The reason I can tell you that is because I've done the work to overcome it. And I think where a lot of people get stuck. And I did this in a future job, which I'll tell you about a bit, but like I sat down with literally thousands of people and talked about their careers over two years. And so often. Wouldn't admit that there was a problem. Like, I love the phrase. You can't solve a problem. You're not willing to have. And at the time I wasn't willing to have any of these problems. You know, now in hindsight, I can look back on them and go, yeah, geez. Like how silly it was. I can't believe I was doing this stuff, but at the time you looked at my Instagram, it looked the house have the best time in the world. Like I was probably actively making people more depressed about their lives by faking my life on Instagram, about how happy I was, you know, beautiful boys and girls like beautiful, exotic location. I went and bought a GoPro and that just leveled up my whole insti game. Like it was fire, you know? And I remember like I ticked over a couple thousand followers and people would start to treat you differently. So this is like, this is seven or eight years ago. So the Instagram's been around for a while, but it's still, you know, if you had a couple thousand followers on social media, like that was a, that was a thing. Be out on pub girls and I knew the routine it's, I'm going to come up to me and be like, so like, I'm gonna try it on my God. You do this for a job. I'm like, yeah, dude, blah, blah, blah. I've been traveling for a year. You've been traveling for you. It's so amazing. Like, yeah, it's pretty cool, blah, blah, blah. I should add you on Instagram. And I'm like, sure, here's my username. And then have me, like, you have thousands of followers and people would literally treat you differently because of these followers, which were just people who I was like faking my life. Luckily there was real, it was my life and the problem and it was, it wasn't fake. It was real. It wasn't the entire truth. You know, it was like, I, someone said to me once, look through someone's Instagram account and look at what percentage of the time they're smiling and it's nearly a hundred percent and you look at someone's normal life. Like, no one's walking around like this all day. You face it

James:

Yeah.

Josh:

You know, it was so it's like, it's a part of life, but I was projecting that and I was trying to convince myself I was happy, you know, like, and so I get stuck here. I realized this kind of isn't working and. I had to figure out what to do. And one of the things I've been really lucky and I, I think like I'm a slow learner. I've been gifted in life by like really good opportunities and just completely coincidentally, a guy who had studied. I was doing engineering with who I was working with Lendlease at Nathan who's awesome. Has a really big friendship group. And he was traveling around Europe at the same time with a bunch of friends. This is obviously way pre COVID and he ended up in Portugal. I didn't know. I thought Portugal was in South Korea. And I was like, dude, I'm not catching a plane from London to south. He's like, Portugal is, it is an hour away from you on a plane. I was like, oh, okay. Like, I'm sorry. No idea. Right. Oh, that's cool. So I jumped on like a $50, Ryan air flight, super cheap international flights out of London. I go down to Portugal and I hang out with a friend. And I spend some time with him and a couple of mates and I go, they're like, oh, you know, life looks amazing. I'm like, yeah, it kind of is. But I'm kind of getting sick of this whole partying everyday theme and long story short when I'm in. I decided that I just need to, I need to get out of London, the party scenes to hectic. Like it's not a healthy place. I'm like, I'm going to move to a little beach side town and I'm going to set up there. So I'm in Portugal. I get it. We're walking to the beach. I pull into a hostel, I literally talk to the owner behind the counter. I get a job in this hostile, in Portugal a week later, I go back to London because it's beautiful. It's beachy. It's not the city. Like it's just. go back to London, I pack up my stuff, do one final pub crawl, finish a pool party at 2:00 AM, go direct to the airport, fly to Portugal, sat down in this little beach town. I'm like, I'm just going to be here and decompress and moved to Portugal. Spend some time there and just start thinking like, what am I going to do next? Like, that was my layover period. I was like, I'm just in this little beach town and go sit on a beach and think about what to do next. And at that time I started looking kind of beyond myself and it was. Pete, this is 2015 at this point, peak of the Syrian refugee crisis. And so Nathan and his buddies and his friendship group at that point have moved out east. They've gone into Greece and they're heading down into Turkey and, you know, naive enough young me was like, well, that's kind of fascinating. I've never been to Greece or Turkey. And this is where all this stuff is like kicking off with Syria and people are moving through and it's in the new. And I thought, well, why not? Rather than just reading the news headlines, like I'm here. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. What if I kind of go there and see what it's really like? And I moved towards Greece and into Turkey. And then I was in Turkey, a country. I knew nothing about right at the critical point when the refugees were moving up through Turkey. And so I remember we were in cities, in Turkey where the army would be going up and down the street because there were these protests against wars that were happening in Syria. The government was being overthrown in Turkey while we were. And I was like, I'm in a, maybe not the safest place right now, but I don't know what it was. I was like cold to it. I just needed to be somewhere where there was something deeper going on. And I don't know if it's necessarily a healthy or a safe way to think about it, but I was just looking for something deeper. I was looking for something that like was a real problem in the world and I wanted proximity to it, as weird as that sounds and the closer I got, the more I realized how painful and trap. that was happening in that region of the world was and then my question kind of became, well, can I do something about this? Like, what am I going to do? Take Instagram photos of like a refugee crisis. I was like, well, definitely not. I can't do that. They don't gel particularly well with my waterfalls and sunsets and boots and boat cruises to start with like, it's kind of a different vibe, Josh, but I needed something different. So I'm like, well, I'm not going to take photos. What can. And so I got on Facebook and posted and said, Hey I'm in Turkey, this is happening. I've got a couple of weeks. They're like, if you were me world, what would you do? And I just kind of threw it out into the ether and someone wrote back and they're like, Hey, why don't you volunteer? I was like, sounds like a good idea. So I went about trying to find a way to help

James:

Yeah, that's powerful. When I think like all those experiences and you know, this is all three, like you've almost got the sub layer of like, you've gone to escape through the corporate Australia and then now you're escaping and you just kind of slowly going down, like peeling the onion almost right down into, you know, real, like serious like problems that are happening in the world. And seeing this firsthand at this stage as well, I think is you know, certainly very powerful and that, like, how did, how did that impact you in that stage? I mean, now you, you've kind of almost getting that tastes like reality here. It's like, it's, except this time it's much closer to, to home almost. I think you know, how, how did, what came out of that? I mean, how has this volunteering experience.

Josh:

it's a good insight. Like when you said escape in corporate Australia or escaping the nightlife, like I was really trying to escape myself. I was really trying to get away from, want to be happy and fulfilled. This is what I'm trying to do. It, hasn't worked. I'm going to run away and try something else and be happy and fulfilled. You can do that through pub curls. That's not going to work. I'm going to run away. So I kept running away from, from that. And I, I guess what I was searching for. And what I found in ultimately volunteering. I've had a refugee border crossing between Massier Macedonia and Serbia, two countries, again, that I'd never been to. And one of the cool things about going to all these countries in a row, I hope like people listening, like this guy doesn't have a clue about any of these countries. It's like I did it. I'd been to all these different countries and cultures. I knew nothing about I was in Turkey for three weeks before I realized Turkey was in Asia, not Europe. I still thought I was in Europe, but I was in. I didn't know, I literally did not continent. I was on like, I was just outside of myself, metaphorically and physically. And what I realized, I went through all these different countries where people are people and people were suffering. And that was the big thing was knowing that people are people everywhere. First, you see something in the news and it's always like one perspective of people. Whereas people were rich and dynamic and generous and beautiful and loving and sad and suffering all at once. And when I found this refugee border crossing Macedonia and Serbia, I realized that I could just do. Instantly, like in the same way that I could find ways to be unhappy. I could find ways to be really happy and fulfilled in a moment. And, and there's one nine with border crossing. We were on like the end of a train track. It hits the edge of Macedonia people. Didn't have to get off the train, cross the border to go into Serbia. And what they were trying to do was to get into European countries that wouldn't technically let them in, but once they were in, they were covered under like some UN refugee like treaties. So you had to sneak into these. Which is wild. Like I literally watched mothers, whole babies, sneaking them across borders, which in Australia is a weird concept. Cause like we're an island, so it doesn't really happen. But imagine between Queensland and new south Wales, if there was like barbed wire, fences and mothers in the dead of night, holding babies like crawling under fences, trying to get in, it was just insane. It was insane to see. And in one night it was 6,000 people, literally 6,000 people in one night, get off a train. That same. I forget who the prime minister was. This was back when we had like 17 prime ministers within a week of each other in Australia. But whoever the Cairo prime minister was had announced a policy that, you know, what's happening in Syria is awful. We're going to let 10,000 refugees into Australia. I might, I saw 6,000 in a night. Me, why was he so 6,000 in a night? And we're going to let 10,000 into an entire country. I was like, this is a joke. And. When I was there and when I was helping out in that one night, it was just simple stuff. It was handing out bread and milk. It was giving water out to people. It was giving people something to eat so they could continue their journey and you know, that bread or whatever wasn't going. It was literally bread from a local bakery. Everything was donated everyone. There were volunteers, some people have been there for months and that bread wasn't gonna last them a week, but it might lost them to the next refugee camp put up by the UN and. Sort of some of the profound realizations I have, like one lots of people need help to the causes of the social problems that we see are really complex. Like it's not simple. It's not like I volunteered one night. I solved the problem. But the third thing was you can help people take one or two more steps on their journey. And that can literally be lifesaving, like sometimes providing someone a meal who doesn't have one. Milk for a baby who doesn't have access to it or water. That one little thing you do could be lifesaving and you have no idea. So I changed my view of like, what a good, what an impact was. And I said, well, what if it started not being about me? But it was more about, wait, what if it was more about service? What if in one night I did more good than I probably have in my entire life. What if I did that the next night, the next night, the next night? And I didn't stay at the refugee camp. It's not, like I said, okay, I'm going to say it. This refugee camp. But the idea that I took from that, and I think the idea is more powerful than the action is what if every day I was helping lots of as many people as I can in a meaningful way, and just nudging people along on their journey, whether that's in leadership or career or handing out suppliers and everything that's happened recently with the Queensland floods, you see that people going along in there, I was at my local kindergarten with a bunch of volunteers. We're taking out books and we're sweeping floors and we're moving furniture. Like we're just nudging society along in a positive way. And so my metric for a meaningful career said, can I do something that's just net positive, but who knows how much you can help people, but can I just do something that's net positive? And can I show up every day and try to help? And in one night, my entire view of that changed. And I think about every day, like whenever I struggled to go to sleep, I was thinking about last night I was struggling with. And I think about lying on the concrete floor. Cause for that one night I slept outdoors on a slab of concrete. Like just on the concrete, no blanket, no, nothing like me, concrete. That's where I slept. And anytime I struggled to go to sleep, I think about that. And it's a trigger for me to remember like how fortunate we are, how much we have. And then for me, as soon as I realized how much we have, the next question is like, what am I complaining about? You know, like my problems. Don't exist relative, you know, like to the problems that I saw and that motivates me every day to say, well, what can I do? How can I serve? How can I show up? How can I try to make the world a better place? And then one night I was like, you know, when your iPhone has a software upgrade and it's like being like all of a sudden it can do these things. It couldn't do. Well, like Tesla's now, like they update overnight it's software updates and you wake up and your Tesla can drive itself. Like, I don't know, I didn't have a Tesla, but so the story goes it was literally like that happened in my brain in one night. Like the next morning I woke up and was like, oh my God, I need to find a way to help people. Like it was just black and white.

James:

Yeah.

Josh:

so yeah, it was pretty bad.

James:

Yeah. That's cool. That is really cool. And yeah, I think so many people are searching thought. Well, all they even need, you know, something like that to just like talk to wake them up. And it's really, it's really great to say that you've taken that experience. You're using it. And then to have that same impact on, on people to try it. Wake them up or to try and, you know, get the light switched on in their head that, Hey, you can do something like this too. You can go and create a positive impact. You can go and do a, make the world a better place, like you said. And I think, I think that is so cool. And let's see, you're really fortunate, I think, to have had that experience because I think it's, and I'm so glad that we're able to share it with people today. Cause I think. You know, it's so special to see those things firsthand, especially I think, you know, seeing real people suffer real problems and then being able to support and help is, is so cool. It's great that you've been able to yeah. Transfer that into what you do today. Cause I know that you have a massive impact across Australia with people in university, people, wherever they might be in the, in the corporate or a nonprofit, wherever, wherever they are, whoever has come into contact with you. It's great to see that energy kind of being transferred through you and, and put out into the world, I think is really cool. One of the things I want to touch on during this interview is, is your, your writing and the things you're working on at the moment, and kind of where that, that positive energy from you is coming from, you know, sharing, wanting to make the world a better place. And I'm interested to hear about what you're writing, what you're working on at the moment, and what are some key ideas that are going through your head at the moment that you'd want to get out and share with.

Josh:

Yeah. I love that Thanksgiving, this space to share it. So pro the writing your alluding to is the sum product of sharing this stuff in these insights every day on LinkedIn for six years, you know, I've been posting everyday sharing something. I've been learning reflections, telling us. And that's thousands and thousands of posts, things that I put a lot of time into and I try to share and make practical. And what I realized after a while was running, you know, nearly a thousand workshops. Now, as you said, a couple of hundred a year posting every day, talking and writing that there were certain things that just kept popping up. And what was really cool was working with students over a couple of years, you'd sell something to a student one year, and then you get a new crop of students next year, and you tell them the same thing. And it was the first time they've experienced that. So I realized that there were just these ideas that were universal and I've been really lucky to tap into some of them. And I wanted to share them in another format. So this year I'm putting out a book, the first book called your leadership matters. And the principle is my philosophy is my belief. Is that seeing yourself as a leader, treating yourself like a leader, acting like a leader is the most empowering way to solve the inevitable problems that are going to come your way. And also the most empowering way to take advantage. The unlimited opportunities that are out there. And so the book's broken into six parts. The first part's all about groundwork and it talks about it's broken into six GS to make it sort of simple. But the first G is about groundwork and about understanding who you are. So like you said, sort of peeling back the layers of the onion. So I take all the frameworks that I've learned now, having worked with thousands and thousands of people and read hundreds of books and podcasts and all that stuff and say, here are the tools I wish I had when I was 22. And I had no idea what I was doing. Like here are the questions I wished I asked myself, cause I remember literally sitting in a gondola in Canada, going up escape at a ski resort. And I was sitting there like rocking back and forth saying like, I must look like a crazy person. Like, what am I going to do with my life? What am I going to do with my life? What am I going to do with my life? I just kept asking that question and I realized it was a really bad question if I were to. What's a problem out there that I care about, that I could do something about today. I can solve that question really easily. You know, I could find a problem I care about. And so just like that, the focus on ironically on understanding who I was was actually not worrying about myself, but it was worrying about the things I cared about. Who did I want to help and serve. So yeah. Put the book together to go through these sort of six stages and the way. Any area that like you want to improve on whether it's finances or career or relationships, or you just want to have more fun or joy or peace or love or whatever it is. It's like, you can treat this book like a bit of a field manual, lots of like fill in the blank, some questions to ask and a way to navigate from where you are to where you want to be in any area of life. So, yeah, I'm really excited about it. And yeah, I of wait for it to come out. I can't wait for people to read it and hopefully see their impact on.

James:

Yeah, no, certainly I'm excited to read, like, definitely. I think you're such an interesting guy with so many unique experiences and I really, throughout this conversation, I really get the sense, like your, your view about like psychology and. Going looking at that level deeper, you know, like we spoke about the shadow values at the start and, and, you know, really like working out what is really driving you to a really cool level, I think is something that, yeah, something that we can all do better and something that is really, really important. So I like, I really like that about yourself. And I'm excited to see like the different places that, that comes in into your book as well. Certainly because I think it's a great message. I think, you know, like people can, can lead themselves, take control of your life and asking that a questions like the one you just write is I think is that's a really common mistake and certainly I'm guilty of, of asking myself that. So yeah, I think that's really cool.

Josh:

I was just gonna ask that, as you say, we're running short on time, but I was going to ask you, what does that question sound like when you ask yourself, like, are you asking yourself, like, what am I going to do with my life?

James:

Yeah, I think so. I think it's like, what if, yeah. If I, if everything goes to plan, let's say in 10 years time, what do I want to be doing? You know, and definitely it comes back to like the career sense. I want to get this position. I want to work in this type of company. I want to add this much money or, you know, whatever variable you want to use. And it's often not like. Well, yeah, what problem, what is something that like, that I want to fix it's perhaps, is it something that everyone faces and saying that this is really important that would actually really shift someone you know, in a positive direction and really change their life because it's, you know, I know I've thought about it. You know, sometimes you think about things a little bit, that you never actually. Yeah, like goes from an idea into something that you actually do. I don't know if you found that as well, but you know, it's kind of like, you just want to notice someone a little bit, especially early on in their lives so that then the trajectory can, can be significantly different. Later on

Josh:

Yeah. And I'll give you a little technique for that, which I don't know if it'll resonate with you or the audience as well, but simple way to do that is to say, imagine you work a 40 year career, like I've been running over this, this sounds like five years, five. This is a bloody long time to work on something. I think about how long it felt to be at uni, like working on something every day, especially if you love it. Like five years is a long time. It's also a short time, but it's a long time, especially someone. You're going to work a 40 year career. So it's probably going to be longer 50 years, but let's just say 40 conservatively. If you were to draw that into a straight line and break that down into five year chunks, that's eight five-year chunks, right? So way to think about it is firstly, like what would I be really not, what do I want to be doing? But what would I be proud to have done in the next five years? So like pick a problem, something in the world, go to UN sustainable development goals. There's 17 of them pick one. Learn about a problem. Find organizations, people who are in the space, whatever, and get really deep in that say, okay, well, if I could work in this space, what would I love to do? Not where do I have to work? What do I have to do? But if I can make an impact, if I could help a thousand people or a hundred people or 10 people in five years, what would it be? And the second part of that is how do you set it up? So you can't lose. So yes, you're going to help people. But what skills would you like to develop or what experiences would you like to. So, is it an experience of travel? Is it working in a startup non-profit government? Corporate? Is it learning technical skills? Is it getting another degree? Is it starting your own business or what you're doing with the podcast? And so if you were to look at that and say, okay, just in the next five years, who do I want to help? What could I learn about, like, what can I become a mini expert in, in five years? And then what skills or experience could I have? So I, this is a win for me, no matter what. Cause then five years from now, how James May ask.

James:

yeah, I'm 23.

Josh:

23. Right? So you're 28, right? So you're two years younger than me or the age nearly a year, young older than when I was, when I started my business five years from now, you've done all this great work. You become a mini expert in whatever the problem is in the world. You've met all these great people. You've got all these great stories and you develop these skills and then you've got seven more mini careers ahead of you. And so. For some people who are like, no, I want the corporate thing. I want to be a lawyer. I want to climb the ranks. If they're crystal clear and that great, most people who are listening to a podcast like this with your knee are not that sort of person. So if you're not take the pressure off of that 10 year degree career thing, because it's going to change and say, if I could have a mini career for the next five years, what would be worth doing like what's worth doing, even if it's a horrible failure, you know? So like I went and worked in nonprofit education. Like I was a recruitment manager now I'd probably never want to be a recruitment manager. But it was a really good two years in non-profit and education. Cause I learned tons about ed and tons about recruitment. And so the skills of being a recruiter are really helpful to understand people in questions and the experience in education was helpful because then it was a launching pad into what I do now. So like that little experiment that was only two years. But if I would have done that for five years, like I would like mastered some of those skills. So I encourage people if they are stuck not to say like, where do I, what do I want to be doing? But say, who do I want to help? What skills do I want? And then just shorten the time horizon because it can be a little bit overwhelming in that, you know, where do I want to be 40 years from now? It's like, oh my God, I'm gonna get one shot at life. It's like, but you've got one shot at the next five years to like, just shrink it.

James:

yeah, no, that's great. That's that's really good. Good. Yeah. The word exercise. Definitely. One question I'll ask. I know it was added to us when we tried to squeeze it in, but it's something I ask all the guests is, you know, what's some advice that you'd give yourself. If you were starting your career at the startup.

Josh:

oh, that's a good one. What advice would I give myself? I was restarting my career. Maybe preempting, probably that, or should I just said that would probably be it like thinking about the next five years. Who do you want to help? A practical way to do that is I think if someone's lost, try to answer this question. I think if you're lost and I'm sure I'm stealing this from someone, this is not an original. But the point of a career is to end unnecessary suffering. So if you're not sure what you want to do, try to end the unnecessary suffering. What does that mean? Find some suffering, find someone that's struggling, find something that shouldn't be suffering, like where we have a resourcefulness problem, not a resource problem. You know, like I looked on, I was telling you before we started recording, I booked an Airbnb today. And when I logged on the homepage of Airbnb said, you know, can we help that house 200,000 Ukrainian refugees or something like. Obviously there's more than that, but that was the number that was up there. I'm pretty sure it was 200,000 as it was a bunch of people on Airbnb who have a vacant place in different parts of the world who can say yes, actually I could put a family up for two weeks. I could actually go without two weeks of Airbnb income and I could put someone up for two weeks or two months or two years or whatever it is. And I could, I could do this. And it's a small sacrifice. My family's not going to staff. I could do this. Lots of people listening might not have a spare Airbnb to put up, but they might have a spare weekend. They might have a couple of hours. They might have 50 bucks a month that they can donate. So the question would be my advice to a younger self would be, find a problem that you care about. Find some suffering, as weird as that sounds try to find something with some leverage where it doesn't need to happen, where there is a solution where there are great organizations are great people. Yeah. Start getting involved in that space, like change your proximity. The thing that changed everything for me was proximity. It's the hardest advice that I'd give to my younger self, but it's really hard to say to people is like, I think you need to go to a place in the world where there are real problems and spend some time there. Now there are real problems in your neighborhood, right? Domestic abuse, all that sort of stuff. It's not like you've just got to go knock it around on the neighbors house. Like, is there any suffering happening in here? Like it's kind of, it's not the same, you know, so it's kind of. So it's either tap into what's happening in the local environment or go somewhere being in an environment where it smacks you. Like for me, I needed that smack of like, Hey, there are real problems out here and you can do something about that. And it's not overly like palatable, but it was really practical. And that gap between what I thought I wanted and what I needed became really apparent. So that would probably be my. out somewhere where there's a real challenge, be around people who are actually solving it. Like how has just in saw this crisis? And I didn't see anyone solving it'd be really depressing. But then I went to the refugee border crossing and I saw local families. Bakers, people had next to nothing, giving away everything, like closing their business and giving away all the bread to refugees who they didn't know who were from another country who didn't even have the same religion. Like some of the religions blatantly said, these guys are the enemy. And they're like, yeah, We're going to give our entire lives to helping them. I was like, that's religion. You know, that's what it's about. And it just, things like that, being around that, being around people who is so selfless, so generous, that that just changed my perspective. So I think a version of that rant is what I'd hoped to tell him about.

James:

Yeah, really. That's really cool. And I hope people listening really take, take that in as we hear from you. But Josh, thanks so much for coming on today. Where can people go to find out more about.

Josh:

Yeah. Cool. So great place to go. If it's just connecting with me, jump onto LinkedIn type in Josh Farr F for Fred AWR. Or if you want to learn more about what we do as an organization, go to campus, consultancy.org. There's a bit of an information about what we do. Yeah, as an organization there. So LinkedIn is a great one. And if you are listening today, if you did get something out of today, I'd love to hear from you send me a message on LinkedIn. Say I was listening to graduate theory. This is what I liked, or this is the question I have, or I'm stuck to, what do I do? And I'll send you some cool resources or try to point you in the right direction. Yeah.

James:

fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your mission with us today. Josh, it's been really, really cool to hear about your experiences.

Josh:

Awesome. Thanks James. Thanks for having me.

James:

Thanks for listening to this episode I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you want to get my takeaways, the things that I learned from this episode, please go to graduate theory.com/subscribe, where you can get my takeaways and all the information about each episode, straight to your inbox. Thanks so much for listening again today, and we're looking forward to seeing you next week.