I arrived at Paddington yesterday, with a skip in my step. I walked directly south through Hyde Park, stopping off to visit the Serpentine Gallery. I then left the park and walked to the V&A, to check out the camera-less photography exhibition. It was a great afternoon, because I don’t often have time to visit London and do self indulgent things like taking in galleries. However, that wasn’t what I was in London for, and it wasn’t why I had a skip in my step.
After my jolly, I jumped on a tube and headed to Covent Garden, and the Guanabara club for the Esc The City winter party. The theme of which, was ‘start something you love’. This sentiment was echoed throughout the evenings inspirational speakers, starting with Lara Morgan, founder of Pacific Direct, a hotel toiletries company, which she has now sold. Apart from being very funny, Lara also came across as totally courageous, although in her self deprecating account, she referred to it as not having a clue.
Zarine Kharas, had a similar story in that she started a company in an area that she knew next to nothing about. Taking the leap from law to charity, and starting Just Giving was daunting, although I suspect the “just fucking do it” attitude (her words), are what made Zarine’s company the success it is today.
Esc the City isn’t just about starting companies, their own tag line is “Do something different”, which is just what Al Humphreys did when he decided to cycle solo around the world. Al’s message was that you don’t have to know what the outcome will be before embarking on a voyage. His first journey sparked opportunity after opportunity, and he is now lucky enough to earn a living whilst travelling around the world.
The concluding speaker was Ed Stafford, whose adventure took him to South America, where he walked the length of the Amazon. A feat never before accomplished, not surprisingly, because it took 860 days and led him through not only inhospitable terrain, but also incredibly dangerous drug-trafficking country.
A common thread from all of the speakers seemed to be that you don’t have to know all the answers before embarking on a journey, or starting your business. You just have to be prepared to be totally dedicated, to educate yourself, and ask for help when you need it. From time to time, we’ve all been frustrated with our own journeys, so it’s really valuable and humbling to be reminded that whatever you’re trying to achieve, someone else has achieved far greater.
So what did I personally take out of the evening?
There are no excuses, just do it!
To hear some inspirational stories for yourself, check out the heroes section of the Esc The City site.