Best Job Ben teaches resilience in cyclone’s wake
HE BECAME instantly famous when he won the highly sought-after Best Job in the World competition.
And now Ben Southall has returned to the Whitsundays to kickstart his new Venturer Program, focussing on resilience building for business people at a time when the Whitsundays has embodied the notion of resilience in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.
It was on Hamilton Island in 2009 that the adventurous Englishman beat 35,000 to be paid $150,000 for six months of living on the island and promoting the Great Barrier Reef as part of a Tourism Queensland marketing plan.
Mr Southall, who has seemingly spent the past eight years going from Best Job in the World to even better jobs, this month took 19 ambitious entrepreneurs on a seven-day, four-island mission of endurance, fortitude, and sheer guts around the Whitsundays.
Participants kayaked more than 50km, camped on Whitsunday and Hook islands without running water or power, and took part in team building and reef conservation work in an effort to build the mental and physical stamina believed to be hallmarks of the most successful entrepreneurs.
On his return from “Mission Whitsundays” last week, Mr Southall said he had wanted to take striving business people out of their comfort zones, help them face their fears and ultimately teach them how to meet and beat the challenges of the outdoors in a bid to develop crucial skills that could be transferred back to the business world.
He said the Venturer Program, created for the Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, would allow people to challenge their perceptions about what they thought was possible.
“If you can take on things that you thought were impossible – and that might include people telling you that the business will fail – and you overcome them, then you’re a much stronger person, and stronger business person,” he said.
“You’ve then got a stronger business to go back to, so that was the core of what we were doing.”
The outdoor epic, from July 10–16, also featured investors and speakers – including celebrity chef Matt Golinksi and Steve Baxter from Shark Tank – who told participants their stories and how they had managed to build thriving businesses and start-ups.
Hayley and Neill Kennedy, owners of Salty Dog Sea Kayaking, were involved with the Venturer Program, and said the expedition was
a great idea.
Ms Kennedy said the weather had been windy and challenging, especially on the second and third legs, when Mr Southall and his team were kayaking.
Mr Southall, who is also the author of The Best Job in the World book, said the outdoors provided the “best classroom we have” and he encouraged people to travel and be adventurous.
A number of local businesses and not-for-profit groups benefited from the Venturer Program, including Hamilton Island, Hamilton Island Air, Salty Dog Kayaking, Explore Whitsundays, Cruise Whitsundays, Eco-Barge and Reef Check.
DEFIANT CREW: Ben Southall has proved the definition of 'resilience' by launching his Venturer Program in the Whitsundays, post Cyclone Debbie.
HOMECOMING: Best Job in the World Winner Ben Southall has returned to the Whitsundays where his success story began to pass valuable skills on to others.