MIS­SION WHITSUNDAYS

Best Job Ben teaches re­silience in cy­clone’s wake

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Louise Shan­non

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.

PHOTO: BEN SOUTHALL

DE­FI­ANT CREW: Ben Southall has proved the def­i­ni­tion of 're­silience' by launch­ing his Ven­turer Pro­gram in the Whitsundays, post Cy­clone Deb­bie.

PHOTO: BEN SOUTHALL

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.

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