Cameron Brown is the founder of The Thriving Collective, a global initiative to help people achieve their highest potential. His latest project '#dreamlivegive' has sent him on a global quest to travel the world and shine a light on what it means to dream big, live fully and make an impact in today's modern age.
Q: What are some challenges you faced when developing your venture?
While there has been cashflow challenges at various stages of growth, the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome have been behavioural; upgrading my thinking, overcoming fears and limiting beliefs, achieving my next level of excellence etc.
Here’s the thing… when you’re working for someone else, part of the thinking has already been done for you; the culture, the systems, the strategic direction. You’re also offering a product or service in the marketplace that is ‘external’ to you.
I believe that building your own company is one of the biggest personal development journeys you will ever go on, because when you’re running your own company, especially to start with, you are selling yourself. You are faced with your own fears, doubts, beliefs about what is possible, and often, they’ve been lying dormant in your unconscious mind for years.
Focus & Creativity
Being a creative person, at different stages of my growth, creativity has been my greatest asset and my biggest liability.
Early on, I allowed ‘Shiny Thing Syndrome’ to dictate many of the decisions I made, not sticking to one strategy long enough to see the results come to fruition. While this felt fresh and exciting to be starting something new every time, looking back, it was a scattered approach and it didn’t create genuine value in the marketplace.
When I learned to harness the power of my creativity and curiosity though, and channel that into a specific area, it enabled me to create something that is both unique and valuable in the world, and makes a positive impact.
After a personal relationship came to an end in late 2014, I asked myself ‘what do I really want to experience in my life?’ In answering that question, I uncovered a fundamental flaw in my thinking; that ’when I achieve this level of success in business, then I’ll experience what I really want’.
When I discovered that, I switched my approach, making a decision to truly enjoy the ride as I continued building the company, instead of waiting for some made up time in the future that would allow me to experience life fully.
Within a short space of time I went skydiving, rock climbing, rappelling down waterfalls, gliding, white water rafting and mountain climbing. Since then, there’s been recording music in LA, speaking and running events in multiple countries, and now, traveling the globe as I continue sharing how to thrive in today’s modern age.
It’s all been a really interesting experience, because back then I thought I was moving in the ‘right direction’ both personally and professionally, but I look at where my life is now and it’s almost a complete flip… and I couldn’t be happier about that.
Q: Was there any point when you thought it was over? That you were going to fail?
When I started out, I really ‘feared’ the possibility of the company failing and that drove many of the decisions I made both personally and professionally.
It wasn’t until I learned a valuable lesson from someone close to me that this fear began to dissipate: ‘that if I didn’t make peace with the worst case scenario in my life, the fear would continue to over power me.’
That made a lot of sense to me.
So I uncovered what that was, and what I found is that my worst case scenario, actually wouldn’t be that bad… there was so much I was making up in my head, that when explored, ended up just being a story that I was telling myself to keep me safe from perceived harm.
Making peace with the worst case scenario allowed me to move forward with confidence, knowing that even if it all ends tomorrow, I’m still going to be ok.
Q: As an entrepreneur how important has flexibility been in developing your venture?
One thing I’ve learned in both business and life is that having certainty in your outcome and flexibility in your approach is incredibly important. It allows you to adapt to change and to evolve as a company and as a human being.
Think about this… How often does something go exactly as you planned?
There are always a variety of factors playing out. Some are within your control, others are not. Needing something to go a certain way and trying to control the things that are outside of your control, often leads to an increase in stress, frustration and disappointment.
You are co-creating with the environment around you, so be flexible in your approach.
With flexibility comes curiosity, creativity & openness, and when coupled with a high level of emotional intelligence, the ability and willingness to be vulnerable.
I believe that curiosity is one of the most powerful, yet under utilised opportunities available in business today.
I remember getting out of the shower one morning and a thought flashed through my mind (it’s funny how powerful insights come to you when you’re not forcing them to come into fruition)… it was ‘you’re not dreaming big enough’ and as the company has grown, that has happened a number of times since.
My curiosity about what that meant led to me understanding that I’ll never be dreaming big enough. Now, that’s not a disempowering statement… When used in a positive tone, it’s a possibility statement that sparks curiosity, because if I’m never dreaming big enough, then I wonder what else is possible.
Since that initial ‘in the shower moment’, each time I’ve achieved something that simply started out as a dream; like speaking and running events in multiple countries, recording music in LA, and traveling the globe after I sold or donated 99% of the things I used to own, I’ve asked the question… ‘Well if I can do that… then I wonder what else is possible?’
This opens you up to an absolute sense of curiosity and possibility, that when combined with strategic direction and action, gives you such a unique advantage in the marketplace.
The song I wrote called ‘Home’ that I use in my speaking engagements articulates this well:
“Let’s all imagine it’s rolling down the mountains... Flowing into anyone who’s opened up to love...Could it be that all we need is all around us...Sitting there waiting for its time to come”
Curiosity feeds on itself, it builds momentum and allows you to experience things you never dreamed possible. If you had said even 6 months ago, that I’d be living in and running my company from 12 different countries this year, I would have said you’re crazy.
But here I am living in Costa Rica right now and already this month, I’ve run webinars for communities in the US and Australia, been interviewed on podcasts in multiple countries, facilitated introductions for the quality people in my network, helped clients breakthrough to new levels of excellence and yesterday, trekked through a rainforest here in Costa Rica to capture some of the beautiful sights and sounds of this remarkable place for an upcoming video.
The same goes for speaking & running events in multiple countries… In 2015, I didn’t even know how to dial a US phone number and now, North America is one of the strongest networks I have globally.
Nurture your childlike curiosity, and trust that the universe is working with you at all times, even when it might not seem like it. When you look back at the challenges you face in business, usually, they are simply opportunities for you to learn, grow and evolve.
So be curious about the magic you can co-create together.
When you bring vulnerability to a conversation, you provide the space for others to do the same. It’s one of the quickest ways to build trust in a relationship, both personally and professionally.
But so many people in business today have their guard up, built on unconscious fears and beliefs that hold them back from being vulnerable in a given conversation; the fear of being judged, of not being good enough, of being taken advantage, of being found out.
This is a big reason why a high level of emotional intelligence in business is so important. When you understand yourself and feel whole and complete internally, you no longer ‘need’ anything from anyone else.
This frees you up to give freely without expectation, knowing you’ll get taken care of in some way, shape or form. It also allows you to be vulnerable in a conversation because again, you don’t need something from someone else to know that you’re enough. You already know it deep down, so it doesn’t matter what this person has to say, you know with confidence that it won’t create a feeling of inadequacy.
Q: What was was your spark, where did it come from?
I knew I wanted to make something of myself, I just didn’t really know how to go about that.
It wasn’t until one evening in 2010 that my life changed forever.
I remember hearing a woman screaming out from across the road… myself and another neighbour went across to see if she was ok and through the fence, she said ‘my son’s killed himself’.
And we ran through the house, and out to the back yard to see the boy lying there in his mother’s arms… completely lifeless.
To see the devastation that occurs when something like that happens, that’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life… I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like for that family.
Out of that experience though, I knew I had to do something.
I went through a huge transformation of myself, because I knew if I really wanted to help others, I had to help myself first.
And from that, I dedicated my life to empowering as many people as I possibly can on this planet to live happier and more fulfilling lives.
As time has gone on, my thinking has evolved to become more about the planet as well as the people in it to ensure we can co-exist in a way that is sustainable for many years to come. That’s a big reason why The Thriving Collective is a social enterprise.
It really has formed out of having an increased awareness into how we treat ourselves, each other and the planet, and then having a child like curiosity about what’s possible, how we might solve the challenges we are currently facing, and how I can personally be of best service to the world.
The hidden benefit of growing your company by focusing on building relationships, connecting people and being of service, is that you have the opportunity to meet some remarkable people across the globe.
I know that sure has been the case for me.
Remember, in 2015 I didn’t even know how to dial a US phone number. But now, I not only have a consistent flow of opportunities coming through from the US, Canada, UK and Australia, but some of those professional relationships have turned into personal friendships.
From going to a major league baseball game in Toronto, to playing beach tennis on Santa Monica Beach, my life is infinite times richer because of choosing to build relationships first, business second, and utilising today’s modern tools to initiate and nurture those relationships no matter where I am in the world.
I challenge anyone to find a ‘marketing and sales’ strategy out there that makes you feel this damn good.
Delegation has allowed value to be created at a level that simply wouldn’t have been possible on my own.
It has also given me more time to focus on my genius… I love the quote by Albert Einstein: Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
I’ve also found that delegation, when mixed with collaboration, can enhance creativity, because what wasn’t possible for you to bring into existence before with your own talents and strengths, can now be created into something magical.
I remember recording music in LA last year. Before flying over, we actually laid down the drums and bass while I was in Australia and the producer and session musicians were in the studio in Santa Monica… that was a very long Skype call!
What I loved about mixing collaboration with delegation is that once we had landed on a creative idea, the person best suited to the implementation of that was the one that executed on it, resulting in a much higher standard of work.
The same thing happened with The Thriving Collective’s new website. Previously, I had built my own sites, or paid a small amount to have someone build it for me. But delegating it to an expert developer & designer, while collaborating on the creative process, resulted in something more remarkable being created than would have otherwise been possible.
What is your best tip for entrepreneurs?
Develop a high level of emotional intelligence… that allows you to become your own best friend, to be flexible, to be ok with being vulnerable, to be forever curious, to play to your strengths, to be of service to others without the need of something in return, and to understand the patterns that are playing out and how break through them, so that you evolve as a human being and make the impact that deep down, you know you were born to make.
That way when things are tough, you’re supportive of yourself and when things are great, you truly celebrate your success.
For more information about Cameron’s work, please visit: thrivingcollective.com