STEPHEN CHAPMAN: AN APPRENTICE’S ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY
An ambitious 15-year-old boy reflects on his life goals and what he wants from life. A nice house, skiing trips, freedom: these are the things he is looking for. To reach this, he reads a list of the top earning professions and makes a plan. He will join an investment bank graduate program, and from there, he will work his way up the ladder.
As this 15-year-old boy grew into a young man, his ambitious spirit and passion for hard work never wavered -- but his plans changed dramatically.
Stephen Chapman has been on a long and interesting journey. On this journey, he has experienced the ups and downs inherent in forging one’s own path. Through this, he has grown to become the influential CEO he is today.
Stephen began his career while studying accounting at university, with the intention of switching over to investment banking. Straight after the High School Certificate, he sought out to start a cadetship at PWC to do alongside his degree. He chose PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) because that was the only accounting firm that allowed students to experience the workforce full time after high school without an undergraduate degree.
“Accounting wasn’t the long game; it was a stepping stone in the corporate business world,” he explained. “I was also told that accounting was a good background to have for any business. Whatever stage you’re at, it’s important to have a good understanding of the financials.”
During his cadetship, Stephen became disenchanted.
“While it did, in fact, teach me a lot of things--a lot of fundamental things--it just wasn’t cracked up to what it was promised to be,” he recalled.
Similar to the schooling system, the environment in the corporate world was highly-structured and repetitive. “[You] learn what you’re supposed to do, don’t ask questions and then repeat on-demand [as you] climb up the ranks. The more you learn and remember, the less questions you ask, and, in fact, the quicker you rise sometimes. I quickly realised it wasn’t what I wanted.”
There was a different life that was more compatible with Stephen’s personal philosophy, and he was about to open his mind to it. “I started reading books about Richard Branson and Steve Jobs and about guys who created things that didn’t exist before, and I thought, ‘That’s what I resonate with.’ I relate to Richard Branson’s story more than any investment banker or any accountant,” he said.
So, a couple of years before dropping out of university, he began work on his first startup at 20 years old, which was FaceBuy. This decision was not met without some objections.
“I had to write [my grandfather and parents] an 8-page letter explaining every single reason why I’m not going to continue my university studies and what I wanted to do in my life. I tried to explain the opportunities that I had, my entrepreneurial passions and my plans for my future. Whilst they accepted my decision, they did not understand.”
Stephen spent a year working on his own, learning about the importance of self-discipline and personal development.
“I think it was empowering when you realise that your direct input equals direct output. I think in a big system, like a corporation, your input can sometimes be lost within the system, and then you’re not sure what the output was. For example, for every hour that I spend, I can see the effect it has on revenue, on customers, or on the product. You can see that one-for-one relationship when it’s your own business, particularly for a one man team.”
His life was changed the moment he earned himself a seat as the apprentice and right-hand-man of Dr. Sam Prince. After a six-week trial with a former Zambrero CEO, Stephen became Sam’s personal assistant. This allowed Stephen the opportunity to oversee the way Sam worked, the ways he dealt with success and failure, and how he managed to lift a business off the ground.
Stephen recalled what he learnt while on the search for an appropriate mentor:
“I needed to find someone who plays the game like I do. I needed someone who thinks like me, and who has a similar value set to me. If you are going to go into a full time apprenticeship, you’re going to adopt and inherit all of their values, consciously and subconsciously.”
Stephen reflects on the most important thing Sam told him. “You need to, from day one, have a very specific and clear value set. You need to understand the type of person you want to be and how you want to live your life. That value set needs to become the guiding compass for all of your decisions.”
“The direction I turn in every decision is very clear to me. As a young, impressionable kid, you’d think and act a certain way one week and then another way the following week, which isn’t very productive. Importantly, it shows that you lack strength in character by acting inconsistently and it will restrict your ability to lead people.”
After three years of mentorship under Sam’s wings, he began work on his second startup alongside Sam, shine+ (pronounced ‘shine’). Things moved swiftly for shine+, thanks to the lessons Stephen learnt from Sam and his new approach to similar challenges.
“Without struggle, there is no progress. I believe in that. You have to struggle to get progress, you have to be pushing the barriers to know where the barrier is. Without pushing your limits, we never know where the limits are. That’s how I’ve approached everything. We got into the beverage market in five months, it usually takes two years, simply because we welcome all challenges instead of avoiding them.” Stephen said.
During the development of shine+, Stephen found his own mentee; Andrew Dewez. Drew sought advice from Stephen about developing his own startup in health tech during the second half of 2015 however he ended up by Stephen’s side in shine+ so he could learn first-hand.
“The feedback from Drew is that he’s learning heaps and is really enjoying what we’re up to. I look forward to him passing on the same lessons on to someone else one day,” Stephen said.
As for shine+’s future, the short term goals are focused around making a mark on their give-back program. “I’d like to donate over a million days of water through our give back water program".
Stephen plans for shine+ to become a household name in the world of mental optimisation and brain function. “I think mental fatigue and brain fog is a universal problem. People need to stay focused and productive more than ever. I see this being a global brand that lives and breathes for helping people optimise their minds and lives.”
If it wasn’t for his mentorship with Sam, Stephen’s entrepreneurial tendencies wouldn’t have had a springboard to launch from so early in his career. To that, Stephen says, "I think Sam has enabled me to be the best version of myself.”
Stephen left us with some advice that will change the way you think about your ambitions for life. It shows the change in priorities the young 15-year-old boy had as he grew older and wiser. He had realised that one of most important things he could get from life was happiness, whether his goals worked out or not.
“Your Plan B shouldn’t make you miserable. Your Plan B in life should still make you happy, as your Plan C or Plan D should. There should never be an option in your mind that if all else fails, you have to settle for a miserable life.”
Read here to learn about Dr. Sam Prince and his journey so far.
INTERVIEW BY JESSICA TESTA
Feature Image: Anthill Online