In the startup world, the regular rules don’t apply.

As a current 3rd year UBC Sauder School of Business student, I love the opportunity to connect with alumni. I was lucky enough to chat with James Clift, the CEO & Co-Founder of Workstory. James was great to talk to, incredibly friendly and charismatic, making me laugh with his funny, yet honest answers.

It’s always inspiring to see how people have written the next chapter of their lives after graduating university, especially as I am about to reach that turning point. While the accomplishments are astounding, it’s the journey that truly intrigues me. I get the behind the scenes stories, from the pivotal decision-making moments to the every day little battles. I love how everyone’s experiences are different and there is a little something each of us can take away from it.

When you’re a serial entrepreneur, your world changes. You always shoot for a bigger dream. — James Clift

JAMES CLIFT: CEO & CO-FOUNDER OF WORKSTORY

Workstory builds technology that powers career success. Their flagship product is VisualCV, the leading online resume and portfolio creation website.

A few key takeaways from our conversation…

Mentorship is not the only route. Surround yourself with people who are at the same stage in your startup journey.

I love this insight. So many successful people I talk to always recommend me to find a mentor. Obviously, there are so many benefits with mentorship. You get access to a wealth of knowledge and expert insight from someone who’s been there before.

But we can’t underestimate the value of fellow peer entrepreneurs who are also just beginning their journey. Being around the right people is everything, especially in the startup world. Launching a company can be lonely when you work at your home desk, countless hours flying by without you even stepping outside.

Plus, when those tough times come around (which happen more frequently than you’d hope for), it’s great to have support from people who just went through the same challenge.

So don’t forget to spend time with those people where most of your conversations jumpstart your thinking and drive your startup forward.

When starting a company, there are two outcomes for every action: success or nothing happens. You have nothing to lose.

Your first idea might work, but it probably won’t. But after going back to the drawing board, iterating, pivoting, and rebuilding, eventually something will stick.

When you’re starting off, you are beginning at zero. You don’t know anything. But it’s through this process of experimenting, problem solving and failing that we learn and become better.

When you fail, you take two steps back but you’re always better than where you started. — James Clift

You need to build assets, whether that is honing a good skill or developing yourself.

This reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule: it takes around 10,000 hours for one to achieve mastery in a skill or field.

Simply being talented or ambitious is futile if you don’t have the foundation or building blocks to work towards your dream.

I love James’ idea of developing ourselves. For me, I’ve always been a personal development junkie since high school. I loved learning about self-improvement, but I’ve only taken action the last few months. Why did it take me so long to start? My excuse: “I don’t have time.”

It took me a while to realize but if it’s something you love and that you’re serious about, it really shouldn’t be hard to make the time. Even if you can dedicate 30 minutes a day to practicing that skill or investing in yourself, it will eventually add up.

So I took it upon myself to try and find ways to log in that 30 minutes a day (or more). Instead of watching another Netflix episode, I crack open my book. I’ve traded in music for podcasts. I try consciously implement what I learn every day into my daily routine.

I think this is something we all can do. It’s the first test to see if we’re really serious about the pursuing a skill or passion.


Hey I’m Celine, Content Creator for Launch Academy and a 3rd year marketing student at the Sauder School of Business of the University of British Columbia. Follow me as I share my conversations with local entrepreneurs.

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