A few thoughts about why I sponsored a study of Ambition in New Zealand and an update re timing of the book's release in March including a link to preorder a copy.
Ambition as a concept has always intrigued me. It can be perceived as an incredibly powerful way to set goals, to take people outside their comfort zones and to achieve great things for other people, business and society.
People might have an aversion to the word (many do) - but the reality is if ambition is well meaning and well focussed it is a significant and game-changing asset.
At the start of the project when thinking of ambition one gem I recalled was the terrific TED talk by Dame Stephanie Shirley - “Why do ambitious women have flat heads”. It was a take on her experience founding a highly successful all women tech company in the UK in the 1960’s and finding men would pat women on the head in a slightly patronising manner as they pitched for business. Dame Stephanie’s company went on to list (and be valued at several billion) - her story of the development of her company after being a child refugee is impressive because it is a tremendous example of resilience, focus, determination, vision and strength of character - or, to put it another way, ambition. Her TED talk is worth watching and I recommend it often to people in tech and leadership areas - it's an engaging and strong presentation with a good dollop of humour included. What she says applies across the spectrum - to both men and women forging new pathways or creating new ventures. (One of the areas I’m involved in.)
At times I’ve been involved in and had leading roles in various sectors - and along the way I’ve been fortunate to work with some talented people - it is fair to say I've seen the good and bad sides of ambition in action across sectors. When I started in law in the late 1980’s - women commercial litigation partners were few (none in my firm - one of largest firms), and top tier women commercial litigators working cross-border were even rarer - zero as I recall - (there were no examples to follow and no-one easing the way). I was fortunate and one of the few - part of that is luck, being in the right place at the right time and taking opportunities as they arose, but I’m aware a lot came down to hard graft and focus.
Ambition can mean many things to many people - dependent on their circumstances (and life can throw curve balls every now and then). Every person will have a different view of ambition (some good, some bad, some grounded in their own experience and some because of what they have seen) and no one person will have all the answers - that is precisely why it is an intriguing concept.
My areas of interest have morphed and broadened over time, and I’m now involved in a myriad of diverse areas. Each year I tend to sponsor at least one initiative in an ideas based think-tank/change-agent area. In 2018 I agreed to be principal sponsor and an advisor to AmbitionNZ. Authors Julie Fry and Hayden Glass have now competed the book - “Ambition - what New Zealanders think and why it matters.” It’s been a pleasure to back this project and to help shape it. The book will be released on 8 March in New Zealand - and is available for preorder via the ambition.nz website. There will be digital and print books available for purchase and the book will be available at various good bookstores - you will be able to find more information on the site nearer the release date.
In a nutshell the aim of the book and the project is to start a conversation - it is a study of what ambition means to New Zealanders to get people thinking, talking and putting ideas into action. It might encourage people (perhaps you) to step outside comfort zones and to realise New Zealanders have and will continue to achieve and make a difference on the world stage and in New Zealand.
Enjoy the book - it has plenty of food for thought in it - and best wishes for 2019.