This week we’re talking to Greg Preece. At 27 years young, Greg has worked in Australian fairgrounds and now finds himself living in Canada. He is a good friend of Joe’s brother, but his career is fascinating one in its own right. He moved to Vancouver earlier this year after working a string of respectable and demanding jobs for the Metro, Microsoft, Monitise and other London-based multinationals. Greg is IT savvy, with a Multimedia Computing BSc. degree from The University Of West England England. He could combine his formidable IT skills and disarming charm to land a steady, desk based job with all the usual generic trappings such as a ‘competitive’ salary and ‘exciting career development opportunities’ in Canada.
Instead, Greg is trying to start his own business, and documenting his progress on YouTube on his channel Start Starting Up.
1) Greg, Hi. Can you tell us what you are up to at the moment?
I’m currently located in Vancouver, Canada enjoying the last few weeks of summer out here and making the most of having broken away from my rat-race orientated life back home in the UK. After becoming frustrated/disillusioned with the standard 9-5, career ladder focussed approach to living, I’m now trying to learn some new skills in an attempt to create my own income sources and be able to live a more freely and independently – rather than being dependent on an employer to create opportunities for me.
2) You are a skilled, IT professional who could have risen through the ranks of Microsoft, why didn’t that appeal to you?
I completed a yearlong internship at Microsoft, which I am extremely grateful to have experienced. After returning to University and going on to graduate I was offered a fast-track route through the graduate program application process. My degree meant that I would have only have been eligible to apply for a technical Microsoft graduate position. This instilled a fear of being plodded in front of a computer screen for 40 hours a week for the rest of my working life. I wanted to broaden my horizons and widen my skill set, so I decided to pass on the Microsoft opportunity.
3) Was it not a little unnerving heading to Canada without a plan?
Yes and no. I have upped sticks and travelled to the other side of the world without a solid plan previously, when I spent a year backpacking around Australia back in 2013. Going to a new place, making new friends, finding new opportunities and starting again from scratch is something I’ve had a positive experience with in the past – so I didn’t really have that fear of the unknown holding me back this time.
Contrary to this, I am now a little older than the 23-year-old version of myself that went wandering back in 2013, so I wanted to ensure that this would be a productive trip where I was learning useful life skills to help me improve my financial and personal potential. The fear that I could easily lose a year to unproductivity has been a positive motivator to keep me on track.
4) This isn’t the first time you had fled the UK for greener pastures. You went to Australia and worked the visa circuit, but this time, you are looking to build your own business. Why now, and why Canada?
The last time I travelled was great. I was 23, care-free and I did what I wanted and when I wanted. The experience was great for soul searching, getting the creative juices flowing and developing independence. Working a ton of menial jobs while away, I came back with a lot of memories but not many new skills that could contribute towards developing a career. Now I’m a little older, I want to experience that thrill of seeing the world but I don’t want to postpone making developments for my future as a sacrifice, so I’ve decided to do both. I don’t believe that upping sticks and scratching that itch to travel has to come at the price of stagnating your career prospects, and I guess that’s what I’m trying to prove with my channel Start Starting Up.
5) In your videos, you’re very honest about when things don’t go quite right (lows sales or website hits). Why so open?
I’ve watched a lot of iconic people discussing the topic of failure and also read a lot of self-improvement books which seem to mention the topic often. One of the underlying themes that I keep noticing is that for many people the fear of potential failure cripples them from even starting to try to pursue their dreams. The idea of failing, and appearing as a failure, is so disastrous that it nips in the bud any attempts of striving for things outside the norm.
I didn’t wait the same setback in my endeavours. I made a conscious decision to shine a light on my failures. I want to become so familiar with accepting my failure and moving on from it that it no longer becomes a deterrent in anything I try. I want to get to the point where I see a failure as a lesson in life and a motivation to try again.
6) After having a look at our website, and the Slow Movement, do you think its ideas resonate with what you’re doing in Canada?
I can definitely resonate with your philosophy of aiming to live a life true to yourself and also savouring the present, rather than getting lost in ideas for the future. I’ve actually read the book you quote on your site (The Top 5 Regrets of The Dying) around 5 years ago and it changed my life significantly. I think that has been a driver in the lifestyle I live in a small part ever since I finished it. Live your life on your terms, you only get one go at it.
I’m very conscious (and critical) of people who live the unhappy 40-year career lifestyle, planning to properly enjoy their life once they retire. Why wait until you retire and are too old to do most of things you’ve always wanted to do? Redesign your life so you can do those things now!
Finally, on the issue of declining connectedness that The Slow Movement mentions this is something I also very focussed on, especially within men. I’ve read studies on how many middle-aged men find themselves in a crisis of loneliness, where they realise that due to other priorities they no longer have any friends. This rattled me personally and I’m determined not to let hollow career pursuits or other demands strip me of the social aspects in my life. I believe it’s important to make a conscious effort to try and stay in contact with the people who matter to you.
Thanks for showing interest in what I’m doing.
All the best,
Thanks Greg, good luck in the future.