Gilbert arrived as any young person does in a new place, brimming with ambition and ability. He was soon building ships and trading. What else would you expect of a young man arriving into Kororāreka – or Russell as we know it today – in 1820?
Like everyone in New Zealand, my ancestors have come from somewhere else. In 1970 my father, Magan, arrived in Māngere on an Air New Zealand plane from Fiji. Also young, he was ambitious and capable – who isn't when they are young?
In time, and in their own way, Gilbert and Magan became traders and business owners. Both were trusted advisers to others; both created value for the people they served.
Globally there is now a resurgence of entrepreneurship, as well as a pressing need to innovate – one that is driven by a shift in geopolitical power, climate crisis, new ways of working (or not), ethical/empowered consumers, a healthcare revolution and the mass extinction of species on our only planet.
Take your pick, this global movement of entrepreneurship celebrates daring, innovation and values good judgment. I know because I've had the privilege, through Northland Inc, of meeting and working with many hundreds of business owners from the United States, Britain, India, Korea and New Zealand.
As Gilbert and Magan would no doubt testify, what is not often known is the hard graft, hustle and failure that all business owners have to experience. Solving a problem is not enough. Failure for those who choose to innovate is not fatal, it's just a "few scars".
So, what is it that makes an innovator?
Well, it's not the problem-solving Kiwi business owner, because solving a problem is not enough. In fact, it's nowhere near enough. It's only 20 per cent of enough. Training staff (you do, right?), software, data, intellectual property, brand, culture and the business model are what go into creating the value of a business today.
Don't believe me? Well, ask any ambitious business owner in Russell in 2019: How will customers distinguish your business from others? What aspects would your business be most annoyed about others copying? Are there any people (staff, customers, and suppliers) that your business cannot afford to lose?
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Innovation is when you are uncertain about the final outcome; when something novel is created that can be performed systematically and is reproducible.
Sometimes the value of your creativity may be recognised only when you attempt to transfer it – for example, if you are selling the business or discovering a new application for what you have created.
Perhaps you're a problem solver, a young person or perhaps, like Gilbert and Magan, you have just arrived in a new country. You'll have your own story to tell, one day. Right now, I'm cheering for you to take the next step, to go together with staff, suppliers and customers to innovate.
And the worst that can happen to you? By serving others and creating value for others, you lift all waka – a fitting way indeed to display a "few scars". It is never fatal if you're an innovator.
• Jiveen MacGillivray is Growth Adviser and Innovation Specialist at Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency.