A respected author, speaker and businessman, Robert Murray knows a whole lot about standing out as a leader – especially in Vancouver’s high-paced business district. The two-time BCIT grad has spoken all over the world and this January, he’ll be coming back to his alma mater for a TEDxBCIT talk.
He spoke with Rhianna Schmunk to give a sneak peek into where he thinks the world of business is going, how to stand out in a crowd and what it really means to be successful.
Can you give us a little hint about what we can expect to hear from you at TEDx?
I want to talk about how the world is changing and how the world is getting a whole lot more crowded… for students, for leaders, for business owners, entrepreneurs… we have to change. We have to be more creative, we have to be more innovative, we have to be more strategic and we have to solve problems differently than we have in the past. I’m also going to tell a couple stories, in which I’ll talk about what I call the magic question. The magic question is a very, very simple question that anybody can use… to inspire creativity and innovation to solve problems.
So creativity and innovativeness is what you’d ultimately like to inspire in students to prepare us for life after BCIT?
Well, yes and no. I hear a number of BCIT students and other students from all over the world who say ‘once I graduate, once I get my diploma or degree’, they’re going to walk out on the street and make $80,000 (a year). And it reality, that’s not going to happen. The way that people can get to that reality, faster, is by being different and by being what I call “remarkable”. For example, you have to imagine that somewhere on the planet, there’s probably about a hundred million people out there with business degrees.
Well that’s exactly it – we’re a dime a dozen.
Exactly. It’s nice to have initials behind your name, but what’s going to make you stand out? What’s going to make you relevant to employers and relevant in the business world? That’s what I want to talk about and those are the stories I’m going to tell.
How did you figure this out for yourself? How did you get to where you are?
Well I’m a BCIT grad twice-over myself. I graduated from the electrical program… then I went back to night school and got my marketing diploma. When I got into marketing roles, I discovered that it really was crowded. Especially in marketing, you had to be more creative than other people. I focused more so on leadership than anything else, and it was that that got me where I am today – because of that intense focus. It was early on after graduating from BCIT a second time that I figured out the (magic) question… and that’s what makes me relevant and that’s what makes other people who I’ve taught relevant as well.
I think a lot of BCIT students are finding themselves in the same boat you were in – feeling crowded. We are incredibly competitive and we’re still learning how to market ourselves as we go along.
I know people in their 50’s and 60’s that are struggling with that – it’s actually more relevant than you think. I talk to business-people about that all the time, about discovering your own personal brand. You can’t go anywhere in business or as a leader or an innovator or whatever you want to be without having good grasp on your own personal brand.
Well that depends on people’s definition of success too, right? For some people, it’s $80,000 a year and for others, it isn’t.
Well, yes. I just hope that’s what I inspire – for people to realize that whatever their definition of success is… if you focus intensely upon that and you focus intensely on making yourself different, then you will find that success.
Stay tuned for more details on BCIT’s inaugural TEDx event – coming to BCIT’s Aerospace campus January 24th.