Age and Lack of Education Don’t Matter
For Peter, it takes more than having a good idea to succeed. It’s only when people act on the idea they have and do things differently—in Peter’s business parlance, flip—that they start having the ability to change the world and make a difference.
"The role of a leader during times of change is to step back and question what they do and how they add value. When thinking about demographic changes and big changes in health care, and what those expectations of value look like, one of the most dangerous things leaders face in that environment is taking a historical view of clients, and expectations from the past, and using them to define the future. They can develop models that don’t align with how things have changed." (Source: Leading Age Magazine)
The way Peter Sheahan looks at business makes him a visionary. Giant corporations do not seem to mind that he didn’t have a degree. They trust him enough to make him their consultant. Although not formally schooled, Peter immersed himself in the world of business and rose through the ranks of the hotel he worked in. They were so taken by Peter’s business acumen that they promoted him to manager when he was only 19 years old.
He would then write a book that would help his generation transition from school to the workplace—“Generation Y.” Before he even reached 20, he became the founding chairman of his own company called ChangeLabs. Their clients are now composed of Microsoft, Hilton Hotels, Apple, and the Australian Government’s Department of Defence among many others.
Nothing much is said about Peter Sheahan’s early life except that he did not go to college and had to clean toilets just to get by. He belonged to the top one percent of his high school class and readily joined an accounting firm. He got so disillusioned with the company’s culture that he only lasted for eight days. After quitting his corporate job, he tried doing blue-collar ones for a change. He worked in an Irish pub as a hired hand in charge of keeping the toilets clean. He then joined the hotel industry and was quickly promoted to General Manager of Sydney Hotel, overseeing 30 staff, after working for one and a half years there. He was 19 at the time and noticed how graduates found it difficult to transition from being a student to being an employee. From that realization, Centre for Skills Development was born.
According to his profile in the Deluxe Knowledge Exchange:
"The CSD specializes in large scale social change projects and now runs the largest face-to-face financial literacy program for teenagers in the world. In partnership with Apple, the CSD developed and continues to run the ground breaking Beyond Chalk program, working with educators to create 21st Century learning environments." (Source: Deluxe Knowledge Exchange)
Founder of ChangeLabs
Peter founded ChangeLabs in 2000 out of his desire to help entrepreneurs exhaust means to have their businesses keep adding value on their products and services. His company lists the following as their core values:
- Companies shouldn’t spend money on things that don’t create value and return for shareholders. The good news is that companies don’t have to choose between shareholder value and community contribution; when done correctly, companies will do well by doing good. Social investment needs to be done in a way that is strategically aligned with the organisation.
- The best way for businesses to extract value from their social investments is by owning brand-aligned issues through signature programs.
A non-strategic approach to grants and piecemeal sponsorships fail to build genuine brand equity and create meaningful long term value for both the brand and their community.
- It is not the responsibility of business to solve the world’s problems, but it is their obligation not to create them.
Good leadership balances sustainable practice with long term return.
- ChangeLabs only does projects that inspire positive behaviour change!
- The fastest way to get access to customers is to find the intersection between community interest and business objective.
Authentic contribution and making a genuine difference in an area that makes business sense is the ‘magic formula’ and the future of corporate responsibility.
- Failure in behaviour change programming is due to the absence of a real catalyst. Face-to-face programs are the most powerful way to trigger new behaviour. Organisations will gain more respect and brand equity for genuine, ongoing commitments in this way than they will for flashy stunts and temporary interventions. We are not opposed to the use of social media, gaming and e-learning tools – in fact, we leverage these tools to support ongoing change! – but we believe their role is to augment the catalyst experience, not be the catalyst experience.
- Effectiveness face-to-face doesn’t require subject matter expertise, nor can you just take a subject matter expert and expect them to be an influential agent of change. What is needed is facilitators that eat, sleep, live and breathe the issue, audience and influence from the platform.(Source: ChangeLabs)
ChangeLabs now currently operates in nine cities throughout three different countries and is catering to the needs of Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Australian Wine Research Institute, American Bankers Association, Citigroup, and many other key accounts.
Author of Bestselling Books
By around the same time Peter started seeing the need to educate the Generation Y—the very generation he belongs to—he’s already a self-made career man with accomplishments that could compete with his contemporaries armed with a college diploma. What he was most thankful for was the opportunity he was given by people who trusted him in spite of his lack of formal schooling. It is the kind of thinking he also wants people leading a business to have. This would eventually influence Peter’s view on age as one factor undermined by employers.
The first book he released was “Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving With Generation Y at Work” in 2006. In the book, Peter highlights the contribution Generation Y workers could make to the company. In the same manner that baby boomers once dominated the business scene and moved the market, Peter articulated his thoughts on the changing pattern in the entrepreneurial section because of the growing number of younger workforce.
A critique in Amazon named J. Cameron-Smith says the following about the book:
"While Peter Sheahan's book focuses specifically on Gen Y, it invites the reader to consider the differences between the generational needs of workers. This is already a challenge in a tight skilled labour market and will only increase in a labour market such as Australia's where the workforce is aging and the demand for skilled labour is increasing." (Source: Amazon)
It became a New York Times bestseller and propelled Peter to the pulpit of success in the consulting arena. Because of his book, Peter caught the attention of giants like IBM and Microsoft. Soon enough, ChangeLabs—the organization he founded six years prior to writing the book—started to create a buzz. It didn't take long before internationally known brands came knocking on Peter's door, wanting a piece of advice from him.
Just barely a year after his first book’s release, Peter published his second book, “Flip: How to Turn Everything You Know on Its Head—and Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings.” According to Amazon, Flip tackles the following contemporary business approaches:
- Action Creates Clarity—to move forward you must act in spite of ambiguity.
- Fast, Good, Cheap: Pick Three, Then Add Something Extra—the new standard in every industry.
- To develop competitive advantage, you must Absolutely, Positively Sweat the Small Stuff.
- Satisfy customers' needs for engagement and contact—it's not "just business"—Business Is Personal.
- To win mass-market success, be courageous, Find It on the Fringe, and separate yourself from the competitive herd.
- To Get Control, Give It Up—empower others to create, dream, and believe for you. (Source: Amazon)
In 2010, Peter released another book called “Making It Happen: Turning Good Ideas Into Great Results” where he explored what could be done if someone has “a good idea.” It's more of a motivational book that doesn't just inspire but mobilize the reader to do something to realize his/her ideas.
Peter's official website provides the following introduction:
"The world is not short of ideas, but it is short of people who know how to carry them out. Making It Happen unravels the process of taking a good idea and turning it into a successful venture. Peter Sheahan guides the reader through the five competencies that will enable you understand and utilize the forces that drive buyers’ behavior, break through mental barriers and effectively position your offer in the market. Whether you are looking to start a business, get promoted or launch a social movement, this book will streamline your thinking so you can finally turn your good ideas into great results."
The five competencies are:
- Packaging: Turning your aspiration into a commercial offer
- Positioning: Aligning your offer with a market need
- Influence: Convincing the buyer to buy what he or she needs from you, NOW
- Acceleration: Rapidly increase demand for what you offer with proportionately less time and effort
- Reinvention: Expanding your impact into new and exciting areas (Source: PeterSheahan.com)
ChangeLabs Champions Beyond Chalk and StartSmart Programs
In 2007, StartSmart was created to help educate kids and teenagers about money. According to its website:
“StartSmart teaches students about financial literacy, empowering them to make wise financial decisions for themselves. We have gradually expanded our offerings to cater to as wide a number of students as possible, customising our workshops according to their needs, interests and levels of learning.” (Source: Start Smart)
What they did first was provide workshops about Earning, Saving, Spending and Investing to secondary students. When it yielded impressive results, the Commonwealth Bank Foundation began offering it to primary students in 2010. Since they are catering to kids, StartSmart created characters, such as Captain SuperCents, Coach Cash and Gobbles the Wallet Monster to represent “all the temptations to spend money needlessly.”
Two years after making StartSmart available to kids, they created Pathways. According to the website:
“This program has emerged in response to research highlighting gaps in financial awareness among 18 to 25 year olds. It aims to empower upper secondary and vocational education students to take control of their financial futures, through an all-new set of four workshops.” (Source: Start Smart)
In 2008, Peter’s ChangeLabs began Beyond Chalk in order to help teachers cope with the fast development of technology by making it less intimidating. Since then, over 100,000 teachers have benefited from their program, making teachers more at ease in using technology in the classroom. When technology is used to aid learning, students become more competitive and teachers aren’t left behind either. Teachers are more inclined to teach and students are easily drawn to studying.
Peter was awarded Speaker of the Year by the National Speakers Association in 2006. Peter has another productive year in 2008. He was featured expert in a five-part global series on Innovation on CNBC, named Thought Leader of the Year by the Thought Leaders Global Ltd., and one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs under 30 by the Smart Company. Peter turned his ideas into a reality. Because of this, he is now known as one of the most celebrated thought leaders who transformed businesses and lives.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Centre for Skills Development
- Creative Innovation Group
- O2 Speakers
Awards and Achievements
- 2000: Founded ChangeLabs
- 2006: Speaker of the Year – National Speakers Association
- 2008: Featured expert in a five-part global series on Innovation on CNBC
- 2008: Thought Leader of the Year – Thought Leaders Global Ltd.
- 2008: Top 30 Entrepreneurs under 30 – Smart Company
- 2009: Top 25 Most Influential Speakers in the World – National Speakers Association
- 2009: Top 25 Hottest New Speakers in the US – National Speakers Association]
- Already built two multimillion-dollar businesses with 9 international offices at 30 years old
- Delivered more than 2000 presentations to over 300,000 people in 15 different countries
- Now a regular presenter on Fox Business
- Appeared on ABC and BBC
- Featured in the Washington Post, CNBC, Inc.com, the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company magazine
- His books, Fl!p and Generation Y, are international bestsellers
- Making it Happen is currently on the business bestseller list in Australia and New Zealand
- 2006: Generation Y
- 2007: Flip
- 2010: Making It Happen
Deluxe Knowledge Exchange (Thought Leader Peter Sheahan)
Start Smart (About Us)
Industry Week (Take 5: Q&A with CEO Peter Sheahan, ChangeLabs)
Leading Age Magazine (Why Peter Sheahan Wants You to Flip Conventional Wisdom)
My Global Career (Will You Flip for Peter Sheahan?)
Orange County Speakers Bureau (Peter Sheahan, CPAE)
Speakerpedia (Peter Sheahan)
Blogger.com (Peter Sheahan's Blogs)
Huffington Post (Packaging -- How to Land Yourself on Time Magazine's World's 100 Most Influential People List)
Making It Happen Book (book excerpt)
Huffington Post (Making It Happen -- How to Transform Your Ideas Into Results)
Good Reads (Making It Happen, book)
Huffington Post (Peter Sheahan's profile)
LinkedIn (Peter Sheahan)