Christina Gerakiteys is an ideator and innovation enabler, consulting with entrepreneurs organisations to strategise, prototype and iterate innovative products and services.
Christina travels the world seeking ways to do things better, smarter and faster. She has written business development and innovation programs, conducts workshops and facilitates strategic planning meetings and conferences.
Her purpose is to ignite and encourage creativity and innovation to maximise productivity, collaboration and workplace happiness.
- Tell us about the journey that led you to start your own business.
So I actually worked for organisations for quite a while and my husband had always been going ‘why are you doing this for someone else – why aren’t you doing it for yourself’. And there was a series of synchronise events (which would be a good name for a book further down the track – I’m not sure), that actually led me to go, OK that’s enough working for other organisations, and the organisation I had been with I had been there part-time, full-time for 15 years I think and had been very blessed with having intrepreneurial roles, but then to step out and do my own thing, do my own business, as you know is a big step.
So it’s that leap off the edge and see how it goes, but I had enjoyed working in the innovation space and that is the space that I created the business in, so creativity and innovation have always been part of my background and so then be able to say you know what it’s time – things happen in life I believe for very good reasons and it was almost a shove out the door and it was a blessing for me to create my own business around the things that I was loving and that is the space of creativity and innovation.
- Why is innovation vital for businesses?
I think innovation is crucial for business and just to define what innovation is, because some people get scared of the word although it has been bandied around quite a lot lately.
Innovation for me is small useful change, or it can be small useful change, or it can be anything that is ultimately disruptive. So we have had lots of examples of disruption. But for me business, small business particularly, doesn’t need to be wondering about how they’re going to take on the next Airbnb, or the next Uber, etc, because they are quite commonly used examples for businesses that are disrupted quite largely lately. But for me it can also be small useful change and I guess that is my sweet spot for business – I really like to go in and go, hey you don’t need to make huge changes, you don’t need to invent the next hovercraft. How do we streamline things, how do we make things better, how do we create a better workplace, how do we make your leadership challenges easier, how do we get everybody involved in strategic planning, how do we get everybody to take ownership and that’s where then, when the magic starts happening – when people actually start thinking innovatively, and they think of new ways, they think of business improvement methods.
And that is not to say I don’t get a buzz on working with the big stuff as well. It is really encouraging for small businesses if they think about it as pure business development.
- Did you always know you want to be an entrepreneur?
I think so. I guess I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather, I like to say invented choc tops, my uncle invented the first talking books, and you know those machines that people blow into after they have had open heart surgery and things like that to build lung capacity – my uncle actually came up with the first ping pong versions of what that was.
So I guess if it can be genetic it is, but I have always loved new challenges, I have always loved finding new ways of doing things, new ways of improving things, even when I was working in organisations, finding ways to do things better, do things differently, particularly give people hands on real life personal development and growth experiences, so yes I think so.
- What do you attribute your success to?
It took a while to get there and it also depends on what your definition of success is. So for me, success is taking pleasure every day in what I do and if I, like yesterday for example, I think I started emailing at 4.30am in the morning and got to bed at about midnight and there weren’t many breaks in the middle.
So in order to be successful in business as an entrepreneur, I think you need passion, tenacity, determination – you need a good idea to start with as well and I think as long as you live in authenticity and you live by exactly what you want to achieve and what your values are, then I think success in business is a little easier.
That is not to say that everybody who is successful in business gauges that by making a million dollars at the end of their first year, and five million dollars at the end of their second year, and that six figure final thing we are always reading about. I think if you are happy with what you are doing you can live the lifestyle that you want to live and you want to achieve things for other people. For me that’s a big motivator and I guess that is why I was in an organization, and that is what I try to do working with businesses and companies now, is to actually genuinely help people achieve what they want and I think that makes it easier. I don’t think being in your own business is ever easy but it’s so rewarding and so wonderful and inspiring and when you see those faces sometimes when they’ve cracked something or had a significant achievement, there is no reward past that – it is amazing.
- What local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
That is a really tough question because there are several that I find inspiring and in fact I find any local entrepreneur inspiring because I know they have all jumped off the ledge at some point in time and so they have taken a risk and put their heart and soul into whatever it is that they want to achieve. So there are quite a few – obviously my colleague Heidi Alexandra Pollard who I do lots of work with, I find what you do absolutely rewarding, so I guess for me it is if we could all support each other.
I think the things that Kim-Cherie Davidson is doing at the moment is wonderful, the things Tina Moore is doing with her dance, taking her dance to women who aren’t dancers, I think that is fantastic giving people an outlet there, so there are lots of local entrepreneurs and I just rattled off a whole lot of female names I know, but I guess that’s where sometimes the greatest jump is, the greatest leap, into being an entrepreneur is, particularly with the mumprenuers that are all coming up at the moment as well, and I find that actually solve real world problems.
I had Jennifer Holland last week come and talk to the Rippler group, and her story is absolutely inspiring and the synchronise events that led to her being on Shark Tank that then led to the American investors in her company and distributors, I think the fact that she has four small children and the fact that she was meant to be at the top shots breakfast and she rang me the day before and said I have been offered a spot on the Today show and I said you’ve got to go, and she text me that night at 11 pm and said the kids aren’t going to sleep and I can’t send you the video I was going to send, and she takes them with her, they travel as a family.
I think there are quite a few local entrepreneurs that I so admire, Melissa Edyvean from Bondi Chai is another one. I think potentially I could keep answering this question but I might just stop!