Graeme Watkins On Pursuing Every Opportunity

Graeme Watkins On Pursuing Every Opportunity


Losing can be a good thing

Not winning Idols in 2009 was a disappointment, but there was a silver lining. Yes, I lost the record deal, but if anything I gained more drive, which has allowed me to do things my way.

Because of the Idols experience, I started pursuing my music career. I found session musicians for a cover band to capitalise on the exposure. From our first jam session we really clicked, and ended up writing a song called Real World.

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This had never been the plan. It was a real lesson that great things happen when you don’t stand in your own way, and since that day, we’ve been a collaborative band, and not cover musicians.

Opportunity is out there

New things are created every day, and it’s up to us to find that gap. Society is driven to find a way to provide new things, new services and products and art.

You just need to be willing to try. It’s reassuring to me that there’s something out there for everyone. You just need to find your niche.

Of course this means you might fail along the way. That’s also fine. Failure is good. There’s no greater teacher than pain.

Sometimes the greatest successes have an equal if not bigger chance of failure.

Don’t let the fear that you’ve never done something before hold you back. You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.

If you approach life with an attitude of ‘I want that, I covet it, but I’m too afraid to try,’ you’ll never find those sweet successes.

As an ADHD and dyslexic kid, I struggled at school with the more academic stuff. I was branded a ‘special needs’ child who needed discipline. What it actually taught me was to stop listening to opinions; to hold onto the good and listen to that.

Sometimes there will be detractors who can offer good advice, but never take the bad to heart. Know who you are, motivate yourself, believe in yourself.

Confidence is a skill


Having confidence in what you do is a learnt skill. It’s not intrinsic. You have to work at it every day. Like any skill though, the more you practice, the better you become, and once you’ve got that inner momentum, you’re a lot more empowered to take on the world and try new things.

My wife, Kim and I started our first business, Think Theatre, as a company that customises theatre performances for corporate events and parties.

Today that business is a sister company of Think Entertainment, and Kim not only specialises in creating customised theatre events, but is an agent as well.

In the middle of building up that business and focusing on my own stage career I entered Idols, which led to forming The Graeme Watkins Project.

This has not only opened doors in the music business, but the business world as well. If you’ve got a lot of energy, creativity and ideas, it’s incredible how much you can squeeze into each week.

A common goal

My latest venture is a business collaboration with Nathan Ro from Lonehill Estate.

We recognised that there’s a need in the corporate market for communication mediums that bridge the gap between base level staff and upper management.

Hive Mind aims to create an accessible corporate language through the use of various mediums, including video production, encouraging MDs and CEOs to use that as a tool to communicate with their staff.

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We’re drawing on our own experiences from attending so many events, but also tapping into other skills. Nathan is a designer; I understand staging and productions, and of course we can score music.

The name Hive Mind Industries came from the idea of a hub of people with creative minds, all working towards a common goal. There’s huge value in surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, where each person has something to offer.

In today’s landscape you don’t need to be everything to everyone – you just need great partnerships.

Our lead guitarist, Ryno Zeelie, runs Figure of 8 Productions, Matthew Marinus, our drummer, Dream Canvas Videography, and our bassist, Rudo Pieterse, is involved in events.

What’s really great is that our synergies work beyond the band. On the business side, we all outsource to each other. We’re all good at what we do, we’re all passionate, and we don’t want each other’s projects to fail.

Nadine Todd
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.