ALEX CORNISH IN MELBOURNE
In collaboration with Australian label Country Road, I’m proud to share with you a new set of portraits profiling three Australian men-on-the-rise, talking morning routines, workweek style and the career lessons they’ve learned.
First up, a former Deloitte consultant and investment analyst for a James Packer-backed share fund, Alex Cornish set out on his own venture, creating HouseSpotting, an online real estate community. (Think Yelp or Tripadvisor for the housing market.)
What’s your morning routine?
The one thing you lose with a startup is your routine. I’ve carried on from my corporate career: I’m up at the same time every day. I get up at 6, run outside, freeze, read the paper and jump on Google Analytics. Then I give myself a to-do list for the day.
How do you dress, now that you work for yourself?
When I was at Ellerston (Capital, a share fund), I was routine: a blue suit, a charcoal suit, six shirts and one navy blue tie. I was super routine. I knew it looked good. I didn’t have to think. Now, I do the same on a different scale. I tried the whole “start-up” t-shirt and jeans thing. It didn’t feel right. Just putting on a collared shirt makes me feel better. Now it’s about a great coat, smart jeans and dress shoes.
How hard was it to leave your full-time career behind and take on your own venture, in HouseSpotting?
I had a pool of savings I knew would last 12 months or so. I’d just gotten married. Transitioning away from a steady salary is hard. There have been times when I’ve woken up thinking, “What the hell have I done?” But here’s the way I think about risk: there’s only a few windows of opportunity in your life where you can go right up the risk curve and take things on.
What’s the biggest misconception about real estate?
That agents are the gatekeepers of all property knowledge. The core premise behind HouseSpotting is that people underestimate just how much they know about real estate. Everyone who has left home has rented somewhere or bought their own place – that requires serious research. We all have a pool of real estate knowledge – and HouseSpotting is about sharing that.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?
The other week, Dad said, “I didn’t fail, I found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” You’ve got to view those little failures as crossing things off the list – keep moving forward.