Our mission is to empower people to break free & unleash their full potential.
We believe that:
The ikario Team Has Got Your Back
Tim J McLeod
That's my team and me. We're here to give you the tools, guidance & support you need to turn your life into a beautiful success story.
I'm Shane and the story of ikario begins with my own.
To put it bluntly, the moment I had to go to school as a kid, my life became an ever escalating series of problems. I didn't get good grades, I couldn't pay attention or sit still, I didn't get along with other kids and I certainly didn't get along with my teachers.
I wasn't so much a troublemaker as the quiet, awkward, slow kid who just never gets it.
As a child and well into and even beyond my teenage years, I just seemed to struggle with everything. And as a result of that, I felt like a failure and a nuisance. It seemed like I was bad at everything that matters. And I was bad at most things that don't matter, too.
I felt like I was just a nuisance and a waste of space.
After school, I spent 2 years trying to find employment - but all I found were occasional bottom-of-the-barrel temp jobs with horrible working conditions and awful pay.
Needless to say, my mental health and self image suffered horribly during this time.
I'm not telling you a sob-story about my life to ask for your pity. Not at all.
You see, the crazy thing is that my life in the last 10+ years has been completely different story. I'm happy to say that I have:
- Started or been directly involved in over a dozen business ventures, many of which are successful and 2 of which have been very successful.
- Lived in Spain, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Thailand and Bali and traveled to countless beautiful places all over the world, all while working from a laptop.
- Gathered an amazing circle of friends who are the kinds of people I admire and feel inspired by.
- Overcome shyness, social anxiety, self worth issues, depression and a long list of other mental and emotional problems that used to plague me incessantly.
- Been asked to speak at conferences & lead workshops.
When I was younger, my wildest dreams about what I'd wish my life to be like weren't as good as what my life is actually like, right now.
The Risky Decision that Changed Everything
In 2015, I was sitting on a balcony with my business partner Paul, looking over the nighttime skyline of Bangkok.
Thrive Themes, a software business we'd started together, had been growing rapidly. We were pleased with our success but also concerned about how we could scale the business and keep up with the growing demand.
One bottleneck in the business at this point was... well, me.
I had been doing all of the marketing for Thrive Themes, by myself. Every word of copy, every landing page, every content piece, every video was created, edited and published by me.
Clearly, this wasn't a scalable solution. We needed a marketing team.
I had an idea that I hoped would attract the right kind of person and get us the team we needed, faster.
Paul was skeptical. And to be honest, so was I. It was a risky idea...
Instead of making a normal job offer, I created a short-term apprenticeship program. The deal was this: people could apply and if they were accepted, I would fly them out to Barcelona. There, I would pay for their accommodation and pay a modest salary and they'd be working directly with me for a period of 3 months.
In this high-intensity training period, I would teach them as much as I could about how to do effective digital marketing. And the best among them, I'd present with a job offer to work at Thrive Themes.
For the apprentices, it was a unique opportunity to get paid to level up their skills and a chance at a job.
For me, it meant I could work with and train up people directly.
The only problem was: I had never done anything remotely like this before.
The Barcelona Experience & the Unexpected Outcome
Soon after that evening in Bangkok, I found myself hurrying around Barcelona, trying to secure the apartments for the apprentices and trying to get everything lined up for the 3-month stint.
Things were hectic, but they worked out. And the apprenticeship experience was intense and gratifying.
And it was a smashing success!
It was a success because:
- It was an amazing and career-defining learning experience for the apprentices.
- It was a great learning opportunity for me as well.
- The marketing work we did more than covered the costs of the apprenticeship project, even within the 3 month period.
- I hired several of the apprentices and they became invaluable team members in my company.
But I realized something that I hadn't expected at all...
Even though the apprenticeship was entirely focused on digital marketing skills, people gained much more than that from it.
We spent a lot of our time talking about marketing, but we also spent a lot of time talking about life, health, fitness, travel, dreams, goals...
People made a career from this apprenticeship, but they also made friends, formed new habits, rewired their thinking...
I had intended to teach digital marketing skills, but people came away with life skills too.
The outcome of this project was so good, I did another apprenticeship in 2016, in Lisbon, Portugal and we did a marketing team work-cation get-together thing in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2017.
It was through these experiences that I developed my skills for bringing people together and creating growth experiences.
Being an Entrepreneur is Just My Day Job
Up until this point, entrepreneurship was my "main thing". I was primarily known as an entrepreneur, founder and teacher in the digital marketing space.
But really, entrepreneurship is just my day job. A day job that I love, but a day job, nonetheless.
Which is to say: it's not my vocation. It's not my deepest passion or calling to start businesses and make money. It's what I do for a living, but it's not what I feel like I was placed on this earth to do.
For the longest time, I've been interested in life skills. I've been interested in developing my mind, my skills, my body and my life. I've been interested in personal growth and in the application of problem solving skills and design skills to improve life quality.
The apprenticeships gave me a taste of what was possible. They proved to me that I could bring people together and create a significant, personal growth experience for them.
And I wanted more of that.
This is where my story leads to ikario. Following the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle, I put together an apprenticeship program. But this time, the focus would be on life skills just as much as on entrepreneurial skills.
More than any time before, I was looking for growth minded, adventurous, ambitious people. My goal was to create a team of people who's job it would be to engage is intense personal development.
I wanted to see just how far I could take this. And I'd figure out some way to turn it into a business and have it all pay for itself, somehow.
This is how the ikario team came together and the project started out better than I could have wished for... until it all went wrong.
Step 1: Take Your Plans & Throw them in the Trash
The plan was for the new team members to come together in Lisbon, for an apprenticeship. This was now a tried and true model for me.
But right as we were about to get together, the global COVID-19 crisis hit. Before we knew it, flights were getting canceled and borders were closing.
Everything I'd spent months planning was wiped clean off the table.
Now, at this point, I could have thrown my hands up and declared defeat... but I wasn't ready to give up so soon.
We decided to rise to the challenge and make the best of it...
...and it was tough.
Working remotely, across many time zones is hard enough as it is. But we had the added challenge of not really knowing what to do. Everything that was planned required us to work together and be in the same room as each other.
We scrambled to reformulate our plans and try to keep the project afloat, all while the crisis around us was worsening by the day.
It’s Worth Not Giving Up - Our Success is Your Success
This were challenging. Very challenging.
But there's good news too. Despite the circumstances, the most impotant part of ikario worked: people on the team were experiencing growth.
We were doing challenging work, we were leveling up our skills, we were having the right kinds of conversations, challenging each other's ideas and encouraging each other to grow.
This project proved to me once and for all: I have a recipe for positive life transformations. The things that helped me turn my life from a complete disaster to a resounding success can be systematically applied to other people and lead to the same results.
Now, we have one goal: scale this knowledge as far as it can go. We want to take this positive life transformation and bring it to as many people as we can.
And we hope that you will be one of them.
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