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What’s the driving force behind the success of our export heroes and teachers? Ian Murray finds it’s more than just money leading the charge.

Over the last six weeks I have had the privilege of ringing a very special group of Australians and telling them that they had been selected to join the register of Australian Export Heroes. During that time I also interviewed more than twenty people for positions as TradeStart Export Advisors and one for a key export position in a state government department.

What struck me about all the export heroes and many of the people I interviewed was the passion they had for export and the fact that what they were doing or were about to do was more than job; it was for Australia.

Many of our sporting legends would say that being passionate about their sport is critical for success, and there is no doubt in my mind that many school teachers do what they do out of passion. But why?

A Macquarie Dictionary definition for passion is described as "a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything".

I can fully understand the rewarding aspects of being a schoolteacher. Seeing young children progress through school must be quite an experience, and one that could inspire passion. And it’s similar for our sportsmen and women, particularly those who have performed on the international stage. It’s inspiring to see them pass on their passion for their sport to future generations.

So what is it about export that makes people so passionate about their jobs? It’s really quite simple and to some extent it’s a combination of both the sportsperson and teacher. Like sport, export is a competition. We go out there and take on the world. And Australians like taking on the world and like to win. Also like sportspeople, exporters set their personal bests, or goals, conquering one market before heading off to conquer the next, and the next. And again like our sports stars, the really good ones find it difficult to give up. So when they finally give it away, what do they do? They become teachers, and share their experience and their passion with new exporters, and they love it!

But passion for the job and for the business not only applies to the exporters themselves it also applies to many of the people who provide services to the industry.

Take the people I interviewed for the TradeStart position. When I asked them why they wanted the job, almost every one answered: "because I want to do something that helps build Australian companies". Money, while important, was not the primary motivation.

And it doesn’t seem to stop there. At the recent Austrade Export Advisors Conference, the passion demonstrated for the job was really quite infectious. The room was filled with people who simply want to help others build their business through export and everyone who received an award said "this is a bonus, because what I really love is my job".

I don’t know how you value passion. In export it’s invaluable. How do you get it? Listen to someone like Wolf Blass or Paul Cave or Tim Fischer talk about their export experience and I’m sure a bit will rub off. It’s such a shame we lost Steve Irwin, his passion for pushing Australia was worth millions.

What do you think?

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