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  • Anthony Cohen

Onions or Aeroplanes — Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

My inspiration always comes when I am on board a plane. I’m not sure why exactly; it could be the sheer elation that I’ve always felt when I fly, it could be the blessed release from the connected world (for now!) or it could just be the hypoxia and too many glasses of bubbles.

Whatever the case may be, aeroplanes have always been my muse and I’ve grown to cherish the time on board, and the ideas I’m almost always provided.

For those of you who maybe don’t know me personally; I’m what’s called an “Avgeek” [aviation geek], or as some may say an aerosexual as some of you who do know me personally may call me.

Even as I write this piece, I’m on board a Qantas flight that has just sped down the Bangkok International runway, homeward bound to Sydney. During my travels I’ve been struck with amazing insights, motivation to improve myself and countless business ideas.

I have always been incredibly grateful for the opportunity to fly — and courtesy of working for an airline for most of my career — fly at a cost and in a style and level of comfort that my much younger self (and many people) can only dream of. Take it from me, airlines are hard businesses to work in and the pay can be pitiful, but you get to travel the world and work in a truly aspirational category.

If that’s your thing, I’ll share a million stories with you any time you’re free to listen.

But back to the point of this story, which is about as far from the world of glamorous travel as you can get. You see, in my formative career I used to get inspiration somewhere else: behind an electric frying pan at the back of a hot and humid Vietnamese bakery — slicing and cooking kilos and kilos of onions 8 hours a day.

My late father had a brilliant mind and at his heart was an incredible entrepreneur. He was so full of ideas; some worked and many, many didn’t. But on this occasion you’ll find that he and a very close family friend had opened a hot dog store franchise, hence teenage me spent my days cutting and frying the onions that would later end up in hundreds of hot dog rolls.

I’d spend those hours thinking, fantasising about all manner of things (about a life where onions cut and fried themselves, probably), about my future and where I’d end up as I moved into adulthood. But the point is I used that time whilst I sweated and cursed and cried [thanks to the onions] to imagine a life outside of that bakery and better things.

Wherever your inspiration may come from; be it at 35,000 feet sipping champagne or frying onions to support your family — use whatever you get.

Your brain is an amazing piece of machinery and so full of potential and opportunity. No matter what hardships we face, what teachers may say, what pieces of paper we may have been given as qualification or what obstacles we face, we are all blessed with this same amazing mass of grey matter in our heads. How we use it is entirely up to us.

Where do you get your inspiration?

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