What does ambition mean to you?

AmbitionNZ is a project that explores what ambition means in New Zealand.

Ambition is interesting because how big we dream is a major determinant of how far we can go, in business, in government or in life.

We have written a book, collected interviews with a diverse range of New Zealanders, and put out a survey to gather a wide range of views.

AmbitionNZ

Many commentators say New Zealanders lack ambition, and that aspects of the New Zealand character or our comfortable lives limit our achievements. We are said to be too keen on time off, too concerned about everyone fitting in, suspicious of people who try too hard, enthusiastic about humility, afraid of risk and failure, and relatively unmotivated everywhere but on the sports field. And yet Kiwis achieve at the very highest levels, both at home and overseas.

Ambition is linked to outcomes. Ambition is also something that responds to your circumstances. Some people want to make changes on a global scale. For others dreams focused much closer to home might require no less stretch.

Our book looks at what ambition means to New Zealanders. It reviews what has been said about us over the years, and compares these comments with what a diverse range of New Zealanders say based on new survey results and interviews.

We discuss how ambition might be linked to national economic performance, and to individual and societal wellbeing. We discuss questions of national identity and how our views on ambition might change as the New Zealand population changes. And we discuss challenges such as poverty and other things that get in the way of people setting and chasing goals for themselves and their families.

We explain the science of ambition and achievement, including where ambition comes from, how it is influenced by circumstances and how we can develop it.

We aim to increase awareness of the diversity of meanings of the word ambition and to help New Zealanders feel safe and inspired in setting bigger goals for themselves. We think being more ambitious with our dreams and goals could make us both more content as individuals and more successful as a country, without giving up the values that are important to us.

The book will be released in physical and digital formats on the 8th of March 2019.

Survey

Our online survey gathered data about ambition in New Zealand that we used to test the ideas in the book and video interviews. Between July and October 2018, we collected 1,298 complete survey responses. Thank you to everyone who filled it in.

The survey results are discussed in our book.

If you are interested in using this data for research purposes, please get in touch.
(Note that we did not collect any identifying information from participants.)

Video Interviews

 

We have completed short video interviews with more than a hundred and fifty people. We ask five questions:

 

  • What does “ambition” mean to you?
  • Are you ambitious?
  • Why do you think you are this way?
  • Describe the most ambitious person you know (not you)
  • What would enable you to be more ambitious?

About the Project

Why Bother

The idea of this work is to make an enduring contribution to how New Zealanders understand themselves. Describing ambition more inclusively might make it less of a dirty word. By shining a light on our attitudes and behaviors, we can come to understand them, building a foundation for changing them over time.

Our goal is to support a national conversation about ambition that encourages more New Zealanders to be more ambitious about more things: not just sport, or business, but family and community life, music and the arts, the environment and our wider wellbeing.

This work is a private apolitical effort unaffiliated with any organisation. We are pursuing it because we think it is important and interesting. If you are interested in helping out, please get in touch.

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Who is Involved

Julie Fry

Julie Fry is a consulting economist and World Class New Zealander who divides her time between New York and a family farm near Motueka. She has worked for the New Zealand Treasury, Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and HM Treasury in London on a range of policy issues including family policy, the labour market and immigration, and child poverty. Julie has Master’s degrees in economics from both the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, and she received a Nuffield Fellowship to research discrimination issues at the University of Warwick in Coventry. Together with Hayden and another friend, she co-owns the Open Book, a delightful secondhand bookstore in Ponsonby, Auckland.

Hayden Glass

Hayden Glass is a consultant with the Sapere Research Group and the former COO of Figure.NZ, a social enterprise focused on making New Zealand’s public data easier to find and easier to use. He has worked for the New Zealand Treasury, for Vodafone New Zealand, and on consulting assignments for a range of clients in the public and private sector including on the economic impacts of technology, on immigration and on employment issues. Hayden has a Masters in Law and a BA from Canterbury University. He has also studied mathematics and economics. He and Julie met while writing a book, Going Places, on the economics of immigration released by BWB in 2016.

With Thanks To

Principal Sponsor of AmbitionNZ: Jenny Sutton
Advisors: Jenny Sutton, Phil Veal and Rowan Simpson
Branding & Website: 360 Design
Survey Design: Joanna Smith and Anna Livesey
Book: Caren Wilton, Tina Delceg, Wakefields Digital, David Bateman Ltd and Penny Hartill

Copyright 2018, AmbitionNZ