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News > Alumni News > Tristan Scifo: Leaving the safety of the beaches and discovering who you are

Tristan Scifo: Leaving the safety of the beaches and discovering who you are

A very honest and real account of the journey of self awareness and discovery for Tristan since leaving Oxford Falls Grammar in 2005.

23 Jul 2020
Alumni News
Tristan Scifo (Class 2005) working his business, Purpose Advisory
Tristan Scifo (Class 2005) working his business, Purpose Advisory

Eager to please those around him and to prove himself to himself, Tristan had become quite the self-professed expert at failing to say “no”. 

 


It was 2009, Tristan was managing a more-than-full-time load in (what was supposed to be) his final year of an actuarial studies degree at Macquarie University. Eager to please those around him and to prove himself to himself, Tristan had become quite the self-professed expert at failing to say “no”. He maintained an active role in a number of university clubs and societies, worked 3 days employed as an accountant, tutored a handful of primary students from his parent’s loungeroom, tried his hand at an exciting but doomed-to-fail entrepreneurial venture with some classmates, and on the side, continued to volunteer at his local church, C3 Oxford Falls. It was there and then, and chiefly thanks to his penchant for saying “yes” that he met his now wife, Renee – meeting her on the set of a friend’s dance major work he was involved with. Upon reflection, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Tristan’s body would start to show signs of stress.

Tristan has a curious mind and by his own admission embraces a relatively chaotic lifestyle. He’s always been forward looking and open to ‘what’s next?’ but rarely made the time to stop, reflect, take stock and to be present. So it took a while to realise that the tormenting dermatitis and food intolerances he’d spontaneously contracted that year were linked to the volume of interests he was pursing and the state of his heart.

Today, surprised to find himself back on the Northern Beaches after a number of years living in different parts of the world, things have slowed down a little. He has a gorgeous 19-month-old daughter Noelle with his wife Renee, and focusses much of his efforts and energy on them and on his own business Purpose Advisory, which he started in 2018. He now fills his remaining hours with extended family, a smaller group of friends, church involvement and feeding his interests and passions of mentoring and personal development.



Image: The Scifo Family: Renee, Noelle and Tristan 

Tristan chose to study actuarial studies after receiving the suggestion from a staff member working at the OFGS school library. Without really understanding what they did or exactly how this degree would help him in his life or career...

At the time when Tristan graduated high school he’d been in a class of just 30 students and was only the second year to complete Year 12 at Oxford Falls Grammar. He admits that leaving school and entering university felt like becoming a small fish in a much larger pond. “Because I scored just 0.05 marks above the 96.00 ATAR minimum required to enter my actuarial program, I realised I was likely the least successful member of my entire cohort of more than 140 students. Before that I’d always been used to being on top!” Tristan chose to study actuarial studies after receiving the suggestion from a staff member working at the OFGS school library. Without really understanding what they did or exactly how this degree would help him in his life or career, he was mostly excited by the challenge and keen to expand his mind and test out what was possible.

Photo (L to R): Tim Field, Ben Egan, Jess Strudwick, Tristan, Marni Le Febreve, Will Galwey (back), Andy Barnard (front), Peter Chester, Luke Thorn
 

“I’d always thought I was the best and wanted to be the best. I had a high opinion of myself. And through this failure I realised I’m not invincible – I can’t just do everything.” 

On campus, Tristan signed up to numerous clubs and societies and threw himself into all aspects of university life. But early warning signs began to show when he failed his favourite subject in the second semester of his first year: combinatorial probability. At first surprised and then ashamed, it turned out to be a positive, eye-opening experience for him. “I’d always thought I was the best and wanted to be the best. I had a high opinion of myself. And through this failure I realised I’m not invincible – I can’t just do everything.” Tristan had been ‘pedal to the metal’ in every aspect of life and learned for the first time that he had to start allocating his time, energy and resources to achieve what he wanted to and felt called to achieve.
It was like “scrapping all the paint off a painting, melting it down then splashing back onto a clean canvass. You get a totally new look at the painting, even if it’s made of the same stuff.” 
After testing the waters with a 5-week university exchange to France over the holidays in January 2007, Tristan focused his sights on a longer 1-year opportunity to study some of his business-oriented degree in France. Having spent most of his life in the same largely protected and loving environment with many of the same caring people, he believes this exchange was a vital turning point in his personal development. For the first time he was totally unconnected to his past and could look at himself properly without being coloured by the perceptions of others, or by the assumptions he’d created about himself. It was like “scrapping all the paint off a painting, melting it down then splashing back onto a clean canvass. You get a totally new look at the painting, even if it’s made of the same stuff.” To amplify this experience, Tristan decided at the last minute to attempt his business studies that year in French instead of English. Never shy of hardwork, he managed to become fluent by years end.


As useful as university was for Tristan, he recognises that his greatest life lessons were taught by the people and organisations he’s been privileged to work with over the years. “Rising Generations” was perhaps the most prominent of these. In 2010, during his last year at uni, Tristan joined RG’s team of passionate educators and presenters, teaching values-based leadership full-time to high school students all across the country. “We were a small team of 10, just like a family. My boss and managers were incredible mentors, and that’s when I first realised that my chaotic ways of living were actually letting people down - even hurting them at times.” After three years working in this team environment Tristan was asked to leave and pursue his passions elsewhere. Again surprised, but this time more understanding, he treated this as an opportunity to transition into his now career as a financial adviser and coach.



Image: Tristan speaking at a school during his time at Rising Generations 
...get involved in starting or running a business, even just to volunteer or get alongside someone you admire who’s having a go ... "it will give you an understanding of how society works and help to educate yourself and eventually your kids on how to do life well”.

Ever since he was 17, Tristan knew he would end up consulting to businesses and aspiring to create more a more holistic, productive and loving society. His goal now is to help individuals to live their best life, and to demonstrate a refreshing and attractive example of how to do business - more aligned with personal wellbeing, relational connections, excellence, love, truth and beauty. He recommends anyone to get involved in starting or running a business, even just to volunteer or get alongside someone you admire who’s having a go, as he believes it will “give you an understanding of how society works and help to educate yourself and eventually your kids on how to do life well”.



 
Now that Tristan is more aware of his weaknesses and personality biases, he is working towards a more balanced version of himself. In the times he realises he has let someone down he’s building the courage to listen, to feel and to address the matter with the other person with greater empathy. “I don’t want to live any more of my life fueled by a fear that I’m not the best person in the room”.  

If you were impacted by this story, Tristian would love to hear from you and make a connection. You can do that through our member directory here

 
 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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