(This post is part of a pact I made. Click here for the full story.)
Meet Joe*, a young serial entrepreneur.
Guided by his appetite for risk-taking and passion for military strategy since the age of 12, Joe found his career Nirvana in the music industry, after going broke and getting back up several times.
In his own words: “I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My biggest dream has always been to have a lifestyle around my work, to be completely free of bosses or people telling me what to do or how to spend my time.”
Staying true to his childhood dreams, Joe has taken several risks with his own capital. He’s worked in the telecom industry, recycling, aeronautics and the internet. As he wrote to me: “I got to know the internet industry quite well when the Y2K stock market bubble blew up in my face, hard.”
In spite of his financial risk-taking, from how Joe defines a career, it’s quite clear that he’s driven by much more than money and success.
“A career is not about academics or money it is about finding the lifestyle that makes us truly happy, something that if taken away from us, makes us cease to exist. What we study or even the jobs we hold are not what define us. It’s deeper than that. It is how we chose to live and what we are 24/7 that defines us.”
“…being in love is wanting to be at the same place every day and not getting enough of it. That’s exactly (what) finding the perfect career or lifestyle is about, loving what you do to keep doing it forever.”
Note to self: Define your career. Control your life. What does success mean to you?
As strategic as he has been, he feels that he stumbled upon his career Nirvana by pure luck. “In my case (my career Nirvana) came serendipitously…For some reason my (music) business came to me as much as I went to it. I do not believe in destiny, I believe we make our own but this makes me doubt. I love my job and it fits me perfectly but never in a million years did I think I’d be doing it. The moment I bought my first book on ‘Music Business’, the moment I opened the first chapter I knew I wasn’t leaving it.”
He then said: “…For me, finding the right path, the right job, the right place to be and live, what I call “that” has come after searching and falling…I have shoved my nose into so many industries, places, jobs…”
Note to self: Be open to exploration. Stay open to finding your career Nirvana in unexpected places.
Experience has taught Joe that being indecisive can be costly: “I have gone broke because of (the) when/then game and it is probably (one of) the most important things a business manager or leader (needs) to know. You must know when to stop or when to change direction. If you do it too soon, you’ll miss out, if you stay on the same path thinking things will change doing the same things you are doing you will fail. There is a great deal of importance in this. (Unfortunately)…we will only learn (to be decisive by) practicing. It hurts…Decisions in business are the H in H20.”
Note to self: Practice making decisions.
Joe has also learned that failing is part of the learning process. In spite of going broke, he wrote to me: “(I have) no regrets…Falling down is almost a pre-requisite to being an entrepreneur. Even more so is getting back up. Companies today are hiring executives who have failure in their CV’s because falling down teaches so much more than success. One must enter any endeavour committed to it. If you fail or win, (something) can be (gained) from (the experience). So by all means jump. Worst that can happen is that you will lose all you have and you have to get back up again. It sounds pretty rash but it is the entrepreneurial game…”
Note to self: Failure is the new success.
When I asked Joe if he’s planner, he almost sounded like a general preparing for war: “I always, always, always have a plan. First I write out what I want to do then I put it in numbers. When I do the numbers I am extremely pessimistic. If they turn out ok I just go for it, no matter what…there are 3 secrets to business: Plan, plan, plan. Having a plan and executing it are completely different things. Military strategy says that any plan goes bust when the first shot is fired, the same is true for business.”
Note to self: Plan, plan, plan.
Joe’s scars of war have left him with several lessons, which he was happy to share with aspiring entrepreneurs:
“Definitely, I would try to gain more experience. It is very important to learn as many ropes as you can from an industry, then go solo. This does not mean that one cannot be successful by jumping in. It’s good to risk but it is also good to have at least one foot on the “sane” side.”
Image for post chosen by Joe. In his words: “It’s a circle called Enso (Japanese origin). It sombolizes many things in Zen Buddhism. Emptiness, wholeness, perfection, imperfection, many things. I love it.”
*Name changed for privacy reasons.