Finding My Own Path... the Slow Way
As graduation drew closer in college, we had a lot companies come to campus to recruit and do interviews. (That is one of the big advantages of being at a well-known business school.) From Proctor & Gamble to McKinsey Consulting, lots of big, well-known companies were there. And I applied to any relevant positions just like most of my classmates.
Every day, I checked the interview boards. Getting one of those jobs was the goal of nearly everyone who went to Wharton. My heart skipped a beat when I found I had an interview with Mercer Consulting. I practiced interview questions and got ready for the big day.
To be honest, I am not really sure how the interview went. Every time something came out of my mouth that was not as planned, I thought I had blown it. Then, I was sure I said something insightful, so I was rocking it. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride in a 30 minute interview.
Fortunately, I did not get a job offer. Yes, I said fortunately. If I would have gotten a job offer, I would have taken it, because it was a sought-after employer and would look good on a resume. I was taking the same path as my classmates... when it was the wrong path for me.
After graduating, I started working with a small consulting firm. I got to work directly with the owner, who was the best mentor I have had in my career. After three years there, I joined a small, but growing biotech firm and helped them quadruple revenues. What a fun ride!
It was not until I moved to San Diego that I considered going out on my own, and then it was by buying a franchise (which ended up being a bad fit), and got a taste of the entrepreneurial bug.
After a failed first business, a couple of 12 months or less stints at different companies, I went out on my own again. About that time, I read a book called “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” that my wife recommended to me. Wow, do I wish I had this when I actually was 20. It showed how much opportunity there is in the world to make money. The simple formula is to figure out how to be valuable to others, and bonus points if you can have fun doing what it is that makes you money.
If I had truly understood there are so many different way to make a living, on my own terms, I would have likely chosen the entrepreneurial path sooner. So now, we always have a copy of “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” on the bookshelf for sharing. And, we have purchased numerous copies for students graduating from college.
When you can really choose your own path, consciously, you have a much better chance of being authentic, rather than trying to fit in someone else’s box. And that is something worth pursuing.
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