No matter what you have studied in school, what you believe your career will be or what your profession has become, there is no set path. You can change your mind about what you want to do with your life and set out to try something different at any time. See an opportunity no one else can see (yet)? Always wanted your own business? Ever felt professionally rejected and questioned your own worth? If you are the sum total of your experiences, then you should know the more experiences (including challenges) you have, the bigger that sum total becomes. A diverse path of experiences makes you uniquely valuable.

A brief history of my own career path tells an interesting story. I never lost my enthusiasm or passion, and always saw opportunities to do something different, something unique. Every time I started a new venture, I did the groundwork for the opportunity on weekends and evenings while I was also still working a full-time job (and I made sure I never dropped the ball on my daytime work responsibilities so it could never be an issue). It was never just a “side hustle”, every time I tried something new it was going to dominate the market. That said, I could never afford to just up and quit to try something new. With personal responsibilities (rent, food) and family responsibilities (wife, kids), there was no rest for the wicked inspired! That said, working more than one job at a time made me realize that I have crammed 45 years of practical work experience into 30 years…

It Went Like This:

  • 8 years: SALES at various ventures from telemarketing coupon books to health care plans for senior citizens – Left to pursue personal projects but thought I learned enough to start my own company…
  • 2 years: ENTREPRENEUR at ProtoMedia Design, designing and developing Websites – Failed, but learned enough to get my next job…
  • 4 years: IT at Nortel and Computer Sciences Corporation: Started in IT, Consulting, Product Development – Left to pursue personal projects and thought I learned enough to start my own company…
  • 2 years: ENTREPRENEUR at Soleil Consulting – IT integration Strategy and Business Process Organization – Failed, but learned enough to get my next job…
  • 8 Years: PROJECT MANAGER to Senior Vice President at Scholastic – Educational Technology, R&D, Publishing – Left to pursue personal projects but thought I learned enough to start my own Media Company.
  • 5 years: ENTREPRENEUR at Massiverse – My Own Family Entertainment Company – Failed, but learned enough to get my next job…
  • 6 years: NY to HEAD of GLOBAL DIGITAL at Porter Novelli and Omnicom – International PR, Digital Marketing, and a US-based PR startup – Promoted to internal startup, then laid off when it failed, but learned enough to help me in my next venture…
  • 9 years: ENTREPRENEUR at Akili Network – Co-founded the first free children’s educational TV network in sub-Saharan Africa, launched in Kenya in 2020. Going strong as the most watched daytime TV channel with over 5M kids and 4M parents, between 6am and 6pm in Kenya.

Notice a Pattern? 

I tried out a new business every time I saved up enough money and/or felt like there was enough momentum to do it. When it failed (which basically meant it couldn’t sustain my financial requirements any longer) I started working for someone else. I have tried a lot of different things and didn’t have a clear career path. With every job and every failed venture, I have brought all the skills, situational knowledge and experience with me. I constantly had to pivot, shift my personal mindset, and not take the failure personally.

How Can YOU Do This?

Here’s what I suggest: Try out that thing you are passionate about. Don’t quit your day job unless you can manage the risk! But try. Be ready to fail but remember if you do, you’re going to learn something. Every time you make the attempt, you will make yourself that much better, that much braver, and considerably more resilient. When you hit a “home run”, your success won’t be accidental. It will happen because you put in the effort and learned from it. But be ready to work yourself off because you’ll still need to pay the rent while you are forging your own path.

By: Jesse Soleil.

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