I think of myself as an unapologetic capitalist. It must be the reason why my coming of age took eons. See, for the longest time I felt like I was embodying something akin to a multiple personality – one face for my public life, and my altar ego for my private life.
This is the thing, I’m a numbers person. As a strategy and finance specialist, I can speak numbers, income statements and business canvases with the best of them.
But I’m also a words person. I love to write, read and deconstruct words. So in private, I read and wrote voraciously, and I had (well, still have) two columns in the national newspaper. That persona I left at the door when I got to the office, because you know, finance specialist and artist sounds like you’re two different people. Or in denial. Not a good strategy to stay in the corner office.
Then my coming of age happened. I’m not sure exactly when, or how. But at some point I started to make peace with the fact that I wanted to be so much more than just a corporate hussy. And, while doing research for my career advice articles, I kept running into stories that spoke of the intersection of work and passion.
That to truly find your passion you need to ask yourself what you really wanted to do when you were younger, before reason and really wise people told you that you had to have a decent normal career like normal people.
Before you decided to conform and jump into a PROFESSION. Like normal people. I did normal, and it was amazing for about 13 years. Then as I wrote urging young people to find their passion my words kept speaking back to me in a ‘healer, heal thyself’ kinda way. My childhood dreams had a writing desk, the woods (really, woods. I read too much Enid Blyton), long days of silence and longer days of writing. And best seller books, churning by the year.
But it took going into the Mandela Washington Fellowship to cement the notion that there really is an intersection between my professional self and my creative self. Reinforced, not just by the exposure, but by the people I met who are making truly amazing things happen. The content producers, media and film personalities. The tech girl who loves to shop and gives me a run for my money when we go out on the town. The animators and educators.
All, people who have found that sweet spot between loving what they do and doing what they love. And then, the YALI creatives who make me want to reach further, who make me believe that our creative mind is not only feasible, it can create a sustainable future. I am lucky, because I have all these people to learn from. But I am even luckier that I have people who are truly living their dreams to inspire me.
One of my favorite professional turned creatives says that ‘a beginner’s mind is an open mind. And an open mind innovates’. Unshackled by the assumptions Dan Ariely talks about in his book Predictably Irrational, as a beginner you are less likely to attest to ‘the way we do it here’ because you have no internalized reference point.
My biggest inspiration thus far? Fail fast, fail often, fail better. The more diplomatic and less scary version of that is ‘LAUNCH and LEARN’. And then launch better next time until you have the best product. And that is a cause I am putting my heart and soul into.