April marks six months since I left my full time job at Rutgers University, moved to Washington, DC, and launched my business full time. Let me correct myself, businesses. Today, as I sit here on April 1st writing this post, I am sharing this on my first day from my new office space at WeWork in the middle of DC. Ever since I went all in and to be an entrepreneur, I’ve been tip toeing the line of living the life of a digital storyteller (social media strategy & content creator) and the other, as the founder of The Niche Movement, a community to help young professionals find their passion while applying unconventional career search practices in the real world.
Since I took a leap of faith, even though the two businesses on paper were two different offsprings of my work over the last eight years, they have actually started to blend together in a weird but serendipitous kind of way. For example, from cold emailing conferences in DC last November, I landed the amazing opportunity to photograph for VentureWell, an ed tech conference full of like-minded higher ed colleagues and students who see things differently. As I photographed this conference over the four days, I personally met individuals that have created co-working spaces on their campuses all the way to Aneesh Chopra, Obama’s former CTO. Along with other work I have completed since October 2014, it’s moments like this that I know all of this will lead to something bigger and to have patience and most importantly, trust the process.
As I am weeks away from finishing my book, funded on Kickstarter last summer, I can say that the last six months has been the most rewarding but challenging months. However, each subsequent month has provided a lot of clarity and created a vision in how I can bridge the two businesses together. More on that to come later this spring.
I’ll admit, this is the first post I have written in 2015 partly because I have been head-down focused on bringing on clients and creating strategies and content for them. Next, I spent the end of 2014 interviewing inspirational people for the book including Nancy Lyons, founder of ClockWork and featured on NBC Nightly News in November 2014. Finally, it has been difficult to find any energy at the end of the day to write for a few minutes in order to thread the book together.
The good news though, I have loved every minute of it and have worked with some amazing people along the way.
The three pieces of advice I want to share with you whether you are starting your own business, in the middle of your career, or looking for a job you love is the following:
- Take a deep breath and hold on tight - Finding a job you love or starting your own business is a long, bumpy, and untraveled path. If you are looking for instant gratification or a quick solution, you are headed down the wrong path. With the right amount of planning, guts, and trusting that everything will “be ok”, it’s best to view this journey as a marathon and not a sprint.
- Put yourself out there - If you have something you want to share/promote or a service (big or small) to help others, you have to let people know. But don’t forget, have tact and be genuine with a touch of creativeness. I have found by just introducing yourself (digitally or in-person) and then leaving with “If I can help, please let me know” or “How can I help you?” goes a long way. Also, don’t forget the follow-up. Most of the people interviewed for the book and many of the projects I have worked on came from the simple follow-up both over the phone and through email.
- Care about the people first, work second - When you're starting out in a new job, career, or launching a new business it is so easy to get wrapped up in administrative tasks, finances, personnel, next-steps, etc. If you can find even just the smallest sliver of what you love about your job combined with 100% genuine effort, your reputation will sky rocket.
Do the work.
And add more value than asked of you (within reason - don’t be taken advantage of).
One of my clients earlier this year was strapped with a deadbeat developer (which I have very little experience with), however, I made several contacts in NYC and DC and also knew of 5 resources they could check out. Without hesitation I got on the phone and helped them out. It had nothing to do with social media but I knew I could help.
There are a lot of people to thank over the last six months, including every one of you reading this and following me along on this journey.
I also appreciate every single person I wrote about in my blogging journey over the summer for their continued support.
In addition to my wife Courtney, my parents, and close friends, I really want to thank the following businesses and clients for choosing to work with me, seeing the value I can add, and sometimes giving me a chance.
GWU Business School, Lemonade Day DC students, David Ruda & Alex Boessetta