Live Entrepreneurially: Harnessing Luck

luck is in small things(42/365)
This is part 2 of 2 of the “Live Entrepreneurially” series. In part 1, I wrote about finding purpose. Today, I’m going to explain how preparing with purpose can harness luck. Instead of presenting the ideas here as theoretical, I’m going to use examples from my own career.

I’m not a marketer. Yet, my last two jobs have been in marketing. Why?

The last year I was in the film business I thought a lot about my intrinsic motivations and purpose, and how those manifest themselves in business and into a career. What aspects of previous jobs did I like / dislike? For example

  • I like high volume, high stress work environments. If a workplace is too slow, I get anxious and antsy and start working on side projects to keep myself busy. I need to feel productive
  • I have self-diagnosed A.D.D., so, to stay interested, I need either (1) one project that is progressing quickly and needs all of my attention, or (2) several projects that require less personal attention, but sum up to a high volume of work in aggregate. That said, I generally like having my hands in several different projects at a time
  • I love to mentor – maybe because I didn’t get a lot of direction when I was growing up
  • Also worth noting, while I like mentoring (or consulting) people (e.g. students, clients, team members, etc.), I don’t like holding people’s hands. This is because I believe time is my most valuable asset and I can’t stand when people waste my time. I expect people to be at least as passionate and resourceful as me. Otherwise, I don’t want them in the room
  • I like being in a position where I can influence the strategy/direction of a business

I have many more of these, but I’ll stop here. When I mapped these qualities against a growing interest in technology and social media and how they were affecting the way we communicate and consume content, I concluded that I wanted to start my own company and eventually move into venture capital to fund and mentor other entrepreneurs.  That’s when I started thinking about social TV.

President Abraham Lincoln.

“I will prepare, and one day my chance will come” — Abraham Lincoln

I started preparing – thinking about how the internet, mobile and social media were affecting content consumption and how to disrupt mainstream Hollywood. So, when opportunity presented itself and I was introduced to Avi Savar (Founder of Big Fuel) I was prepared. I connected with their Content to Commerce business model, helping brands connect with their customers through content, and the idea of helping them scale their business. And, so I was hired. And, I accepted because the job fit within the parameters of my purpose.

Six months later, when Big Fuel‘s growth leveled out, and I moved more into an account management role than a corporate development role, and my workload decreased, I got the startup bug again.

I got to work planning two new companies – one being a location-based network and the other a social business consultancy.

Again, opportunity came knocking, and again, I was prepared. I was introduced to WCG, which was building out its company much the way I was mapping out my social business consultancy. Had I not been working on my own company, and had developed my own point of view on the nature of the marketing and communications industry and how social media fits into it, I may not have gotten an offer.

I wasn’t looking for a job; I was ready to start my own company. But, the fact that WCG was building business very similar to what I wanted to build, and the fact that everyone I met at the company was smart and passionate, convinced me it was worth taking a shot on them. It never hurts to align yourself with good people and strong leaders, and I was impressed by Bob PearsonJim Weiss and the rest of the team. So, now I’m at WCG.

My last two jobs have been in marketing. Why?

Because technology, content and social media (three interests that fit within my purpose) are disrupting the marketing and communications industry. Brands and agencies need people that can help them navigate the new wild west, and I can fill that role. But, I don’t consider myself a marketer. I consider myself an entrepreneur-in-the-making.

As Tim Cook said, “We rarely control the timing of opportunities, but we can control the preparation”.

So, I will continue to prepare. And, I hope you will too. Find your purpose and prepare. Opportunity will come.

Addendum

On a side note, you don’t have to jump from company to company to find roles that fit within your purpose. Please take the time to read this short post by Steven Tomlinson, Professor at Acton MBA in Entrepreneurship, where he speaks about tweaking your existing job to make it more satisfying.

And, if you haven’t seen Professor Tomlinson’s TEDxAustin speech, I urge you to watch the video below now.

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