My high school guidance councillor Mr. Dolan made me take a test that was supposed to help map out my future. Everyone in our class had to take it. A series multiple-choice questions assessed aptitudes and interests to determine a career path. I recall seeing my classmates exit the dimly lit, windowless office looking satisfied, each holding a printout that contained practical proclamations for their professions. Teacher, engineer, mechanic, nurse. Mine said…
I asked to take the test repeatedly. Each time entrepreneur was the only recommendation. I asked Mr. Dolan how to become an entrepreneur. He just shrugged. I would have had more luck consulted a Magic Eight Ball.
I enrolled in a business administration program thinking it would be a fast track to my future as an abstract entrepreneur. Thankfully, my mum read a brochure for a communication arts program and insisted I was in the wrong program. Her instincts were better than the career aptitude test, and the decision to switch programs changed my life’s trajectory.
I thrived in communications studies, finding my voice as a writer, earning good grades, and getting involved in student government. I was no closer to becoming an entrepreneur, but at the age of 18 I had an office on campus, an assistant, and supervised a group of student representatives. By the time I finished the program I had served on numerous academic committees, helped write policies and procedures, was a member of a provincial student governance committee, and gave the convocation address at my graduation.
As I entered the business world I knew how to process large amounts of information, supervise people, run a meeting, and navigate politics, but I still had no idea how to become the elusive entrepreneur. So, I went into media.
When exiting my fifth year in television promotions, my boss gave a speech about how I was a wild stallion that could not be tamed. Radio marketing proved a better fit for my skillset. I was encouraged to dream big, and stay within budget.
After hitting a plateau, my boss told me I could go anywhere, and do anything. The next move was all mine. When I left radio it was not for a fancy new job title, a tall office building, or a big paycheck. I was destined to be…an
That Magic Eight Ball of a career assessment test was right all along. This wild untameable stallion was not meant for the confines of an average boardroom. The woman assigned to mentor me at a local business link office recalled meeting me years earlier, She said she felt I was always destined to be in business for myself. When I asked how she knew, she said she had witnessed a tense moment between me and my supervisor after I suggested a different way of doing things. If I recall correctly, the disagreement was about whether a balloon archway was appropriate decor for a business event.
I have now been an entrepreneur for 19 years. It is both challenging and fulfilling, but I would not, and could not change it for any amount of guaranteed advancement, or money. I love working with my clients, tackling complex problems, and building things. I love feeling what I do matters, even if it just matters to me. Entrepreneurship is a constant and evolving learning experience that comes with its share of plot twists – like how to adapt when a global pandemic crushes your previously successful business model.
Some days I feel it would be easier to ask the Magic Eight Ball for direction. In fact, I ordered one while writing this.
I ripped open the package soon after the Amazon driver deposited it on my doorstep. The first thing I asked was, “Magic Eight Ball, am I headed in the right direction?”
The Magic Eight Ball answered: “Signs point to yes.”
I love feeling what I do matters, even if it just matters to me….Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests this is the highest level of satisfaction one can have.
I’m happy you’re still on the right track Ilan.
I think we have all had to be resilient and ask ourselves the difficult questions this past year. It is far from over but the honest truth is if you are doing something you do not love you are putting your energy in the wrong place. Thanks for the kind words Barb.
Excellent work Ilan. A true testament of persistence and resiliency pays off. You are an incredible lady who has flourished and done your way. Your creative site is a testament of your innovativeness and passion shows strongly. Mona Cooley