I didn’t study business but Middle Eastern studies and politics. I didn’t work in consulting but in policy research and recruitment. And yeah I also have no professional experience in writing or interior design. I didn’t do an MBA but I spent my money on travelling for 7 months. I didn’t do unpaid internships during my studies but worked 10-20 hours to finance my life, abroad studies and trips.
I don’t have parents with a business background but they are teachers (who by the way also supported me financially during my university time). I didn’t choose my first job thinking about how it would guarantee me a big career but to complement my NGO and academic experience with a business perspective. I didn’t quit jobs to move up the ladder but to have in between time to travel.
Am I the right person to produce an Interior Design book without existing infrastructures? But with the intention to set up a small publishing house? From what I have shared you would probably assume no. And to be honest, just this week there was one day where I agreed with you. But it’s human to have doubts when you are doing big things in life. Big things for yourself of course, there is no way to compare a book project to reaching a peace treaty. So when the monthly day of doubt arrived and that feeling crawled into my heart I called a friend in Los Angeles. That’s when I am thankful to have friends in different time zones. In Barcelona it was 1:30am. And he said: If not you who else?
He continued: “You love the country, you know Iran, have traveled extensively, you speak the language and at the end you are a blonde foreign girl. (Haha!) But you also know about the world outside the country, the trends, the style. You are in between”. His words were balm for my soul. Because even if you know all these things, most of us encounter days when you think: Would not someone else make this much better?
Am I a business person?
And this is also true for the business side of my book project. Would not someone with more economic knowledge be better at it? Perhaps , but not necessarily. Because the good thing is that you can rely on experience others provide. For our project it means there are established ways to market, print or distribute a book. You just have to do your homework and research a lot. Through work I also had been exposed to market research and business operations and I definitely picked up a lot here.
I was also lucky to have smart and inspiring colleagues and I am still lucky to have a lot of friends who excite me because they are just trying to do their own things. All said I am sure one of my ex co-workers, a former BCG guy who taught me a lot indirectly, could calculate my break even through a more sophisticated excel sheet and more accurately. But I can see his marks in my version.
What Steve Jobs and Angela Merkel have in common
When working in recruitment you encounter different approaches. Hiring people on hard facts such as school, university, former companies vs self- or life-taught skills. Depending on the management and culture of a company the emphasis differs. Even if a lot of people stick to the hard facts they often have to agree that really great people who inspire and are fun to work with didn’t follow a straight career path. Famous examples are Steve Jobs and Angela Merkel. Jobs quit his studies to travel to India, Merkel worked before her political career as a physicist in academia.
My belief is that if you don’t take the straight path you have to run against a lot of walls and edges. And in the end, it’s true what they say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. These people are more adaptable, versatile and resilient. Facing a problem they roll their sleeves up and draw up a plan of action rather than complaining about things not being made easy for them or pointing fingers at others. Because they have gone through a lot of shit. I don’t want to compare myself with any of these people.
But I believe that those persons coming from different background having taken the longer path can do their job just as well as, perhaps even better, than those professionals who ‘tick all the boxes’ and took a more direct career journey. The reason is that they are passionate, they choose the path for its own sake rather than for the career, status or money. All said, of course, you need to do your homework.