23 Nov How to Turn Your Passion into a Successful Career
Towards the celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016, we launched a monthly Twitter Chat to drive interesting business and career conversations among our followers. The meeting was held on the theme, turning your passion into a career, with the following guests:
- Carolyne Ekayrisiima, founder of Tanzania’s award-winning Apps and Girls
- Raquel Wilson, Communications Teaching Fellow at MEST Africa
Here are 4 takeaways from the brilliant chat:
Turning what you love into something that creates opportunities for progress with financial rewards.
1. Start by choosing the best of your dreams
Carolyne started her career as a lecturer at Kampala International University before moving on to found Apps and Girls. She recommends that you understand what interests you the most and engage with people who are already in that line of work. This gives you the opportunity to ask your “hard” questions and find out what their ideal days might look like.
It’s been said that the best way to get good counsel is to ask different questions from the same person and to ask the same question to different people. Different perspectives help you form better arguments in your mind in decision making.
Raquel, on the other hand, thinks that the word “career” seems to suggest that there’s a follow-this-and-have-it-all magic formula when in actual fact there isn’t. She believes people should have the liberty to create their own formula by dreaming their biggest dreams and creating strategies to grow around it. If you’re a student, she says, you have less weight of responsibilities and time to explore your interests before choosing the one you’d like to commit yourself to for the long term.
Yet, there are certain universal principles for success. Participating from Paris, France, Sha Osei of ShaOseiPR reminded us about one of such principles in her quote of a statement by Her Excellency Ambassador Johanna Odonkor Svanikier: “Attitude is key! It opens doors and you are remembered no matter what.”
2. Think of non-traditional ways to monetize your passion
Right from childhood, Raquel has the ability to sell things – from newspapers to drinks and food. She explains that to monetize your passion, you have to give yourself room to do different things at the same time. However, she observes, this involves prioritizing. “Time is not right for everything but I don’t pigeonhole myself into this or that.”
Also, fellowships and grants are other viable tools to scale your passion. Note, the later can be competitive and not always available.
Carolyne’s sustainable impact secret is to develop revenue streams for every solution you design. This is essential even if you are not making profits. It’s important that you create a cost/revenue plan into your work – whether you’re running a not-for-profit or for-profit company, she says.
3. Passion never fails but Passion alone is not enough
Whereas having passion is very vital for your career, passion alone is not enough. You need profit. Carolyne advised that you need to set objective goals. Know why you’re doing what you are doing, and have a plan for achieving your goals.”Business is a marathon, not a sprint,” she says.
More so, having a team of people who will always have your back can save you a lot of troubles – even if it’s only one person. According to Raquel, the first point to building your team is to share what you’re dreaming of or working on with as many people as possible. Sooner or later someone will see the light and join you.
4. Have a mentor
You need someone who can see the bright future for you. This could be someone whose work you admire – even if you’re not on the same track.
In her work at MEST Africa, Raquel helps smart young entrepreneurs in Africa develop compelling stories that help them make their dreams come true. She observed that a lot of young people have grown up being told what they cannot do. In her role, she helps them to see what they can accomplish if they put their minds to it.
This is why mentorship is very vital. You need someone who can see the bright future for you; someone who can show you the way when life becomes fuggy. This could be someone whose work you admire – even if you’re not on the same track.
Carolyne’s motivation for building Apps and Girls is to be the role model she couldn’t find to adolescent girls wangling their ways through a “man’s world” of tech. Tweeting from an experience of helping her students develop the confidence to build their dreams, she recommends that your mentor should be someone who understands and believes in your future, work, and life goals; someone you can learn from; someone who can have your back when you fail.
As George Iregi, a participant from Kenya observed, failure can be painful. Yet, sometimes, failure brings out the best in you. When the road ahead becomes uncertain, you need someone who can speak faith into your life and help you create a comeback.
No matter what your dreams are, there’s always someone who’s mastered the process. Reach out to him or her and find out what they did differently. Chances are, if you apply their best practices, you too can win!
Have a good attitude, be open to opportunities, have people you trust to share the vision with, and make it happen! But, be sure to have fun along the way, everything else will be alright 🙂
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN (Stars From All Nations). He is an education and policy enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a former consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and the author of the forthcoming book: Breaking the Limits. Tom-Chris is a thought leader on topics such as youth development, African innovation, social entrepreneurship, and the future of work.