A few months ago, my friend asked me a hard-hitting question: If I gave you $1 million dollars right now to start your own business, what business would you start?
During my college internship search, I was generously given the opportunity to speak with one of my friend’s uncles who was the CEO and founder of a top tier talent agency. During the call, I raved about my love for the music industry and my passion for entrepreneurship. All seemed to be going well until he posed a question. The same question that my friend asked me above. I’ll let this meme illustrate my reaction.
My answer? Start a big record label.
Now this is the part where you can smack me through the computer. Not only would one million dollars barely scrape the surface of the legal fees required to run a major label, but I couldn’t even name the three big players in the industry (Sony, Universal, and Warner, if you were curious). If I wasn’t a close friend of his nephew, I’m sure the guy would have laughed me off the phone. Instead, he took the time to educate me and nicely tell me to get my shit together.
This experience has served as a pivotal wake up call in the early stages of my professional development. Here are the lessons I learned:
Always be prepared and have questions ready to ask
Aside from checking out his LinkedIn and a quick glance of the agency website, I did essentially zero research on this guy or what he did for a living. I prepared no questions and relied on the basis of our second degree connection to prop up the conversation. This is a massive no-no for any networking call, let alone one with someone important whose time is valuable and scarce.
You’re not as smart as you think you are
It’s very common that we don’t know what we don’t know. Re-read that a few times to make sure it clicks. Often times, we think we know a lot more than we do and can come across as overconfident, cocky, and foolish. Go into every conversation with an open mind and expect your beliefs to be challenged and changed. A willingness to learn is one of the most desirable and sought after qualities of a job candidate, co-founder, and business partner. No matter how big you get, make sure this never changes.
If you say you want to do something, be prepared to be asked how you’ll make it a reality
I’ll be honest. I still don’t have a concrete answer to that question. But, I do have a much better idea of the direction I want to go and what’s required to make it a reality. It’s expected that your identity, visions, and goals will constantly evolve. You’re not supposed to have everything figured out, but always make sure you have an idea of how you plan to achieve the goals you set.