I am writing this one from the Eurostar to London with the – for once – good jet lag as just back from Singapore.
I did not think it was actually possible to travel more than my Innotribe time, a couple of years ago.
Plus, SWIFT travel style is not only well organised, but pretty smooth : American Express does it all, in short. You just need to call.
Please bear with me as this post is going totally ballistic (I can say it now that I finished it)…
Since I switched to the VC world, I build my own company and i just received the Gold Card from BA which adds to the Emirates and to the Senator from Lufthansa, which means I traveled too much, at probably twice the intensity I believed to be at the top only 2 years ago.
Now, beside these fancy lounges and great food and business class pass-through lines, there are at least 100 low-cost flights a year and another 60-ish Eurostar trips.
Last week I was in Asia, in Singapore, for the Startup Bootcamp selection days. Asia Fintech scene is booming (see my Game of Fintech Thrones post) but only started recently and I had the pleasure to see the result of a couple of dozen pitch days organised by the great Marcus and the team there.
Some 17 startups eager to fight for the 10 slots of the Singapore Fintech program.
Where am I going with this ? Where is the fil rouge of this post ?
Simple answer : the energy.
It is almost as if the energy you feel in (most of) the people you work with was viral, contaminating your mindset as well. This energy is a mix of creativity, hunger for success, ambition, real cleverness, comfort zone outness, entrepreneurial spirit, unique talent or simply pure brutal curiosity about life. All mixed up.
Mind you, all these assets are AGELESS. Which explains why it s so contagious and you don’t really feel the time and effort in the same way.
To be able to feel that energy, you need to know what are you looking for and have someone close enough to push you to find something more than a monthly salary (no matter how good that is and no matter how safe your pension will look like in 30 years if you manage not to get fired).
I am trying to be very specific here. There is a difference between having a good job and a job that does you good. I am NOT diminishing any job, because is not the what, but the how.
And I want to tell you a story here.
Back in 1993, a couple of centuries ago, I was working at the Club Med to pay my university studies and I discovered (thanks Gianluca) that by working a couple of years abroad I would be allowed to delay the (back then mandatory) military service in Italy.
So while I was playing volleyball I met this guy, who’s brother was looking to hire a not specified resource for his “computer” company (his words) in Paris.
I was few exams close to a Computer science University degree and thought that job was about programming (which was never my favourite activity btw, also because of the 100 students admitted per year to that university I was amongst the – really few – who did NOT own a computer).
Lessons learnt here:
– be open, you don’t know where the opportunity will come from,
– if you hesitate between open up or just stay put, open up. And go the extra mile. I could have just played volley the whole week and never engage a conversation,
– embrace the opportunity for a change, no matter how big it looks like. You will adapt faster than you think.
So I basically went to Paris at the end of that summer with the money made at the Club Med. After an interview with the brother (whom I talked a couple of times since the first time we met), I discovered that I was supposed to sell computer parts (memory, network cards, etc.) and the goal for me to be there was to open the Italian market.
Because I needed an Undetermined Contract, I signed a resignation letter with no date, so I could be fired anytime.
Now, few considerations here :
– I was 23,
– I had no idea what I was selling as never saw any of it (and no computer, remember ?),
– I knew nothing about the Market (and less about the Italian one),
– I was making 5000 Francs a month (750 EUR), half of which was rent and not exactly enough to live in Paris (but was promised a 0.5% of the gross sales revenue),
– I was on my own in Paris, beside some random Club Med friends,
– It was bloody 1993, no social, no Tinder, no nothing (just to picture it).
It was a BASIC job. Very basic. COLD CALL selling, if you have ever done it, you know what that means.
Started with the Milan Yellow Pages and a 256kb Casio agenda.
But I was hungry. And back then the energy of being able to make my life abroad, try new things, being creative was my engine. My start-up was my life. Or vice-versa, however you wanted to look at it.
The rest is history. 2 years later I was making over a Million FF per month in sales. Soon after opened the 1st branch of the business in Milan, then in Madrid, then in Munich… Moved again, and that amazing adventure lasted 7 years.
So the Energy is job agnostic.
If your eyes are open, there is no job that cannot give you the opportunity to get that energy.
If it doesn’t, look for another job.
If that other job does not pay, do 2 jobs at the same time.
If you don’t have enough time for your family because you have 2 jobs at the same time, think that it’s better to give less time but with a blessed hearth and a good energy, than more time but in a frustrated flavour.