At the age of 28, my ultimate career goal was to have a corner office. At that time, I worked in a NASDAQ-listed Fortune 500 multinational company as their Director of Sales with the aspiration of becoming the Country CEO by 33. Over the next five years, I had changed my mind. I had reconsidered my position on staying employed and had arrived at a new aspiration; that of reinventing myself in a new avatar as a wine-entrepreneur invested in the business of wine.
The decision to become an entrepreneur in wine was less conventional, even more so as a woman in India, because the whisky-dominant industry had traditionally been male-dominated. That’s when I began to see the opportunities that existed for a qualified wine professional in the nascent wine industry and decided to make a strategic shift to explore a career in wines.
Today, as a ‘Master of Wine’, no two days are alike for me and I often find myself asking the question, “What next” in pursuit of the next big idea.
If you are someone who relates to this story, wishes to realign their career aspirations and turn from being a corporate workhorse to an entrepreneur, here are some lessons to live by.
1. Don’t always listen to people. The ones who don’t know you well often don’t care enough to mean well for you or may not be visionary enough to give you good advice. The first advice I received from a senior member in the industry at the time was: “You are too young to try for a Master of Wine. You need to wait till you are older to try.” I’m glad I didn’t listen.
2. Identify your true mentor. Behind every success story, there’s true mentorship. Someone who can help you identify and realise your inner calling, and help you dream big. This person will be your biggest influencer. Recognise them and hold on to them tight. They are your angels and your guiding light as they will always have your back. And, you’re going to need them throughout your journey.
3. Investment in self pays the best rate of interest and your personal brand is your most saleable asset. Invest in gaining knowledge, upgrading your skills, developing your creative talent and enhancing your image. That’s ultimately what businesses pay for. When you invest in yourself, a world of opportunity opens up for you.
4. Don’t waste too much time thinking; act. People spend too much time ruminating on ideas and miss the opportunity to execute in time. Speed is important if you are trying to pioneer a brilliant idea. Execute the idea and then work on perfecting it, or else you may lose out to someone who acts upon it faster than you. Ultimately, ideas belong not to those to think it first, but to those who act upon it first. So, execute.
5. Have grit and self-belief. It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. It is important to stay on course, no matter what. Because, the best almost always comes after the worst. Failure makes you give up. Grit and self-belief tell you to dig in your teeth and persist. And those who persevere, see the rainbow.
6. Success is a responsibility. Achieving milestones in your entrepreneurial journey should act as reminders to start giving back in ways that are meaningful, progressive and relevant, helping the industry to move forward. Your ultimate goal should be to serve the ecosystem of the industry and create solutions for the trade and its consumers, making that your larger purpose.