What advice would I share with young entrepreneurs today? That’s easy to answer. Follow your strange curiosities. For me they have been, as in the Harry Potter realm, a veritable Felix Felicis (though without the possible toxic side effects).
For example, in high school I was strong in leadership and biology. I’m sure my parents had fantasies about me going into medicine or perhaps biotech. But what did I choose? Theatre. I pursued this interest even though I knew it was a long shot to be successful, and that even “successful” theatre people didn’t necessarily make money.
So why did I do it? To be honest, I don’t know. At the time it was strange and interesting to me. I figured I’d do it for a few years and then perhaps get a “real job.”
Deciding to pursue a career in the theatre turned out to be one of the three best decisions of my life.
In the theatre I earned an MBA from the school of life—learning first hand about human psychology, leadership, management, recruiting, talent development, creativity, budgets, negotiations, raising capital, hustling, marketing, pitching, contracts, politics, fraud and betrayal. All the booms and busts that you find in the worlds of business and entrepreneurship.
Unbeknownst to me, theatre turned out to be a perfect laboratory where I learned about life and myself. Could I have predicted all of this when I was graduating? No way.
A similar thing happened when I changed careers to executive development out of a strange curiosity about how leaders are made. And again when I decided to follow a girl to her home country because I’d never lived abroad. I didn’t speak the language, but we wound up falling in love and having a family. The country turned out to be the perfect place to co-found the business I have now, much to everyone’s surprise.
Sometimes the effects of following your strange curiosities are quickly realized—for example, when you take a course unrelated to your field and discover a talent you didn’t realize you had. And sometimes the effects may take decades before they become fully ripe.
For me, the movement improvisation class I took while an undergrad would prove invaluable 17 years later while working with a Fortune 500 CEO on how to come across with more power and authenticity just by using some basic principles from modern dance.
So, as you carve out your place in the world, gathering advice on the right path for you, and the right way to get there, pay attention to those strange curiosities that pop up from time to time. Exploring them may lead you on your own lucky path, and bring you to the life you want to create.
Michael Weitz is a speaker coach and co-founder of Virtuozo, a boutique training and consulting company that specializes in bringing out people’s unique presence and enhancing their impact as communicators and leaders. Michael is a member of the EO chapter in Israel.