Rosie Yakob calls herself an accidental entrepreneur because she’s loved nearly every job she’s had, so never really considered starting her own business. Right out of school she worked for for Jay Z and Steve Stoute at their entertainment branding company.
But eventually, the constant busyness of life in NYC became too much.
Here’s her story:
I loved my job right up until the very end. Which meant I had a lot of explaining to do, as my now husband and I were preparing to leave NYC. “You loved your job!” my friends exclaimed. “Where are you going? For how long? What’s next?” everyone asked, both thrilled and frustrated with my vague response of “Traveling. Who knows!”
When we left NYC, we were surrounded by people who were constantly busy. This culture exists in many places, but we found the answer so unbelievably common in NYC. Even I found myself responding to “How are you?” with the dreaded “b” word. While I loved my job, I always clarified to those who commented on my love for the work that I was “working to live, as opposed to living to work.”
How quickly we trade happiness for business, or busyness, especially when it comes to work and salaries.
And so, we put on the brakes. We loved NYC, but we wanted to explore the world. We wanted to be less busy. We wanted to see our families more. We wanted permission to put down our phones, to avoid email.
We sold our kitchen island and our desk. We gave away our couch and most of our clothes. We hosted a party where we invited our friends to help us drink the rest of our booze.
And then we left.
Global nomads to international entrepreneurs
We traveled to Europe and Australia for previously booked speaking gigs, but otherwise became decidedly less busy. We read books, we explored cities, we drank coffees over long conversations. We talked to strangers, visited friends and family all over the world and Skyped with those we weren’t physically close to.
Then someone asked if we could help their advertising agency with a pitch they were working on for one of the big airlines. We brainstormed from the beach in Bali. Another asked if we could help a brand with their digital/social strategy. We did that remotely as well.
And because we had decided to take a break we said no to plenty of projects that we weren’t interested in.
But before we knew it, we had clients. And then a company. And then more clients.
Today, our strategy and innovation consultancy is location independent and we make it a point to work 20 hours a week or less. We’re not busy; we’re just having fun.
The perks of owning your own business
Surprisingly, I’ve loved the business aspect of things. When you working for someone else negotiating a project fee isn’t as important; you get the same salary no matter what. But when you’re working for yourself, the negotiation and the contract part of the business become much more interesting.
Because we started traveling with the intention of not working, we were able to build our business intentionally: we said no without feeling guilty, and we also didn’t pigeonhole ourselves into a specific type of job.
This allows us to start potential opportunities with a chat instead of a pitch – if it feels like there could be something we might partner on, then (and only then) we submit a proposal.
I’m not big on advice, but…
To quote Hunter Thompson: “All advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another.”
The narrative fallacy can be incredibly persuasive. It seems to suggest that if you just could do what Steve Jobs did, and act like you think he acted, and maybe wear turtlenecks, that you, too, could start a great technology company. But that’s bullshit, because you are not Steve Jobs and neither am I. What worked for me might not work for you.
As Tom Peters says, “Hang out with weird and thou shalt become more weird. Hang out with dull and thou shalt become more dull.” So: hang out with weird people, socialize at the fringes, be willing to be uncomfortable, optimize your life, and remember: most advice is simply people justifying their own life story.
But really we live by one motto: make your life your life’s work.
We’re continuously crafting the meaning of this motto, fine-tuning the execution. We believe that life should be more than an exit strategy. An exit strategy means you’re building a company you don’t want to work at.
When people ask us when we’re going to stop or if we’ll sell Genius Steals, they don’t seem to understand that we are really, truly, living our dream.