Vlad.Mic: Success, young entrepreneurs, a conversation with Michelle Akhidenor
Last month, a new connection request appeared on my LinkedIn from an Australian girl, graduate of Monash University ’17 with her tagline saying “Founder | Podcast Host | Mass Connector”. After a short review of her profile and her website I sent her a message saying I would like to connect over phone and find out more about her podcast and what she learned from interviewing so many young entrepreneurs. Couple days later, Michelle Akhidenor and I were on Skype talking about startup studios, success, students, Forbes 30U30 and the drive to work on your passions.
What do you think is the commonality of success between people this young?
M.A: “I think there are a couple of factors. The first one being curiosity, insane curiosity, to learn about stuff and ask why, not settling on the status quo. Another huge thing is passion, but to the point of obsession and paranoia, when we see a problem, we have to solve it. Most of the time, we don’t know the solution and it can be both frustrating and exciting in the same time, but we know we are the right people to go and solve that. That’s the key factor. All of them have jumped through maybe three jobs in the past two years. You’ll see that most of the time the jobs are not even correlated and as soon as they found their startup, that’s it. It’s that not settling, until they’re truly passionate about what they are working on. When you’re in your 20s how do you know what path is right for you? You just have to try, try, try different things and you’ll get closer.
Why are there so many unsatisfied people that don’t even search for better?
M.A: “Well, people don’t believe in themselves. They follow the traditional trajectory. It’s comfortable, it’s easy. It’s easy to complain about the job you don’t like rather than search for the job that you love, the paycheck still comes. Then there’s the lack of exposure, people don’t usually put themselves in uncomfortable situations. I also link travel with exposure. People can be close minded when they don’t know what’s going on out there.”
Out of all the people that could start business, most of them don’t, and those who do are really passionate. What do you think starts those people on the entrepreneurial journey?
M.A: “I think it comes down to two main things. One comes from most of the responses I got when I asked people “why you?” and it is “Because I couldn’t not do it”. They fall in love with it. The second thing is that those entrepreneurs do not go into it wanting to be a business owner. Some people have a false idea of what entrepreneurship is, but when I talked with real entrepreneurs it was never the case, they just couldn’t get the problem outside of their head.”
I can definitely see how entrepreneurship sounds sexy on social media, but people fail to see all the work behind it, the nights spent working on the business, the obsession; most of the times harder than a 9 to 5 job.
Let’s talk about you for a second too. Please tell me, how did The Peers Project Start?
M.A: “I was in my last year of uni and, you know, you start thinking about what comes next and I had internships in various areas and saw people there not passionate about their work… I was looking at the partners and thinking “I don’t want to be you in 15–20 years.” I started searching young founders and the Forbes 30 under 30 list to see what other people my age where doing and told to myself “I want to meet them.” So I was travelling to New York for the first time before going to London for my last semester of study and I thought “what better time to do it?” and my friends got excited and wanted to hear the conversations so I decided to record them.”
What’s your take on the Forbes 30 under 30 List?
M.A: “I have interviewed people on and off the list. I believe the people featured there are clearly phenomenal, but so many people that do not make it are equally phenomenal. What I discovered is all of them have the qualities of great entrepreneurs. And the greatest thing is they’re all under 30, they’re so young!”
Listen to Michelle’s podcast, The Peers Project, on: https://www.thepeersproject.com/
If you enjoyed the story, leave a comment or a clap under the article!