My career didn’t really get a solid foundation until my mid 30’s. My 20’s were largely spent wrestling with my mental health - clinical depression and anxiety disorder. I was trying to make it as a comedian while working various jobs to pay the bills, but it was difficult to get any real traction in either area because there were periods where I was unable to work, or unable to keep work. By my late 20’s my moods were getting more stable, but I was also “self-medicating”. So, at 30, I went to rehab to deal with the drug problem that grew out of that. Then it was time to focus on building a healthy life and career! My big break came when I started on air at SiriusXM Canada, and I realized that interviewing people and sharing their stories was where I really wanted to focus my career. I find myself now, at 39, with two radio shows, a podcast, and starting a record label. So, if you are struggling, please don’t give up! Finding something I truly love doing made me want to strive to be better at it. With interviewing people, the only way I could think of to get better was to do more of it, so I decided to start a podcast where I could do long form, in depth talks. I learned to produce it all myself, and when I posted my first episode I felt a sense of pride I hadn’t felt it years. I was like a little kid, I wanted to say to everyone “I made that all by myself!” All of a sudden, I felt very capable and it made me wonder what else I could do.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your career and how did you overcome them?
Fear. Self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. That negative voice in my head telling me I can’t do it. Which is what is holding most people back from building the life they want. We can be our own worst enemies. But the great news is, you can change that! The last couple of years I have been learning about and working on mindset, and the power of the subconscious mind. Science is showing us how it is possible to basically reprogram our own brains, and it is so empowering.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
You definitely learn along the way whose opinions are helpful and whose are hurtful! I don’t know that I could have done anything differently because it’s uncharted territory; you can’t know until you KNOW. I handle it now by deciding when in the process I will tell people about a new project. People who genuinely support and believe in me, who have a positive mindset and deliver CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, get told right away. Those are the people I bounce ideas off of, look to for advice, or have as mentors. Then it becomes a sliding scale, and naysayers get told last, when everything is a done deal.
Some people only know how to focus on possible negative outcomes, because they live in their own sense of fear. It’s best to just present them with a finished project so their worries don’t become yours. Because the question to ask isn’t “what if you fail?” it’s “what if you succeed?”
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your career success?
ASKING For HELP! It is a skill and it takes practice, but putting my ego aside, realizing I can’t know everything and finding someone to teach me or do it for me is key. No one is self-made, we need mentors, cheerleaders, and support whether it’s financial, emotional, whatever. Asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Everyone says, “trust your gut”, but it is actually easier said than done. Because sometimes instead of admitting something isn’t working, it is easier to tell yourself it’s probably fine, you’ll trust your gut, and not deal with it. And it will blow up in your face.
For example, when I created my record label it had a different name and logo. A few people tried to indicate that the name wasn’t working, but I liked it and it felt symbolic to me, so I pushed away their worries and said I was going with my gut. But the truth is, I was a little worried too, so I was lying- to myself and therefore to others - about what my gut was saying. It felt too late to change it. About eight weeks before the launch though, a trusted collaborator really spelled out for me why the name was bad. I felt faint and nauseous because he was right, and now I had to face it, and face that I hadn’t been going with my gut I HAD BEEN IGNORING THE PROBLEM. This time I ran the name by others before I committed to it, and the feedback was great. It was down to the wire, but everything got done just in time for the launch.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Mindset and tribe. “Finding your tribe” has become a real buzz phrase and so some people find it annoying, but you will need support. Surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs, or positive solution-oriented people is invaluable. Equally important is your own mindset. Read books, listen to podcasts and videos, get inspired to think better. People like Mel Robbins or Eric ET Thomas, the hip hop preacher, and dozens more, have lots of content to educate and inspire you.