I studied at a British university, where most of us had been lured with City boys’ tales and the prospect of an overblown career in finance like Jordan Berlfort aka The Wolf of Wall Street. The reality of a pre-finance life at university was just engulfing the fancy sandwiches and downing fresh squeezed orange juice during recruitment days when the banks set up on campus to tell us about the glamorous lives of spreadsheet handlers.
These banker’s tales had built momentum and had shaped, as well as restricted, our early-career goals.
Finance had become the only career start most of my peers were considering.
My investment analyst role was okay but I wanted to work abroad, again, beyond my comfort zone, so I quit. I embarked on a series of binge networking events to connect with finance folks. During these two months I was still acting under the stimulation of a potential work-hard / play-hard finance career but after awhile my attention and interests started to broaden and drift. I envisioned other undertakings. It took me two months, and meeting a few inspiring people, to defocus from the financial game.
Taking a step back, I realised I could not have thought that creatively back when I was sitting at my equity desk.
I was stuck in a finance career path mindset. It actually took a couple of months off and away from a finance desk to clear my mind.
The first thing I did was go sailing for a couple of weeks. Two weeks drifted into a month, then two months and I finally ended up volunteering as a cruising instructor for the summer at Glénans Sailing School. I was far away from the corporate world, spreadsheets and conference calls — but I was working hard, sailing days and nights, seven days a week teaching and living with people. I learnt so much.
At that time, I felt I was doing the right thing, I had no doubt about whether I should be sailing or not.
I kept sailing and went on for nine months. Besides sailing, I also flew to the Middle East and China for a month to explore and network and participated in a Startup Weekend in Amman.
While sailing, I’ve always thought I’d rather give it a try than regret not doing it. That was a challenge and a risk, but I lived by this motto: I’d rather fail than regret — so I went all the way to the Caribbean. I passed my cruising instructor exam in France, became a Yachtmaster with the Royal Yachting Association in the United Kingdom and sailed across the Atlantic. I failed in my last undertaking: a certificate in astro navigation.
I tried, so no regret.
During my time as a sailing instructor I embarked on ventures in the Mediterranean, in the UK, off the African coasts, across the Atlantic all the way to America. I was going from one sailing vessel to another taking sailing jobs as they came. I was a freelance sailor. I was comfortable having no set routine; no set career path. Actually, there was a lot more excitement and satisfaction in finding my own gigs.
I also realised the outcome of uncertainty associated with not having a set routine was mostly positive and had brought me a lot more happiness, thrill and pride than a job with a set routine.
In some sense, I had become an entrepreneur before actually becoming one, I had the mindset.
Back on land, I was ready to start my own venture, I had nurtured a few ideas while sailing and more importantly had had the time and experiences to evolve an entrepreneurial mindset. I settled in Hong Kong and started Popscout.
Why I Left Investment Banking to Launch a Startup about Blogs by Catherine - Notey
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