There are three things I thought were highlights in this conversation and relevant to many who are new in the world of work.
These tidbits are by no means universal truths about how we should approach our careers. Rather, they are perspectives on how we could approach it - this one in particular from a young man going through the motions of figuring it out in Nairobi.
1. It’s okay to allow your path to unfold - you probably won’t be in control 82.9% of the time (give or take)
A prevailing lingering thought after listening to Daniel’s story is “wow, he really tried everything.” He tinkered with ideas that came to him (setting up WiFi in his dorm and making money from it; a centralized system for recording business cards). Some worked, some didn’t. The reason he kept at it, however, is because he was okay seeing how things will unfold. That is not to say he was shooting in the dark, he had some knowledge on how to go about setting up solutions to some of these projects. I find this true to many people’s career journeys--there’s no sure-fire, one track path to your dream job or business, but it’s a messy, disappointing, rewarding, challenging trip. And that’s okay.
2. Genuine interest goes a long way in making the difficult parts feel easier
Daniel’s journey highlights his focus on building in-depth understandings of projects he worked on - which varied wildly and sometimes deviated from his IT background. This orientation plays a critical role in his later years and becoming a generalist. I strongly believe his genuine interest allowed his learning of the nitty gritties to feel less like work and more like a good time.
3. Initiative taking and embracing opportunities is an important part of the recipe.
Rarely did Daniel say no to opportunities earlier in his career and I agree with his assessment that at that stage, there’s more to lose by saying “no” than there was by taking on challenges. This goes in tandem with the first thing on this list - letting the path unfold requires a certain amount of winging it and allowing ourselves to make mistakes.