The other day, I was catching up with an old friend via text. After hitting send on a couple of texts replying to a question, I realized those insights were actually quite new to me.
Sometimes a good question or a quick reflection can yield a new insight. In this particular message, I was sharing with her that I had become quite involved with Startup Weekend (a 3-day entrepreneurship bootcamp event) as a certified global facilitator. Over the span of about 5 years, I facilitated 50 Startup Weekend events around the world.
The text that led to my insight…
“I learned that when you do what you love long enough, you tend to attract the right kind of opportunities. Not always right away but eventually. It’s been a fun journey.”
How much I loved facilitating Startup Weekends…
Sometimes I would come off a long week of teaching at the middle school. With permission to leave early, I would race over to LaGuardia airport at around noon on a Friday, hop on a flight and land in a new city by around 5pm. By 6pm I was on site and ready to kick off the event at 7pm.
Then on Saturday, I was back on site from 8am to 10pm. I spent the day teaching workshops, facilitating the flow of activities, and coaching each of the participating teams several times.
On Sunday, I was there from 9am to 9pm. The next morning, I was on an early morning flight back to NYC. I would land by around 8am and was in the classroom by 9 or 10am.
I absolutely loved what I did and considered myself lucky to have the opportunity to do this. When you love something you do that much, you give yourself the highest probability of attracting opportunities.
Reflecting on that insight, I realized that by doing something I loved, I showed up as my best self. I was interested, engaged, and committed to delivering the highest quality events I could. Each event I wanted to be a little better than the last. I tried something new each time and discovered something that worked or didn’t work. I was happy. It didn’t matter how long or rough of a week I had, when it came to facilitating a Startup Weekend, I always found extra fuel. In one stretch of five weekends while working at IBM, I facilitated 4 Startup Weekends across 4 different cities. The same thing, fly on Fridays and return to the office on Mondays.
What happens when you do something you love for long enough?
The longer you do something you love, the more opportunities you have to attract opportunities. Some of the most special opportunities and moments of my life have come thanks to Startup Weekend. Here are a few examples:
- Speaking at the World Bank in Washington D.C. (they brought me back 2 more times)
- Meeting one of my best and dearest friends
- Recruited by IBM for a new role designed for me (inspired by what I did at Startup Weekend)
- Meeting my significant other 🙂
- Offered a faculty role at University of Pennsylvania to teach a course at the Graduate School of Education
- Getting recruited by Sarah Lawrence College to design and teach an undergraduate course based on Startup Weekend
- Getting booked by LVMH to facilitate their Americas internal innovation bootcamp
- And several more…
Consistency over time attracts the right opportunities…
This reflection taught me that for something we love to pay off, it requires we make small deposits regularly over a long period of time. If we commit to that consistency, while improving over time, and bringing our best selves then we will attract the opportunities we want.
The more I facilitated these events, the more people saw me doing something similar over and over again. Given time, people start to think of you when those activities or needs come up in their lives. Other times, people are looking to satisfy a need and they just needed to find someone passionately performing it at a high level. By facilitating often and regularly, I put myself in front of more people. Some might need my services now, others later. The more people I reach, the more opportunities I have.
This phenomenon works both ways, for better and for worse. If you do something you do not enjoy and happen to do it well, you send off a message to the world that this is what you do. Opportunities related to that activity will likely come your way, even if you don’t want them.
How to begin attracting the opportunities you want the most right now…
If your day job doesn’t reflect what you love to do, consider finding an activity you love outside of your work. Startup Weekend was something I did on the side (of teaching originally). I did not want to teach forever – I originally intended to teach for 4-5 years. Thus, I did not want to attract more math teaching opportunities. By getting involved with Startup Weekend for many years, I was able to begin making those small deposits that would compound in my favor over time.
What opportunities do you want to attract in the future? What can you do ever day, week, or month in order to begin making small deposits starting right away?