This is part of a series of conversations I have with ambitious, purpose-driven professionals who have created fulfilling careers. My goal is to tease out the lessons learned during the ups and downs and twists and turns of their career journey so that you can gain ideas and inspiration on how to design your own fulfilling career.
Kieran Mathew is the 21-year-old founder of Amplify Solutions, a full-service youth marketing firm based in Ontario, Canada. He is a leading youth marketer, entrepreneur, and startup advisor who shares his insights with publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post.
In this edition of Career Design Talks, he shared his story of how he chose his career path in marketing, how he made the difficult decision to leave university early to run his marketing company full-time, and what advice he would share with young professionals who are trying to build fulfilling careers.
How To Figure Out What You Want To Do In College
Like most first-year university students, Kieran wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do after he graduated. He thought he might want to be a lawyer or an investment banker or maybe go into branding and marketing. But thanks to the advice of some senior students that he was friends with he came up with a plan to figure it out.
Get Career Advice Over Coffee
They suggested that he meet with people in all the fields he was considering and learn about what they did and what their days looked like. So he researched who to connect with on Google and LinkedIn and sent out several cold emails asking for 15 minutes of their time to learn about what they did. Roughly half the people responded to his email for a coffee meeting and through those meetings, he was able to narrow down his career choices to marketing.
Build Valuable Skills And Relationships
Once marketing became his focus he immersed himself with the student business organizations on campus. He volunteered at the school’s incubator for various founders as a marketing and sales assistant. The experience and relationships he built at school led to eventually landing a coveted internship with a management consulting firm in Canada through a personal referral.
Speak Up When You Have Something Valuable To Offer
As an intern at the management consulting firm, he was working on a youth marketing project for a food and beverage client. During a client meeting where he was expecting to observe and take notes, someone asked him a question about marketing to college students. Kieran was able to share some valuable insights into his life as a college student and how companies could market to them better. To his surprise, they actually listened to his input and he was able to start working directly with this client as a freelance youth marketing consultant. He was able to help them with both their digital and on campus strategies and this experience gave him the idea to open up his own consulting firm.
Real World Experience vs. Classroom Experience
During the summer before his third year, he began to build his marketing and consulting business. By winter of that school year, he was employing over 60 students on 12 college campuses around Canada. But he was having a difficult time balancing both school and running the business.
After giving it a lot of thought he realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. He was learning so much more about business from running his company than he was from sitting in a classroom. So he decided to leave school and build his business full time. The learning opportunity outweighed any risk of failure. If it didn’t work out he could always go back to school to finish his degree.
How To Build Your Business When You Are Just Starting Out
Like any new company, he had to figure out how to get clients to do business with him. First, he got clear on who his ideal client was. Then he created a list of those brands that he thought he could help.
Then he worked the phones as well as his personal network to get introductions to brands where he could pitch his services. And instead of trying to go big and ask these brands to hire him for a national campaign he proposed they start small with a pilot program at one University.
This was a relatively low-risk proposal that made it easier for the brands to say yes to a new young company. From there it was up to Kieran’s agency to do great work and impress these clients so that they would come back for more business.
He also used a creative approach where he didn’t just ask for the business upfront. Instead, he asked for their feedback and advice on what he was doing and this way people were open to listening to him and giving him their time. And those conversations led to these executives either giving him their business or referring him to other companies.
How To Deal With Self-Doubt As A Young Entrepreneur
When you are a young entrepreneur you don’t have a track record of success to look back on to build up your confidence. In fact, Kieran spent a lot of time worrying about whether he was good enough to really deliver for his clients. But he was able to overcome that by recognizing that there have been so many others before him who were in his shoes and became successful. You can’t dwell on how things might not work out. You have to do your best and try. The reality is most entrepreneurs are learning on the job and you have to be ok with trying things, mitigating risks, and understanding what works.
What Lessons Have You Learned About Building A Fulfilling Career
"I’ve learned that you can’t really go out to make money. You have to figure out what you’re good at and how that can benefit others and then figure out how to monetize that. Because at first, I did think about the money which led me down the wrong path. But the better question to ask yourself is, How can I add more value? Doing that allows you to be more fulfilled in your work while making money."
Career Design Lessons
- Reflect on your skill sets. What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? What do you want to get good at?
- When trying to figure out what you want to do as a career it can be helpful to talk to people who are already doing that work to learn if you would like it or not.
- Don’t get caught up in the money, prestige, or status of a job. These factors lead you down an unfulfilling path. Instead focus on the substance of what you would do every day. Will you enjoy doing the work? Will you find it fulfilling?
- Build relationships by asking for help or advice in a thoughtful way. Don’t start off a relationship by asking for a job or a business opportunity.
- Everyone deals with self doubt when they try something new. Don’t focus on what could go wrong. Instead focus on what could go right. Remember no one has it all figured out so you might as well give what you want a try.
Get a free copy of THE CAREER DESIGN GUIDE
If you would like a more fulfilling job but are not sure what you want to do next then sign up for a free copy of the Career Design Guide and learn the 5 steps to figure out your next career move.
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About The Author
Mo Chanmugham, Esq., CPCC is a former entertainment lawyer turned career coach and the founder of MGC Coaching. He helps ambitious professionals who are feeling stuck gain the clarity and confidence they need to create more fulfilling careers. He also serves as the Senior Associate Director of Career Services at New England Law | Boston where he offers his career development expertise to students and alumni.
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