Great entrepreneurs don't let the confines of separate industries dim their passions. They can (and often do) work across multiple fields to unify them and deliver on extraordinary shared goals.
With a deep aversion to being pigeonholed, limiting myself to just one career path was never an option. As a born entrepreneur, I quickly recognized that I could combine two of my passions--technology and entertainment. Since then, I've been able to carve out a niche for myself in both industries without having to neglect either and have found success in both spaces.
Degrees of Success
Elon Musk is not only a great example of an entrepreneur crossing multiple industries, but he's also a huge inspiration for me.
After amassing an early fortune with his first startups, zip2 and PayPal, Musk has ideated and created several ventures in disparate industries, including SolarCity, Tesla Motors, Hyperloop, and SpaceX. Musk has integrated the space engineering and automobile industries as successfully as he's combined his degrees in physics and business. And these two historically separate industries are now connected by his passion to change the world and benefit humanity.
Harnessing multiple interests and translating them across industries is also a way of life for my longtime colleague Chamath Palihapitiya.
Working his way up to vice president and general manager at Winamp and Spinner.com in the nascent digital music arena was just a start. He went on to become a venture capitalist, an early Facebook employee, and a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors basketball team. In his most recent endeavor, he founded Social Capital, a company dedicated to solving the world's most challenging problems by transforming society through technology.
Musk, Palihapitiya, and I have all created unique ways of standing out as entrepreneurs by leveraging our talents and passions to make a difference across more than one industry.
Bridging Worlds Often Creates More Impact
Entrepreneurs can assess whether combining multiple worlds into a business venture could be fruitful in several ways. The following strategies helped me find success and can work for you, too.
1. Identify your strengths, talents, and passions. You can harness strategic insights and relationships to create a unique position for yourself by developing a mission statement to clarify your ideas. Then, bounce it off of trusted mentors or advisers who possess insight in those areas.
In my case, I've depended on three constants: a talent for powerful networking with influencers, an unwavering passion for music and technology, and a strong confidence in my own ability to succeed.
2. Spot industry trends and opportunities. If your gut instincts coincide with market timing, you can leverage your vision, expertise, and connections in multiple industries as worlds collide. More importantly, you can play a key role in creating value among them without compromising your efforts.
Serengetee, for example, has merged two industries--apparel and social causes--that appeal to Millennials. Each personalized pocket design that customers add to the company's T-shirts is tied to a different regional social cause, creating legions of young brand ambassadors for the company.
3. Seek insights and guidance from trusted advisers. Before fully diving in, solicit advice and insights from colleagues, investors, advisers, and industry experts to be sure your vision is valid and sound before diving in fully.
Don't wait for a mentor to magically appear; approach a trusted and admired senior colleague or influencer and ask for guidance. Seek out those who have qualities that differ from your own and who will challenge you. I've personally had the tremendous good fortune to learn from Apple legend Steve Jobs; author Alan Cohen; and consultant, author, and speaker Alan Weiss as my personal and business mentors--each of whom has informed the way I approach my work, my clients, and my life.
While it takes moxie, vision, creativity, and drive, if you're not content to operate in one arena, bridging multiple industries can help you build a larger network of connections, stronger relationships, a unique brand position, and greater impact.