Sheryl Sandberg is credited with saying "If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on."
My seat on the rocket ship
Anyone who mustered the courage to leave a predictable corporate job to start a business can relate. I certainly can. And 20 years later, I can say I'm the better for it.
Because some people just can't do the easy thing, or the sane thing, or the common sense thing, or the smart thing-some people just have to do their own thing.
Making the break
When I made this break-when I grabbed that seat headed for the stratosphere--a neighbor and friend of mine was an editor at a magazine where most of his readers were thinking about how to acquire ungodly sums of money.
After all, anyone with even the slightest acquaintance with human nature knows that most of us are fantasizing about our future wealth at least 50% of the time. In one issue of the magazine, my friend wrote:
"I watched with a mixture of concern and awe as a friend, Sims Wyeth, walked out of a perfectly good vice president's post at a consulting firm, in large part because he thought he could make more money on his own as a public speaking coach for executives. It took him six nail-biting months to land his first customer. But now that his business is thriving-with clients like KPMG, McKinsey & Co. and Pfizer-Wyeth can be philosophical about why he took the risk. 'If you asked me to choose between being bored and being terrified,' he says, 'I'd rather be terrified.'"
Taking the leap
Let me say that my friend the editor was right to be concerned, while his awe was probably similar to the feelings most people have when watching Evel Knievel jump his motorcycle over three-dozen parked school buses.
I also admit that while I may have been born with-well, a pewter spoon in my mouth-I spat it out in order to be an actor, which is a profession in which your job is to get the next job. I think I'm basically an adrenaline junkie.
Confessions of an adrenaline junkie
As an entrepreneur, I have sacrificed my health, my sleep, my sense of belonging to a group, and my security in order to satisfy my truly stubborn need to not have a boss.
I did not go to business school, never thought about going, and have walked forward on the only two legs that work for me: trial and error.
I'm not boasting. I'm confessing.
So I've enjoyed a career as an actor, taught several graduate and undergraduate courses in theater and communication, raised a child and sent her to Yale, remained happily married to a woman who has been called by the New York Times "mercurial," and all while sailing through the uncertain air of the dot com bust and the global financial crisis, straddling a rocket with a landscape dotted with school buses far below.
It's the only way I could keep up with my friends in high places.