The best advice I’ve ever received was from my father when I was 12 years old and willing to listen. He told me that with my personal characteristics, I could, if I set my mind to it, do anything I chose. This advice instilled in me a great sense of confidence, and despite the fact that sometimes I was a little nervous, I stepped out and did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I think it really often is up to the parents to help build confidence in their children. It is a very necessary part of growing up.
When I look back on the years when I was exploring career choices and discovering my true entrepreneurial spirit, my choices seem rather eclectic. I was barely in my teens when I began taking a bus from my hometown in Nutley, New Jersey, to New York City, where I worked as a model. This work was fun and lucrative. It demanded a certain optimism and a drive that not everyone possesses. Still, by the time I married and finished my college studies in history and architectural history, I was tired of modeling. I wanted to build a career, and I longed to do something more intellectually stimulating.
Armed mainly with my father’s encouragement that I could do anything I put my mind to, I considered my options. I had no capital to start my own business. I did, however, have a great desire to work hard and learn. So I went to Wall Street and joined a small brokerage house where I learned to be a stockbroker. It was an outstanding education in business and often was very exciting, but I never developed a passion for it. I loved houses and landscaping and decorating, so I thought real estate might be a good career for me — but I left the business without ever hosting an open house or buying a single property! However, even my brief time in real estate held an important lesson — I learned that the true work of any job may be much different than what you imagine.
Even before I found my entrepreneurial spirit, one thing I did know was that I enjoyed cooking and focusing on the home. I began baking pies and selling them at a local market. I opened a small gourmet food market called the Marketbasket where I sold my own foodstuffs as well as those I commissioned from local women. Then I took a bigger step: I started a catering business. From the first event, I knew immediately that I had found an enterprise that combined several of my talents, my interests, and some of my business experience.
Catering paved the way for me to find my true passion. If you want to begin the journey to discover your entrepreneurial passion, you must first analyze your own interests, strengths, weaknesses, and desires; and then you must consider carefully how hard you want to work. I have always found it extremely difficult to differentiate between what others might consider my life and my business. For me they are inextricably intertwined. That is because I have the same passion for both. Simply stated, my life is my work and my work is my life. As a result, I consider myself one of the lucky ones because I am excited every day: I love waking up; I love getting to work; I love focusing on a new initiative. There are many, many people who have inspired, taught, influenced, and supported me during the years that I have been visualizing, creating, building, and managing my own entrepreneurial venture — but I’ll never forget the favor my father did me when he instilled in me the tenacity I needed to build a career based on what I love most.