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Chapter 1. Deciding on a Business Career

What do you want to do when you grow up? The most common question adults ask kids. As far as I could remember, my first answer was: I want to be a journalist. Ironic for the kid with the worst grades in french (my native language). Seriously, I failed every single French test. I was in the minus territory. Getting close to zero was an achievement. Surprisingly, this is not the reason I gave up that career path. I gave up because I saw journalists in life-threatening situations on TV when covering wars.

At 13 my Palladium shoes bought at the family footwear store were not cutting it. Everyone wanted more than what they had, including me. I was not feeling poor. Perhaps because all kids in my neighborhood did not have much. Still, I wanted more. I always loved nice things. One of my favorite cartoon on TV was “Beverly Hills Teens”. So when it was time to choose my high school path, it did not take me long. I was all about Business. Not like I could aim to be a good writer, I could have gone the STEM route. To this day, I like math and science. But nothing could beat my appetite for getting paid.

This was probably the first (of many times) I chose reason over emotion. I was wrong. I loved STEM. My friends were in STEM. Yet I prioritized short term gains over long term satisfaction. Even more ironic, I would have made more/faster Money through STEM (facepalm emoji). And I made that tradeoff again and again in my life. You may think it served me well. Indeed in many ways, it has. But it came at a high cost. I chose my business school in France based on ranking vs. opting for the best fit. I went into banking because it was the highest-paid internship I got, I went to London to work for that same bank, partially because it was a high pay industry in a high pay city. I moved into consulting because they were the only one who could match my banking salary. Side note, in 2004 I rejected a job offer from Amazon, wait for it, because they could not come close to my base salary… again, if I had accepted that job and did well at it, I would probably be retired by now thanks to the stocks they awarded to everyone! I could go on with many more examples because for close to 15 years this is how I navigated my professional life and probably my personal life. Reason over passion. I was wrong, but that is a tricky situation. Reason over passion works. It gets you where you want to be. I am where I wanted to be. But I feel like I paid the price with 15 years of doing things I was not passionate about, for people I did not really like to impress people who I don’t care about. Even worse, I see people my age, who followed their passions and got to the same place I am now. And they enjoyed most of the ride to get there… Ok, most of them are not Blacks. Most of them do not carry the baggage that comes with being a minority. Does that work only for white men? Surely white men have more room for error. Yet, that is no excuse for my decisions. The beautiful thing is that passion is contagious. Passion always creates a path. And most importantly, regardless of where you arrive, you will enjoy the ride.

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