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8 Successful People Talk About The Start Of Their Career

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We asked some of our most successful friends about how they got started in their line of work. This is what they told us:

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1. Nail the Interview

Bobby Novak, Travel Show Producer for National Geographic“I was working as a production assistant on a television show, basically just cleaning and stocking the office kitchen, when I got asked to work on another show. Just when I felt like things were going really well in the interview, the executive turned to me with my CV in his hand and asked, ‘Are you here for the associate position or for the producer job?’ By mistake, I had been called in for a much bigger job. Without hesitation, and summoning my strongest voice, I said, ‘I’m here for producer.’ He looked at me, smiled, put the CV back on his desk, and said, ‘Good. You should be.’ They offered me the job and I never cleaned the office kitchen again.”
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Bobby Novak, Travel Show Producer for National Geographic

“I was working as a production assistant on a television show, basically just cleaning and stocking the office kitchen, when I got asked to work on another show. Just when I felt like things were going really well in the interview, the executive turned to me with my CV in his hand and asked, ‘Are you here for the associate position or for the producer job?’ By mistake, I had been called in for a much bigger job. Without hesitation, and summoning my strongest voice, I said, ‘I’m here for producer.’ He looked at me, smiled, put the CV back on his desk, and said, ‘Good. You should be.’ They offered me the job and I never cleaned the office kitchen again.”

2. Be Flexible

Ming Gan, Co-founder and Director of Fuzzy“I was at a property development company in Sydney in the early ’90s. We had purchased an industrial warehouse. While we were waiting for council approvals, a friend of mine thought it would be a great idea to put a dance party on in the warehouse. A famous promoter called Jacqui O turned up and decided to put on a NYE dance party there. "Jacqui started a club night in Sky Garden and needed a last-minute lighting operator, I got a crash course in lighting and somehow became their person. That night, I met the resident DJ at Sky Garden (and future business partner) John Wall. We talked about how there really weren't any great parties with good, credible music — that's how the idea of Fuzzy began. The following month, we staged our first-ever Fuzzy event called 'Tunespotting.' The venue had a capacity of 800, but over 2,000 people turned up at the doors, so it was a huge success!”
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Ming Gan, Co-founder and Director of Fuzzy

“I was at a property development company in Sydney in the early ’90s. We had purchased an industrial warehouse. While we were waiting for council approvals, a friend of mine thought it would be a great idea to put a dance party on in the warehouse. A famous promoter called Jacqui O turned up and decided to put on a NYE dance party there.

"Jacqui started a club night in Sky Garden and needed a last-minute lighting operator, I got a crash course in lighting and somehow became their person. That night, I met the resident DJ at Sky Garden (and future business partner) John Wall. We talked about how there really weren't any great parties with good, credible music — that's how the idea of Fuzzy began. The following month, we staged our first-ever Fuzzy event called 'Tunespotting.' The venue had a capacity of 800, but over 2,000 people turned up at the doors, so it was a huge success!”

3. Recognize Opportunity When It Knocks

Adam Jacobs, Managing Director and Co-founder of The Iconic“I was working at the Boston Consulting Group in Copenhagen as a consultant. A European e-commerce incubator, Rocket Internet, approached me to be part of the founding team of what is now The Iconic. Though it wasn’t the right time for me to make such a radical career change (I was about to start an MBA program), it was certainly the right opportunity. We’ve built our company from a few people with an Excel spreadsheet to over 300 people serving thousands of customers per day.”
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Adam Jacobs, Managing Director and Co-founder of The Iconic

“I was working at the Boston Consulting Group in Copenhagen as a consultant. A European e-commerce incubator, Rocket Internet, approached me to be part of the founding team of what is now The Iconic. Though it wasn’t the right time for me to make such a radical career change (I was about to start an MBA program), it was certainly the right opportunity. We’ve built our company from a few people with an Excel spreadsheet to over 300 people serving thousands of customers per day.”

4. Make Your Own Work

Brent Butler, Head of Live Programming at the Video Podcast Network"I've always been into comedy. During the recession, no one was hiring young writers for TV or film. Instead, I focused on making weird things at weird venues that a hundred people at most would see. I got my first 'real' job as a production assistant on a talk show. Most of my day was occupied with cleaning exploded grape soda out of the freezer. The rest of the time, I spent learning everything about how a network show runs. I stayed for five years and loved it. "Because of what I'd learned and who I'd met in those five years, I was offered the chance to help build and launch the Video Podcast Network. I'm still there today. Thanks to new distribution methods, we get to make the shows that no one else can or will. It's an exciting time to be in media and comedy in particular."
Courtesy of Brent Butler

Brent Butler, Head of Live Programming at the Video Podcast Network

"I've always been into comedy. During the recession, no one was hiring young writers for TV or film. Instead, I focused on making weird things at weird venues that a hundred people at most would see. I got my first 'real' job as a production assistant on a talk show. Most of my day was occupied with cleaning exploded grape soda out of the freezer. The rest of the time, I spent learning everything about how a network show runs. I stayed for five years and loved it.

"Because of what I'd learned and who I'd met in those five years, I was offered the chance to help build and launch the Video Podcast Network. I'm still there today. Thanks to new distribution methods, we get to make the shows that no one else can or will. It's an exciting time to be in media and comedy in particular."

5. Be Open to the Unexpected

Megan Broberg, Founder of Appleman“I spent most of my 20s in advertising and made the stereotypical Antipodean journey to the U.K. to work. When my visa ran out, by pure serendipity, I was offered a role for two weeks at a winery in the Yarra Valley. It ended up lasting almost two years, and I was inspired to study a BSc in wine science at Charles Sturt University. Cider was gaining popularity in Australia, and I wanted to bring the sensibility of winemaking to cider, so two years ago, Appleman was born, bringing together my love of winemaking and my advertising experience."
Courtesy of Appleman

Megan Broberg, Founder of Appleman

“I spent most of my 20s in advertising and made the stereotypical Antipodean journey to the U.K. to work. When my visa ran out, by pure serendipity, I was offered a role for two weeks at a winery in the Yarra Valley. It ended up lasting almost two years, and I was inspired to study a BSc in wine science at Charles Sturt University. Cider was gaining popularity in Australia, and I wanted to bring the sensibility of winemaking to cider, so two years ago, Appleman was born, bringing together my love of winemaking and my advertising experience."

6. Immerse Yourself in Your Work

Jemma Wong, Senior Marketing Manager at The Australian Ballet"I started in marketing after scoring an internship with the City of Sydney on their New Year's Eve campaign, while I was still at uni. I've evolved a lot since then as a marketer, strategic thinker, creative collaborator, and as a leader. I've worked for newspapers, airlines, tourism, and even cricket, but have found my greatest creative challenge in my current role: running the marketing, brand, and design teams for a major arts company in Australia. It might sound naive, but I'm completely enamoured with the industry. I believe in immersing yourself in every detail, having an open and creative attitude, and stretching far for unthinkable solutions."
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Jemma Wong, Senior Marketing Manager at The Australian Ballet

"I started in marketing after scoring an internship with the City of Sydney on their New Year's Eve campaign, while I was still at uni. I've evolved a lot since then as a marketer, strategic thinker, creative collaborator, and as a leader. I've worked for newspapers, airlines, tourism, and even cricket, but have found my greatest creative challenge in my current role: running the marketing, brand, and design teams for a major arts company in Australia. It might sound naive, but I'm completely enamoured with the industry. I believe in immersing yourself in every detail, having an open and creative attitude, and stretching far for unthinkable solutions."

7. Be Kind

Jeffrey Butler, Orthopedic Surgeon at Midwest Orthopedic"For me success was hugely dependent on having a passion for what you do . Then becoming an expert in your field. Following residency we moved to England so I could perfect my surgical skills in joint replacement. I then focused my practice on joint replacements. The success came from being available affable and able. In other words being nice to patients, doing great surgery and being around when people need you."
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Jeffrey Butler, Orthopedic Surgeon at Midwest Orthopedic

"For me success was hugely dependent on having a passion for what you do . Then becoming an expert in your field. Following residency we moved to England so I could perfect my surgical skills in joint replacement. I then focused my practice on joint replacements. The success came from being available affable and able. In other words being nice to patients, doing great surgery and being around when people need you."

8. Work Really Hard

Eric Sams, Attorney at Newman Aaronson Vanaman"I got into law essentially the same way anybody gets into anything: You just decide to do it. I remember walking home in the rain after a class at university and thinking, What the hell am I going to do with my life? I turned around and walked to the admissions office, soaking wet, to change my major to pre-law. I was worried passing the bar would be impossible. I remember thinking, This is going to be really hard, but if you set your mind to it come out the other side, you'll know you really did something impressive. And now I'm an attorney."
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Eric Sams, Attorney at Newman Aaronson Vanaman

"I got into law essentially the same way anybody gets into anything: You just decide to do it. I remember walking home in the rain after a class at university and thinking, What the hell am I going to do with my life? I turned around and walked to the admissions office, soaking wet, to change my major to pre-law. I was worried passing the bar would be impossible. I remember thinking, This is going to be really hard, but if you set your mind to it come out the other side, you'll know you really did something impressive. And now I'm an attorney."

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