July 1, 2013

How I Convinced My Parents I Wanted to Become An Entrepreneur

Written by Claire Lew

Two and half years ago, I decided I wanted to become an entrepreneur. The part that made me the most nervous?

Telling my parents.

My dad has a Ph.D in mechanical engineering. My mom has a Masters in product design. They both had paid quite a bit of money for me to attend college.

In my head, I felt this immense pressure to choose a career path that would have some sense of security, stability, and prestige. A path that would make them feel like I wasn’t gambling everything they had invested in raising me.

The path of an entrepreneur is essentially the antithesis of that. So I was scared out of my mind as to how they might react.

To convince my parents that I was making the right decision, I did the only thing that made sense at the time:  I made a powerpoint presentation.

Yes, you read that correctly. I presented a deck to my parents to convince them why I wanted to become an entrepreneur. 

These were the first five slides:

Slide 1
Slide 2
Slide 3
Slide 4
Slide 5

I told my parents that I believed that the meaning of life is happiness. And for me, solving problems as an entrepreneur was the greatest way I could create that happiness for myself.

I talked about happiness not in the superficial, fleeting sense you get from eating a delicious ice cream cone or buying a new pair of sunglasses. I meant the kind of happiness that lasts. The deep, enduring fulfillment you gain from solving a problem you care about, from building something meaningful, from helping other people. That's real happiness.

I told them that I believed in creating that happiness within my work, not just outside my work. With work consuming a majority of our lives (19.7 years to be exact), it didn't make sense any other way. To me, the question of "What do you want to do with your life?" wasn’t as important as, "How do you want to feel about what you choose to do?"

Fast forward a few years later. This same belief drives me. And it’s proven itself to be true.

I’ve been building my company for the past six months, and I’ve been happier during that time than I have in my entire life. It’s unbelievably fulfilling to work every day on solving a problem that matters to myself and to others. It’s that deep-rooted happiness that I knew I’d be able to create in doing something I passionately believe in.

That’s not to say I don’t have bad days (or weeks). Being an entrepreneur is hard as hell. There are times when the uncertainty and self-doubt can feel paralyzing. When I feel like I’m drowning in all the tasks I need to accomplish.

But I choose to be persistent because my desire to solve the problem itself - to do work that is truly meaningful - outweighs everything. I've found it to be my source of long-term, real happiness.

As for the powerpoint I made for my parents, what was their reaction after my presentation?  

They have since become my two greatest supporters. I don’t think I could ask for bigger fans.

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