Popular Instagram account @Cereal.Entrepreneur profiles entrepreneurs and just this week, they asked me for my thoughts. I wanted to share that here with you.
It all began in the spring of 2015. After running the social media at Aéropostale for a few years, I realized that the structure of corporate America is not right for me. I’m a very creative person involved in a few different industries, so it was difficult for me to be working at a desk nine hours a day. I was missing out on other opportunities that meant just as much to me, and began feeling creatively stifled dealing with the usual infrastructure of a corporate environment.
I decided to leave the corporate world and open DiDario Consulting Inc., a social media, marketing and branding company. I work with a range of clients in the fashion, restaurant, beauty and beverage industries doing everything and anything to build their brand. Some examples of what I do for my clients: photo and video shoots, running their social media channels, securing mentions in magazines, radio and television PR placements, creating brand campaigns and audience activations, sourcing new business opportunities and partnerships, and organizing brand events.
I also realized, after working in the fashion and entertainment industry for so many years before entering the social media world, that I wanted to build out my own voice and write about things that are passionate to me like fashion, travel, grooming, fitness and health. I launched my website TalkingWithTommy.com almost two years ago and since then it has been an exciting journey. Across my social media channels, I have acquired a following of about 115k with over a million monthly impressions. I am lucky enough to collaborate with some of the biggest brands in the world on their new product launches. After the launch of my website, I was selected to be a GQ Insider, working with the iconic magazine on different brand partnerships. I’m an ambassador for health companies like Sunwarrior, and do speaking engagements related to both health and fashion at different events. It’s also really important to me to use my voice and do advocacy work for different LGBTQ organizations (last year I hosted the Trevor Project’s Fall Event and Broadway Sings for Pride). Between running my company and running my own brand, I actually find I work more hours than I did when working in the corporate world! But the difference for me is, I love every single second of it.
I have always been a very self-motivated and disciplined person. I am very much my toughest critic because I never want to stop being proud of the quality of work I am doing. To be an entrepreneur, discipline and self-motivation are key. No one is micromanaging you to get your work done. No one is putting you on deadlines or giving you an hour-by-hour schedule for each day. This is up to you. With all that you’re juggling, you have to stay organized, stay on top of your work and goals, and create a routine that makes sense for you. You also have to be inspired by the work you’re doing, which is the beauty of working for yourself. You can control that. I don’t choose to work with people who I know don’t have similar interests as I do because I want to be passionate about doing the best work I can for them. To achieve that, I have to have a genuine vested interest in the brand.
The biggest challenge I have faced being an entrepreneur is reminding myself to breathe. There are so many things I want to accomplish and I have learned that you have to walk before you can run. Sometimes I don’t celebrate the accomplishments I have had, but instead start thinking about what I want to achieve next. Working for yourself (in both my company and my own brand), you don’t have a “team” that is constantly praising you for your accomplishments, so it is important that you relish in the successes while continuing to work hard towards achieving more. There are so many things I am interested in. That’s why I followed the path of being an entrepreneur so that I could do them all, and I still have a lot more to give. For example, I am writing a comedy screenplay and I don’t always have the time to work on this project with my day-to-day responsibilities, so I get frustrated. But I have learned that when I can make the time, it is my priority at that moment and I can’t get stressed about not being able to work on it everyday while balancing all other areas of my life. That stress will make anything you’re doing suddenly become a negative experience, when passion and love are the reasons for doing it in the first place. So I remind myself to never lose site of that passion, to take a second and breathe and to trust that through hard work, everything will come to fruition.
I chose the path of entrepreneurship because I needed a change in my life that would make me feel fulfilled. You deserve to live a light that fulfills you and genuinely makes you happy. I always say that having a “good life” means three things:
1. Have people to share your life with
Whether it is friends, family, or a spouse, what’s the point of working hard if you can’t take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Being surrounded by love is the greatest gift you can give yourself, so to me, a good life means being able to share experiences and make meaningful memories with those close to you.
2. Enjoy the work you are doing
Let’s be honest. Everyone experiences days where the work they are doing is driving them crazy – that’s perfectly normal. But overall, you should genuinely love the work you are doing. Yes, it should be able to provide you with a lifestyle that allows you to live in a way that satisfies you, but it should also fuel, motivate and fulfill you. Your happiness is more valuable than staying complacent at a job that isn’t fulfilling you.
3. Never stop wondering
If you’re always curious, then you’re always seeking new experiences and hungry for truly living. To me, allowing yourself to be open to these experiences and keeping your sense of wonder about the world means you are getting the most out of your time on this Earth as possible. Sometimes this means going outside of your comfort zone, conquering a fear, or even taking a risk, but having a constant state of wonder means that you allowing yourself to truly experience all that life has to offer.
Never forget to keep pushing yourself, and to chase the things that make you truly happy.