The following is an excerpt from an interview for the Opportunista, a network and resource for women entrepreneurs. Rochelle Bailis, the co-founder of StoryCraft, talks about the surprise twists and turns in her life that lead up to starting a business.
How did your upbringing position you for your current career path?
I have no doubt my childhood permeates everything I do. I was raised by a single dad who was in some ways the quintessential “strict but fair” father figure, but in others was pretty unusual. He had high standards for me academically, but also gave me a lot of freedom. He worked long hours in construction so I was expected to be self-reliant at a young age. I made my own lunch, washed my own laundry and rode the public bus to school every day. When you do enough things for yourself, your default reaction to most new situations is usually “yep, I can do that.” I have insecurities like anyone else, but I tend to first assume I can handle something, then allow the circumstances to prove me wrong.
Those experiences are sure to make you independent and resourceful. Is there something you learned back then that you never expected to be relevant today?
My dad made me learn a lot of extraneous skills—like how to read Mandarin and how to use an abacus. It drove me crazy since they seemed totally irrelevant to everyday life. I realize now that it was never about the particular skill, it was learning how to learn. How to love the process of learning. That muscle must be built, exercised and nurtured constantly in order for you to achieve pretty much anything in life.
Why and how did you pursue your career path?
To be honest, I kind of fell into it. That’s the age we live in. The world moves so quickly, the career you end up pursuing may not even exist when you graduate college. Or your career goals might change as you evolve and discover new things. Both you and the industries around you will shift constantly throughout your lifetime—it’s important to accept that fluidity.