Sometimes you meet people and you just know they are going places. Such was the case when I first ran into Andrew Schiestel several years back. I can’t remember the occasion, but his can-do attitude and positive energy made a lasting impression, and I knew he’d be someone to watch.
In 2008, when he and partners Misha Allard and Melissa McInerney launched their first business venture Tagged By Kindness – a gift card school fundraising project that tracks acts of kindness online – I pitched a story to Business London magazine. The editor didn’t bite.
A few years went by and I noticed that Tagged By Kindness had quietly morphed into a web development and marketing firm called tbk Creative. And all of a sudden Andrew seemed to be everywhere, speaking about harnessing the power of social media to help firms grow their brand, and do good in the process.
When tbk Creative won a national award for a Facebook social media campaign I knew it was time to try another pitch – and by now I had discovered that Andrew was a graduate of Fanshawe College’s Police Foundations program.
Fanshawe College Alumni News accepted my query, and that’s how I ended up spending a few hours last summer asking Andrew about his winding career path and unconventional business approach.
You can read the full story here on page 22, but there are a few thoughts that have stuck with me since our interview:
If you’re young and still trying to ‘find your calling’ – don’t panic.
Very few people in their 40’s are actually doing the job they thought they’d be doing in their 20’s. (I am a perfect example.) As long as you keep moving in the direction you think you want to head, life has a way of working out if you’re willing to put in the effort.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to launch a successful career.
Andrew has no ‘official’ qualifications as a marketer, communicator, or web developer. But he’s smart, a real people-person, full of curiosity, and has a solid work ethic. And he surrounds himself with colleagues who are just as dedicated to excellence as he is.
Sometimes starting at the top is the fastest way to get to the top.
Andrew made a strategic decision to go after London’s top companies and institutions right from the beginning. He wasn’t deterred by some initial setbacks, and within six months tbk Creative was working with a handful of nationally-recognized brands. (And of course, once the first contracts were landed he made sure to deliver great work.)
Swallow your fear and just forge ahead.
Andrew gave me one of my all-time favourite quotes:
“I think fear is the great paralyser of people’s dreams coming true. I would say fear is normal. It’s in all of us, including myself each and every day. The goal should be to look your fear in the eyes, get comfortable with that feeling, and act anyways.”
It’s taken me a long time to embrace my professional fear, and it’s something I wish I’d learned how to do earlier. It’s great advice, and absolutely necessary for anyone hoping for a freelance career.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?