Career Muse: Farah Fortune

I was recently reflecting on my career – past and future goals and for some reason Farah Fortune kept popping into my head.

Farah is a South African entrepreneur and Publicist extraordinaire. She’s the Founder of African Star Communications (ASC) and built her business not by courting big clients, but by backing young up-and-comers, and growing her brand right alongside theirs.

In many ways, her journey reminds me of my own and I even used her story as a primary case study in my Masters Research Paper titled High Tech and Women of High Ambition: The socio-economic empowerment of female entrepreneurs in South Africa through ICT’s.

Farah launched her celebrity PR business in 2008, with R1 000 in her pocket — she spent R589 of that on registering a CC and the rest on business cards. She built her personal brand alongside her business which makes me respect her art even more. Today, ACS is not just a PR agency, it has a corporate, eventing & digital division. I have been working my *arse off starting a PR/ digital marketing consultancy from scratch while simultaneously studying or working. However, one thing I’ve always been afraid to do is take the giant leap and become a full-time publicist and business owner, rather than juggling other people’s visions alongside my own and not giving myself the chance to see my own vision through.

I have two key thoughts about this as I am catching up on what Farah’s been doing of late (and since the last time I cyber stalked her!). Just as a minor comparison of our stories, I think Farah had more of a fight in her because she had a young daughter when she started her business, meaning her inner drive was far beyond just having her own personal achievements.

Farah was a single mom, wholly devoted to both her daughter and her dream!

I, on the other hand have never to this day felt like I needed to put everything I have into making a dollar.

I started consulting more as a fall back plan – something to keep me going when I made spontaneous decisions like moving cities, and with that “millenial dream” of being a digital nomad. Only now I am starting to realise how “safe” I’ve been playing it, and although I’ve come this far and done quite well in my own eyes, I’m in an uncomfortably comfortable place right now because I still have this void in me. I presume it’s because I’m only half devoted to my dreams and the other half is constantly helping to build other people’s dreams without getting enough recognition for the efforts.

This brings us to my second thought while reflecting on Farah’s journey. Having been flirting with the idea of changing careers I keep wondering why I suddenly feel the urge so strongly. I’ve been working in this industry for nearly 10 years now but it’s not easy to feel recognised or even a sense of self-accomplishment when you’ve moved several times. You always have to start afresh instead of continuing to pursue what you really want. Not as an excuse, but more of an epiphany that I need to build my brand on a larger scale using all the experience I have under my belt thus far. Maybe my new pathway is to become the most sought after – independent – asset to anyone else’s business/event/personal brand here in Australia and the diaspora in general… #SelfMade?

In the companies I’ve work for, there is no room for growth within the business because once you start off in a smaller role to what you’re actually capable of, no one will take your suggestions seriously in the long run even when you’ve been there for a while. In one of my friends words, “It’s much easier to leave one job for a better one than get a higher position in the one you’re in”. Well I’m also now just as tired of constantly looking to grow while constantly facing challenges. I, too, have my own dream, maybe it’s time to revisit that idea, re-ignite the flame within, take the leap, sink or swim!

If I have one regret, it’s the same reason why I admire Farah so much. She knew when to quit even though it meant she had to struggle for a while. The lesson however is to just start and eventually you will win. It’s not all roses, success comes with plenty of hard work and getting out of your comfort zone, which for me is sitting in an office for a salary when I can be kick starting my dream life.

If there are any entrepreneurial minds reading this, what are your feelings towards believing in yourself and having something really drive you to making it work? Can one take the leap even without mouths to feed pushing me to succeed? Does every successful entrepreneur need to come from struggle or hardships? I am very interested in the realities of entrepreneurship and finally following the footsteps of one of my career role models, Farah Fortune!