There are two heart-stopping moments when you watch a trapeze artist. One is the moment she leaves the security of the platform to catch the trapeze. The second is the moment she lets go of one trapeze, hangs in the air, before catching the second. It’s a lot like deciding to become an entrepreneur. You have to know when to leave the platform of a reliable paycheck. And before that you have to have the urge to even try, the confidence, the idea, the passion. In other words, there has to be something that won’t let you go to get you to let go.
My great-grandfather wrote in his diary when he was 17, about to come to the U.S., leave his family in Romania, probably forever, that America became like a bug in his ear, constantly buzzing, driving him nuts. The only way to stop the buzzing was to make that leap.
It’s also a good idea before you let go to get some skills, and practice — with a safety net. That’s the idea that spurred Joanne Wilson and me three years ago to start the ITP Women Entrepreneurs Festival. We wanted to celebrate the women who were flying through the air (generally not with the greatest of ease) and to inspire other women and give them the skills and safety net to make the leap themselves. We designed this gathering to be different from other conferences targeting women. We wanted it to be a place of conversation, where participants and speakers had conversations and developed relationships. We saw the conversations between the most skilled, the most daring and the women on the verge as the strongest fiber with which to build a safety net.