‘To be good at something, you have to be willing to be bad’: Editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine visits QU


Neha Seenarine, Arts & Life Editor

“There’s a well-intentioned but mistaken message out there, that perseverance always wins the day, it doesn’t,” Entrepreneur magazine Editor-in-Chief Jason Feifer said in a speech to Quinnipiac University on Oct. 6.

The School of Business and the School of Communications welcomed Feifer to speak to students and share his new book, “Build for Tomorrow,” which focuses on navigating change not only in careers but in life. Most college students prepare to find a job that coincides with the courses they took over the years, but sometimes the career may not suit their needs.

Feifer first shared about the time he landed a job he’d always desired – being a columnist at a small newspaper company. However, over the course of time, he became tired of the job.

“I wanted to work at large retailers or large magazines and here I was showing up every day (at) this tiny little newspaper and writing about the middle school dance,” Feifer said. “My boss actually came to me and said, ‘Look, you got to either turn it around or get out (of) here.’”

Feifer said he felt frustrated for not moving faster in his career. He said he realized that his local middle school dance story was not going to get him a call from The New York Times or the White House. He brought it upon himself to get out of his comfort zone and start to work as a freelance writer.

His overarching mission was to simply work his next job. Feifer explained there are only two sets of opportunities: accomplishing the tasks that are expected of you and doing tasks no one is asking of you. He noted that college students do assignments because that is required for their degree, but he questioned what else they are doing for themselves–whether it might be joining organizations or starting a podcast for themselves. Feifer emphasized that better opportunities come from what piques an individual’s interest.

“If you only focus on the things that are asked of you, then you will only be qualified to do the things you’re already doing flat out,” Feifer said. “Growth happens with opportunity set B… That is where you develop the kinds of things that are going to be useful to you later in ways.”

People work an average of 12 jobs in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there can be fear when it comes to change. Feifer recalled an interview with actor Ryan Reynolds when he was shifting into new business ventures where he said, “in order to be good at something, you have to be willing to be bad.”

“When you start something new, you’re never going to be good at it, because this is not possible,” Feifer said. “Is somebody going to be successful is not really (the same as) are they good at something (in the) beginning? Because the answer is no, they’re not.”

Feifer was questioned with how to move on from a career path they’ve known for so long. How does someone leave a job and start fresh again? It can’t be that easy. He emphasized the value of trying new things. Feifer said once someone tries a new task for the first time, they are bound to do better and improve each and every time.

“I cannot wait to do this the second time,” Feifer said. “The whole purpose of doing it is literally just to get to the next time because the next time is going to be better because the first time simply cannot be that good.”

However, Feifer noted that some skills are not cut out for everyone. He said quitting can be your greatest tool, it’s sort of like dating.

“If you waste too much time on something that’s not working, you’re robbing time that you could be devoting to something that does work,” Feifer said. “If you couldn’t quit a relationship. If the first person you went on a date with has to be the person you’re with for the rest of your life, you wouldn’t go out very often … finding the right person is the result of being able to quit over and over again.”