Siddiqi Ray photographer

An interview with Siddiqi Ray: A vision for entrepreneurs

Each business owner discovers the road to entrepreneurship differently. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, Siddiqi Ray, about her unique path to successful entrepreneurship.

Siddiqi Ray is an internationally acclaimed photographer, speaker, and coach. Prior to stepping out on her own as an entrepreneur, Siddiqi garnered experience in editorial photography, marketing, customer relations, graphic design, and higher education. Although Siddiqi didn’t start her own business immediately after graduating from college, she shares that her mentors planted entrepreneurial seeds in her as early as age 16 when she attended The Arts High School in New York.

“I’ve always been really good at seeking out mentors—either people who were where I wanted to be and doing what I wanted to do, or who had another quality they embodied that I realized I needed,” Siddiqi shares.

The importance of mentors

This led Siddiqi to pursue internships and career-related positions throughout high school and college. Her tenacity helped her land great positions later in life with organizations like The Mayo Clinic and with clients like The Navy SEALS and The Dalai Lama. However, as Siddiqi points out, translating impressive work experience into entrepreneurial success is often a struggle.

One of Siddiqi’s most noted mentors, who pushed her to pursue a career wholeheartedly in photography, was a professor at Tish School of the Arts at New York University (NYU). While Siddiqi entered the school expecting to pursue a career in videography, her professor noticed her true talent—photography—and urged her to take her camera and “go out and experience the world and live your vision.”

So she did.

Siddiqi notes that her professor’s words, care, and mentorship impacted her profoundly.

“That was such an amazing revelation—to have someone care enough about me and to see something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.” Siddiqi mentioned other mentors, friends, and colleagues who have impacted her similarly.

Discovering our own strengths & weaknesses as entrepreneurs

Siddiqi Ray photographer
Siddiqi Ray, internationally acclaimed photographer

“Sometimes we have that knowing, but it’s hidden in plain sight,” she muses.

When starting and growing businesses, many entrepreneurs struggle with inadequacies. For some, it’s their own soft skills or interpersonal skills, and for others, it’s character strengths and weaknesses. Siddiqi admits she wasn’t immune to this struggle; she grappled with one soft skill in particular which was both her greatest quality and the “bane of her existence”—and that was vision.

Siddiqi defines vision as the internal sense of knowing, a gut instinct, and a big picture ability to see where she wants to be and what she wants manifested in her career, business, and finances. Not all entrepreneurs and business owners possess this soft skill—that’s for certain. Many business owners are simply not big picture thinkers. Many, instead, muddle through details and have difficulty with even the simplest questions, like “Where do you see your business in five years?”

Not Siddiqi. She admits that the hard work for her happens in the space between the vision and the now. She shares that she often feels frustrated because she is not truly goal-oriented even though she is vision-oriented; she can get frustrated in the translation.

Siddiqi Ray’s advice to budding entrepreneurs

Siddiqi advises budding entrepreneurs to pursue, find, and believe in their own vision yet hold it loosely.

“Hold it loosely because something better may, and probably will, occur,” she encourages.

Siddiqi notes that it’s important to keep refining your vision as you take action steps toward your vision.

“When I focus my energy and concentration, I focus on the baby steps right in front of me. I don’t worry about spanning the distance. A lot of people I work with are really busy trying to figure out how to fix it and make it work. That’s not where the mojo is. That’s not where the magic is. That’s not where the miracles live. There is vision, and there is what is going to organically happen on the way to our vision,” Siddiqi reflects.

 

If you need help developing your ability to see the big picture, reach out to me for help.

Siddiqi Ray is an internationally acclaimed photographer, speaker, and coach whose work merges intuition, creative vision and pragmatic analysis to help people come into their own power, connect authentically, and build trust through visibility. Siddiqi has worked for over 30 years with entrepreneurs, Forbes 100 listed corporations and billionaires, and spiritual leaders, including The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, several members of the Kennedy Family, and the Navy SEALS.

 

Is a portfolio career right for you?

I’ll be honest. Until recently, I’d never even heard the term “portfolio career.” I’d heard of people working multiple jobs to make ends meet. This isn’t quite the same thing as a portfolio career, though.

A portfolio career carries a bit more intention and weight behind it; each venture is selected carefully and scrutinized. Does it contribute to my ultimate career goals? If not, I must decline, thank you very much.

As a portfolio careerist myself, I decided to stop working my full-time job on purpose. I wasn’t laid off or fired. I requested to transition to part-time status in order to pursue my interest in teaching college again. About this time, a long-time dream of mine (to pursue career coaching and owning my own business) came to fruition through the encouragement of my career mentor, Samantha Hartley, owner of Enlightened Marketing. There’s no such thing as perfect timing when it comes to taking a leap of faith as an entrepreneur; at some point, you simply have to do the best research you can, concoct some sort of back-up plan, and then leap forward and hope for the best.

I recently had the good fortune of being interviewed by Dr. Steven Lindner, a talent acquisition, assessment, and hiring process expert at The WorkPlace Group. We discussed the rise of portfolio careers among Millennials, reasons for this trend, and my own career journey.

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The article Dr. Lindner wrote mentions multiple benefits to working as a portfolio careerist, and I can vouch for many of them. In just a few months, I already believe that the greatest benefit for me is flexibility and work-life balance. As the mother of a young child, spending time with my daughter is of utmost importance. However, it comes at a price. I have to manage my time more carefully and strategically than ever before. Starting a business and managing content for a company while taking care of a three year-old little girl (with only part-time childcare assistance) is pretty tricky at times. At the end of the day, though, it’s worth it.

I won’t list all the benefits to working as a portfolio careerist, but here’s one more. I have always had so many interests that I’ve found it difficult to remain focused at times. I’ve felt like a kid in Baskin-Robbins when taking interest and skill inventories. Should I pursue a career as a writer? Oh yes. But what about a physician? I love biology and science. Oh wait–what about philosophy? I could discuss Plato’s dialogues all day long. As a portfolio careerist, I allow myself the license to explore a few of my favorite things simultaneously: teaching, career coaching, and writing/content management. The result? I’m fulfilled and am able to use multiple abilities/talents rather than just one teeny tiny skill set. For college students and recent grads (or rambling adults, for that matter) who make all A’s and can’t ever make up their minds about which direction to turn, a portfolio career might be a great fit.

Is a portfolio career right for everyone? Absolutely not. Is it a great fit for many Millennials? Certainly. For people who match the descriptions laid out in Dr. Steven Lindner’s article, it’s worth considering whether pursuing a portfolio career is right for you.

Need help figuring out your next career move? Contact me for assistance.