661. A Plane Ticket, a Eurail Pass and a Backpack
Joe knew that connecting with an audience got his juices going. Just as strongly, he knew life can end at any time, and that the 9-to-5 was not in his DNA. He craved work that would be fun and exciting but didn’t know just what that magic combination would look like.
Joe Fingerhut is an author and international speaker at schools and conferences on student leadership and success. In the eight years after college, Joe went to thirty countries on six continents, then came home to St. Louis, Missouri and started a career in speaking and entertainment from scratch. He regularly rocks audiences at leadership events and high schools in America and overseas, sharing lessons from his adventures in travel, language, and magic and music stage skills.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
Growing up in a supportive but competitive family, where sports were a passion, Joe knew he wanted life to be fun. Earning his college degree in math, he also learned his natural aptitude would not be enough. He would also have to work at achieving his goals. He plunged head-first into travel and experiencing other cultures, starting with a plane ticket, a Eurail Pass, a backpack and Europe. Then, he headed to Japan to teach English and met his future wife. “I knew I wanted my life to be exciting and fun.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Joe’s gigs as a DJ and magician were coalescing. Each gig was bringing him new venues, and he was having fun. “Then, about six or seven years in I asked myself, what am I dancing around? I am having fun, but I think I could do more. A motivational speaker I remembered from my college days came to mind, and I started thinking seriously about a career in public speaking. If I cannot be an NBA All-Star—which was not in the cards—public speaking is the career I would throw away everything to do. I began asking myself, how can I be a professional speaker?” He did his research and quickly was ready to take a first step.
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“A best friend I had met on the first day of kindergarten died in a car accident at age 14 when we were in eighth grade. His death just hit me with the realization: life could end at any moment. Why not pursue things that are actually fun and can make you happy? Time is going to pass anyway. You might as well enjoy it, and try, and make your dreams come true.”
Steps to Success from Joe Fingerhut
1. Get clarity. What is the dream? If you do not have a target, you are not going to hit anything.
2. Speak it. Write it down and share it. Dreams are like babies. They have to be born, they have to breathe. If your dream stays inside of you it does not go anywhere. You have got to share it.
3. Take a step. Use the headlights principle: on a dark road at night, you do not have to see the whole road, just what the headlight illuminates in front of you.
On His Bookshelf
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari
Connecting With Joe Fingerhut
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