Editor of Entrepreneur magazine offers insight into ‘future-proofed careers’

By Andrea McCaffrey February 27, 2023

Jason Feifer address QU students

Through personal experiences and conversations with some of the world’s most influential change-makers, the author of the newly released book, “Build for Tomorrow,” and editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, Jason Feifer, realized that success comes from embracing the unknown.

Feifer shared his personal insight with members of the Quinnipiac community during an interactive conversation on how to embrace change and build a future-proofed career. The event was sponsored by the School of Businessthe School of Communications, the M&T Bank Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the M&T Bank Center for Women and Business.

A full auditorium greeted Feifer as he encouraged faculty, staff and students to harness the power of change and use it to their advantage while learning to build resiliency through new opportunities. While recounting stories of trial and error in his own career, Feifer told students to follow their passions and focus on developing new skills while “working for the job you want next.”

Feifer began his career at a small-town community newspaper where he realized he needed to stop waiting for people and opportunities to come his way. Looking back, he credits his career success to pursuing interests and skills that were not within the scope of his job description, such as creating viral websites based on his personal interests or shopping freelance articles to The New York Times or The Washington Post during the early days of his career. 

“After about nine months of cold-pitching stories, I started to get some hits from The Boston Globe and the Associated Press,” said Feifer. “Freelancing propelled me forward and allowed me to work at a higher level than my current position. I found the key to success is to do this thing I call, ‘work your next job.’ That has ultimately shaped my career. Because the pathway ahead of you is big and exciting but incredibly unpredictable, the most important thing you can do is be open to the full range of possibilities.”

In addition to being an author and editor, Feifer is now a podcast host, keynote speaker and startup adviser. His podcasts include Build for Tomorrow, a show that explores the smartest solutions to the most misunderstood problems and Problem Solvers, which focuses on entrepreneurs overcoming the odds in their business.

When it comes to embracing change, Feifer told the audience to concentrate on exploring the two sets of opportunities that accompany every job.

“You have two sets of opportunities in front of you, right now. Opportunity Set A are the things that are asked of you in your current role. Opportunity Set B is everything that is available to you that no one is asking you to do, like new roles and responsibilities. It could also be skills that lie outside of your job. But growth happens with Opportunity Set B,” said Feifer. “Don’t misunderstand me, you have to do the things that are asked of you, or you’ll get fired or flunk out of school. But, if you only focus on the things that are asked of you, then you will only be qualified to do the things you are already doing.”

As he recounted lessons learned during his career journey, Feifer shared stories and quotes from famous changemakers who inspired him to reach beyond his own expectations, including actor and business entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds, who once told Feifer, “You can’t be good at something unless you’re willing to be bad."

Best-selling author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell also shared a piece of advice during an interview about his podcast, Revisionist History. When asked to define his criteria for pursuing a new project, Gladwell said he tries not to define himself.

“Malcolm told me that ‘self-conceptions are powerfully limiting,’” said Feifer. “If you have a very limited definition of what you do, then you will turn down every other opportunity. You will be narrowly focused on one idea, and you’ll miss all of the opportunities happening around you.”

After his opening remarks, Feifer dedicated the majority of his time to answering questions from audience members. Michael Hanley ’24, an Accelerated Dual-Degree Bachelor’s/Master’s (3+1) film major, took the opportunity to ask Feifer for advice on how long someone should persevere in a position before deciding it’s time to give up and try something new.

“Be realistic. You aren’t going to be good at everything. There’s a mistaken message that perseverance always wins the day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t,” said Feifer. “Why does quitting get a bad rap? It can actually be your greatest tool. If you waste too much time on something that is not working, you’re robbing time from something that will work. Set benchmarks for yourself on what success will look like and try to reach for those goals. If it isn’t working, that’s OK. There are always great lessons in failure.”

Feifer stayed behind to speak with audience members and offered to sign copies of his book gifted to everyone in attendance. As the event came to a close, Luca DiRenzo ’24, an Accelerated Dual-Degree Bachelor’s/Master’s (3+1) in film, television and media arts major, asked Feifer to share his thoughts on what he finds personally motivating to drive career success.

“We all need to define success for ourselves and figure out what that will look like,” said Feifer. “Everyone is going to try to define success for you, but you can’t make a goal based on something you can’t control. That is setting yourself up for failure. If you are operating on someone else’s definition, then success may be very far away.”

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