‘Get on the dance floor as soon as the party starts and show off your moves.’ Michel Masquelier, author of This is Not a Dress Rehearsal, says it’s never too early to embrace experimentation and start building your unique profile
Your grades and your CV are no guarantee of success. And even if they help open the door for you, the leap from theory to practice is one you will have to make by yourself, without a safety net and without the helping hand of parents or teachers. You will gain wisdom and build your confidence through a succession of experiments, through trial and error, on your journey.
Experiment as early as possible
Before undertaking her degree at the University of Edinburgh, my eldest daughter, Charlotte, had held six different summer jobs requiring three different languages – French, Spanish and English. The tasks she was given ranged from making the morning coffee to translating interviews, or simply being a runner from one desk to another. She started at the bottom and began to demystify the unknown world of work.
While taking her degree, and after graduation, she secured several internships. These ranged from an Erasmus scholarship working for EuroLeague basketball in Barcelona to working in online education in London, working in data management in Melbourne, being a marketing assistant in Hong Kong and acting as a media rights assistant at UEFA in Nyon, Switzerland.
It has become increasingly common for young people to take a gap year, either before or after graduation. That can be great fun, and a great opportunity to learn and grow. Charlotte decided to sacrifice the fun, however, and dive straight into the corporate world – to learn the trade from the inside. After a couple of years, she decided to deepen her understanding of the business by enrolling for a master’s degree at Esade Business School in Barcelona.
The choices that now lie ahead of her include going back into the corporate world or flying with her own wings and starting a business. Whatever path she chooses, she has embraced experimentation to build up a unique profile for herself, with experience based on tasting the real thing at an early stage and building communities of real friends.
The path to knowledge is practice
I am an advocate of internships. At IMG, I used such opportunities to test the practical ability, motivation and ambition of people who would later be given proper challenges and responsibilities. Many of the talents that came through the IMG internship programme went to the very top, driven by hard work and determination, as well as their innate abilities. This was how my own journey started too. I wanted to get my foot in the door and an internship was a way of doing this.
I was determined to break any barrier to have the privilege of jumping on the corporate ladder, building relationships, and learning the trade. However you are able to get your start, I recommend that you get on the dance floor as soon as the party starts and show off your moves, regardless of how outrageous or clumsy they might be. Practice, goodwill, hard work and experimentation are prerequisites for the journey to success.
You may be a talented artist, a gifted athlete or possess a scientific intellect, but without experimentation and practice, you are not yet a star. You may like cooking and feel passionate about it, but to become a recognised chef you will need to go beyond reading recipes. It is about hard work, experimenting, innovating, taking inspiration from others, creating and progressing.
No one starts as an expert. You may be gifted, talented and well educated, but the path to knowledge is practice and the earlier you take a deep dive the better: to experiment, to learn languages, to see the world, to taste real things. It is never too early to start. Do not waste time; the journey is shorter than you think.
This is an edited excerpt from This is Not a Dress Rehearsal (Practical Inspiration Publishing, 2021) by Michel Masquelier.
Michel Masquelier is the former chairman of IMG Media, part of the global sports management agency. After graduating with a degree in law, he worked his way up the ladder at IMG from intern to chairman.
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