Questrom 2011 | Performer - Feld Entertainment
James explains that success does not have a single definition, instead it is defined by one’s values and goals. James values the understanding his degree gave him about what drives decisions and impacts a business’s operations as he travels on an international tour performing a Disney show.
I’m writing this as I begin my 15 hour flight to Sydney, Australia. This will be the third time in my life I’ve been blessed to visit this amazing city, and country. And that’s success on my own terms.
At Questrom I often felt lost. It became evident to me right away that a finance track or investment career was not something that I was going to enjoy working in and likely not something I was going to be “successful” in, especially compared to my peers who had a much more solid grasp on the coursework. But I often reminded myself at the time, and still do to this day that I chose BU and specifically Questrom because wherever I did end was going to be a business, and knowing how they ran, what drove decisions internally and how to operate in one was going to help me out. I ended up at Disney, and I could not have been better prepared.
“I chose BU and specifically Questrom because wherever I did end was going to be a business”
At the end of my time at Questrom I had come to define success perhaps a bit more liberally than the average graduate would. To this day, I will have lived a happy successful life if I am a part of something that impacts people on an emotional level and instills hope for their future and inspires them to love and live on the most basic level possible.
After graduating, I ended up as an entertainer at Disney World, spending my first full year employed there learning parades and opening new shows on Main Street, U.S.A. It’s ironic as four years prior I had decided to leave behind my seven years of ballet training in my academic pursuits at BU.
I gravitated toward Disney as a potential employment possibility around my Junior year at BU after having studied abroad in Los Angeles and taken several trips to Disneyland. I was raised on the classic animated films and am obsessed not only with the whole animation process (I picked up a concurrent COM Film Production degree) and but also the sentiments inherent in the Disney product. It’s something that has always resonated with me and that aligned with my definition of success.
At Disney, especially at an operational, front-line level, I was able to observe and learn a lot about managerial practices, a proper work-life balance, how staffing and business decisions can have a big effect on the company wide budget, and conversely how major acquisitions and company shakeups can quickly impact day to day operations. It completely shaped how I want to lead later in my career. My definition of success also started to become more complicated and deeper. Now, not only did I want to impact people’s lives as I had before, but I wanted my own personal work to be fulfilling in a way that allowed me to do things that I wanted to do as well, such as travel and be close to my family.
Two years into my time in Florida, and almost out of no where, I was offered a performing opportunity with Feld Entertainment to tour domestically, and later internationally, on a stage show with Disney characters. It was difficult to leave behind the career advancements I was making in Florida, but this new opportunity allowed me to step into a greater level of personal success than was currently possible at Disney World, and so I went with it. A year later I’ve traveled to the four corners of the continental United States, worked two months in mainland China, and brought the first ever western stage production to Myanmar.
“I’ve traveled to the four corners of the continental United States, worked two months in mainland China, and brought the first ever western stage production to Myanmar.”
With the wild adventure and personal growth, tour life brought an even bigger understanding of the global economy and political and economic influences of culture, one business’s role in that landscape and further personal goals both in my ever-evolving career and personal life. My definition of success continues to expand and my search for careers to satisfy it continue to match, but it is all still rooted in my core definition.
If I have learned one thing about success it is that it is tied to your personal value system. Success is no longer some 1960’s perfect job, family and white picket fence. Nor is it some futuristic notion of inexhaustible wealth. Think about who you are, what you believe in and how you can bring that to life in the world and environment you find yourself in. And then be ready to embrace change.
“Success is no longer some 1960’s perfect job, family and white picket fence.”
I’m looking forward to seeing my favorite city in the world, but maybe finding one I like even better as I tour Australia. You truly never know where life will lead you.