If we are not careful, we can find ourselves living someone else’s version of our life rather than our own. Whether from a parent, spouse, friend or simply societal expectations, the pressure to follow a path in life that is not our own choosing can be enormous. In his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, Steve Jobs emphasized this point to the graduates. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Jobs struck a chord with this speech which went viral on YouTube. I was reminded of this quote as I visited with my interviewee this week, Tyler Raborn, co-founder of Raborn Media. Tyler and his wife, Amanda, are young entrepreneurs on the fast track to success.
Tyler moved around a lot growing up (over 19 times), but he finished high school in Metro Jackson before going off to Mississippi State where he majored in accounting. After interning with Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Atlanta, he decided to pursue a law degree at Tulane University. He excelled in school and worked as a law clerk as he plotted his career path as an attorney. However, sometimes life takes you in a different direction as Tyler soon found out.
While he was in law school, Amanda worked at a marketing firm in New Orleans where she specialized in social media. At heart, they are both entrepreneurs and so they felt the tug to pursue a different path.
In early 2013, they began to discuss and pray about starting their own marketing company. They shared a passion for technology, marketing, and helping people. They conducted significant research and planning and in early fall 2013 launched Raborn Media. By the end of 2013, their business had exploded with clients as their ROI oriented approach to digital marketing connected with many business owners searching for answers on how to grow their business. Tyler faced a difficult decision as he needed to focus full time on his growing company, but he still lacked one semester to finish law school. He made a difficult decision and chose to focus on his business and relocate to Jackson.
Tyler candidly noted, “In addition to the financial risk of starting a business, I realized that I was breaking a societal norm by pursuing this path.” He was on the track to be a tax lawyer, but that was not his passion. He shared, “While I was interested in helping people protect their assets, what I truly enjoy is helping people grow their assets through effective use of digital marketing.” I respect that fact that an early age Tyler has taken the “road less traveled” and pursued his dreams. Journalist Christopher Morley once noted, “There is only one success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.” It takes wisdom and courage to understand what you really wanted to do with your life and to vigorously pursue it. I think that is why Steve Jobs emphasized it to the class at Stanford. Faced with significant health issues, Jobs knew that life was short and that you have to sometimes block out the noise of the voices of others to make sure you understand your own inner voice.
Amanda and Tyler have clearly followed this advice and are charting their own course. I always kept my eye out for up and coming entrepreneurs, and I believe Tyler and Amanda are ones to watch.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.