Swish Goswami is a 20 year old TEDx speaker, venture capitalist (at JB Fitzgerald Venture Capital), LinkedIn Youth Editor, UN Youth Ambassador and serial entrepreneur. He has won Plan Canada's Top 20 under 20, the United Nation’s Outstanding Youth Leadership award and Startup Canada's Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He recently moved to New York to take on a variety of high impact projects associated with Google, and LinkedIn. Swish has been featured in numerous national and international publications including Forbes, Inc, and Mashable along with being recognized as "one of the world's most accomplished teenagers" by Future Sharks and the "Face and Future of Canadian Entrepreneurship" by UPS Canada. Swish will graduate from the University of Toronto in 2018.
How did you get to where you are today?
I always planned to be where I am today. I don’t think I’m currently where I want to be, but I am pleased that I’ve built the foundational pieces to my dream which is to live a multi-hyphenate career balancing speaking, writing, social media, entertainment, politics, business, and investing. My desire to have a multi-hyphenate career is primarily due to my childhood where I honestly had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do later in life. I vividly remember telling my teachers in junior high that I wanted to do everything and I honestly still do. I want to have the freedom and luxury to be able to live a life on my own terms and to be able to switch careers if I want to within a day. That freedom cannot be bought, because it’s a type of freedom that stems from your mentality. For me, I view experiences, both professional and personal, as a part of my journey towards being the best version of myself. That’s how I have got to where I am today. I was able to succeed despite the fact that I am an immigrant that had a speech impediment (which was a lot worse in my early teenage years), who always wanted a seat at the adult table. This was not due to luck as much as my tenacity in seeking a positive environment to be able to utilize my skills within. I am blessed to be around some incredible people who continued to motivate me and help me embrace my strengths more than my flaws.
A pivotal moment in my life was when I delivered my TEDx talk. I had seen great people take the TED stage before and the opportunity to express my story on such a stage confirmed by belief that today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow, but we don’t need to wait until tomorrow to lead. That thought that I have tried to spread on stages across the world, is the biggest secret behind my success thus far.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
My toughest obstacle when it comes to my professional life was being taken seriously. I had sit in many meetings with top corporate executives who overlooked my opinion or didn’t take me seriously because I wasn’t seen as an expert in my field. In order to overcome it, I had to first put my head down and put in work that would get me recognized by publications, organizers, and award juries. I got obsessed with working and more than anything, got addicted to the feeling of satisfaction that comes when you go to bed knowing you spent the day working hard and getting things done.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
I don’t think I am close to staying focused and motivated, however what I have understood is that there is a distinct difference between being inspired and motivated. Inspiration is intrinsic and it lasts longer as opposed to motivation that is normally extrinsic and lasts for a short period of time. I would urge people to look into their lives and the close people around them to draw inspiration. We all are special and have unique abilities that we can be proud of. Highlight those and remember that if you continue to go all in on those skills, good things are bound to happen. Moreover, I keep myself focused by rewarding myself for getting good work done and by celebrating the smallest wins. I love celebrating and want to reward myself for the smallest steps forward in my journey (a new client, a speech, a conversation with an idol). The last thing I would say regarding this is that if you are looking for motivation, please realize that regret is the world’s ultimate poison and that your current desires are sometimes a signal of when and where to act. I fear an alternative world where I do not have the courage nor desire to pursue my dreams and that fear is my ultimate strength to staying on the path I have carved out for myself.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
After moving by myself to New York, my dad recently told me to “be your own free person, and be fearless. Take control of your life and live out your dream.” I’m definitely going to continue to remember that as it’s what I hope I can continue do in the upcoming years.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start a new venture?
Start somewhere. The biggest problem with aspiring entrepreneurs is their insistence to spend more time on planning than doing. So many people spend six to eight months writing their ideas down, and jinxing themselves from acting upon their ideas. If I started fresh with an idea, I would spend a week (maximum) to plan out the idea and get people’s feedback. I would then implement that idea at the smallest level (prototype, pilot project) to gain some market feedback. After, analyze your feedback, and if you decide to continue, adapt your idea, find people in your market who can help you in the capacity of a partner or advisor, and remember that speed and execution will have a bigger influence in whether your idea succeeds than the idea itself.
How do we get more women leaders?
I don’t think the question should be how do we get more female leaders as much as how do we recognize the incredible amount of female leaders better. I have been fortunate to work with and interview incredible female leaders like Kristen Scholer, Jules Schroeder, and Kelly Lovell. These leaders recognize that they are always fighting against the grain to rise in industries that were previously and sometimes still dominated by men. I applaud not only their efforts but the efforts of every girl and woman that decides to pursue their dreams while ignoring any bizarre and archaic stereotype/stigma.
I remember attending an event last year in Washington D.C. and seeing Sheryl Sandberg talk on a panel of eight people about emerging tech in the digital media space. Her insights were brilliant and near the end of the talk she mentioned that she was the only woman on the panel. I only noticed it then and it baffled me that the sad reality is that so many women’s efforts, achievement, and talent are discounted for ridiculous and unfair reasons. So if you are reading this and you run a publication, sponsor an event, or have some influence, please consider utilizing it to elevate the stories of the incredible women in your life. They’ve deserved that level of treatment for some time now.