You can live the dream, and these entrepreneurs are the proof

You don’t need a corner office or ultra-lucrative gig to create a charmed career life. With grit, gumption and a little bit of good fortune, these five movers and shakers brought their fantasies to fruition.

Pelorus

Jimmy Carroll, 40, is the co-founder and business development director of Pelorus in Austin, Texas. The enterprise bills itself as the ultimate experiential travel company, designing tailor-made travel and yachting adventures in far-flung locales.

These days, Carroll splits his time between London and Texas, but you can also often find him hosting client trips, whether it’s a yacht expedition to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, exploring and skiing in remote Alaska, or venturing to Lofoten, Norway , where a group went hiking and cycling up mountains to waterfalls and crossed fjords. “I’m very lucky to have the perfect balance of time spent in the office and time spent traveling the world,” he said.

Carroll and his co-founder, Geordie Mackay-Lewis, are ex-captains in the British Army, and their time logged leading reconnaissance units on long-range desert patrols and helicopter operations serve them well as they map out customized trip itineraries.

When the duo realized that there wasn’t much competition in the yachting industry outside the standard stomping grounds of the Caribbean and Mediterranean, they got to work.

“With our military backgrounds in planning and execution, we could approach it differently, with a bit more creativity,” said Carroll.

Carroll credits networking as being what “really makes the difference when trying to enter a niche industry.” On top of this, he added, “It’s also important to be skilled in many disciplines.”

New York Adventure Club

Corey William Schneider, 33, is CEO and founder of the Midtown-based tour and event company New York Adventure Club, which emphasizes history and creative storytelling in exploring the city.

The company started as a Facebook group in 2013, with Schneider hoping to convince more of his friends to join him on personal adventures around town. “In 2014, I wrote an article for a local blog about an interesting location in NYC that New York Adventure Club was going to visit,” he said. “I just wanted a couple of people to join, so I didn’t lose all my money on this private tour that I booked.”

To his surprise, 100 strangers joined the group asking how to get a ticket, and he decided to take a whirl at turning the concept into a business.

Corey William Schneider’s company started as a Facebook group in 2013, with Schneider hoping to convince more of his friends to join him on personal adventures around town.
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Like countless companies in 2020, Schneider pivoted to hosting virtual get-togethers, which led to the organization’s largest audience and revenue increase since its founding. Currently, he operates a hybrid schedule of in-person events, mostly on weekends (slating six to 10 over Saturday and Sunday) and virtual events during weekdays (with 15 to 20 Monday through Friday).

Schneider encourages other enthusiasts of Adventure Club-style jaunts to pursue creating the types of outings that excite them.

“Creating and managing the New York Adventure Club community took a lot of time, patience and persistence, and the only way you’ll be able to stick it out is if you’re 100% invested in the product,” he said. “By creating consistent offerings of your events, and seeking out related communities, you’ll eventually attract a loyal audience.”

The Ivy League of Comedy

The crux of success, as Shaun Eli Breidbart, 61, illustrates, is finally figuring out how to match your passion to your job. Going by Shaun Eli on stage, this comic gets “paid to make people laugh. What could be better?”

He also appreciates that he gets to work, travel and commingle with the funniest people around. “And since I’m self-employed, I don’t have to work with or for anyone I don’t like,” Eli said.

Eli credits luck and an innate sense of humor to his being able to realize his ambitions. “And some hard work,” he added, “because nobody starts out good at stand-up comedy — or anything else, for that matter.”

Shaun Eli.
Shaun Eli produces clean comedy shows for special events and theaters.
BrainChampagne.com

Eli founded, and is executive director of, the Ivy League of Comedy in Westchester, producing clean comedy shows for special events and theaters. “When I was a banker, I had a bunch of colleagues and clients come see me at comedy clubs,” he explained.

“They often said that while my comedy was clean and appropriate for corporate entertainment, the rest of the comics in the shows were dirty. They wanted all-clean shows. And there weren’t any. So it seemed obvious to me: demand for a product and no supply. I could create the supply.”

His best advice to aspiring jokesters is to start with a comedy class. “And then get on-stage as much as you possibly can.”

Also, be nice to people. “You never know where your next break is coming from. I went to an audition at a club and asked the bartender for water. He said, ‘No charge.’ I left a tip. Turns out he wasn’t the bartender. The bartender hadn’t shown up. He was the owner and the one watching the auditions.”

Swati Goorha Designs

As an Indian immigrant, Swati Goorha, 42, noted that kids from her culture were driven toward STEM-centric careers. Charting her own course helped her land her vocational holy grail when she launched interior design firm Swati Goorha Designs, which is based in New Providence, NJ.

“I decided to get a master’s degree in interior design to change my career path,” she said. “I was a young mom with a toddler — graduate school was grueling, but it was the best decision. A long circuitous path with an array of jobs later, I took the plunge and started my own design firm, and, as they say, the rest is history.”

Swati Goorha.
“Graduate school was grueling, but it was the best decision,” Swati Goorha explained.
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There is no substitute for education when chasing your career goals, emphasizes Goorha, who added, “Education doesn’t mean going to college and university alone. Listen to podcasts related to your field. Meet other industry professionals and ask them what they are doing differently. Wait for conferences and talks.”

Goorha found it beneficial to enroll in coaching courses with several pros to understand how to run her business, be profitable, price her services and be growth-oriented.

Carving out a niche is paramount, too. “What sets you apart is what is authentic to you. In my case, I started as an interior designer in a very saturated market with many established and new design firms,” she said. “My biggest weakness was an uncommon name, which turned into my strength — I designed colorful, timeless spaces that were world-inspired and layered with color, texture and patterns.”

Po Campo

Maria Boustead, 45, is an industrial designer and longtime city cyclist who transformed her obsession with pedaling into her occupation. The founder and CEO of Harlem company Po Campo now designs bike bags, combining both passions. “I spend my days working on bringing cool bags to market that are designed specifically to make biking a better and more seamless part of your life,” she said.

“The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber was an inspirational read, she recalls. “He outlines the ideal trio for a small business: the entrepreneur (sets a vision); the manager (creates the systems to execute the vision); and the technician (the person devoted to making the best product).”

Maria Boustead.
Maria Boustead transformed her obsession with biking into her occupation.
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Boustead’s top tip? “Surround yourself with people who share your interest but also complement your skills. The shared passion will be the company’s anchor — what keeps things on track when times get tough. A mix of skills will help you divide and conquer,” she said.

Still, being a small biz owner isn’t without its hardships. “It doesn’t always feel like you’re living the dream. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and stressful,” she continued. “But at the end of the day, it is very fulfilling to have a job that you created that is built around the things you really care about.”

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