In this series, TalentEgg will be exploring the lives of young professionals who have gone off the beaten career path to find success. From artists to entrepreneurs, their stories illustrate the importance of pursuing your passion.
Komal Minhas knew very early on that she was destined to work in media. But it wasn’t until her third year at Carleton University that she figured out her true calling.
“When I got my hands on my first camera, I knew I was meant to be in video and film production,” says Komal.
So in January of 2010, she bought herself a camera kit and took it with her on a trip to Palestine’s West Bank. She wanted to document the stories of the young people she was meeting, and learn what it was like to grow up and live in a conflict zone.
“That was really my first foray into short documentaries, and it has taken off ever since,” says Komal.
After graduating in 2012, she held a few positions in the social innovation sector but quickly realized that she wasn’t happy. She felt under challenged and underemployed – “I knew I could sink my teeth into something meaningful and important,” says Komal, but the role she was in wasn’t right for her.
And then she got fired.
It was a devastating blow for Komal. But rather than dwell on the major twist life threw her way, she embraced it wholeheartedly. In fact, the day she was fired was the same day she started her own production company, KoMedia.
With only a handful of clients at the outset, she admits that the first few months were tough. There were the external challenges, like securing contracts and figuring out her next steps, but also internal struggles. She wrestled with insecurity and self-doubt, and questions like “Am I good enough?” and “Did I make the right decision?” haunted her daily. Fortunately, she managed to work through those moments of chaos with what she feels is one of her greatest assets: resilience.
“Challenge is what makes our lives richer,” says Komal. “The hardest parts are often the most important parts, and we just got to work our way through them.”
Most recently, Komal has joined forces with filmmaker Erin Bagwell to produce Dream, Girl – a feature-length film sharing the inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs.
In a little over a year, Komal and the Dream, Girl team have racked up an impressive list of accomplishments. For instance, they will be making history as the first female-produced film to premiere at the White House later this month.
However, Komal was hit with yet another curveball when she was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer in March. In light of her diagnosis, a big focus for her now is ensuring she has the right people around to support her.
“The success factor for me right now is being able to show up every day and do the work,” says Komal.
And in true Komal fashion, she is not letting anything get in the way of her dreams, not even cancer. After the Dream, Girl world premiere in June, Komal has her sights set on some new goals, like finalizing the film’s distribution strategy (they have already received 250 requests for screenings in 20 different countries!) and further down the road, writing a book with Erin based on their experiences.
While it might seem like a cliche, in Komal’s case, her career truly has been a rollercoaster. She’s experienced more in the 4 years since she graduated than many do in triple that timespan. However, in many ways, this is also just the beginning for the young entrepreneur.
“Life is going to throw you curveballs,” says Komal. “It’s going to give you the greatest happiness and bring you the darkest sorrow that you can imagine, but trust that whatever is in front of you, you can manage, you will survive, and you can overcome.”
Komal’s career advice
- Don’t hoard your work. If you have a project that you’ve completed, don’t be scared to put it out there. Share it with friends, family, on social media, a personal website, wherever! As Komal says, “Unleash yourself on the world.”
- Understand that you are valuable. People pursuing creative career paths tend to sell themselves short, especially in comparison to more traditionally bankable professions. Don’t underestimate your work – not just the monetary value, but also the impact it can have on the world.
- Make a dream board. “We have a dream board in our office, and we’ve been checking things off of it, like the White House,” says Komal. “You just never know what can happen if you have the audacity to dream.”