“Carve Out Your Own Journey”: LinkedIn Discussion Series with Aasif Mandvi

April 6, 2015


Last week, we invited acclaimed actor, comedian, author, producer and funnyman from The Daily Show Aasif Mandvi for a discussion with LinkedIn Executive Editor Dan Roth. In addition to his take on the future of The Daily Show, Aasif got serious with us how about how he was able to succeed in the ever-competitive entertainment industry and build a strong professional brand. Here are some highlights he shared that might help you in your career:

Don’t compromise: Do the thing you love – “My dad’s dream was to be a doctor and he was never able to go to medical school even though he got the grades, because his father couldn’t afford to send him.” Aasif’s dad became an entrepreneur out of necessity and ended up doing something he wasn’t as good at doing because it wasn’t what he loved. Aasif didn’t want to do that in his life and decided to pursue his own dream of acting no matter what.

Block out the chatter: Just “do your work” – Aasif shared a pivotal “ah ha” moment that he learned on the film set. Used to the normal cushiony Hollywood set filled with tons of prep time and direction, Aasif found himself on a bare bones independent set. When a fellow actor noticed that he was ruffled by the lack of normal prep he was accustomed to, he encouraged Aasif to stop hiding behind the shields of prep work, just live in the moment, and “do your work.” Aasif credits this as some of the strongest advice he received along the way.

What it all boils down to: Battle against the voice of treason – We all have negative voices inside telling us we can’t achieve whatever we’ve set out to do. Aasif refers to this as the voice of treason, “and to do battle against that voice, is in many ways what life is all about.” Aasif believes, while it never fully leaves you, over time the voice of treason will help you become your greater self.

Carve out your own journey – Some of Aasif’s most compelling advice was about finding your unique path to success –“you really need to carve out your own journey and your own path, and that really means coming from your own truth and that might be a different truth than mine, a different journey.” Aasif feels that it’s a tremendous gift to be a creative individual and that he strives – and encourages everyone – to keep creating and doing. When he first joined The Daily Show he told Jon Stewart that his new office space was his first and was an upgrade from the typical actor trailers. Jon’s response stayed with Aasif – he told him he was no longer an actor but a “creative being with influence,” which Aasif now works to incorporate in every step of his journey.

Prepared? Now forget it and just live – “You go in with as much preparedness as you can, and then you have to let it all go.” An acting teacher once told Aasif, “be as prepared as you can be, and then when you walk out on stage, forget all the preparation, and just live.” Whether that be an actual stage, a meeting, a pitch – forget everything you studied in advance, and just live. Going with whatever comes to you in the moment.

For more tips and inspiration from Aasif, check out the full video below. To join the conversation on LinkedIn and your social channels, use the hashtag #InDiscussion.