How being different was key to entrepreneur Andreas Souvaliotis's success
This interview originally aired on May 4, 2019.
Andreas Souvaliotis is an entrepreneur committed to finding new ways to promote public health, address climate change and encourage diversity. These passions are why he founded Carrot Rewards, a wellness app that was shut down in 2019. Souvaliotis has recently written a memoir, titled Misfit.
In the book, he shares how a gay immigrant entrepreneur with autism turned his differences into strengths and found success by being himself.
Growing up different
"I grew up scared of being different and I was extremely different. I was autistic. I was gay. I was an immigrant kid. I kept thinking that all these things that made me different were huge handicaps. I thought I wouldn't amount to anything because I was so different. There were some pretty scary challenges and some pretty dark moments."
Seeing strength in his differences
"What gave me an extra edge, in terms of moving forward, was the fact that I was a little bit quirkier and the fact that I had already been through all kinds of self-doubt. I had all kinds of moments wondering if I will amount to a lot less than everyone else. Somehow, I figured out my way through the darkness and I had figured out a path forward. I finally felt comfortable in my skin and rewarded by the world and by life.
I just feel good about the energy I got as a misfit to be able to deal with life's everyday challenges.- Andreas Souvaliotis
"That probably gave me slightly thicker skin, slightly more bravery and a little more strength to survive the darker moments of life, like losing a mom very young or being diagnosed with cancer or career failures and derailments.
"We all go through different challenges in our life. I don't for a second claim that mine were more severe than others. I just feel good about the energy I got as a misfit to be able to deal with life's everyday challenges."
Sharing his story
"There are so many young people around me, who I see growing up with the same fears I grew up with: the fear of the sticking out, the fear of being different of everyone else. They work so hard to round out those edges and fit into the rest of the world.
'My lesson from my life has been exactly the opposite. Figure out what those edges are and instead of being embarrassed, instead of eliminating the most special parts of your personality, harness them to make you feel more fulfilled and to ultimately fuel your success."
Andreas Souvaliotis's comments have been edited for length and clarity.