Still alive

Shameless plug for help:
1) If you know of any organizations that are looking to buy t-shirts or do fundraising through t-shirt sales, let me know!
2) If you have some kind of connection to someone who I could interview about entrepreneurship, VFA, or their work if it vaguely pertains to either, I would love to hear from you.

I have to blog for VFA via tumblr. Which is why part of why I haven’t been on here. But I might just re-post my tumblr posts here since I have a surprising number of friends on here and not on tumblr.

Places to improve? Find a balance between being patient with people and their ideas along with being assertive about my own ideas.

Time is the most precious commodity. And in the last 12/13 days, we have definitely gotten more than we could have expected. It would be impossible to describe fully and adequately what we have done in the time between posts, so I’m not going to try. It would take far too long. I will make a promise to myself (and attempt to keep it) that I will blog every night. Not because I think it is necessary to record things. But because it can be a way to force myself to take the much needed time to myself, despite my desire to get to spend as much time with my 39 peers as possible. That being said, I think Max put it best during his ignite presentation about the values of journals: “When faced with the choice of whether to live your life or just write about it, always choose the former.” In case you didn’t know, I definitely prefer living life, and have very little patience when it comes to writing about it.

Update to the website challenge: Fantastic trainings and had the chance to sit down with Gary Chou of Union Square Ventures!!!! Every team exceeded the staff’s expectations, but my team, (Team Invasive Species), came in dead last. The silver lining? We scored the second highest of all 8 teams from the peer review, but did not do well with regards to taking into account the mindset of the rest of our audience. Lesson learned (one of many actually). All of which (hopefully) will be implemented in our next challenge together, a t-shirt marketing competition using teespring.com (great website and VFA partner company!) running until July 12th. So if you have ideas or know of organizations that need to sell t-shirts to fund-raise, let me know.

After that somewhat bitter medicine, we delved into our first full training sequence with Fred Dust, Simon Heather, and Hailey Brewer of IDEO. The training was a pseudo-challenge because we had to design our own product after observing the surrounding community in Providence. The most difficult thing about the design stage of the project was coming up with the problem to address in the first place. In the world of academia, you know what your project is and roughly what it should be about. In the real world, there is a decent chance that you have no idea what your project is or what on earth it should be about. That being said, IDEO’s training was amazing. I’m not sure there has been a time where I have learned so much in a period of two days.

Started off this week by having Chris Ryan come in and give us Business School in a box (or in two days). Or, more accurately, whatever that could be fit in to two days, which was a lot. Excel, financial modeling and valuations, pivot tables, etc. But the most impactful part of the two days was when I spent close to 15 minutes after the second day of training hearing Chris talk about how he went from being a physics major in Harvard to a teacher for Manhattan GMAT (with stops in TFA, business school, McKinsey, and independent film producing in between). And he apologized for his rambly answer at the end, at which point I said the thought process was what I needed to hear. (The TL;DR version is that he just went with his gut and found out what he enjoyed when he was doing it and what he missed when he wasn’t doing it).

Also had a fireside chat with David Tisch on Tuesday. So cool to pick his brain and hear his thoughts. He was refreshingly honest and irreverent (a combo character trait that I am becoming increasingly fond of). Some of the best take-away messages he had were:

  • You should always be the one to know your company the best (if you are the founder)
  • 70% of MBAs are useless in the start-up world. The other 30% are also useless, but they know that and stop talking about their MBAs.
  • Investors suck. They get it wrong plenty of times, too, but are still very much needed.
  • Find people that you can be open and honest with. But never bring doubt into the office.
  • Believe in your gut.

There was a lot more, but this post is already approaching monstrous proportions, and I haven’t even gotten to the self reflective bit yet.

I haven’t hung out with Team Invasive Species this week much because we have been working with other groups. Worked with Team By the Closet to do business school in a box, and am now with team (we don’t have a name yet) working on challenge 3, building a business plan in 50 hours. No big deal, right? Got off to a rocky start, but we’ve ended in a really good place. We’ll see how things go Friday.

Finally, things I’m thinking about:

1) That David Tisch quote about MBA’s could easily apply to our class of Fellows. We have to make sure that we aren’t part of that 70%.

2) Being here is an incredibly paradoxical feeling. We are learning so much and being taught by incredible people who are leaders in their fields, and they are telling us that we are going to go on to do great things. We’ve got a lot to do to meet those goals, since every day makes it painfully obvious how much we don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, we learn new things every day. But we also learn that the amount of new things we have learned is dwarfed by the amount of things there are left for us to learn.

3) Speaking of learning, I’m struggling figuring out where to put my focus. Here. Continuing my thesis work. Continuing to be a well informed citizen. I don’t think that the three can all be done well. Got to figure out that balance soon.

4) My scientific background is a boon and a hindrance. I have to keep repeating to myself to not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

5) My fellow Fellows rock my socks.

Until tomorrow (hopefully).

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