Ask Me Anything – First Installment

During the summer program, we allowed students to anonymously submit questions to me, that I then answered during a classroom discussion facilitated by one of my interns.  Below are my answers to the first few questions, the latter half of which will be posted soon.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Before business school, I had a panicked moment where I thought I needed to get some business or international experience to be able to have anything to contribute when I got to school.  I didn’t know anyone who had been to business school before, and when reading books on how to write a good application essay, everyone seemed to have phenomenal business experience or have overcome great odds to be where they are.  After being accepted to business school, I sold most everything I owned including my car, motorcycle, and most of my belongings, and worked a volunteer consulting job in South Africa for the summer before school.  Once getting to school, I realized my previous experience was more than enough to feel like a valued contributor to the community, though I have no regrets about my decision, since that summer was a blast!

Do you like Harvard or MIT more?

This answer may sound like a cop out, but they were each exactly what I needed for that point in my life.
  • MIT: For my undergraduate education, I wanted to learn problem solving and critical thinking skills, and MIT was the best place for this.  The culture inspires independent thinking, initiative, and nerdy authenticity.  It cultivated my passion for innovation and building great things.
  • Harvard:  For business school, I needed to learn to be more action-oriented and be a better leader.  HBS was the ideal environment – classroom structure, course offerings, and classmates – to help me become both more decisive and collaborative.

I’m really happy with both schools, and don’t think either would have been what I was looking for at the reverse time in my life.

What is your biggest regret?

Many of you know I originally founded Launch with a close friend from business school and that the partnership ultimately didn’t work out.  The difficulties of starting a company with a close friend usually fall into one of two categories:

  • Too similar – People tend to be friends with people who are similar to them in values, mindset, and even skills.  This can cause difficulties in starting a company since it means that often there is not enough diversity of perspectives to ensure productive decision making.
  • No feedback – Friends often have a hard time giving honest and direct feedback, since they are concerned about the damage that it can cause to the relationship outside of the workplace.

Our difficulty was the latter of these two.  It took over eight months of working together to start becoming honest about some frustrations we had about our working dynamic, and by then it was too late.  The damage had built up and made it nearly impossible to resolve.  When we started the company, we said our friendship above all else, and I still wanted that to be true.  I wanted to make it work, though she felt the damage was irresolvable.  We parted ways and I kept Launch.

So my biggest regret?  I’m not sure if it would be starting the company with such a close friend, or not talking about things with her earlier, but either way, I wish I had my friend back.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

More patience.  I have good resiliency for big things and can spring into action to resolve them, but would love to be able to handle the little things with more patience and grace.

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