I especially enjoy advice from successful entrepreneurs who come back to Darden to talk to us, and I’ve collected a heap of one-liners so far. Somewhat contradictory and amusing key learnings:
• Do what you’re good at/Be good at everything: um, ok… how am I supposed to get good at everything?
• Experiment often/fail quickly: aha! Get good at things by experimenting and failing (quickly).
• Know what you want/be open to opportunities you don’t think you want: does this mean being flexible enough to take experimental opportunities you may not want in order to fail quickly?
• Take venture capital, but not too much venture capital: apparently too much money in the coffers makes one sloppy.
• The best startup CEOs are those who have failed before/don’t hire a newbie CEO to fail on your business: apparently, you want to catch an entrepreneurial venture CEO at that perfect career point of post-failure. Trouble is when everyone wants a failure survivor and no one wants to be the survivable failure….
Most of our visitors are successful and also seem like semi-overconfident, tenacious people who just plain stuck to it. Another way to say it? They have grit. In fact, a study about grit including a scientific “Grit Scale” measurement, says that grit may be “as essential as talent to high accomplishment.” This same study also found that grit wasn’t linked to IQ. So you don’t have to be smart to have grit, and grit makes your likelihood of success much higher? Well, at least I’ve got grit going for me…although I think it’d be very interesting to have class speakers who are in any stage of entrepreneurial failure and hear their advice. It’s probably harder to recruit for that… “Excuse me, are you failing? Wow, great! Would you mind coming to talk about that to a bunch of students who will ask theoretical MBA-type questions? Super, see you Tuesday!”
In other news, I recently worked on a top-secret submission for Darden Follies, our annual hilarious compilation of videos/live-action comedy show at the end of the year. It’ll be hard to top last year’s “Darden Dancing” but we may have a strong contender. (For reference – we’re not the only silly ones out there – lots of b-schools have Follies. See: Columbia Business School’s “MRS”, based on Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and NYU Stern’s “We Didn’t Start The Crisis” based on Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”). Darden’s Iron Chef competition is this week as well, with an awesome secret ingredient: beets! Since I’m now retired as VP Social, I get to actually participate in the competition! Winner gets a $100 gift certificate to local sustainably-sourced restaurant Brookville. I’m also looking forward to a sushi/karaoke party this weekend and Darden Days are here, which means 1st and 2nd-round accepted students are visiting Cville for the weekend. With the mentality that current students are the best way to see what it’s really like here, there are a slate of fun activities for the visiting prospectives. I’m on a student life Q&A panel on Friday and very much looking forward to the annual Darden Days outing: students, partners & prospectives are all taking a lovely get-to-know-you jaunt to King Family Vineyards for dinner. 40 days and counting (gasp!) till graduation….