To all the current Kellogg students from the classes of 2012, welcome to campus. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first few weeks back. And to the class of 2013 about to embark on your first year, I hope you are off to a good start so far. In general, I can’t enough about how valuable the MBA experience is. Not only can it be a golden ticket to a new illustrious career, but also an avenue to do some really interesting and high-impact things when you get done. For some, even game-changing things. Given my thoughts on the topic, the Merger (Kellogg Newspaper) recently asked me to write an article, where I talked about just that. It was the only opinion article in the last newspaper.
See below for the article.
Title: Fortune Favors the Bold
Author: Jeremy C. Wilson
We’ve all heard the theory before. That if you want to do something great, you have to have the courage to pursue your biggest passions. Those game-changing ideas that only come to mind in your bravest moments. But also those ideas that fleet faster than the blink of an eye, when fear takes over. Well, Dean Blount and Kellogg recently agreed with this theory when they released Kellogg’s new school new slogan – Think Bravely.
What does it actually mean to think bravely? A number of things come to mind. Thinking more about your passions. Taking bigger risks. Finding new opportunities for change. And thinking about what you can do to change them.
Well, ever since getting an email from the Dean on July 12th this summer, Dean Blount has spent a lot of time trying to explain even better. She’s put out multiple press releases, made changes to the website, and updated most of the marketing materials. And over the last few months, the slogan has really gotten a lot of buzz. And, no, I don’t just mean the alliterative names that people have come up with at the Keg.
During convocation in August, the Dean talked about the need to create leaders with the willingness to “do something different” and “challenge convention,” but that today, society is surrounded by just the opposite. She noted failures by the world’s top companies; scandals from the most well-known CEOs; and ill-judged decision-making in different industries (e.g. BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster).
She also introduced new staff member, Elisabeth Ziegler, who had been named Associate Dean of MBA Programs (e.g. COO of Kellogg). “Betsy” comes to Kellogg after graduating from HBS, spending 13 years with McKinsey, and turning down countless stock options to work at the fastest growing company on the planet. And she did this all for the chance to come work in the education space. A decision many consider to be brave.
The idea is that Kellogg got where it is today, because the school and its people started by thinking differently. That they cared deeply about thinking outside box and figuring out how to get people to work in teams to have more impact. And that new staff members and students should embody that same spirit.
But Kellogg isn’t the only one thinking about it. In a recent talk, Alyssa Rapp, CEO of the internet start-up Bottlenotes, once said the same thing. That “you have to be brave.” That it’s not just about going to a top school and chasing a high-paying job. But it’s about finding new opportunities. Alyssa followed her own advice when she passed on illustrious opportunities at Stanford GSB and spent her summer at a winery in South Africa to start her business. Well, being brave paid off when her company took off and she was named a “Top 30 Under 30” entrepreneur by Inc. Magazine.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg agreed during a recent graduation talk. She noted that one thing she learned working with the Founders of Google and Facebook “was that if you want to make a difference, you have to think big right from day one.” She noted the posters around the walls of her firm. One of them said, “Fortune favors the bold.” The other said, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Today, these ideas also echo in the halls of Kellogg, as first years think about what to get involved in, and second years are thinking about their careers more than ever before. Will we risk it all to be great and pursue the career we’ve always dreamed of? Will we walk away from a top offer in today’s economy to do something brave? And will we start a new company without the stability of venture funding?
As we embark on the new year with almost endless career options in front of us, the million-dollar question is, what are we going to do with them? How will we leverage the business education we receive? Where are there opportunities to use it for change? And will we spend our time thinking about how we can change them?
Personally, I agree with Kellogg that we have to “Think Bravely” about these questions. And I challenge the entire student body (including myself) to not be afraid. But instead, take bigger risks. Go where no one has gone before. And risk it all to do something great.
Welcome back to campus, classes of 2012 and 2013. I look forward to hearing about the brave things you get involved in this year.
In the meantime:
1. * CLICK HERE to see the Think Bravely Video that Kellogg put together.
2. Please let me know if you have any comments or feedback.