When students think about their post-MBA careers, they can go one of two ways. They can follow tradition and take really great jobs that people take every year. Or they can pursue something less traditional. On one hand, there’s merit to getting a job that provides structure and pays well, especially for some people. On the other hand, there’s also merit to pursuing the entrepreneurial route. Not only is it a great learning experience but it’s always the best way to build skills while working on something you are passionate about. At least that’s what Carter Cast, former CEO of Walmart.com told me this morning.
Just minutes ago, I got done chatting with entrepreneurial guru Carter Cast. Carter came to Kellogg just months ago to help ramp up its entrepreneurial program. Like me, Carter is a Cardinal Wildcat – more specifically, a Stanford and Northwestern (Kellogg) alum. And so I had the chance to tell him more about what we’re working on, and he gave me a few great pieces of advice.
“Understand your purpose” Carter said. Know what your true north is and keep working towards it, even when you have to change the business model a bit. He said this as I talked about how my business model was changing. No longer were we focusing on what we did when we had the idea, but our ideas are really different now.
He also said, “Be true to who you are.” Understand your skills and make sure they compliment where you want to go. He gave a story how he used to want to be an olympic swimmer and basketball player. But he came to find that swimming required training his upper body and basketball his lower body. So they were not complimentary, no matter how much passion he had. And that made success more difficult.
Carter also revealed the impact he wanted to make at Northwestern. That it was not just about getting a “leadership” title and being named Director of Kellogg’s Entrepreneurship Center but instead that he came here to teach people about entrepreneurial leadership. He wanted to help emerging entrepreneurs to go out on the ledge. In fact, the best advice he said, was “Who cares if people don’t believe in your idea? Do it anyways?” He went on to suggest that we should learn from them when they challenge you but forget about them after talking.
Thanks again Carter for the great lessons. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences. And to staying in touch as we launch our website.
Few politicians today are riding the wave that Cory Booker is. He’s doing great things not just in Newark but all over the US, all on a mission for change. His mission includes increasing economic opportunity for people in Newark, improving schools not just in New Jersey but all across the US, and improving the quality of life for children and families.
While there is still quite a bit of work to be done, Newark became a catalyst for change in the United States. And leading that change is Mr. Booker himself. A hungry and capable politician. A man with a big vision. And a pretty big following – 60,000 Facebook fans and 1.12M Twitter Followers just to start.
But don’t take it from me, take it from Cory himself, who says, ”
In 2011 we marked a groundbreaking year in Newark and, despite the global economic decline, we welcomed more businesses, enhanced programs for our residents and significant advancements into our City. While 2012 may present some challenges, we will approach these challenges in the same way we have in the past — through efficient governing and innovative solutions that benefit our residents and our City.”
Tonight (Thursday, March 1st) you can tune in and hear more of what he has to say on corybooker.com. Booker will give his sixth State of the City Address from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Given his recent momentum in the political world, not to mention his selection as Stanford’s 2012 commencement speaker, it should be interesting to hear what his plans are for 2012.
One time every four years, we get an extra day. But it only happens once. Most times we forget that it’s coming, and it usually comes in the middle of the week. The question is, what are we going to do with the extra day this year. How can we use it to change the world for the better.
This year, Leap Year comes on a Wednesday. At Kellogg, that means we don’t actually have classes. This means Kellogg students have a profound opportunity to engage more than usual. Contribute to a cause they are passionate about. Do something different. Try something they cannot do on March 1.
In the law school, it’s just another day of the week. But it doesn’t have to be. Students could make time to make it more. Especially 3Ls who skip more classes than they’d publicly admit anyways.
So today, just once this year, perhaps we should find a way to do something unique. To:
Work on something creative, care about someone else, volunteer, engage more, speak up, stand up for what’s right, contribute to a cause, create something new, and perhaps stop doing what’s typical and become inspired (Yes, I am talking to you JDs and MBAs).
Today, I’ll be working on how to show the world that Education Matters. Anyone with me?
After all, it’s only for a day. And we’re already five hours in.
One of the worst pieces of advise I’ve seen is a recruiter discourage someone that is an expert in one field from pursuing another field. The banker that wants to go into brand management. The artist that wants to be a consultant. The juggler that wants to go into investment banking (yes, I’ve seen this at Kellogg). Or the tech entrepreneur that wants to run for office. In my view, the theory is that people should recruit for careers that are closely aligned with is not always good advice.
On one hand, the advice does make sense. If you have a relevant background, the firms will value you. They’ll appreciate certain skills you have. Understand you might need less training for the job. And have some certainty that you can figure out how to fit in. That can make recruiting easy and in some cases a successful journey for you.
On the other hand, they are also forgetting that a job similar to that is what took you away from work to graduate school. It’s a job that has dozens of people with your “relevant” background and will compete with you; but far fewer who think differently. And far fewer than that who are “daring.” Who dare to go into a brand new profession where the odds of success are much lower but reward might be higher.
Personally, I like the person who takes the latter option. And if he/she is smart, he/she will learn on the job. After all, we all were at a point when we need nothing about our jobs. But we read up, found mentors, practiced solving problems and became better. Now imagine doing that with a set of expert skills from another industry. You would be quite unique.
The result of doing something you’ve always done, is having an very high proficiency.
The result of doing something different, can sometimes be gamechanging.
Today, Jeremy Lin is on top of the world. He’s starting NBA games, television coverage, ESPN magazine, invitations to all the top events in New York City, and more fame and status than ever thought possible. It all adds up to a life that seems perfect. One that hopefully continues for the entire season. One that could end up getting him a very large contract at the end of the NBA season. And perhaps most importantly, one that could end up inspiring millions of people about achieving Wildly Important Goals more than ever before.
The definition of a goal is: (1) the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim and (2) the terminal point in a race. We all have goals we want to achieve. We all have terminal points and results that we want to happen. This article from the New York Times talks about Lin’s goals and how he decided to work to achieve them.
One of my favorite quotes from the article says, ”Jeremy Lin’s rise did not begin, as the world perceived it, with a 25-point explosion at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 4. It began with lonely 9 a.m. workouts in downtown Oakland in the fall of 2010; with shooting drills last summer on a backyard court in Burlingame, Calif.; and with muscle-building sessions at a Menlo Park fitness center.”
Jeremy Lin wanted more than the status quo. He wanted to take advantage of the opportunity when it came. He wanted to work hard when nobody believed in him. Another quote says, “Quite simply, the Jeremy Lin who revived the Knicks, stunned the N.B.A. and charmed the world — the one who is averaging 22.4 points and 8.8 assists as a starter — is not the Jeremy Lin who went undrafted out of Harvard in June 2010. He is not even the same Jeremy Lin who was cut by the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 9.”
In short, Jeremy Lin’s story is one of having a Wildly Important Goal, and then doing everything he could to make it happen. “Beyond the mystique and the mania lies a more basic story — of perseverance, hard work and self-belief.” If you love what you’re doing and work incessantly to achieve it, then prepare to see it come to pass. If you are able to dream of the impossible, it just might happen.
CLICK HERE to read the article in its entirety.
Good question. I don’t remember the last time I bought anything in an elevator. In fact, I don’t think I ever have. After all, not only am I not in the market to buy when I’m going for the ride, but even if I were, I wouldn’t have enough time to make a decision, especially on big ticket items. You only get a few seconds from the time you get on to the time you get off. So if that’s the case, then why do we practice elevator pitches? And specifically, why do people spend so much time on big ticket items?
In business school, we spend a lot of time thinking about our elevator pitches. What to say to the CEO if we see them. How to give a quick pitch to investors. And how to close the deal should we get the chance.
In my view, the purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale. It’s not even to give a description of you or your project/product. Not only will you probably not finish it on the “ride” (or during the time) but the person in the elevator probably won’t have time to hear you.
Instead, I propose that the purpose of an elevator pitch is something more nuanced. That it is to describe what you are working on in a way that is compelling. To convince the person you’re with that they NEED to hear more. That they have to meet you again to hear the rest.
So I’ll ask one more time: What’s the last thing you bought in an elevator?
Now that you understand, maybe you should change your “elevator” pitch.
There’s a new word in the startup world today. That word is catching fire like burning sticks in a hot field. A it’s being thrown around more than any other word I’ve heard all year. And not just in business school but also more broadly now. In fact I even heard an undergrad senior use it today. Drum roll please … that word is. That word is Pivot.
So what does the word, Pivot, mean in the startup world? In short, it means to change direction. More specifically, to make a structured course correction with a business idea, and then to test a new hypothesis or new business model to see if it works better.
You usually pivot because you’re current idea isn’t working. Or because you got bad customer feedback. Or because someone else beat you to the punch with the old idea.
When this happens entrepreneurs ask, are we going the right direction? Is there still a market? Should we continue and persist with our old idea? Or do we need to change? And if they change (in a semi-organized way), then that is a pivot.
In my NUvention class, the word pivot comes up in every single class. Multiple times. Annoyingly so actually. But the idea in class is that we are continuously learning. And that the more we learn about the industry and our product, the more we can refine our idea and make it more compelling and that could take us in a new direction.
My NUvention project team decided to take a pretty large pivot when we changed products early in the class. It was a lot of work up front because we had to analyze a new market, find new customers, and talk to a lot more people. But things are going a lot faster now.
But if you think that sounds like a lot of work, it may have even been worse if we didn’t change (or dare I say, Pivot). If there’s one things I’ve learned, is that’s there’s no worse thing you can do than to make the ill-informed decision to continue onwards, when the goal at hand cannot be attained.
For the current company/project I’m working on, we’re doing a small pivot. And we think it’s far more compelling. Stay tuned to see if I am right or not.
What about you? Proceed or Pivot. Which one do you choose?
Just last week, the dishwasher stopped working as well as it used to. Now we have to clean dishes a lot better before putting them in. And a few weeks ago, the same thing happened to the dryer. Sometimes we have to put clothes in two times before they dry now. And it’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen in the building. I don’t know why it’s happening exactly, maybe it is because they are old. But either way, one thing is for sure. I bet the janitor who fixed them has no idea.
Like I said, I bet the janitor who put these appliances in has no idea what happened. My guess is that despite the complaints he will continue to confidently take the same steps in every apartment here. And that makes sense right? After all he has no idea that they stopped working. We didn’t tell him. And he didn’t ask.
I propose that this same phenomenon happens in business school. MBAs do homework assignments but often don’t know how they did after they finish. Professors don’t “clearly” tell us and we certainly aren’t in a rush to ask. It happens a lot in group assignments too, as one person from the team often gets the homework back in their mailbox, and the rest of the group forgets to ask what grade the group got. And by forgets, I mean they often don’t care to ask.
It happens all the time in classes with problem sets, especially when those assignments are a small part of your grade. TAs put the graded homework in your mailbox and you never check your grade. It happens with midterms and finals too. Sometimes they sit there for weeks before you pick them up. Often times until the following quarter when things slow down.
And perhaps it makes sense. We’re all busy people. And it feels really good to finish and to get through the hard problems. So why ruin that feeling with the possibility of a poor grade?
Perhaps this is why consultants don’t always follow up after they are done consulting for a client. They get busy with other clients. Then they forget. And in some cases, they probably don’t want bad feedback.
On the other hand, this never happens to lawyers. One difference between lawyers and MBAs, is that law students always check their grades. And lawyers always ask clients how things went and if there is more work to be done.
In business school, people talk a lot about their goals. Goals for classes. Goals for their careers. And goals for life after Kellogg. And it’s often the case that we assume our classmates have the same goals we do. That they’ll end up in similar types of jobs and work in the same types of industries. But sometimes there are people that want to do something different, and do what they love. They find something they are so passionate about that they skip all the MBA opportunities to go after.
There’s no doubt that most of us have some level of drive and passion. After all, we would have never made it this far without it. We would have never made it through all the classes, got through all the interviews, and figured out how to be successful.
But for most of us, we speed up in the face of competition. In law school we ask, “how’d the rest of the class do?” In business school, we ask people how many cases they’ve done. We listen for someone breathing down our necks. And we discover that those breadths scare us to work hard and perform at our best. So we leverage it to do better. And sometimes even rely on it.
On the other hand, relying on that stuff can be exhausting. And more importantly, relying on it means you’ve surrendered the ability to be a leader and an entrepreneur.
I propose that passion to achieve should not come competition but instead from Finding A Way. From moving forward when no one else sees a path–and holding back when the herd isn’t going where you want to go.
The great thing about passion is that it makes you do that.
“The mission is what you exist for, and everything is secondary to the mission. The mission is what will take people up the hill. … The mission has to be driven down through every level of the organization so everybody understands what we are trying to accomplish and is committed to its accomplishment. ” The are the words of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. ”
As Colin Powell said, mission is one of the most important things you can have. It wakes you up at 5am when everyone else is sleeping (this is how I am ever writing this post), it helps you focus intensely on things when focusing seems impossible, and it keeps you optimistic even when everyone else tells you know.
In business school having a mission is critical. Because there are too many distractions and often times too much clutter. And then when you see half your class get swept up in the herd affect it’s hard not to go with them.
The same is true in law school. People all study for the same reason, to get the best grades, to make it to the best firm, to take on that big firm associate title, that half the class doesn’t even like. You see it happen every single year.
And it’s even more true in the startup and nonprofit worlds. When resources are limited. Skeptics are unlimited. And time is running out by the day. And you have to worry about what to do when you run out of funds.
So how do you avoid that? How do you focus on what’s right? How do you stay true to your mission? And how do you focus on it when all your incentives tell you to do something different?
I propose that the best leaders know how to do this and that they are intensely focused on the core mission. The know it. Breathe it. Live it. Because without it, you just might get swept away.
So what is your mission?
If you don’t know yet, then I propose that you do your best to have a better sense before going back to school. Or before trying to start your next big movement.
CLICK HERE for my old post on business plans. In short, missions are better than business plans.
I just realized the other day that I have not seen a fair number of my good friends at Kellogg for a few weeks now. Some of them are abroad for the quarter. Others taking different sets of classes. And some of them are still taking part in the recruiting process. Likewise, I’ve also been really busy working not just on school but also a new website that I’m building. In some ways, I think this is something that happens every winter of the second year. But it’s also something that’s got me thinking a lot about “friends” recently.
This quarter, I’ve been thinking a lot more about friends. Friends from the law school. Friend from Kellogg. And friends from the greater Chicago area. Given this is last year I’ll be a student here at Northwestern, it’s hard not to think a little about the people that I’ve befriended along the way. From those I’ve spent a lot of time with on class. Those I worked with over the summer. Those I worked with to plan a KWEST trip last summer. And those I’ve spent the last 2.5 years with in the JD-MBA program.
And it dawned on me. That a lot of my “good” friends are people just like that. People I share experiences with and work on difficult problems with. And I’ve come to find that it’s not typical to all-of-a-sudden make friends in the hallways; at least not good ones. Instead you have to create friendships through a series of shared experiences. You work with them when the stakes are high. You hear more about their personal stories. And you see who they are at the core.
The problem is that in business school, you do actually make a number of your friends in the hallway, or at least the study room. But time is limited. The quarter system is busy. Recruiting is tough. And the Internet makes us more distracted than ever before.
One of the easiest things to do in business school is make new friends in the hallway. But one of the hardest things to do is keep them when things get really busy.
I’ve been thinking about a number of quotes recently. I’ve even been tweeting them more frequently. Well, one quote that I read this morning is ”We’re hoping to succeed; we’re okay with failure. We just don’t want to land in between” by David Chang. Not only was it interesting but it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about taking risks of all time by Teddy Roosevelt.
Teddy Roosevelt has one of the best quotes of all time. He said, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
Teddy is very serious in that quote, just like David Change was. But were you serious when you agreed. There are a lot of people out there that talk about this, many even say it publicly. But sometimes, not many people are willing to take the risk. And few are willing to put themselves on the line to be wildly successful.
The problem is that this not only ensure that you won’t wait but more importantly it destroys the likelihood of being wildly successful. And in the end, almost guarantees that you will land somewhere in between.
So I propose that Teddy Roosevelt is right. That the greatest risk in life is not taking one. Perhaps wise words to at least one person on this Valentines Day.
Imagine you have a choice. You can have something done fast. Or you can have it perfect. But you don’t get both. YOu only get to pick one. In that case, which one would you choose? What would inform your decision? And would it matter if it were in business or law? And would it matter who you were working with? Well, these are precisely some of the questions I think about on a daily basis.
One thing I’ve learned over the past few months, is that someonetimes you have to make this choice. Sometimes you have to get something done. And so DONE becomes more important to you. But then there are other times you can do something to perfection. That the better the product the better off you are.
Lawyers tend to strive for perfect. They want to write air tight memos. Make arguments with no holes. And give you all the details even when they are not needed.
On the other hand, business people do the exact opposite. They want to get finished and move on. They want to create a MVP (minimum viable product). And they want to take on more activities. That’s what Faebcook believes. In fact, it’s one of Mark Zuckerberg’s main mottos.
So the question is, which one works best?
As for me, I tend to do both depending on the time. At times, I work hard on one thing to make it better than I ever imagined. This is especially true for things a lot of people will see (and judge). But in other cases, I don’t want to spend your time trying to make things perfect. That’s how I feel with my logo today for the new website I am working on. It’s also how I feel on some of the assignments I am working on and interviews (for my website) I am doing. Because perfect would required tradeoffs that might not be worth it.
If I had to choose, I’d pick done.
What about you? What motto do you live by? And what if I said you can’t say both.
… just ended last night with a great reception in the city. I hope you all enjoyed the weekend and also hope to see many of you on the Kellogg campus next fall. To all of those who have been reading along throughout the year (and some for longer) before attending the weekend, congratulations again on being admitted. And to those of you who came up to met to say “hello” during the weekend, thanks for dropping by. It was a pleasure meeting you. Please do send me a note and let me know where you decide to enroll. Best of luck with your decision.
Hello Everyone, just spreading the word about opportunities in Chicago for !L scholarship awards for Hispanic students. Today more than ever, the costs of attending college and graduate school are high. But in my view, education is still well worth the investment. One way you can mitigate those costs is by by applying to scholarships like these. Ones that exists to support you, while you also support a great cause.
Here is the message I received about the award. Good luck to those who apply.
Good morning – The Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois is accepting applications from 1L students for its annual scholarship award. A copy of the application is attached. Please feel free to forward to any Hispanic 1L students/law school organizations at your school who might be interested.
HLSF is also soliciting applications for summer fellowship opportunities with the Cook County State’s Attorneys’ Office, the Cook County Public Defenders’ Office and the Chicago Regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Each recipient will be awarded a $5,000 summer stipend. Hispanic law students of any level may apply. A copy of the fellowship application is attached. Please feel free to forward to any Hispanic students/law school organizations at your school who might be interested.
Applications for the scholarships and fellowships are due back March 30. Recipients will be honored at a reception that will be held on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at the law offices of Winston & Strawn LLP, 35 W. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL.
A fact sheet concerning HLSF is attached for your information. Additional information concerning our sister organization, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, can be found at its website, www.hlai.org
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Hi everyone, just spreading the word for a couple of JD-MBA friends of mine about an opportunity they have at their firm. They are looking for both front-end web developers and web application developers who might be interested in working with them. It sounds like they are flexible as to whether you start full time, part time, remote, on-site, contract/freelance or employee. But the only thing they aren’t flexible on is that you have to be good.
See below for the job descriptions.
Front-End Web Developer
Digital Intent is looking for a full-time front-end web developer. We are a digital product strategy and development team in the West Loop of Chicago working with funded startup teams to build web and mobile applications.
Our developer should have solid skills in HTML5/CSS3/JS-mainly jQuery, and WordPress as a plus. We are a cross functional team so your interest in design and UI/UX are also welcomed.
Salary is competitive. We are flexible as to whether you start full time, part time, remote, on-site, contract/freelance or employee. Please submit your resume, portfolio and code samples (github account is ideal) to kate [at] digintent.com
Web Application Developer
Digital Intent is looking for a full-time web application developer. We are a digital product strategy and development team in the West Loop of Chicago working with funded startup teams to build web and mobile applications.
Our developer should have solid skills in Ruby/PHP/Python and HTML5/CSS3/JS and be familiar with MVC frameworks, version control, and deploying to Linux environments, with core competencies in engineering and application development. Our developers employ multiple languages on any given project and should be comfortable with each. We are a cross-functional team so your interest in mobile app development is also welcome. You will work on a team of junior and senior developers that will provide you the opportunity to both learn and manage.
Salary and title commensurate with experience. Please submit your resume, portfolio and code samples (github account is ideal) to kate [at] digintent.com
One thing we do a lot of in business school is think about business plans. We think about a company’s background and research the sector. We perform financial analyses and evaluate potential outcomes. We speak extensively with customers about our product and spend hours with lawyers thinking about liabilities. We quantify risks, do competitive analyses, and calculate profit using different sets of assumptions. But I can’t help but wonder … how useful are these business plans?
In some ways, business plans can be extremely useful. Sometimes need them to apply for funding. You often need them to clarify your thoughts when things become more complex. And you nearly always need them to remember the most nuanced parts of your business idea.
On the other hand, nobody really requires them. You don’t need them to run a business. VC’s hardly ever ask for them. And customers could care less if you had one.
I propose the idea that mission statements are FAR MORE IMPORTANT than business plans. Missions keep you up late when everyone else is sleeping. Missions keep you focused when you are surrounded by chaos. Missions are what bring game-changing employees on board. And sometimes you can win a customer with a terrible product but with a beautiful mission. Plans don’t do any of those things.
So while you’re staying up all night wondering how to finish parts of your business plan, just remember your mission. In fact, write in your mission first, print it out, put it next to you and then memorize it. It’s the only way you’ll do great work.
This might be the single most used equation for business school satisfaction. Not by everyone obviously. And not necessarily by people ten years after graduation because sometimes their priorities have evolved. But during business school and right after graduation, I propose the idea that a lot of people measure satisfaction by the jobs they get. And then they compare it to what they wanted or expected before business school.
Under the formula, unhappiness means that the difference between the two numbers is quite large. You hope for one job in a competitive industry and don’t get it. In fact, in some cases you don’t even come close. And you end up working in an industry or role where you don’t place nearly as much value on the experience.
On the other hand, happiness thereby must occur when the difference between the numbers is really low . So they aim for a certain job and get it, or at least get something really closely aligned. Whether same industry but different role, or same role but slightly different industry.
But here’s the problem. Theoretically you can adjust the first variable (job you hope for) and aim lower to decrease the risk of the outcome. But the problem with that is that a lot of people wouldn’t be happy. Because smart people don’t just want to be positively surprised, they want really good outcomes and to get really good jobs. Jobs that are not only prestigious but also pay highly. So instead, smart people tend to amplify the first part. A lot. They shoot for the stars and they aim big.
In some ways, business school teaches you not to do that. It teaches you to “hope” for the right things. To segment and target appropriately. And to chase after things that are achievable and that concurrently helps to optimize the school’s recruiting numbers.
On the other hand, eternal optimists would say that business school has it all wrong. They’d propose that you forget targeting appropriately. Target higher. No higher. Go higher than even the highest targeting MBAs in the world. They’d say keep reaching for the stars and figure out how to eventually get there. And to do it despite the risk. Because the greatest riskin life is not taking one.
Eternal optimists then, would have a lot of unhappiness under the formula in business school. That is, unless they hit the jackpot.
So which theory is correct? Which one do you believe in?
What if I told you that you had to only choose one?
Are you passionate about education? Has education changed your life in ways we could even imagine? Or have you seen education change someone else’s life that you know? If so, then I want to hear from you. We’re working on an innovative education project and would love to have your voice heard. We want to hear more about your story and get some of your biggest ideas? So it that’s you, then please contact us with your name and email address via the contact form. You can also leave a comment here on this website. We look forward to hearing from you.
Just a few weeks ago, I was asked to write an article for Kellogg’s newspaper: the Merger. There were a lot of good articles submitted, some about Ski Trip, others describing the Photo contest and others about DAK. But like most editions, I was tapped to write something a little more serious. I was asked to write the inspirational New Years article. So I considered possible topics, pondered New Years resolutions and surveyed the past few months to come up with ideas. And upon reflection, I propose that 2012 will be the year of movements.
See below for my article.
Three years ago, I HAD A DREAM. I was about to submit my application to Northwestern and I had just talked to my friend Leland Cheung about his successful City Council campaign. He told me how he leveraged momentum from the Obama election to build a movement himself. As an aspiring social change agent, I was in awe and wanted to do something similar. I dreamt that I could also start a social movement. In fact, my dream nearly took me away from Northwestern to his program: MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy joint program
Then the following year, I watched an even bigger movement take place when my friend built a social network and then ran for Congress in California. He brought together a great team, raised a lot of money, and created more buzz than anyone thought was possible. And I realized that with the right planning, it was possible to be part of a movement despite being a single person.
Inspired by these movements, last year I pitched an idea to a local foundation to build a social platform to campaign for the importance of education. One pitch turned into a few meetings with volunteers and advisors. It also led us to find a prominent website developer, submit a few applications for funding and seek out a campaign manager. And today we have a full-fledged idea and nervously await as we hope to launch our project in the upcoming weeks.
But for now, more important than my idea is that 2012 is shaping up to be the year of Movements. The year people mobilize around issues more than ever before. The year that we can reach considerably more people in significantly less time. And year that even a single individual can do something that matters.
But don’t take it from me; take it from the Movements taking place all around the world today. The Occupy movements which started as a single blog post before making their way to New York City and then to nearly 100 cities and countries around the world. The It Gets Better Project, which started as a YouTube video by a single blogger, but today that has more than 30,000 uploaded entries, with more than 40 million views. And most recently the SOPA protest, which started as a single petition before dozens of organizations joined it, collected millions of signatures, and eventually got support from companies like Google and Wikipedia.
And how interesting that SOPA comes right after MLK weekend, which celebrates one of the biggest movements of all time. One that started with a dream but ended up changing hearts and making history. And that movement took place without the Internet.
Now more than ever, the world needs us to HAVE A DREAM. A dream about how to make things better and about how to use our skills to make it happen. Fortunately, getting an MBA Kellogg equips us well to do that. The classmates we have access to. The professors that want to help. And our training not just on business principles but also organizing and leading teams. They can all be priceless resources.
So today, as many of us are spending most our time thinking about recruiting I propose that in 2012 that we also think about the movements we want to support. And as we have dreams about landing top marketing and consulting jobs, we should also continue dreaming about our other passions. Whether building the next great social startup. Volunteering in rural communities abroad. Raising awareness around an issue you care about. Taking part in the upcoming Presidential election. Or taking a stand in the education conversation to say that Education Matters. Because in today’s Internet driven society it’s easier than ever before to have your voice be heard.
Now more than ever, the world needs us to create a movement. So while the rest of the world is paying close attention, let’s leverage the rest of our time at Northwestern to start one.
What is your dream for 2012? I know what mine is.