Listening and Lists

It’s only Wednesday and it’s already been an awesome week.

KeithFrankel_1

The university experience has afforded me invaluable access to resources beyond imagination. I strongly believe that most intellectual and emotional growth happens outside the classroom. While the classroom is the information center, everything beyond that is where this network of thoughts is created. It’s the best feeling when everything seems to be in synchrony, despite being independent events. This is what Carl Jung coined as “synchronicity”- an acausal connection of two or more psycho-physic phenomena.

That’s exactly what’s happening.

Here are the three things that I need to know:

  1. What I know
  2. What I don’t know
  3. What I want to know

These themes keep popping up lately, and I’m working on identifying them. So far, knowing who I know and what I want to know has opened a lot of doors.

This is a quick diagram to explain how this all fits in my head, and I’ll explain it as succinctly as I can.

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This starts with the the BC bakery. Jorg Amsler, pastry-extraordinaire, is one of my favorite people ever. He’s been on the Food Network a bunch of times, and I had the fortune of working with him. I admire his ability to immediately make people feel at ease. Really, how can you not love a guy who makes cookies like this:

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I only worked with him at a minimal part-time for a couple short months, but I feel like I’ve known him for a lifetime. He’s funny, jovial, positive, talented, and humble, and the best compliment I’ve ever received was from him.

Since he’s such a strong storyteller with a really interesting life, I reached out to the Honors Program Speaker Series Committee to host Jorg. Jorg, being the lovable nut that he is, carved a watermelon during his talk.

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This year, I’m on the Speaker Series Committee, and each member organizes a Table Talk each semester. In the fall, I invited Fawce, the founder and CEO of Quantopian, through a recent-grad friend who works there. Again, another fantastic talk. In fact, it led to an internship, and I’ve been working there for the past semester.

At Quantopian, there are a bunch of former HubSpot employees, so this article caught my eye. In that article, saw Keith Frankel’s bio, clicked through and did some research. Keith was a producer on MTV and the Head of Creative and Design at HubSpot, among a bunch of other crazy awesome stuff. He’s 27. Also, he has a cool resume. You know you’ve made it when you can use expletives on your resume.

Since I’m on the Committee, potential speaker opportunities are constantly in the back of my mind when reading about anyone Boston-based. So, within a couple minutes of submitting a speaking inquiry, Keith agreed to come. After some email correspondence, we confirmed his speaking engagement on April 13th at 7PM.

Anyone who has had a substantial conversation with me in the past 48 hours has heard me rave about Keith, so I’m writing it down to immortalize these thoughts on the internet forever.

KeithFrankel_2

Keith has a frank(el) speaking style. Pro tip: this style is often the most engaging to the audience. I can probably speak for most of the attendees when I say that we quickly felt a sense of familiarity with him. I’m just guessing, but it probably has to do with his swaggeristic* charisma.

KeithFrankel_3

Here are my main takeaways:

  1. Create opportunity by being present. As a social media fanatic, it hit home when he said, “Every moment you spend looking at Kim Kardashian’s Instagram is a moment you are idly watching someone else succeed.” Also, he referred to this Economist infographic, and my mind was blown.
  2. Scratch your “itch”. This itch comes from a sense of dissatisfaction and a desire to engage in a new activity. If you find yourself counting down the hours until the end of the work day, it’s time to leave and not go back. If you don’t know where to go, what’s the thing that you’re excited to leave work for?
  3. Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you could reduce your skills to a number between 1-10, what would they be? Visualize this: your strongest skills (10’s) are in the center. Around those 10’s are your 9’s, and around those 9’s are your 8’s, and so on, creating concentric circles of skillsets. Strengthening skills entails turning some 3’s into 4’s, and some 8’s into 9’s. This leads to the next point.
  4. Learn from the best. The best way to learn is to learn from the best. This means identifying that person and asking for help. For Keith, this meant learning from his college roommates how to step dance, trying out for the team, becoming captain, and eventually taking the team pro.
  5. Take the flyer. Keith took advantage of all the opportunities he could, and this was critical to gaining exposure to new worlds and more opportunities. We are all where we are because of nepotism, AKA “networking”. Case in point, that one diagram.
  6. For lack of a better word, egotism is critical to success. I’ve noticed that the most successful people I know have a great sense of intellectual confidence. This enables people to remove the barrier of complacency and continue to progress. Without a healthy sense of egotism, you limit yourself and what you are capable of.
  7. The university’s agenda is diametrically opposed to the students’ agenda. The university’s bottom-line is to have us graduate on time and be employed. This could explain why the companies with the most visibility on campus (Big Four, big banks) are the ones that reflect the most practical studies, e.g. Finance and Accounting. Generally, this excludes a large portion of the business school students who aren’t interested in investment banking, consulting, or accounting. As far as soul-searching goes, you’re limited to what you know. You’ll only be able to realize your love of, for example, athletics design consulting if you are exposed to that industry. BC has a lot of room to improve on promoting diverse careers in business, such as in entertainment, food, and fashion.
  8. Make something. This was easily my biggest takeaway. It’s rarely enough to just think. We have to create and do and produce. I definitely need to work on communicating my thoughts through coherent design. After all, the result of my work is my legacy.

Keep an eye out for my next post on my dinner with Marvin Chow, who also has a cool resume.

*Red squiggles all the way. Not a word but should be.

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