August 31, 2011
Humble Pie: Part 7 of the Food Pyramid


Humble pie.  Tastewise, it may be on the same level as Popeye’s spinach and brussels sprouts.  But an extra helping or two might just be what the doctor ordered.

It’s a fine tightrope to walk between possessing complete self-confidence and complete conceitedness.  But possessing humility is a rare asset. 

By tossing the gem of humility in your toolbox, you’ll find that you’re learning, not to mention hearing, much more than before.  Throughout my summer at the Kauffman Foundation, I was continually both humbled by and struck by the humility of those that surrounded me.  Whether in a contained work environment or between the streets of South University and State, it’s all too easy to trip up on your tightrope of confidence + conceitedness.  

As a very wise Munro Richardson of the Kauffman Foundation has once guided me:

Be willing to say “I don’t know.”  Don’t worry about perceptions.  There is little admiration for those with an answer for everything—instead, try practicing listening.  You might come across a golden nugget you wouldn’t have had you only been practicing answering.  

In classes, tests, and exams, we’re consistently punished for saying “I don’t know.”  Yet avoiding such an admission is avoiding a learning opportunity.  We’re taught that the Hermione Grangers of the world are the ones to emulate, yet why is that she plays a supporting role in many of her adventures?

From the words of Danny O’Neill of the Roasterie Coffee:

Put on your sales hat and ask, “What can I do for you?”  Sellers and consultants are most often pegged as ‘good with people.’  They’re willing to step back, eliminating the “I,” and reconsider whose agenda is on the table.  Expect to give and take.  Too often, we are so wrapped up in our own goals that the true reciprocated value of a potential relationship is lost in the glories of “networking,” of overeagerly selling our personal wants.

And finally, with the help of Munro:

Pick your fights and pick your buttons wisely. In class discussions, team meetings, weekly updates, and more, that knee-jerk reaction to speak out against a differing opinion or idea may spill over in negativity or overconfidence.  Put in your own cost benefit analysis—is it worth it to pick this fight?  Rather than insisting on your way or the highway, will it pay off to play devil’s advocate instead—rooting for the underdog?  Will it pay off to compromise?  Put yourself in another’s shoes.  What’s the root cause of this opinion?

Jumping at every opening to argue your way might feel like a win, but you may load up on a large dose of backfiring.  By lending yourself to such situations, you’ve automatically labeled yourself as the overbearing antagonist.  Instead of being a problem pointer, try being a problem solver.  Sure, a dose of compromise doesn’t seem to serve as the tastiest complement to humble pie, but perhaps it will pave the way to a stronger relationship.  A new relationship is like a new hire—you need to be willing to provide guidance and commitment to make it work.

There’s no right or wrong way to go about snagging your very own slice of humble pie—and keep in mind, just like with any of Grannie’s famous pies, humble pie is simply pie; a dessert, not a substantial meal.  A small amount goes a long, long way, whether you’re headed to class, to an interview, or to a meeting and more.

9:37am  |   URL:
Filed under: kauffman thoughts 
May 31, 2011
18 Candles + a Dose of Disrupt


I have been eighteen years old for just over ten days, and I feel ten times more enlightened, and more humbled already.  

In ten days, I’ve left my hometown of Seattle for my first trip to the Big Apple, attending TechCrunch Disrupt.  Day twelve finds me in Kansas City, Missouri, for my second day as an intern at the Kauffman Foundation.

Over the course of countless panels, fireside chats, and meeting entrepreneurs across the globe, Disrupt served a great launchpad in identifying the next big trends in tech, in addition to opening up new questions and thoughts to ponder. 

We are on the brink of a “societal revolution,” as Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures puts it.  As founders, we are revolutionizing the way people approach a problem.  As leaders, we are revolutionizing how people think and behave.  As students, we are revolutionizing the way our peers + our following generations view the world.  As MPowered members, we are revolutionizing the way our campus evolves, empowering them to embrace entrepreneurship + entrepreneurial thinking as a way of life.

Such a revolution requires noise.  It requires interaction among many parties, and it requires collaboration and compromise as well.  It requires the promise of achieving a remarkable end result.  

Such a revolution requires certain key players.  It requires founders, leaders, and strong team members.  Are good founders always good leaders?  Are good leaders always good entrepreneurs?

These are questions I continue to search answers for as summer @ Kauffman progresses.  My biggest question lies here—what are the traits that produce a great entrepreneur?  While many have tackled this question, from Mark Suster to Thomas Zurbuchen and more, perhaps we can also examine the behaviors that lead us to become entrepreneurs.  Is it the competitive streak from playing sports throughout those teenage years?  Is it the persistence of learning an instrument as a child?  Perhaps a better understanding of where this entrepreneurial mindset stems from the is the first step to igniting an even more powerful societal revolution.

What are your thoughts?  Post to follow soon.

—And parents: instead of yet another bundle of gift cards, jewelry, or gadgets, considering purchasing your child a ticket to TechCrunch Disrupt for their next birthday.  You won’t regret it.

Thanks to the Kauffman Foundation for the great opportunity + ongoing summer of learning!

2:52am  |   URL:
Filed under: kauffman thoughts 
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