My first year of Stanford is flying by and I'm already in my last quarter of my first year. Since last September, I've been taking random notes from professors and guests who are at Stanford on the topic of entrepreneurship. As I was reviewing some of these pieces of advice, I realized they might be valuable to share.
“Build a Company You Would Like to Work For” - Graham Weaver
In my first quarter at Stanford, I took a class called Managerial Skills from a GSB alum, Graham Weaver. He was a wonderful professor and said this line in passing during one of our lectures, but it resonated deeply with me. Immediately after the lecture, I jotted down the attributes of the 'ideal company' that I could love to work for: it would be a fun place to work, have good advancement opportunities, do meaningful work that makes a difference, have a great brand with international reach, etc. Then I imagined how I could build that kind of company (remember, this is still without the company idea - just a structure) and it's been incredibly motivating. It's a wonderful exercise to imagine the kind of company you would love to work for, I'd encourage you to take 5 minutes to do it.
“Use What You Have”
I can't remember who gave this advice, but its simplicity is what makes wonderful. What does this mean? For me it means not running away from the unique assets I have as a young professional. These things could range from great network, a strong mentor, access to capital, etc - essentially what are unique assets that you have, that you can leverage as a competitive advantage when starting your company. Make a list of these things, and don't feel bad about benefiting from them when the time comes.
“Be Intentional. You end up where you aim.”
This is also really simple advice, but I think it's great. Every few years I go through an exercise where I take 30 or so minutes to sketch out what my next 1, 3, and 5 year time horizons will look like. I make a list of personal goals that fit within each timeframe. My chart in 2013 had "travel to Australia" in the one year bucket (I did it later that year) and "attend grad school" in the 3 year bucket (at Stanford now). I really believe in being intentional about your goals. Right now, my 3 year bucket includes "start a for-profit startup" - I really want to build something from the ground up during my next year at Stanford, and I'm excited to see where it takes me.