18 Pieces of Advice to first-year MBAs, from two Seattle Entrepreneurs

Richard Tait!   Photo: Boomboombrands.com
Richard Tait!   Photo: Boomboombrands.com

  Last Friday, the UW Full Time MBA students went to do a full-on career management day at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA.  We did a ton of activities, including a Q&A panel with recruiters in various industries, a ‘speed career date’ session with alumni and recruiters, and so on.  But the highlight for me was the keynote speech by Chris Howard (founder of Fuel Capital) and Richard Tait (inventor of Cranium, founder of Golazo, and tons of other companies!).  I was floored.

  Because memories are fleeting, I’m writing this as a reminder to myself and my fellow MBA students so we don’t forget this advice!

  1. You’re gonna hear “no” over and over again.  Remember: it’s not about how many times you get knocked down – it’s how many times you get back up.
  2. Never blow out someone else’s candle.
  3. What do you want written on your tombstone?  Let those words guide your decisions and chart your path.
  4. Grades don’t matter.  There are 3 legs to the MBA experience, and networking is the most important.  While everyone else is playing fantasy football, you should be having informational interviews.  When you request someone’s time, be super prepared, have a super specific request.
  5. When the door opens and the opportunity arises, hit it with every fiber of your being.
  6. A good mentoring relationship should feel like osmosis…there’s an ebb and flow to the relationship, an exchange that goes both ways.  
  7. On informational interviews:  Show up early, and do your research.  Have at least 10 awesome questions ready to go, and follow up with a handwritten note.  Keep them informal.
  8. Make a list of the 10 people you want to meet in the MBA program.  Have a tight filter/criteria for why you want to meet them.
  9. It’s not about grades or the classes you have to take.
  10. Go where the action is.   
  11. You will make sacrifices to achieve your dream.
  12. Build a ‘Board of Advisors’ (about five people) for yourself that help you open closed doors and make big decisions.  Each person should have different backgrounds and specialties, but they should have some common values.  Check in with them at least quarterly.
  13. Be present.  Put the phones down.  These moments are the most impactful.  You owe it to yourself and your team to give 100%.
  14. Build a business plan for your life.  Check with your Board of Advisors.  Constantly re-evaluate your goals and values.
  15. Be open to “yes.”  You’re going to have to manage your time and say no to some opportunities to protect your time, but you never know what might happen if you say “yes.”  It might turn into something amazing.
  16. You’re going to be thrown a lot of opportunities.  Take risks, try things you’re uncomfortable with…whether it’s classes, clubs, activities, etc.  What do you have to lose?
  17. If you’re new to the region and don’t have a network – get on LinkedIn!  Networking takes a lot of work and you gotta hustle.  Seattle is a small town – everybody knows everybody.  Connect with all your classmates.  
  18. After an informational interview, ask if there are two more people to meet.  See if they can help with the introduction, and include a form letter to make it easy for them.

  And finally, for further reading, Richard recommended that we read “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel, one of the founders of Paypal.  The book basically includes notes from teaching the entrepreneurship class at Stanford.  

Image credit: www.boomboombrands.com

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s