Friday, April 08, 2016

My Last Lecture


I have never felt entrepreneurial. The only reason I took this class is because it’s a requirement. My ideas have changed in fourteen weeks. Even though I may not have ideas for companies, I have learned that I have an entrepreneurial mindset and view of business. Whether or not you start your own company, having that mindset is crucial to doing business in today’s ever changing world.

Here are some key principles I have learned in this course.


Jeff Sandefer, in talking about living life as an entrepreneurial hero, teaches the concept of choosing your fellow travelers well

I read somewhere that you are the aggregate of the five people you spend the most time with. I had to stop and think - am I spending time with people who lift me, make me better, share my goals and morals? Sandefer said that No matter how talented the person is, life is too short to put up with jerks. And life is too long to associate with liars or cheats or gossips.”

We are like chameleons; we take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us.
                                                                                                   --John Locke

Lesson Learned: Choose carefully those with whom you associate, because you will likely become as they are.


Stepping Stones:

As Steven Covey teaches, you must start with the end in mind. How can you get where you are going, if you don’t know what the ultimate destination is? You need to determine what it is that you really want and what will remain important to you throughout your life. Create a bucket list. Make goals. Write down your dreams. Make them real. These goals become your stepping stones to your ultimate destination.

The ultimate horror is not death. The ultimate horror is to wake up at age fifty-five or sixty and realize that you have wasted your life; either that time has slipped past while your dreams waited, or that you never had any dreams at all.
-          Jeff Sandefer

Lesson Learned: Decide what your ultimate destination is and determine the stepping stones that will get you there.


What is Irrelevant:

Magdalena Yesil grew up in Turkey in the 1960’s and went on to become a respected product design engineer, businesswoman, entrepreneur, and angel investor in Silicon Valley during the 1980’s and 90’s. As a young girl she somehow developed a deep abiding belief that gender was irrelevant to accomplishment. This had a huge impact on me. I feel that you can change the word “gender” to anything that fits your situation.

 “_________ is irrelevant to accomplishment.”

I am working toward my Bachelor degree in my late 40’s. Age is irrelevant to accomplishment. I can do this even if I will be 50 when I graduate. 

What is it you think is holding you back? Determine that it is irrelevant to that accomplishment and go do it!

Lesson Learned: “_________ is irrelevant to accomplishment!”


How Will You Measure Your Life:

Professor Clayton M. Christensen’s HBR article “How Will You Measure Your Life?” made a huge impression on me. At the end of his course he asks his students to answer these three questions:

·         How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
·         How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and family become and enduring source of happiness?
·         How can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

He isn’t flippant in asking question #3. Two of his Rhodes Scholar classmates spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron was his classmate at HBS. Christensen said “these were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.” 

What do we learn about going off in the wrong direction? “Allocation choices can make your life turn out to be very different from what you intended.” If we don’t spend our time doing what we want to become, we will become what we spend our time doing.

Regarding question one Christensen says: “Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people. I want students to leave my classroom knowing that.”

Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team.
-          Clayton Christensen

Speaking to question 3 he states: “justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of ‘just this once.’” He gives an example of his college basketball days when his resolve to never play on Sunday was tested. He was pressured by coaches and players alike. He remained strong and didn’t play. After that experience he learned it was one of the most important decisions of his life. Why?

My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed. The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time.
-- Clayton Christensen
Lessons Learned: Build up others to receive truly deep rewards and spend time doing what you want to become.


Ethical Guardrails:

While you are creating your goals, dreams, and visions, decide on your ethical guardrails. Think of these as the bumper guards children use in bowling alleys. These are things that you will either always do or will never do. Decide now so that when situations come up, similar to Christensen’s “never play on Sunday” rule, the decision will already be made. 

Ethical guardrails will help keep you from going off course and making decisions that go against who and what you want to become.

Lesson Learned: Ethical guardrails can help keep you safe.



Resources
How Will You Measure Your Life, Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Review



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