Here’s a very personal story that I shared with my thinkspace team about one year ago – April 2010. I was re-reading this story because I’m about to start my second year in the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT and I wanted to reflect back on what kind of impact is this having on me personally and for thinkspace.
I wanted to share with you some big news! I got accepted into the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT (It’s a joint program with the Entrepreneur Organization and MIT). It’s something that I have had on my bucket list for a very long time. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to knock things off my list like climb the Great Wall in China, ride a camel in the desert and touch the Great Pyramids in Egypt, but, this one on my list is more complex and the sacrifice is on a different scale. To put it in perspective, this is my Mt. Everest.
In the last fifteen years, there been four times where I’ve considered going back to school, the first time was when I was working for Paul Allan. The cost benefit of leaving a job that I loved to go back to the UW while working didn’t seem like a good fit. The second time was when I was at a Mavron funded startup, where we burned through $21M in one year and disappeared like a supernova in the dot-com bubble. I had a window where I considered going back to school, but, I got recruited to Disney too quickly for it to happen. The third time was after leaving Disney and starting up the real estate development business I also looked at going back, but, my wife and I just had Max and having a under three year old toddler around and going back didn’t make sense either. There’s always been something.
Then I found out about this program with MIT and EO. For me it’s absolutely the best program and fit for me. It’s a program that basically allows me to keep all of the things that are important to me intact. I’ve been thinking about this for the last three years and this year I finally applied to the program and amazingly somehow I got picked. The reason I say that it’s amazing that I got picked is because I look at how competitive it is to get in. It’s kind of like finding a job in the middle of the worst economic environment that we have known in our lifetime (something each of you can identify with). I can only imagine that the resumes of each applicant probably look the same and everyone that applies are founders of ridiculously impressive companies. So getting into this program is one thing, but being surrounded and given the opportunity to build lasting relationships with the classmates is going to be off the chart.
I was actually in tears when I found out I got in. It’s been a very emotional experience for me because it’s something I thought might go unchecked for the rest of my life. I remember how excited I was when I got into the UW Business School and that was a pretty amazing feeling, but, the thought of starting this journey and what it means to me is unlike anything that I’ve ever felt. It is scary to have something on my list which I really can’t control. It’s not about saving up enough money that I can go buy it. It’s not about working or studying hard and pass a test. It is about someone else looking at my life’s experience and achievement and making a subjective call to grant me the opportunity. That’s scary.
I will only need to be physically in Cambridge, MA for one week each year. So don’t worry, I’m not shutting down thinkspace. The program starts soon and I will be in the graduating class of 2012. I’ll be given the opportunity to have three consecutive years of learning and be among 65 fast-growing entrepreneurs across industries from all around the world. I think there is massive upside for thinkspace because of this experience. What I learn at the Entrepreneurial Masters Program is going to help propel this business to a new height… at least that is the expectation that I am putting on myself. My hope is to further drive this business to levels that we have yet to see.
Letting Life Unfold
I was reading a blog post by Leslie Schwartz about “Letting Life Unfold” and she stated this so perfectly: “Life is an unfolding process. Yes, we make plans, set goals and intentions, and even force things to happen at times. But I’ve discovered the best things that happen in life have a way of surprising us and turning out in ways we never could have planned. These are the times we stand in awe of the present moment, feeling gratitude and appreciation for what has unfolded in our lives.”
This is exactly how I feel.