In Life & Building a Company: It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

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.

April 2010

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.

8 replies
  1. Michelle Hollomon
    Michelle Hollomon says:

    Totally love that you are doing something that you have dreamed of doing. You’re an inspiration and thanks for sharing yoru story. I found some of the same kind of joy the other day when I looked at my office, and down at my smart looking shoes and thought to myself, “I’ve come a long way baby!” Thankfulness is directly affects happiness. Thanks for your post that reminded me of that.

    Reply
    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      Thanks Michelle. I’m glad you took the time to read this. It’s so
      interesting to me to sit back and look at what has been accomplished
      this last year because I’m horrible at celebrating the wins. It’s great that you’ve been able to reflect back on your
      accomplishments as well.

      Reply
    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      Thanks Michelle. I’m glad you took the time to read this. It’s so
      interesting to me to sit back and look at what has been accomplished
      this last year because I’m horrible at celebrating the wins. It’s great that you’ve been able to reflect back on your
      accomplishments as well.

      Reply
  2. Kristin Eide
    Kristin Eide says:

    Thanks for sharing Peter! I’ve enjoyed learning from your experiences with your MIT program. Grad school is something that I will be considering some day and it’s inspiring to know that it’s possible to do so without putting life on hold. If you can run a business, raise 3 kids, and still make time for skiing each weekend- then I have no excuses! One year from now we will need to shut down thinkspace for a day so the team can watch you graduate in Boston!

    Reply
    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      I’m glad to share this with you since you “missed” the story the first time around. The timing for when things happen is where I need to be more patient on. It is so easy to rush for results and knock things off the list that it kills the joy out of it… but then when you do go after something and you’re persistent and don’t give up and suddenly it happens that’s where you get to stand in the awe of the moment. Those feelings don’t seem to happen too often. It’s like your wedding day, the birth of your first child, or knocking something big off the bucket list.

      Reply
    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      I’m glad to share this with you since you “missed” the story the first time around. The timing for when things happen is where I need to be more patient on. It is so easy to rush for results and knock things off the list that it kills the joy out of it… but then when you do go after something and you’re persistent and don’t give up and suddenly it happens that’s where you get to stand in the awe of the moment. Those feelings don’t seem to happen too often. It’s like your wedding day, the birth of your first child, or knocking something big off the bucket list.

      Reply
  3. Mike Jensen
    Mike Jensen says:

    Great Post Peter.  Very cool to hear your journey, and as you wrapped up, how it has unfolded.  I am a big beliver that everythng happens for a reason…you might not know it at the time, but in the end it all becomes clear.  I’m excited to see how it continues to unfold, and what comes next.

    Reply
  4. Peter Chee
    Peter Chee says:

    Thanks Mike, I always appreciate your comments and insight. I’ve got a bunch cooking right now. Hope to share that with you after I get back from Boston.

    Reply

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