Speaking at Brown

I am at Brown University this morning, speaking at a class on entrepreneurship, which Danny Warshay teaches. I’m grateful for the opportunity. 

I’ve arrived early and am parked at a coffee shop at a bookstore. Why not blog?

I’ve never been to the campus. An ex-girlfriend went here (we met in high school, things didn’t work out, she wanted to get back together, I didn’t, cue the drama). One of the founders of StreamBase, a Stonebraker company, was head of the CompSci department. I’ve always wanted to come here for a visit.

And, here I am.

I’m in my 40s now, but as I sit here amidst a sea of undergraduates with their laptops and coffees, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was doing what they’re doing, but in New Haven. As a close friend says, “the days are long, but the years are short.”

I feel I have a lot to say to the students today. I will probably steer the discussion to one of my thoughts on career management. I suspect many of the students are seniors and anticipating life after college. I will tell them what I wished I knew when I was a college senior. 

I will encourage them to Ignore the Noise. Focus less on what they think they should do, and focus honestly on what they want to do. Honestly, it is one of the more important messages I can give, which is to help young adults find their mission in life. A VC has social capital. Some people want to listen to you just because you’re in VC. So, I have a platform and want to use it wisely.

Yes, I’m feeling both excited and nostalgic. I’m cool with that.

2 thoughts on “Speaking at Brown

  1. Hi Jo,

    Inspiring stuff. I was in that class you spoke at last semester – and the advice is true through and through. What would you say to a student who gets sucked into the banking / consulting euphoria and sees no way out? Get out and cut all losses? Stick it out until and get the branded on the resume? Other…?


    1. Thank you! Tough call. But my overall advice is to keep low your burn rate. That’s hard to do in a place like NYC though, having lived there twice.

      But, do your best to payoff any student loans and avoid a big mortgage. Sadly, I know people who must work in certain jobs in order to fund their bills. As I’ve written before, research shows that material possessions minimally create happiness.

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