What if I can’t get there right now?

Take time to find out what you want.  Make time for the things you love.

What happens now will not determine the rest of your life.

Those were the three pieces of advice I gave during my presentation to a group of undergrads last week.  And then I opened it up to Q&A.

“What if I kinda know what I want to do, but I don’t think I can get there right after I graduate?”

Excellent question.  I did a lot of talking about how important it is to figure out what you want, and told a story about how I finally got it.  It’s only natural to think that I am encouraging folks to go out and get their dream life.  I am.

It’s risky.  It can be scary.  And for an undergrad who is still building up his savings, resume, network, and life experience, it can be difficult to get to exactly where you want.  In an economy like this, it may mean just taking “a” job.  The important thing to remember is to keep moving forward somehow and guard yourself against getting stuck.

4 Steps to Staying on Course


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Advice for my undergraduate self

About a month ago, I received an invitation to speak in front of a group of undergrads.  I had spoken on panels before, but I had never been asked to give a talk, by myself.

The invitation asked me to talk about my MBA experience and the type of options my MBA allowed me to have after my graduation.  Doing that could take less than ten minutes.  I had up to an hour to fill.

Q&A could fill some of that time, but what could I tell them to ensure that they would have questions to ask?  And be comfortable enough to ask them?  I began to think about what would be the things they may not think to ask.  What were the things I would not have known to ask, when I was their age?

It occured to me that many of the students in my audience would be freshmen and sophomores, and it’s been a full ten years since I was in their shoes.  I crafted my talk around what would have been helpful for me to hear ten years ago, as a freshman in college.

Here is a recorded, condensed version of the presentation I gave at UC Berkeley on Monday, March 14th, 2011.

For Winnie

Sometime back in 2007, I was out on the balcony of Cheesecake Factory atop the Macy’s Union Square, eating an early dinner.  Sitting across from me was my mentee Winnie, who was a junior at UC Berkeley at the time, and a friend she had brought along.  Winnie had just landed a summer internship at a large cosmetics company.  I was giving her advice on how to structure succinct yet effective communications, something I had learned during my first job out of undergrad.

“Wow, that’s really helpful.  You should totally write a book on this stuff or something,” her friend said.

It’s now February 2011.  Winnie is still my mentee, but now also a good friend.  In the past four years, I feel like I’ve shared a lot of lessons I had picked up along the way with Winnie, and with many others younger than me.  It’s finally gotten to the point where I repeatedly find myself having the same conversation and providing advice on the same topics, so I guess it is time to write these things down somewhere.

I didn’t come up with any of this stuff on my own; much of what I’ll be writing here I learned from others who were kind enough to share their thoughts and wisdom with me.  This is simply a compilation of advice and guidance I have found useful in my life.  I hope some pieces of it can be helpful to you, too.

Here goes.  For Winnie.  And for you.