In many ways, I was always hoping that during my time at the GSB I would magically find out the answer to the question of what I want to do with my life. Truth is that I didn’t. I tried many different things, but the answer never came. At least it never came in one piece – it never “hit” me.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I did see some of my classmates being laser-focused on certain career paths, industries or professions, and then go all in – making the best use of the Stanford network and resources. Some were interested in education for example and optimized their classes and time accordingly. Others knew from the beginning they wanted to build a venture, so they worked tirelessly on start-up ideas and networked with VCs up and down Sand Hill Road. And in many ways I somewhat wish I had the chance to do the same. To be more intentional about my education there.
While the answer never came in one piece, it did come in form of little pieces. Like puzzle pieces that would help me complete a picture that is still a piece "work in progress." In hindsight, the GSB wasn’t a time of finding out what I wanted to do, but more a time of trying out different things and realizing what I did not want to do.
I tried working on a travel start-up and realized it didn’t feel authentic. I took an in-depth class on Private Equity and disliked it. I worked with a professor on building an investment thesis for Iran and realized that my love for Iran isn’t strong enough for me to pursue a career there. I went to work in Venture Capital and while it felt intellectually stimulating, it just didn’t fulfill me. On the other hand, I found myself loving the language classes I was taking. I loved my summer in South East Asia and decided to spend more of my future career in Asia.
So, yes, I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about the things I love and and the things I don’t love.
One thing that school showed me is that when you don’t know where you are headed, you need to test your ideas and then make quick go/no-go decisions. That way, I was able to fend off stupid ideas that in hindsight only seemed interesting in that moment, and I was able to identify passions of mine that shined through over and over again.
With each of these go/no-go decisions, the picture gained more clarity. And with more clarity, the more meaningful and intentional became the decisions that I made as a result. Like I was gaining increased visibility over the path that I am on.
After these two years of trying a lot of things and seeing what sticks and what doesn’t, I realized that I would rather want to be on a heck of journey and see where it takes me than follow the directions to a destiny that I already know. With that, yes, I am still figuring sh*t out, but instead of worrying about where each decision is taking me, I try to enjoy all the turns – and wrong turns – I am making.