Tina Seelig – What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Tina Seelig, Executive Directory for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program

Tina Seelig is the Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and one of the most truly brilliant and creative people I have ever met. In addition to a PHD from Stanford Medical School in Neurology, she’s written many books, educational cards for kids, and is a serial entrepreneur. I recently listened to this talk she gave at Stanford, and then played it again just to take notes. She has great advice for those legions of young women and men starting out their careers, including (my notes in italics):

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Monkeys and Company Policies

Heard on the net:

Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough,whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up.

Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder. One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious, but, undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder. All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why. However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.

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Dave Neeleman – JetBlue – more iTunes

Heard Dave Neeleman, founder and CEO of Jet Blue Airways give a talk at Stanford’s School of Engineering last night. I flew Jet Blue once, to NYC, and was impressed with the experience – all leather seats, spacious leg room, multi-channel TV in every seat, and all ticketless. So I was curious to see the force behind this company. What I didn’t anticipate was how soft-spoken and understated he appeared. Here’s a man who didn’t take stock options when they were offered. Why? Because he already had 20% of the company, and that was enough. He donates his salary to a fund for helping employees who are facing catastrophic events in their lives. He spends at least 3 hours a week on his own airline flights, interviewing every passenger and helping out the crew members serving snacks and cleaning up after the flight. Talk about walking your talk. On top of all that he has nine children. His parting words of advice to the gathered couple hundred aspiring entreprenuers was to ask yourself, “if your company went away tomorrow, would anybody miss it? Would the customers miss your products or services? Would your employees miss working for your company?” Important questions. Good reminder that we all want our lives to have meaning. There’s no reason that this fundamental desire should fly out the window with regards to work.

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