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):

1) Every problem is an opportunity for a creative solution. Attitude is everything and you control your attitude. The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. No one will pay you to solve a non-problem. Tina has some great examples of a money-making challenge she gave to a bunch of her students. They’re fun to listen to because they so clearly demonstrate how easily we can go beyond our self-limiting constraints.

2) The harder you work, the luckier you get. You need to put yourself in a position to make yourself lucky.

3) Find the intersection between your interests, your skills, and the market. “Follow your passions” is a cop-out piece of advice. Passions are necessary, but not sufficient. For years I beat myself up for not understanding what my passions were enough to follow them. Remember “Do what you love, the money will come”? It doesn’t often work that way. You need to find something you enjoy that other people want so you can get paid!

4) Try lots of things and keep what works. About risk taking and being willing to fail. If you aren’t failing sometimes, you aren’t taking enough risks. When I first learned how to water ski at age 14, I bragged to one of the instructors that I had made it around the lake without falling down. He replied, “if you aren’t falling down, you’re not trying hard enough.”

5) You don’t have to wait to be anointed. Write your own business card. Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you are ready for the next level. You do the job and then you get the job. Entrepreneurs don’t wait for others to empower them. They empower themselves. My favorite business cards are the ones for my own businesses, the ones I created for myself.

6) Don’t burn bridges. There are only 50 people in the world, the rest are wall paper. You are going to bump into these people over and over and over again. This is painfully true.

7) You can do it all, just not all at the same time. Know your priorities. Change them regularly.

8) It’s the little things that matter most. Look people in the eye. Sit up straight. Write a thank you note within 24 hours of having a job interview. Another one is “respond to all emails within 24 hours, preferably within a few hours.” That one’s the hardest for me.

9) When you are a team, the key is making everybody else successful. The more you make other people around you successful, the more it comes back to you, many many many fold. You can tell when you are working with a great team, because everyone helps each other be successful. The non-team players are the ones who take, but don’t give.

10) Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous. This is not a dress rehearsal. If you are not going to do your best work now, when are you going to? Excellent advice. Why be just good if you can be great?

4 thoughts on “Tina Seelig – What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

  1. Fabulous! Thanks so much for posting this!! I’m printing it and putting it up right next to Maya Angelou’s “Best Poem” ever. As a Bryn Mawr grad and general champion of women everywhere, I love reading inpiring words from successful, intelligent ladies! Yippee! –brett

  2. Fantastic. Thanks so much for this. She’s like a gigantic caffeinated inspiration-machine. Love the “failure resume.”

    My motto: Make new mistakes.

Comments are closed.