It’s been a long time since I last posted. As you might have seen on my About page, in Sept of 2012 I moved from NC to CA to attend business school at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB). I should have written about 100 blog posts since I arrived to capture even a small part of what I have experienced. Sadly, I have not, and I could not begin to capture the totality of my experiences.
What I can do is start, from today, start to blog again. First, I want to dive into a few highlights. There have been two ora
Upon arriving at the GSB, I spotted a bunch of guys playing rugby outside my dorm. I decided to go give it a try. It was just touch — think a nonstop version of two-hand-touch football — but I thought I would give it a go. One of my good friends from high school, Clarke, had graduated in 2012 from the GSB and had been president of the team. But going into my first year, I had specifically said I wouldn’t play rugby because, let’s face it, I do not have a traditional rugby body, which we will get to in a moment.
Touch rugby is a tad infuriating, to be honest, but the group of guys that were out there were a great group so I decided to come back again and again. By the time real practices came, I couldn’t think of not going. It was a team mentality that I had missed, a new sport, and a great way to get some stress out. It was also the first sport that I have played where hitting it a real thing.
Contact rugby is a totally different game — and way more fun to me — than touch. In some ways, it is like American football if you take away the downs and forward pass. I realize to those who love the nuances of rugby find this statement offensive, but to a first order it is not all that different. I mentioned that I do not have a rugby body. That is a bit funny because almost anyone can play rugby. Big and slow: you are in the front row. Short and quick: you are a back. My problem is that I am tall but not that heavy, so my front row abilities aren’t great. I am reasonably fast — at least for my height — but my high center of gravity gives meaning to “the bigger they are the harder they fall”. It is a testament to the team that they have found places to put me, but writing this does remind me that I owe some visits to the weight room before the season starts to get ready.
I am still learning how to deal with contact. Hitting has been less of a big deal than getting hit. I am still learning to stay low when I have the ball, but I am trying to get better and better.
I had a chance to travel with the team to Austin, TX for a tournament and Las Vegas for another one. I missed the MBA World Cup at Duke last year, but I will not miss it again! The tournaments were real bonding opportunities with the team. They were also great weekends of a ton of rugby.
The best part about rugby is the brotherhood that it engenders on both sides of the ball. Jim Coulter, founder of TPG and GSB Rugby Alum, has a saying that in business you have to “be rugby competitive.” What he means is that rugby players aggressively tackle and physically beat up on each other on the field with no remorse. At the end of the match, everyone drinks beer and sings songs together as if they had just been on the same team. In business, you play fair but tough, and when it is over you shake hands and celebrate a job well done on both sides. There is something special about this feeling. Some of the people that I have gotten to know on the rugby pitch have become some of my closest friends in regular life, and just like rowing molded much of my high school and college experience, rugby is certainly molding my business school one.
There are obviously many things that are molding my experience in business school, but another big one is the culture of entrepreneurship around here. I have founded some things in the past — mostly related to (weirdly) running and food/drink (happy to talk about these at a later date for those who don’t know my somewhat strange past). Starting a company is something a bit different. My only experience with this was in the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program at NC State in undergrad. It was one of the most growth-inducing academic experiences I had at NC State, and I have really put to use many of the lessons I learned in it. Within the program, in addition to our normal senior capstone project, we had to build a business plan and develop a simulated startup company. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the startup phenomenon. I love the culture of creating something on a deadline and having to build something that people want. I also love the creativity involved in coming up with new plans.
When I came to Stanford, I immediately started attending startup events. There are a ton of them around here. At first, it was just cool to be a part of the community. From inventors, to founders, to early employees, to investors, the community around here supports startups in a way I have never seen. Some of my classmates were already starting companies, and others had already been successful in starting and selling a company. It was inspirational and intimidating. I thought I wanted to start a company. I knew I wanted to do something where I could have an impact by bringing technologies to people who could use them to do good in the world. I just didn’t know what. Fortunately, this isn’t uncommon, and I made a great friend group that helped me think about what I wanted to do. By the end of the year, I and four of my friends were elected the 4 presidents of the Entrepreneurship Club (eClub) at the GSB, the largest club in the school. Yes, it is ridiculous that we have 4 presidents, but welcome to business school, think of it more as a “leadership team”. It is a big honor, and I am very excited to be part of such a great group.
This summer, I am starting a company with a great team, a great extended support network, and an exciting future. I will save details of what that company is until a later post, this one has gone long enough.
To wrap up, I haven’t touched on many of the things here that are very important, but I hope to post regularly — to me that means once or twice a week, but we will see if I can stick to that — to be able to share a small part of my experience here with you.