I have to say, my preconceptions of the Leadership Program were really off the mark when I sent in my application a few short weeks ago. I was pretty sure that this would be another entrepreneurship seminar series, much like the ones I attended at MIT years ago as a graduate student. Fairly impersonal lectures by some great speakers, but all in all, passive experiences.
My impressions began to change pretty quickly when I met Anupendra for the first time on Thursday morning. He had asked me to come to his office to meet face-to-face before I officially joined the program. In the first five minutes of our conversation he was able to do a pretty good job of shaking up some of my self-perceptions with a couple of provocative statements-- "you should have gone to business school," and something to the effect of "you have no networking skills," and "you are not nearly persistent enough."
That's when I realized that this program could be exactly what I'm looking for-- an opportunity to get frank, open, and critical feedback on who I am as an aspiring entrepreneur. As someone who craves constructive critique (and rarely gets the quality I'm looking for), this was starting to look like something very special.
All of this was confirmed and widely expanded at our first meeting on Friday. Not only were there incredibly passionate, articulate, and well-organized program managers (Rama, Hooman, Pat-- nice to meet you), but every person I met --so far, only about half of the class-- is equally passionate, articulate, and inspiring. Just a small sampling of the many stories I heard:
- Parker Treacy started a company as an undergrad (!) out of Duke and is now two years in and facing the challenges of raising funding to support his lending company,
- (Jahnavi Chandra) Prasad taught me that there is a field of work called "genomic engineering," and that he himself is a "genetic engineer,"
- Dave Greenwald is a PhD researcher by day and an entrepreneur by night (and weekends), and is working out a business model that can lead to more efficient deployment of academic innovations.