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Mentors

How to Get the Most Out of Mock Boards

Help is good, but see if you are really listening. Check out these tips to get the most out of mentorship engagements.

1) Don’t interrupt each other.

If you can’t handle having a conversation about your company, how can you handle running the company? It is disrespectful to your teammate and disrespectful for those trying to listen. You may think you have a better thing to say or better answer to a question, but by interrupting you have a worse answer by default. If you strongly believe that your answer is more accurate, just wait until questioning is over and pull aside the mentor to clear things up.

 

2)  Realize you will have to decide for yourself.

We’ve all been there, we give an essay to multiple people and everyone is saying something different. So whose or which advice do you go with? Learn why each person gave that advice, if one executive tells Uber to go “expand to Europe”, and the other says “focus on growth in the U.S”, Uber can’t take both pieces of advice. Instead they will continue to ask why each executive feels that way and have them back it up with numbers, do the same with your mentors.

 

3) Why you, why this, and why now?

HBS professor Lynda Applegate came to speak to Launch and discussed the elements of a great elevator pitch. Meeting with mentors is a great time to start out with your elevator pitch, the people listening need to know why you care about changing this part of the world, and why this is the way to do it.

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Continue reading “How to Get the Most Out of Mock Boards”

Finding The Right Mentor

nate-blogYou hear it all the time, “it’s for networking,” “if you want to succeed, you have to network,” or my personal favorite, “college is mostly for the network.”  While you may know how important developing your network is, how to do it is a bit more challenging.  It comes down primarily to the idea of knocking on the door.

Finding a Mentor –

We all have had that professional crush, that “wow, would I like to work with him/her.” They have an amazing job, dress well, healthy family, you see everything you want for yourself in someone else. So, you want them to be your mentor, but how in the world do you approach that?  Approach the person with a common interest to start a conversation. Keep in mind that finding a good mentor is as much about personal fit as professional idolization.  That means the conversation doesn’t start with, “Will you be my mentor?” but instead starts with what you find exciting about the person’s professional background, and why you are interested in learning more about their experience.  It often evolves into an understanding of the values that drive a person’s decisions that has led them to where they are, and a need to ensure that you are on the same page with not just the end goal of where they are, but why and how they got there.

Here is what I did. There was a board meeting for my school, where I, as the newly elected student body president, am invited to present on behalf of the student body. I read online before the meeting that there was a new board of trustee member, a highly regarded entrepreneur who works in education. I immediately said to myself, “I need to meet him, and talk to him about all my ideas and love for entrepreneurship.”

Knock knock (that’s opportunity), I see him getting food before the meeting and think to myself, this is my chance to meet him! I came up and said “Hi, I read your bio, really love the work that you have done, I would love to sit down and talk to you about entrepreneurship.”  While I am sure I looked a little nervous, it was clear I was eager to listen to him. These successful people love sharing their story.  

He sat down with me, talked for about 30 minutes about the do’s and don’ts of entrepreneurship, whether business school is worth it, and my past businesses. This was enough to get his card, and his card was enough to give him a call asking advice about a major business decision I had to make. Finally, I worked with him in his company and learned more from him than I could have ever imagined.

The moral of the story is this:  If you want someone to be your mentor, approach them and spread your love for a common interest between you two, maybe entrepreneurship!

 

Lillian Chen: To Lead, To Teach, To Launch

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When I stumbled upon entrepreneurship at MIT Launch Summer Program last year, I also discovered the superpower to change the world through my creative ideas. My experience with MIT Launch made me believe high school students could build companies.

After returning home, my excitement for growing my company was crushed by what I found back at school: my friends couldn’t connect to me when I went on passionately about marketing strategies; the school atmosphere was one geared towards science, sports, and fine arts. We had Debate Club, Environment Club, even Beyoncé Club, but no Entrepreneurship Club. Business was just something people typically didn’t believe high schoolers were interested in or could even do it.

Wanting to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship and find like minded people, I decided to start the Launch Houston Entrepreneurship Club and succeeded into tricking 12 open minded students who’ve never experienced business to join (just kidding…they joined on their own free will). Rather than pursuing my own passion for entrepreneurship, I saw the impact of sharing this knowledge with others. I heard Margaret T. challenge conventional norms with her questions. I saw Matthew F. open his shell and become one of the most eloquent, persuading public speakers I’ve ever met. I saw Anirudh S. marketing in school and Divya J.marketing through neighborhoods. I saw each students put in #work; I saw teams fight, make up, tackle big dilemmas and decisions, pivot, and grow stronger together. I felt their determination to succeed. 

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I’ve always loved teaching others: I tutored refugees in the summer and volunteered as a mentor for various summer camps for disabled children But it was through Launch that I really saw how I could help illuminate the talent and spark in each student. One student told me that she wanted to pursue business in the future because of Launch Houston. Another student said that Launch Houston had changed his life: now, he does not stop thinking of new ideas and wants to continue growing his company. Although I thought I knew why I started Launch Houston, my club members were the ones who showed me why I fell in love with teaching entrepreneurship.

Last year, my Launch group had three teams, two of which became finalists at the MIT Launch Pitch Competition (more than 60 teams worldwide competed and only the top ten became finalists). MoGo, a company that teaches children how to manage money, received 4th place; my team’s company LocaFoods, a company that provides an online platform that connects local farmers to schools, restaurants, and homes, won 1st! Both companies continue to grow to this day.

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This year, Launch Houston has more than tripled in size, expanding to 38 members. While managing this many people is difficult, I’ve learned some lessons for last year’s session that will help me effectively run this club: Continue reading “Lillian Chen: To Lead, To Teach, To Launch”

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