My first stop right after walking out of 200 West was Harvard Business School. I came to visit a very good friend of mine and to have an informal chat with a co-founder of a successful start-up (i.e., not a startup anymore). I sat-in on my friend’s favorite class, the case study being discussed was about carbon emissions. I was told it was an unusual case for this class which usually discusses country cases. I wanted to raise my hand after every comment and jump-in on the discussion. It was an intellectually stimulating exercise.
It has never been in my plans to go to business school. There are a lot of good reasons why people come to business school— to change careers, to expand their network, to travel the world, to gain (more) credibility, and to start businesses.
More than a few people told me that I should go to business school and work on my business while in the safety of a higher education institution. An interesting proposition and not one I would have considered on my own. And to be honest, the pitch they made was not one that sold me. Their pitch was basically that if all else failed, I would have a stamp that said Harvard, Stanford, etc (at least they gave me a compliment assuming that these are the schools I would get into). A stamp that I could use to get back into the 'workforce'. But wait, I just left the ‘workforce’ and it was an intentional decision. What they were selling me was a safety net. I worked in derivatives for six years, I know a thing or two about hedging.
If I had assigned a high probability to failure, well then I would not have taken the leap. Clearly, the odds are against me. Someone asked me, “how many successful minority women entrepreneurs do you know?” But if I had asked myself, how many VP minority women do I know on Wall Street, well then, I might not have become one. I just don’t ask myself those kinds of questions. I ask myself, do I have what it takes? Not what color is my skin, where was I born or do I wear skirts sometimes. Why ask myself those questions, when everyone else is doing that for me. Looking at the overall stats keeps my feet on the ground. Looking at my own stats, keeps me reaching for the stars.
Back to this business school proposition though. No, I will not go back to business school to use it as a safety net, I just don’t think that’s a good way to look at it. If I do go back to business school next year or in a few years, after a successful exit strategy from myImpromptu, it’s going to be because I want to be part of those intellectual discussions and because there are people like my friend here to meet.
For now though, I think I will live out a case study.