Advice for Graduates (from Ken Morse – MIT)

Blogging has definitely become very mainstream today, not only in our social lives but in the corporate world as well. CEOs maintain blogs, companies may have a recruiting blog, even Business Schools have admissions-based blogs. Last week, I happened to find the blog of Steven Sinofsky, who used to be the SVP at Microsoft in charge of Microsoft Office, but several years ago was promoted to President of the entire Windows Division.

To try and stop some of the exodus of Microsoft employees to other up-and-coming technology firms (aka Google), Steven was asked to start a blog to reach out to potential Microsoft candidates and offer insights into what it’s like to work at Microsoft, the different roles, and generally the valuable contribution new graduates can make at the company on Day 1.

As I was scrolling through, a short post from 2005 caught my attention that offered some advice I want to share with you today.

From Steven Sinofsky’s blog (Dec 4, 2005):

A few weeks ago I was on a panel discussion at Cyberposium 2005. The panel’s moderator was Ken Morse, a lecturer and managing director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. Professor Morse has quite a lot of experience with startups in the technology industry (having been involved in launching companies like 3COM, Aspen, and others) and is also a founder of the MIT center.

In the closing of our panel Professor Morse offered some words of advice to the attendees (mostly students graduating from business school at Harvard and Sloan). I think the advice was worth repeating as it is equally appropriate for those pursuing careers on the technical side of product development. He suggested two key things (my paraphrase from memory):

  • First, get experience at a company that can “teach” and can help you to learn about how to get things done. Building products and businesses is a lot harder than it looks. He mentioned that while many companies have been started by people without much experience, that is not really the method that is repeatable. Most companies that start do not achieve success, and most that achieve success do have a lot of people with experience from established companies.
  • Second, you really need to love what you’re doing and you need to be in it for the right reasons. The right reasons are being passionate about the product or service you are building and not just passionate about making money. When you build a product, business, company it can take many years and you will need more than a desire to make money to keep you motivated and focused during that time.

Although Steven specifically mentions Product Development, I believe the 2 points above can be applied to many different areas outside of technology. Let me know what you think my leaving a comment below. I hope to share more of these nuggets along the way, and will also be posting some interesting video clips on our Facebook Page. Make sure you become a fan today.

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