Lessons in values
We have a great leader at Babson in Len Schlesinger. He’s engaging in person, as you may know, and was no less this week in Olin Hall where he walked an amalgamation of students and faculty through his perspective on the Babson mission statement. He is proud of what he is doing and imparts his confidence, even as we face truly challenging economic times.
Through door one, in his slide deck, the world we know. Door two opens to the unknown. More so now than ever, the entrepreneur must walk through door two. Picture Indiana Jones, strapped with his wares, peering from under his brim into a black cave. That’s what he showed us, and asked “what would you do?” Some of us pondered, some of us struggled, and a few pulled out a smartphone. No one suggested the whip, the gun or any of Indy’s gear. Use what is at hand, take small steps, Schlesinger said. Crossing the divide between the known and the unknown, putting it in a business context, he deftly highlighted the links between linear and non-linear aptitude.
We cannot predict the future, he said. We can create opportunity by using what is at hand to make progress, continually, and must exercise judgment. After advising us on the fine line between “failure” and “practice” and his own laughable “aha moments,” comparing VC ventures to the lottery, and lambasting bean counters and number crunchers, he underscored an opportunity to develop business in the application marketplace, today.
I clicked on an email earlier in the day offering me, you, anyone, the ability to create a targeted application marketplace almost overnight, for a few hundred dollars a month. My B2B media background connects me to the necessary channel partners; under a virtual tidal wave of apps, there is a deficit of differentiation in the consumer’s point of sale and user experience. Automotive apps specialty stores; energy efficiency apps; travel and tourist apps; and so on. Jump right in as a reseller…?
Walking back up the hill toward the far lots where students park, I pondered the doors in the proverbial wall, picturing the space between them, and wanted to renovate that room, as if we could update the powerpoint and install a window with milk-white curtains to the side and a clear view out to… to what? That could be a business, right? installing windows that allow us to survey the landscape between the known and the unknown. How much can I charge for that?
I waited on crossing the last street to the lot while some young turks zipped by with no respect for the cross walk, and on arrival at the other side, $5 bill sat right there in the path.
I felt like I had won the lottery – cash in my pocket. But it was just dumb luck.