The Last Lecture
While you pack your bags to set foot on your next journey, I hope you carry with you the first aid advice kit handed out at the ‘Last Lecture’ at Olin Hall.
As the graduate students prepare themselves for commencement day, the professors prepare jewels of advice as a small gift for the students by drawing upon their vast life experiences. The last lecture, which is a long standing tradition at Babson, was 45 minutes long and the professors that received the most nominations from the graduate class of 2015 were chosen to deliver the lecture. The honor of presenting the last lecture was bestowed upon Prof. Heidi Neck, Anirudh Debhar, Richard Bliss & ‘Thomas Kennedy Award Recipient aka ‘Professor of the Year’, J.B. Kissaranjan.
Let’s hear what the first aid kit contains:
Prof. Richard Bliss – ‘Cash is King’
Prof. Richard breathed a sigh of relief when his name was called out first to kick off the last lecture for he now did not have to rehearse his speech while his colleagues would be delivering theirs. Well, going first does have its perks!
For any student who has taken the Finance for New Ventures elective knows that this statement is essentially the tagline of this class. ‘Cash is King’ suggests that if you run out of cash your business is over. Even the best business idea in the world cannot stand strong if it misses the ingredient of liquidity. To generate cash the key trick to remember is to control the expenses rather than trying to develop new revenue streams. Going forward, if you want flexibility in decision-making it is important to maintain a liquidity cushion at all points in time. Prof. Richard suggested that after emptying out our pockets at Babson, we set the best example of what it feels like to eat, live & bathe at rock bottom. You can only imagine how fitting that comment was as it had the entire audience in a frenzy. If you come to think of it after learning of ‘Cash is King’ its difficult to keep the nagging voice at bay that says, “If you had a liquidity cushion from the years prior to Babson, you would have been able to pursue your relentless hunch about an entrepreneurial venture this summer by relying on your cushion instead of being forced to pursue that boring job down the street.”
Prof. Anirudh Debhar – Is your ladder against the right wall?
Risking both life and limb, Prof. Debhar performed a little rendezvous on the chair. With his wife and twins in the audience, I am assuming that this last lecture has been equally memorable if not more to Prof. Debhar and his family as it has been for us.
For some of us who have taken his classes we are aware of the mind numbing pain our brain goes through to digest the concepts put forth during class followed by tranquility when Prof. Debhar lifts the curtain on those concepts. Despite of being prepared to go through the above tornado of emotions, when Prof. Debhar posed a question to the audience asking, ‘Are you climbing the right wall?’ the audience felt shaken up.
Here goes the decoded version to put you in the tranquil state: Equipped with the skills picked up at Babson, as we make this march into the world many of us will be so busy climbing a ladder that we will forget to question if our ladder is up against the right wall. We need to make a decision about the wall we wish to climb before placing the ladder against it. None of us want to turn grey and old only to realize we were climbing the wrong wall all along. Now that would be a rude wake up call and who likes those? So let’s always remember to first pick our wall and then place the ladder.
Prof. Heidi Neck – Action trumps everything!
Prof. Heidi Neck could unfortunately not make it in person for the lecture but thanks to technology she was virtually present on the big screen. All through our core mods if Prof. Heidi left us with one learning it was to constantly be in a state of action and move forward. If you have the best idea in the world and you just sit on it that’s all it will ever be: An idea. In an entrepreneurial setting when the external environment is constantly throwing curveballs at us our first aid kit presents us with the power to take action. The action – be it right or wrong, will provide us with information about our environment depending on which we can then judge what our next move should be. Keep pushing forward and leverage your grit!
Prof J.B. Kissaranjan – But from where I’m standing that’s how it looks!
Prof. JB Kissaranjan was chosen ‘Professor of the Year’ by the graduating class of 2015. Having said that, I imagine it’s only fair they serve the dessert last. Prof. JB started off by reiterating a statement made by his five year old daughter, “Because from where I’m standing that’s how it looks!”
As entrepreneurs when we start a business we get so fixated about our business idea that we feel confident that the audience needs exactly the value offering that we have designed. This is why most businesses fail. Understand the context, take the time to see how the world looks from another pair of eyes.
As sound as this advice was, what invoked a strong emotion within the audience was the following: “At some point in your life, whether now or later, build something that would not exist if it were not for you” and just like I internally did a ‘Focus. Shoot’, I hope you too captured that particular emotion for perpetuity.
I sincerely hope this first aid kit is your life savior in case of a 911. With that, let’s all embark on our adventures until we meet again.
(For viewing the last lecture in it’s entirety visit the following link: http://babson.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=42d5f6d6-5395-452f-85a0-e1c61e9fa4b2)