Tina Seelig, director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, put together a list of things she wish she knew when she was going to college for her son- who was going to college.  The book is a mix of practical advice on how to be more creative, how to create more ‘luck’, and just good life advice in general.  Below are some of my favorite points:

  • Problem solving should be used daily.  Problems are opportunities.  The more practice we get at problem solving the better we get.  The amount of problems we solve correlates directly with the amount of opportunities we are able to solve.
  • There is a tiny switch between doing something and doing nothing. Seelig demonstrates this with Do Bands.  These are just rubber bands that are a reminder to do something, after you complete your objective you can record it on the Do Bands website.  Just having a band on your arm can be the difference between acting and not.
  • One way to find opportunities is to take an item and list all your assumptions about it, then write all the opposites.  This is how Cirque de Soleil was created- expensive tickets, one act, small tent, no animals, etc.
  • Big objectives can often be obtain easier than mid-size goals.  This is because they are less specific (more ways to win) and are given more resources.
  • Rules= the lowest common denominator.
  • It’s better to know the few things that are really against the rules.  Don’t ask for the things you CAN do.
  • Opportunities aren’t offered up to you.
  • Growth mindsets are shown to be most successful in and out of organizations.  Constantly try to learn more.
  • Problems are everywhere and are easy to uncover.  Seelig uses the example of your wallet- everyone has complaints about their wallets.
  • The amount of successes you have is directly correlated with the number of failures you experience.
  • There are five types of risk: physical, social, emotional, financial, and intellectual.
  • Passion is not enough to make a successful career at something- you also need talent and you need to know how the world values that talent.
  • Ultimate goal: no line between work and play.
  • A better outlook makes ‘luck’.  You need to be observant, open-minded, friendly, optimistic.  The more extreme you take these the better your luck.
  • Always act like you’re in a foreign country.  Be acutely aware of your surroundings.  Meet people everywhere you go, take interest in all people and things.
  • Turn school/work projects into bigger opportunity.  A director used to use school projects to meet other famous/successful people in film business.  Always went beyond what was needed to make the A.
  • When making difficult decision ask “how do I want to tell this story later?”
  • When negotiating, both parties usually have parallel goals.  It’s not always about competition.  Find winwin.
  • Rule of 3- focus on three core objectives at once.  Do not stretch farther than that or you will suck at them.  Idea is that you can do whatever you want, just not at the same time.
  • “Never miss opportunity to be excellent”
  • Life is not a dress rehearsal, there is not a second chance.  Always go beyond what is expected.
  • Trying is a cop-out (ie NOT doing).  Doing means 100% commitment.
  • Your emotional state determines your perspective on things around you.  Be mindful of it.
  • Don’t define yourself by your current situation.

Most important points: Creativity can be learned.  Luck is made.  You only live once, so kick ass all the time.

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