What Tina Seelig Wished She Knew When She Was 20


Over the last week, I had the opportunity to start and finish Tina Seelig‘s new book “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20“. The book delivers a series of stories — among other things — each seemingly designed to teach a lesson or prove a point; a number of stories discuss very innovative and creative solutions people undertook to solve real-world problems and to create value. Together, these pearls of wisdom can inspire the uninspired, and give a gentle nudge to those needing a push to get going.

In her book, Tina discusses the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (“STVP“), and how it looks to create “T-shaped people” — described as having a depth of knowledge in at least one discipline and a breadth of knowledge in innovation and entrepreneurship. I think this is a fantastic approach, and that this recipe is the right combination to create truly successful entrepreneurs. It would be nice to see some Canadian schools taking that approach. She also discusses her class-turned-global innovation assignments, that have become the Global Innovation Tournament — I’m hoping to participate in a judging capacity for the Toronto contingent this year — but of course, I’d rather be in the competition itself. Maybe I’ll get a chance if I make it into the Stanford GSB next year!?

Later on in the book, Tina begins discussing risk profiles of entrepreneurs (I can relate closely with this), and I found it quite interesting to read that apparently most entrepreneurs don’t see themselves as big risk takers. Only after some reflection did I understand what she meant. To paraphrase her text, “After analyzing the landscape, building a great team, and putting together a detailed plan, [entrepreneurs] feel as though they have squeezed as much risk out of the venture as they can. In fact, they spend most of their efforts working to reduce the risks for their business.”

Wearing my VC hat, this actually makes a lot of sense. We, as VCs, constantly look at how well entrepreneurs de-risk their ventures and we calculate our willingness to invest by how well an entrepreneur has evaluated their market opportunity, filled their management team and advisory board(s) with competent and complimentary folks, and developed their technology to a stage where it can be demonstrable. Essentially, the reward that entrepreneurs can receive for successfully de-risking their venture is generally referred to as a better valuation from VCs, and consequently, higher equity ownerships for the entrepreneur(s) at the table.

I recommend this book to CEOs and decision makers that need to reignite their creativity as well as to students aspiring to do great things, but who are waiting for permission to do so from some authority figure. In this book, the author acts as an agent of empowerment to allow the reader the feeling that they should embrace their skills and capabilities, and act on their desires to create products, services and organizations that can change the world.

What have you envisioned that could change the world? I dare you to chase that opportunity.

Have you recently dropped everything to take on a new challenge? Share your story below! Was it worth it?

World Innovation Forum


I’m planning a trip to California to do some business development and go to the World Innovation Forum amongst other things. The conference is from April 17-18, so if you want to join me, fire me an email because I would love a wingman on this mission! Seriously. (Oh, and there’s an unwritten student rate if you ask nicely …)

I ripped off a bit of content here from the HSM website for the World Innovation Forum, but I want to show you some of the people that are going to be speaking at this event:

CLAYTON CHRISTENSEN Disruptive Innovation

Author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, the business bestseller that outlines Christensen’s revolutionary theory of disruptive innovation

RENÉE MAUBORGNE Blue Ocean Strategy

“Blue Ocean Strategy challenges everything you thought you knew about strategy” (Business Strategy Review)

RAY KURZWEIL A Look into the Future

“The restless genius” (Wall Street Journal), “the ultimate thinking machine” (Forbes), “the rightful heir to Thomas Edison” (Inc. Magazine), and one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America” (PBS)

LYN HEWARD Creativity & Innovation at Cirque du Soleil

Lyn Heward is the creative fire behind Cirque du Soleil–one of the most innovative and creative companies in the world today–helping it grow to distinct 13 troupes that perform on a global stage

VINTON G. CERF Internet: An Engine of Innovation

Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist and widely considered to be the “Father of the Internet”

MICHAEL THIENEMAN A Model of Innovation: Whirlpool

Thieneman’s global position ensures innovative products and features across all of Whirlpool’s brands, reflected in an annual sales total of more than $19 billion

RICK RASHID Microsoft: Research, Product Development, and Future Technologies

As Senior Vice President, Research, Rick Rashid oversees Microsoft Research’s worldwide operations.

In November 2006 I attended the World Science Forum, which is another conference put on by HSM in New York. It was a great conference, where I had the opportunity to meet Francis Collins, Marvin Minsky, and listen to presentations made by some of the worlds greatest minds. I highly suggest getting the chance to get out to at least one of there.

, , , , , , , , , , ,