A commencement speech driven life

I love myself a good commencement speech. I started this pattern of binge watching commencement speeches before I go to bed about a year ago. (P.S. If you’re looking for a good one I recommend Steve Jobs, Jim Carrey or J.K. Rowling.) Hoda Kotb is a role model of mine, and I once read somewhere that that’s what she does when she’s feeling in a rut. Personally,  it re-centers me, fills me with a giddiness to do more and more than anything, they prove to me that there really is no cookie-cutter pathway to success.

I know that I’m wired for success, and I have the potential to do great things some day. It wasn’t until this class however, that I was forced to take one of the many ideas that float around in my head at night, and bring it to life. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go, but having a head start, and an idea of some of the future obstacles that will come up, is a lot compared to where my idea was at months ago.

The past 16 weeks have flown by, and to think how much we’ve accomplished during this time is wild. From our first class, when we were given a word and had to build an idea out of it, to our elevator pitches and finally our business plan presentations. This senior capstone opened my eyes to all of the possibilities there are in entrepreneurial media.  I loved the amount of creative freedom we were given in developing our plans and ideas. We developed our own product idea based on a pain point we felt strongly about. While this class provided me with countless takeaways and free “life tips,” (thank you, Carol) here are three that stand out to me.

  1. An entrepreneur doesn’t accept no. Just not now. I actually heard this in a motivational video, but I think it was reaffirmed in this class. When someone disses your idea, or tells you that they don’t think it’s possible, don’t accept it as defeat. Rather, work around it, find the loophole, or if you have to, pivot. But if you think it’s worth it, do not lose hope. Which brings me to my next point.
  2. You have to believe in your product. While this class was just a snippet of what an actual start-up entrepreneur encounters, we still spent a hefty amount of our time working with, writing about and researching our app/website. Steve Jobs even says in his commencement speech, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” If I wouldn’t have been interested in Noted! or believed that it was a product of value, this work would have been a much more labor-some and wearing project. When people challenged my ideas, I would have had much less desire to argue back if I wasn’t tied to the success of this app. With this being said, don’t be so glued to a concept that you’re not willing to adjust it along the way.
  1. You can’t do it alone. I cannot stress enough the importance of building a solid team. I know that I could not have done this class or created this product without the help of Maria Fagerland and Krysta Larson. They were were a great team to work with because all of the tasks were divided equally and embraced our greatest strengths. Krysta worked with figuring out the logistics, Maria worked on how we would advertise our product and I created the look and feel for Noted! With this, I thought there was great communication between the team, allowing for a free flow of ideas. But not only did my team contribute to this idea, but rather the whole class. There’s great comradery in the senior journalism class, and having this support system made the presentations all the more comfortable and enjoyable. I know we won’t always be preaching to the choir when we’re giving elevator or business pitches, but for the first time around, it took away a lot of the added stress and allowed me to be myself.

Since giving our business plan presentation, and talking about our product to my friends and family, I’ve had people text me, especially during finals week saying, “Wow, I could really use Noted! right now.” Having that kind of feedback is all the more motivation to start working on making this idea come to life. My marketing professor always said during class, “Knowledge without action is just knowledge.” I want to act on Noted! by talking to the right people and figuring out the next steps to take. I want to go for it and give it a shot because as Jim Carrey asserts in his commencement speech,

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

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