Kinvey’s sponsorship of the Startup Institute has afforded us a number of opportunities for exposure within this fantastic crowd of up-and-comers, the most irresponsibly-granted of which was an opportunity for me to lead two days of instruction in the Sales & BD track. I suspect the organizers were either: a) desperate for teachers (highly unlikely given the impressive lineup they’ve put together across all 4 tracks) or; b) completely unaware of the fact that allowing me to pontificate on topics largely of my choosing in front of an audience of unwitting hostages — er… students — was ill-advised on a number of levels to say the least. In spite of this glaring oversight, however, I found myself standing in front of 16 eager students the past two Mondays with the charge of educating them on the broad topic of “sales.” And while I have several observations that are worth noting, the dominant, overriding theme from my experience was this: these folks are *nuts*. Here’s why:
- Many of the SIB students recently graduated from college. And by recently, I mean a matter of countable-on-one-hand weeks ago. Which basically means that, after having endured something along the lines of 17 straight years of education, many of these students *voluntarily* jumped immediately back into classes without so much as a month off. What?!
- Of the 16 students I worked with, every single one was engaged with the content in a meaningful way. Certainly, some students were more vocal than others, but the times I got the sense that a student really didn’t want to be there were few and far between — far less than I would expect from any group that was being held captive by a long-winded and idiosyncratic pedagog, let alone during the summer when most folks are on vacation.
- When I polled the class to better understand why they had enrolled in SIB [read: acted so dramatically out of generic-recent-college-grad character], every student had (and was able to articulate!) a good sense of why they were interested in startups and what they were expecting to get out of the Startup School that would help drive their respective careers forward. But students right out of school aren’t supposed to have this much sense of direction — heck, I’m [actual number removed out of sensitivity for the author’s age] years out of school and I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do with my career. So how is it possible that these folks, who have dramatically less professional experience, have this good a sense of career direction? The only logical conclusion: they are all insane.
Of course, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time working with these dynamic and talented whippersnappers — quite the opposite. Not only were they able to consume the entire body of my sales knowledge in a matter of two days, they were courteous enough to act as though that which I shared was valuable, useful content (for which ruse I genuinely thank them). As a member of the Boston startup community for quite some time now, I am thrilled that a program like the SIB has burst so impressively onto the scene and am proud to have been able to support this effort both on a personal and a corporate (thanks, Sravish!) level. My only regret is that the SIB leaders weren’t able to fill the ranks with normal people, but I guess one can’t have everything. Kudos, loonies! It was a pleasure rambling at you for awhile.