by Lauren Raouf (WG’15)
With the CourseMatch deadline for the Leadership Ventures rapidly approaching – it closes at 5pm on Wednesday – I wanted to provide my (possibly biased, definitely personal) perspective on the value of the Ventures program for anyone wondering what the ventures can actually do for you. Full disclosure: I am a Venture Fellow.
Last year, I participated in the Patagonia expedition (off the waitlist) and the Quantico intensive. I signed up for them without really knowing what I was getting into (i.e., FOMO). What I got out of them, besides muddy Goretex and some truly impressive bruises, has changed some fundamental things about me. My two most important lessons:
From the Marines at Quantico: Make your voice heard. The Marine DIs at Quantico are the only people who have ever forced me to yell. And I hated it. I never yell (except maybe at hockey games). But, as they explained, Marines don’t yell for fun. For them, being heard, or not, can be the difference between life and death. They taught me that sometimes being quiet and polite and standing out of the way won’t get the job done. This is a lesson I’ve used every day since launching a start-up. Because that’s also something you can’t do quietly. Knowing I could shout back at a few Marine DIs gave me the courage I needed to shout out to the world about my business.
From trekking in Patagonia: Pause. Look around. Take a minute to care for the whole team around you. I can be guilty of tunnel vision, focusing solely on getting stuff done — ask every consulting team I’ve ever been on when I got annoyed about a team dinner cutting into my work or running time. In Patagonia, though, I was lucky enough to be on a team that excelled at creating those little moments and breaks needed to bring a team together. And when I was wet, cold, muddy, and tired, even I needed that team spirit to give me a good reason to put my pack on and keep trekking. So Emily, Amy, Arleigh, Christine, and Stephanie – thanks for finally showing me that a few five minute fun breaks aren’t a waste of time. They’re one of the most important things you can spend your time on. P.S. Every other team I’ll ever be a part of thanks you for this too.
I could keep going, but I’ll spare you the three pages of notes I wrote to myself after each venture and close with this instead: Obviously ventures aren’t the right choice for everyone – but if you want to get a sense of whether or not they’re right for you, I encourage you to talk to any of the Venture Fellows or second years who participated last year and hear to their story and their own two lessons.
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