From my recent speech to the 2017 Hult Business School Graduates:
Students, families, guests, and faculty. Thank you for inviting me to speak today at this amazing occasion.
I am entrepreneur focused on how cities are going to work in 2050, when we have 7+ billion people in them.
Which means, I spend my life looking at cities trying to understand the systems, where there is potential for failure, and more often than not, where it is already failing.
Some would say in these days, we are surround by it. Politically, and with all trump jokes aside, for our generation the political landscape has probably never felt more unhinged.
Socially, with millions of migrants, internal and cross border, pouring into our cities every year, the greeting of our populations, and the cultural shifts that come with each generation, it’s safe to say that ma Thanks ny of us don’t feel that connected anymore.. except when we are sharing photos of food.
And environmentally. Well, today looks like a nice day outside right? But the pressure that our growing urban populations have place on our environments is well documented.
So yeah, according to the internet, it’s a rough world out there.
But in my fifteen years in China, I have seen the potential of individuals in a way I never thought possible, and I have come to understand that in the face of challenge, there are three paths to take
Path 1, Complain. Surround yourself with like minded people who complain about the world, the smog, or how tough the market is. Dig into your solo. Feel anxious about where things are headed. Talk about how “someone” else is messing it up.
There. Doesn’t that feel good?
Path 2: Talk about what you are ‘going to do’.
You have a killer app, an algorithm, and you are going to deploy meta data in way that will disrupt hundreds of years of existing infrastructure. People all over the world are going to choose your platform (over everyone else’s).
You only need one percent of the market… any market… but before you get on that business plan, you need to finish the latest season of Lost.
Path 3: Do
The 5% of people I have met in shanghai. The actual doers. Inspired by the challenge, but no distracted. Surrounded by other doers, because you no longer have time for the complainers and big talkers.
You have things to do, clients to nail down, teams of millenials to motivate, and cash flow to get under control.
Your major focus is on solving the problems people are complaining about, and figure out how to get someone to pay for it. Because you are scratching your own itch. You are trying to change the system, even if in small ways.
You will find that in this process you will surround yourself great people. You will find your own model for success.
This is in a nutshell what I have come to learn. The world is a tough place, but if you get past the stage of complaining and talking unrealistically about your intentions, then you will find success.
So, class of 2017. I congratulate you on your success to date.
Getting an EMBA isn’t easy, unless you make your staff do all your homework, but if nothing else you have already provide that you are capable of doing something. So, with that, I urge you to find a pain point that you are challenged by, surround yourself with great people, and do.