The panel that I was on was made up of three accomplished investment professionals, doing really cool stuff. The great thing about our panel was that I was learning so much from my fellow panelists. I was feverishly taking notes. Net, our panel was fantastic. The people where passionate about causes and really smart. YEAH!
Then there was another panel, right after ours, and that was the icing on the cake… And it wasn’t just one of the accomplished individuals or speakers on that panel that got my attention. It was the 10 graduate students — from UC Santa Barbara and one from USC — that where on the panel. The goal of the panel was for them to speak about what this group, representing 93 million millennials, wants from companies and what problems we should be trying to solve for them.
They opened with a two minute outline of their individual ask of big companies, which was incredibly well done. The list of the 10 graduate students, as I interpreted it, is as follows: Transparency, reporting cradle to grave, water-related risk, food waste, supply chain shared value reporting, sustainable finance versus donations, sustainability as a corporate goal, transparency through contractors, responsibility for health of the customers, and finally, transparency on microbeed pollution.
The basic ask of this millennial team was pretty simple, “Just tell us everything we want to know about the product.” Such as, what are the ingredients or materials? From where are they sourced? Are there any materials that are toxic? How are they disposed of? Basically, just be open and honest.
The passion of these millennials, with such a simple ask of companies —be open and honest on everything you do — was intoxicating. I felt like I had just been plugged into an energizer because my panel’s passion on investing for social impact plus the passion and excitement of these 10 graduate students was so wonderful and fulfilling. I thought it really doesn’t get any better than this.
…And then it did.
Later, driving from L.A. to San Diego, I remembered that on Friday evening I was scheduled to speak at the Entrepreneurs Challenge at UCSD. This is where the finalist present for the awards. So I reflected on the passionate experience I had just had and dove into my own feelings. When I did, I thought about my first start up, and how scared I really was to go on this entrepreneurial path even though I wouldn’t let it show. So I began to write this presentation in my head — how passion is the real true north, and that being yourself and following your passion can never be wrong. But I really wasn’t sure how the talk would actually flow.
I arrived at the event and met many of the students and faculty supporting the Entrepreneurs Challenge. It is an 11-year-old program with all 11 winners still in existence. One even has a market valuation of 500 million.
This year, there where 40 entries and four finalists. Everyone was excited, living in a world of infinite possibilities, and it was wonderful to again be in that passionate, loving vibration, where anything is possible. And like a electric plug-in, I was energized again, and it felt wonderful! So this falls into the “best week ever” category.
There are many lessons for all of us to learn from this youthful passion and energy, and many ways for all of us to nurture it. But we have to nurture ourselves right now, too.
So, the key to my presentation message ended up being the following: We are all going to be faced with two roads as we embark on this journey. The one that everyone — the sector, your friends, the industry, thinks you should go down or the one your passion, your heart and soul wants you to go down. Pick the one that your passion, heart and soul wants you to go down.
So I ask anyone reading this blog, what road did you choose? What road do you choose now? It’s never to late! Start today, and when you start down that heartfelt road today, you will have youthful, passionate, energy like I was so blessed to experience this week. Yes, every cell in your body will be happy. Yup, youthful, passionate, energy is yours. Just go down the heart and soul path. If you do, you’ll never be wrong. Start today!
Onward and upward—