I Graduated Into The 2000 DotCom Crash, And It Was The Best Thing To Ever Happen To My Career
Why Lack of Easy Options Made Me Focus On Who I Wanted To Be, Which Paid Off Over Time
In retrospect the fact we were all day trading tech stocks from Stanford’s computer labs probably suggested it was a bit of a bubble, although eToys options did pay for two consecutive Spring Break vacations. I was getting my MBA at the time which in some ways wasn’t just part of the DotCom storyline but an epicenter. Our professors were literally rewriting the case studies in real time and my participation in the very first Internet Marketing class the GSB ever offered is a form of carbon dating that conclusively proves my old age. But by my graduation in June of 2000, the party had ended. As became clear quickly: the Stanford Business School Class of 1998 had founded the good Internet 1.0 companies; the Class of 1999 had founded the bad Internet 1.0 companies; and the Class of 2000 was just plain unemployed. And so I left the campus with student debt and limited prospects. But it turned out to be exactly what I needed.
My decision to attend business school wasn’t really about getting the credential. I was there to get a MBA, not be an MBA. In fact, as a classic liberal arts major, I found myself more attracted to the PhD students studying theory than the curriculums built around understanding practice. And while 25 years ago a business school campus was a compelling way to build a professional network (there are many other methods now), I had other reasons for being there: to figure out who I was. Or maybe, more specifically, to give myself confidence to be who I wanted to be.
Right brain mother and left brain father left me confused… which one was I??? Pre-Stanford that meant trying out jobs to seeing what fit. Feed the left by working on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and be the only one geeking out about an Access database to track guests. Pivot to the right with a few years of management consulting and use Powerpoint on cross country flights to make stop motion animations. Neither felt perfect but my work ethic wouldn’t allow me to just stop and figure it out. But business school? Maybe that was a chance to pause and examine myself while still ‘moving forward’ in my…