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who developed one of the top 20 drugs in the world.
When I envisioned life in venture capital, I wanted a challenging, fast-paced environment rife with new ideas requiring ultimate intellectual adaptability. And I found it indeed. And there is more to the story than high volume and brain-twisting challenges. Business requires soft skills—not something I personally felt I had to cultivate as a peccadillo-ridden, quirky geek. Fast and loose lab meetings with colleagues arguing the didactic issue of the day have been replaced with comparatively glacial, civilized business meetings—that is, to the untrained eye. I have begun to notice that from the nervous shuffling of papers to the ‘bad smell’ scrunching of my nose, I must work to control my ‘tells’ and harness my reactive nature. If I learn to listen and observe very carefully, there is a lot going on.
This was the very topic of my first meeting as member of Class 14 of the Kauffman Fellows program at the Kauffman Center for Venture Education. For someone as green as I am, I think of the Kauffman Fellows two-year program as immersion studies in the language of venture capital. My first, three-day intensive class session left me with a head full of new ideas – from what makes the ideal CEO to how many times per minute I blink – as well as 27 new friends across the globe, from South America to Ireland. Perhaps divulging their devious and brilliant social engineering skills, the Center for Venture Education selected 27 highly educated and extremely competitive people to study together. Far from killing each other, as one might expect, we ended up giddy as first-graders released from the bonds of nap time, committed to championing the cause of Innovation and the Entrepreneur.
You see that? I just dropped a few business-type words. I wouldn’t have used those words a year ago, and probably would have raised an eyebrow at someone who did. I guess you could track my transitions best by looking at my kitchen language. At first I asked for a “cup” of sugar. Then, as a scientist, I asked for an “aliquot” of sugar. And just last week I asked my husband to “deploy a cup of sugar, arguing a greater return on investment as regards cake sweetness.”
The upside: an entirely new world of interesting people. The downside: hosiery.
So this is my first report and I welcome new friends and new ideas (and some requisite hazing that comes with being the new kid on the block).
While my academic friends still take my calls, I must admit there is a palpable difference when I visit the laboratory. I no longer feel the compulsion to run to the lab bench, no longer compulsively dive in to the detailed intricacies of lab scientific conversations. Or perhaps I simply can’t hear them over the jangle of filthy lucre in my pocket. So far, so good and no regrets…but I’ll keep you updated.
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