Five Questions For … Hesam Panahi, Rice University Entrepreneurship Lecturer

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improvement; it’s about being able to show you’re constantly testing things out and moving forward. I don’t have any specific goals for 10 years from now. It’s more like if, 10 years from now, I’m still doing the exact same things now and not improved on it, then that is not being successful. I think when I look back at what I’ve been doing the last four years, the areas I’ve been focusing on, I’ve been doing something that both matches my interest and is good for my career. They happen to intersect with each other.

Success is just constantly learning. I want to be in a job or a career where you’re constantly having to reinvent the way you think about things. Look at entrepreneurship education 30 years ago versus now. A lot of the same basic underlying principals [are there] but the approach has changed; the timelines have changed.

X: What’s the most embarrassing thing about yourself that you’re willing to admit publicly?

HP: I have over 20 stuffed penguins. It started off as a thing; we thought penguins were cute. Lina and I would get each other penguins for birthdays and anniversaries. Then friends started giving us penguins. We had a child, so we get penguin clothing. I’ve amassed penguins in the double digits. I tried to donate some of the penguins to the Salvation Army and other places and I keep getting more penguins. They keep on coming into the house: stuffed ones, a penguin pacifier, toys.

It’s been going on for, like, 10 years. It started off where I got Lina one; it was part of a small gift. It turned into a downpour of penguins. Aziz [Gilani, a partner at Houston venture capital firm Mercury Fund] got me a penguin once. We have an endless supply all over the house. There are probably some in places that I don’t even know. I can’t keep track of them. There’s a penguin keychain; I have a little toy on my desk at work.

We have thought about maybe at some point to have to get [my son] a baby penguin a pet. We’ve actually looked into that. Are you allowed to actually have a penguin?

The only time I saw penguins was at the Georgia … Next Page »

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