Six degrees of separation: far or near?
This post is a tribute to a person who had recently advised me not to think or write too abstract and be somewhere in between the continuum that has at its one end very factual matter and at its other end highly abstract one. So, before I once again start drifting towards the abstract, I will straightaway come to the point. I want to talk about a unique insight that I got about Stanford, especially during the last couple of months. Of course, many people have already blogged and written about legendary professors, path-breaking classes, educational flexibility, and Stanford’s unique contribution in developing and disseminating the discipline of Organizational Behavior. They are of course all true. The truth that I discovered in the past few months is that the Stanford network machine is very effective.
I had been trying to build a team around an idea, but I was not quite sure how to assemble an equally passionate team around it. Talking to my first degree network was not enough. Quite surprisingly, often, I found willing and passionate partners who were at a four or five degree of separation away from me. And I am not even talking about finding people and convincing them. I am talking about people who want to do similar thing and relate to your vision, easily. They are also willing to collaborate with you. They don’t just collaborate but also complement you. It seems that many people are working here on the similar idea at the same time and are looking for complementing partners. They are more often, but not always, at a four or five or may be six, seven, or eight degree of separation away from you. So, no idea is preposterous even if it looks like nobody is giving it a damn. It just means that the right person is over there five or six degree of separation away from you.
Beyond my comfort zone
I had never thought I would sit among a bunch of law students studying the role of General Counsel in an American Firm. But, this quarter, I am doing exactly the same. I gave a break to all the entrepreneurial classes at the Graduate School of Business and took a class in the Law school. The Professor who teaches this class was the General Counsel at Apple Inc. during 2007-2009 and is currently a strategic advisor to Institutional Venture Partners. Every week he brings an eclectic mix of guests from corporate as well as education sector. The composition of the class is well balanced. Almost half of the class is from the business school and the other half from the law school. I, initially, didn't like the class but after a few sessions, I started liking it. The role of a GC is very interesting and challenging. He or she has to strike a delicate balance between his responsibilities of maintaining the legal compliance and preserving the management interests because many times these two come against each other in an organization.
Another class in my uncharted territory list is a class on innovation in healthcare. The composition of the class is as diverse as it can get. It has students from almost every discipline both form undergraduate and graduate degree courses. Each session explores one aspect of the healthcare industry in the US and has guests from healthcare firms visiting almost every class. And the unique teaching style of the Professor brings up each theme of the session quite well. Now, I have a fairly good understanding why healthcare is such a talked about subject in the US. What makes its healthcare system unique in the world, different from even European healthcare systems even though the per capita spending on healthcare in the US is highest in the world? And, it is still behind European countries in terms of healthcare outcomes?
Exciting times to come
I am more comfortable now with words like “hackathon” and “demo day”. Things are getting more and more exciting. Many interesting projects are lined-up. The only regret I have is not getting selected for LOWKeynotes, a unique endeavor of GSB, which provides participants a TED like platform for talks on various topics. But, I am an OptiMystique and every setback gives me an opportunity to think something new. So, from my next post onward, I will include a video blog as well in my posts. I hope it satisfies me.