Student Post – July 18, 2013 – They say that Silicon Valley is the place where things happen. Where overhearing a conversation about two guys working on their newest startup at a coffee shop is common place, and where people often reply to your pitch with a "Yes, AND" instead of a "Yes, BUT" or even worse, with a straight up "NO." Yes, Silicon Valley is the place where anything is possible, and this became clear when I convinced renowned venture capitalist Tim Draper to auction off a one-on-one lunch meeting to the highest bidder.
Thinking Outside the Box at Draper University
Regardless of whom you are and what position you hold, don't be afraid to fail. However, having a strong network is always useful, and I must confess that being a current student at Draper University in San Mateo, CA might have helped a little to secure the lunch. Draper University is an unconventional boarding school for young entrepreneurs created by Tim himself. In fact, the auction is taking place because my team, the Wonders, is fundraising for "Survival Week" which involves being in a secluded area for five days as part of the innovative curriculum. Fortunately, Tim agreed to help my team out with our wacky idea to auction him off, and we look forward to going off in the wild and surviving from the resources we gathered and the team strategy we devised while he has lunch with the lucky winner.
Be Surrounded by Like-Minded Entrepreneurs
Being at Draper University is about more than just going off on survival adventures or having talks led by top CEOs like Aaron Levie who created Box, or industry leaders like Robert Metcalfe who co-invented the Ethernet. To be here means to be surrounded by a group of thirty-eight brilliant peers from different corners of the world who share a passion for entrepreneurship and disruption, and who will eagerly give you feedback on your business idea regardless of how many times you change it. To be here means to think outside the box like how to drop an egg off from the eight floor without breaking it, and to be prepared to change the rules at any given point like playing volleyball with two balls and no net. To be here means "to do everything in my power to drive build, and pursue progress and change" as our superhero oath constantly reminds us. Most importantly, to be here means to be a hero.
What Does it Mean to be a Hero?
Through Draper University, I have come to redefine my definition of this word. Four weeks ago I would have said that to be a hero means to do something extraordinary that will benefit society. Today, I believe that a hero is someone who is not afraid to fail and who helps raise others up so that together they can do something even more extraordinary. Yes, at DU it is all about the teamwork and helping each other out in order to achieve a common goal. After all, every one has something to contribute to the table, and it is only when we pull all of our strengths together that we become more creative, more valuable, and completely indestructible. And if we fail, we fail together, we help each other up, and we try again until we succeed.
Don't be Afraid of Failure
That is the biggest lesson I have learned since being here, and as obvious and cliché as it may seem, you really need to live it in order to understand it. Regardless of whom you are and what position you hold, don't be afraid to fail. In fact, the only thing that should really scare you is failing and not learning anything from the experience. Everything else, regardless of how bad it is, holds some sort value if you know where to look for it. For example, when I was ten I was diagnosed with leukemia, and as bad an painful as dealing with cancer was, I was surrounded by the best team possible: my knowledgeable doctors, my loving parents, and my supportive school friends. Together, they made chemotherapy more bearable, and when the roughest days arrived and I wish I would die, my team was there to hold my hand and lift me up.
Also, always try to help others and form teams with your family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. They all have the potential to inspire you and to help you see the world with a new perspective, and you of course can do the same for them. So dream together, execute together and fail together. I believe this mentality is what makes places like Silicon Valley and Draper University so special. I only hope that all the heroes out there will help me share and implement this idea with the rest of world and start working together to do something extraordinary. And even if it fails, it will still be extraordinary.
~ Guest post by Ana Duran who is from Colombia and was part of DU's Summer 2014 Class.