This week I got to speak to Harvard undergrads as a keynote speaker at a Women in Business event.
The whole thing was a trip. Logging in and seeing all the students, talking about my own career path and giving advice. It made me look back, and reflect on my own experience in education.
I was never a student that teachers cared about. I just wasn’t. I think in general, teachers tend to care about the brains, the kids who they know are going to excel. I wasn’t one of them, so I guess they didn’t care. And because they didn’t care, I really didn’t care. Which isn’t entirely true, I guess it just became a sort of defense mechanism and that led to a less than engaged school experience in both high school and college. (Academic that is, I had plenty of fun. I mean if I was ONLY focused on grades, I wouldn’t have had half the fun I did have. Including skipping out to drive to Seattle, to see Nirvana when they were a brand new band. Take that!)
Which isn’t the real point of this. Although it might be. I know there are amazing teachers, but too often they only focus on the shining stars - and for a lot of us, we don’t become a supernova until later in life. But that’s a whole other essay.
But I always knew how to work hard and go after what I wanted. I wanted to work in a restaurant. I wanted to work in fashion. I succeeded at both those things. But I never took the typical route.
When I’m hiring, I look for people who’ve done things their own way. I don’t necessarily look for 4.0 GPAs or Ivy League degrees. I hire people who’ve worked in restaurants, or in retail. People who can deal with customers, and solve problems under pressure.
Because the reality is, you don’t always have to be good at school, to be good at work. Every single job is an opportunity to learn, and gain more skills for whatever comes next.
This is the life attitude I’ve adopted.
And hey - I just spoke at Harvard.
So I guess I did something right.