What does it mean for someone to “grow up” in your organization? What kind of values would the person possess? What would the person be really good at?
I started thinking about this after attending a board meeting for BASES (Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students) as an advisor. In that meeting, we elected Ruby Lee to serve as the new Co-President, which brought me all the way back to September ’09 when I first met Ruby. At the time, BASES did not have a way to get freshmen involved, and it suffered from a shortage of talent to step up and lead. In response, I created a “Freshmen Battalion” to suck in the freshmen as soon as they set foot on Stanford’s campus. We would then rotate them to different teams so they can see what they’re interested in. Ruby was part of this inaugural class of freshmen. Flash-forward to today, Ruby has a vision for where the organization needs to go, and over the last three years, she has developed the skills and the confidence to do it. She’s what I would call a “BASES person.”
The idea of a “BASES person” is fascinating because it describes me. I came to Stanford not knowing how to spell the word entrepreneurship. BASES exposed me to founders who inspired me, investors who encouraged me, mentors who showed me how to get things done, and peers to collaborate with. I went from having never organized an event to producing one of the largest social entrepreneurship competitions in my sophomore year. I got my first experience managing a small team to put on four startup career fairs that connected students with real-world internships in my junior year. I met a like-mind who wanted to go above and beyond, and collaborated with him in the summer to revamp the BASES website. Once we finished that, we started working on side projects that became our startup Crowdbooster. In my senior year, I learned the difference between management and leadership when I became Co-President of BASES, which was just shy of 100 volunteers at the time. In one of the events we put together that year, I met the person that would become my other co-founder. BASES never promised me these things. I joined because I wanted to see what entrepreneurship was about. What I ended up with was way more than that.
Of course, I am the result of all the experiences I’ve had and all the people I’ve crossed paths with, but BASES was one of those really poignant experiences that made a very tangible impact in the course of my life. To get that, I dedicated a very significant portion of my time at Stanford to the organization. And yes, BASES happens to have the mission statement, “to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs,” so it worked out perfectly for Ruby and me. But I think this focus on developing people should be part of any organization’s mission, including our startups. Now that we are hiring, I am starting to think about what makes a “Crowdbooster person.” I think the person is undeniably someone who obsesses about creating the most transformative product, who won’t settle until she gets there, and who does it all with a strong sense of humility. “Crowdbooster people” will learn these values, develop the skills and the confidence to go on to have tremendous impact in the world, with Crowdbooster and beyond. That’d be so much fun!
Photo credit: Tamer Shabani Photography