Monday, September 16, 2013

Haroon Zaidi:Serendipity or Capitalizing Upon Opportunities

What amazes me among all of the people that we’ve met is: how much of what they were able to do can be attributed to serendipity and how few of them (honestly none) could have seen themselves where they are right now.   Needless to say they were all brilliant, but you see so much brilliance are you and some of the speakers have outright repudiated the claim that they were brilliant.    Dr. Koblick seemed particularly adamant in this assertion, he even said that some have suggested that perhaps it takes a certain lack of imagination to do what he did and that the really brilliant individuals are not cut out for the type of research he does, which of course we all know was good natured modesty on his part.  However what was particularly ironic and striking was that he said that sometimes he’s afraid to ask questions, because he feels they won’t be brilliant enough, and here I, myself, was sitting there feeling the exact same feeling.  So, it seems to me what separates these people from the rest of the brilliant individuals, is that, there was something they were passionate about and they saw an opportunity and ran with it, they stuck to it. 
Jerry Yang and his friends created one of the most cutting edge search engine at the time simply because they wanted a way to beat the poli-sci kids at fantasy basketball and he expressed his doubt over whether they had or had not successfully defeated their opponents.  The CFO of Stanford a man who leads an University with a budget larger than some countries, met a random friend at movie that his wife (not he) had wanted to watch, from that he was able to ascertain his position of great power.  Yet sometimes I’m afraid, what if I have that great moment and somehow miss it. 
Maybe I might have missed my chance my moment to have that kind of success, or maybe that is exactly the incorrect mentality.  The problem is that I am looking for an opportunity too zealously, rather I should let the opportunity come to me and not try to force it.  There have definitely been opportunities, ranging from my friends trying to start a home décor company for college students, or a new type of resume, etc.; starting before I even came to Stanford and just recently when a semi-sketchy grad student was pitching his idea of a new online class system.  Maybe that’s the problem, I am too eager for looking for that perfect opportunity, rather I should just run with whatever opportunity comes my way.   
I have found two quotes extremely inspiring: when Gerhard Casper said that as a German boy eating Hoover food one could never imagine that he would be living in the House of President Herbert Hoover and when Dr. Uwe said everything can be taken from you your knowledge cannot. 

I personally have been given all these opportunities that most of the people I know have never had, I should take them and whatever may happen have no regret.  What happens, happens.  It’s just hard to put into words this feeling, this weight of having to do something, but fearing that I might sit complacently.   This fear that I’ll miss this critical juncture.  That, by the time I finally know what to do, it’ll be too late.  Today the speakers from the design school said “isn’t it great that you are going to miss so many opportunities.  Maybe they were trying to point out the sheer numbers of opportunities available to us, but I personally really hope that they were being sarcastic.


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