Entrepreneurship, Start-Ups

My Entrepreneurship History

In the spirit of switching my blog over to new content, I suppose I should with begin with explaining why I’m so interested in entrepreneurship and finance.

It was only a few years ago when I was introduced to the idea that I could create my own career. As a good student, I grew up under the assumption that I would get good grades, get a good job, and climb the company ladder. The only problem? I didn’t want to do it at all.

The First Idea

During my second year of undergrad, I was studying chemical engineering. I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer, but I was getting my degree so I could go to law school. I told myself I’d change my major if I could come up with a better idea. I never did.

One day, for my Thermodynamics II class, we had to go to an oil and energy event. It was a panel with a few speakers from the oil industry talking about their careers. Since it was mandatory, I went alone, sat in the very back, and didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t want to be there, I had lost my entire evening on this event that I wasn’t even interested in.

Event, Auditorium, Conference, International Conference

While they we talking, it became crystal clear: I didn’t want to do this. The audience seemed engaged with these speakers, enamored by the way these three were changing the world. I saw them as what they were: people who were overworked. In a fit of frustration, I turned the page in the notebook I was taking notes in and drew a line right down the middle. On the left side, I made a list of the classes I had taken that I enjoyed and on the right, I made a list of my hobbies.

Desperate, I stared at the words I had scribbled down and tried to connect the dots. I was so focused on coming up with an idea of how to escape the rat race. I felt certain it was the only way out of the reality I had set up for myself. After thinking and thinking, I came up with my first idea.

It was a foreign language learning program. I’ll spare you the details, but it had me firing on all cylinders. Alongside my chemical engineering, I studied international studies. I was passionate about different cultures and languages. As an engineer, I loved algorithms. Putting the two together made sense. For months, I carried around a separate notebook where I planned out the idea.

Meeting the Sharks (and the Bait)

Having my idea just felt like a little secret that I was carrying around. I fantasized about the code on the backend and sketched logos in my spare time. I became obsessed.

A few months later, a friend that I had told my idea to came up to me with a strange proposition. She was working for an economics professor and they were doing a shark tank event for start-ups to get funding from investors in the city. She asked if I wanted to help out. Of course, I agreed.

As a volunteer at this event, I was in the room with the sharks timing people as they pitched. I heard bad pitches about good businesses and good pitches about bad businesses. I watched the sharks tear some people apart and some praise and give offers. I have never learned so much in an afternoon. I was caught under the spell of entrepreneurship. I wanted to learn everything I could.

Work, Office, Team, Company, Internet, Business

Inserting Myself in Places I Didn’t Belong

After the shark tank event, I felt my passion in my bones. I didn’t have money (or the ability to code a website), so all I could do was make lessons for the foreign language program. I kept working, but I knew something would have to change to get it off the ground. I got my opportunity, but not exactly in the way I had imagined.

Over the holidays, I went home to visit some old friends. While catching up, one of my friends mentioned a mutual friend of ours who had a start-up. Something about a phone app. Something about social media. Amidst my slightly tipsy evening, I focused all my energy in getting more information about the status of his company.

I called him the next day and asked him if I could help out. He immediately said yes. All of a sudden, I had a start-up I could be a part of. He told me that if I helped him with his idea, he’d help me with mine. And just like that, I was in business.

Paper, Business, Finance, Document, Office, Analysis

This was during the final semester of my senior year. My law school applications had already been sent in – school didn’t matter now. I shifted all of my energy to launching his app. The app had already been made, so it was all-hands-on-deck to get this thing to the public. I met with local bars, came up with a crazy marketing strategy, brought a few friends with a few targeted skills to help, and things were looking great. My house had become the unofficial HQ. Some days, I was working more than eight hours.

With the help of the team I had put together, we had opportunities networking with some pretty serious and established people. I was getting to know that economics professor who did the shark tank events (I brought on the friend who worked for him). We found ourselves building a reputation as people who had marketing intuition.

However, the longer I worked on this business, the more I started to realize that something wasn’t right. There were investors behind the scenes. Every time I asked about them, I didn’t get much information. A few months later, I discovered that they owned most of the company and had some strong opinions about things.

Without getting into it all, I had to leave the business. I was able to spare my relationships with my friends, but I walked away with such a gift. I now had actual experience working on a start-up.

Weaseling My Way In Further

I landed a job with the economics professor, largely due in part to my friend. I had two roles with him: to plan events on campus with investors and to consult start-ups that he had invested in at his firm.

Office, Business, Colleagues, Meeting, Computers

I won’t get into the details since these are real companies and real investors. But I was able to now see the other side of the business: what a start-up looks like to an investor. I only worked with him for a few months – law school had just begun and I was crumbling under the workload. However, these positions indicated that there was a spot for me in this community if I wanted it.

My Path Forward

If you’ve been here since the early days of my blog, you know what happened next. I started this blog. I wanted something I could call my own and wasn’t intertwined with personal relationships. Something where I had all of the control.

Now here we are.

I’m excited for this journey forward. I look forward to writing about entrepreneurship and finance and learning more myself. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for being a part of that experience.

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Project 4

Reflecting on My First 20 Books

As a former engineer, data and numbers speak to me. Being 20% of the way through my reading project, it seemed as good a time of ever to reflect on the journey thus far.

I had gotten this idea from Jenni at SprainedBrain who chronicles her book statistics often. She does a great job at it – you can see the statistics she looks at here! I didn’t base my statistics off of hers, so check out which data points she takes too! Thanks, Jenni!

Word Counts

Of my 12,327,956 word journey, I have read 2,041,953 words. A mere 16.5%. It’s mind blowing to think that I’ve read the two longest books on the list – Atlas Shrugged and Les Miserables – and I’ve still got so far to go!

Of those books, I wanted to look at a distribution of the word counts of each. Looking at this data surprised me, I definitely have a preference.

In my defense, the two books over 150,000 words were both over 500,000 words… but I digress. I have a problem. Maybe it’s because I know that shorter books are less of an investment and I can get them done faster. Either way, I’m hoping to read some longer books in these next 20.

Readjusting Ratings

Over the past 6 months, I’ve noticed that my opinions on certain books has changed. Having a little more perspective on my reading preferences, I feel like my ratings, particularly for the earlier books, were not so great. I thought I’d take a moment to adjust my ratings.

Book Old RatingNew RatingChange
Lolita6.55-1.5
Treasure Island98-1
The Prince54-1
The Call of the Wild8.58-0.5
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde87.5-0.5
Atlas Shrugged99.50.5
The Arabian Nights5.55.50
Murder on the Orient Express990
A Clockwork Orange3.53.50
The Time Machine5.55.50
The Art of War76.5-0.5
Animal Farm990
All’s Well That Ends Well54-1
Alice in Wonderland660
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory76.5-0.5
Fahrenheit 451660
Les Miserables990
Journey to the Center of the Earth550
Beowulf660
Of Mice and Men550

The reason I find this so particularly helpful is because I really want to be able to put a larger spread to differentiate between books. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy a book with a rating under 5, it just means that I believe it’s not a groundbreaking book.

Taking this data and cute little Excel chart, I was able to split hairs to really figure out which books I feel are necessary to recommend to others.

My Favorites

Looking back, I have clear favorites. Allow me to share.

Atlas Shrugged: Okay, I’ll be outright here. You probably won’t agree with all of the thoughts and ideas Ayn Rand shares in this book. But it is going to challenge you to ask yourself why you disagree. On top of that, the story itself is really wonderful. I think this is a book everyone must read.

Les Misérables: Please, whatever you do. Read this book someday. It’s such a profound story with characters that will leave you so attached. If you’ve seen the musical or any other adaptation, you’re missing the essence of the story – the motivations, the desires, and the thoughts of these characters that are so real they follow you for days. (Besides, my favorite scene in the book is not included in the adaptations because it involves so much backstory).

My Least Favorites

My least favorites are far less clear. I wouldn’t say I really disliked any of these books. I mean, I finished them, right? But if I had to pick, these are the two that just didn’t do it for me:

A Clockwork Orange: I still feel the same way I did about this book when I finished it: I personally didn’t like it, but I can understand why someone would. The teenage angst on a forgettable character is a little off-putting to me. Plus, the book uses it’s own slang which makes it difficult to follow.

All’s Well That Ends Well: I think I was a little too nice with my original review. This story is forgettable to me. In fact, I had to read the plot that I wrote just to remember it. I completely understand why this is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-performed plays.

With that, the first chapter of my journey comes to a close. But there’s so, so much more ahead. Looking forward to my next reads – and sharing them all!

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School

Exciting News Alert!

I’ve been keeping a secret.

Last week, during Reading Week, I was given the opportunity to complete one of my biggest legal goals: making Law Review.

Law Review is a journal that most law schools have where students draft legal articles for publication. Getting accepted to Law Review is a really prestigious honor. These articles are seen by alum, potential employers, and even judges. I could be cited in a real court case or even be given job opportunities I didn’t have before.

I’ve brought it up briefly here on the blog, but not extensively (so I didn’t look like a fool if I didn’t make it!). While there are other journals at the school, almost every school has a Law Review. There’s literally a button on the journal application process that says “If I make Law Review, withdraw my application from the other journals.” If that’s not favoritism, I don’t know what is.

There are two paths to making Law Review: being the top of your class or winning a write-on competition. Seeing as I was not the top of my class, I was left with competing.

I wrote a post about what it was like to compete – and the high levels of stress I’m not used to. You can read that here.

As I say in that post, I thought I made a strong effort. I wasn’t sure it was enough to get me on Law Review since my classmates are all hyper competitive.

But I did it.

I also want to thank all of you that read this blog. As I wrote in the competition post:

Maybe it’s a byproduct of this blog – because since starting this journey I’ve just wanted more for myself. Not handouts, but I wanted to earn every bit of satisfaction. 

My desire to achieve is partly due to those who have supported my journey. Without all of you cheering me on, I wouldn’t have felt accountable. Before my blogging (quasi-)career, I felt like if I couldn’t accomplish something it didn’t matter since no one was watching. Now there are a few eyes I feel I have to make proud.

I sincerely hope that each one of you reading this one day feels that satisfaction I felt from making Law Review. If you ever need someone in your camp, I’m there. Tell me, what are your goals? How are you actively pursuing them? Let’s talk about our next chapters together.

P.S: My boyfriend will also be writing on a journal! He is currently choosing between several offers. Power couple?

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Project 7

My First Attempt at Calligraphy

This week, I received all my calligraphy supplies for Project 7! There’s no better way to decompress after finishing a massive task than to get a little creative, so upon finishing our law journal writing competition, we decided to blindly test the materials.

The Materials

I chose this set from Amazon (not sponsored!). After redeeming a coupon, the set went from $15 to $9. The set included one pen, eleven nibs, and some ink. While I don’t have anything to compare it to, I did like the pen and thought it was easy to use.

Without any instruction whatsoever, I blindly tested the nibs. Each one is different in both shape and size. Some have a pointier tip where others create a brush effect by a flatter edge. Some also are longer than others, I have yet to figure out what the effect of that is. Here’s what each of the nibs looked like:

As I was using the pen, I realized it was easier to use than I expected. The ink was easily controlled by the nib which surprised me. I thought using a calligraphy pen would be like writing with a needle – scraping the paper. But it really wasn’t. It felt just as natural as any other pen.

I Tried My Best…

From there, I decided to try writing a little bit of print and a little bit of script. I didn’t look up any sort of instructions – I wanted to start at the absolute beginning. While I will learn actual technique, I just wanted to mess around. I’m hoping that as I get better, I can look back on where I started and see some progress.

I also made a time lapse of my first attempt. (Yes, I did have to set up an Instagram just to post this, expect more content there in the future!). Check it out:

All in all, I was not disappointed. I expected more smudging, but I was careful not to overload the pen with ink. I’ve always had decent handwriting, but I’m looking forward to learning calligraphy fonts. I know consistency is the most important part and my handwriting has never been very consistent.

…And Then My Boyfriend Blew Me Out of the Water

My boyfriend also gave it a go. He might have been the underdog being a lefty, but he was able to pull together something very impressive. He’s always been a bit snotty about his pens, always using only a certain kind of pen because he liked the way the ink flowed. Before trying the calligraphy pen, he was already an accomplished doodler. Here’s some of his older stuff using normal roller-ball pens:

Needless to say, he couldn’t wait to get the calligraphy pen in his hands. He managed to make this on his first go:

(To see a time lapse of his work, check out the second slide in the Instagram post above!)

He also had an absolute blast. I made the executive decision to leave the calligraphy materials at his house so he could dabble whenever he wanted.

I’m excited to take on this project and I can’t wait to get into the real stuff! Playing around was fun – but now it’s time to craft an actual skill. We’re looking forward to both learning more and discovering a new world we know nothing about.

How’d we do? Share your thoughts with us down in the comments below!

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