5 Lessons I Learnt from Professor Tom Kosnik
The N-House Community had the privilege in hosting Professor Tom Kosnik at its Wickly Entrepreneurship event — Wicked Wednesdays., He is one of the consulting professors for NOC Silicon Valley and was part of the pioneer team which started the NOC Programme! In his 2-hour talk, these were 3 lessons I learned from him
1) Singapore is pretty awesome
Professor Kosnik shared his love for Singapore and he explicitly compared Singapore to many countries he’d been to; he loves its food, the city, the people and most importantly, NUS Students! Although my experience of being overseas is amateurish compared to Professor Kosnik, being away from home during my NOC experience taught me that Singaporeans tend to take simple things for granted — in my case, it was Singapore’s weather compared to Beijing’s weather.
2) A Winning Team is Essential for a Successful Startup
Professor Kosnik spent a great deal elaborating about how the skill of all team player has to complement each other as its virtually impossible for a single individual to be skilled at everything; there will always be strengths and weaknesses of people and its critical to fill in the gaps for one another. A key point that resonated with me was how he emphasized the importance of dissolving one’s ego — disagreeing with each other should not be seen as a personal attack from one person to the other, but seen as aa essential process which must take place for the greater development of the whole company; it is, in fact, where a greater form of bonding and camaraderie would result from the mutual understanding of how both disagreeing individuals are simply achieving the same goal at the end of the day. As he continued to elaborate, agreeing to disagree is alright but results of any particular decision should be the final verdict in any argument.
3) Your Immediate Boss May Be a Moron
Professor Kosnik shared about the first job he had after graduation at a Silicon Valley-based startup and he explicitly mentioned how he felt that his immediate boss was a moron. He confronted the founders of the startup and told them he wanted to quit, only to be relocated independently to head sales for the company by himself with a team he had complete autonomy over. Professor Kosnik valued the freedom that the founders gave him and he eventually closed on several clients, bringing good business to the company. He shared how everyone should have the guts and courage to stand up to your immediate boss, if he/she is a moron — never sit, dwell and complain about it — instead, take action because everything is a choice.
4) Opportunities are everywhere, but it takes work to solve it.
As cliché as it may sound, Professor Kosnik believed that there were opportunities everywhere. Every single person on earth brings his/her set of worldviews into our lives, and each of us face certain difficulties and challenges from each other. It is this difference in perspective that results in many different startups all aimed to solve unique problems. Any startup pitch may sound logical and impressive, but only work & determination can make solving a particular problem a reality. Often times, it requires a personal touch as to why startup founders do what they do, and it is often the main reason why they do it not for the sole purpose of monetizing but only doing so as a side-result of solving a problem they are passionate about.
5) If you live for the weekends, you’re broken.
Professor Kosnik ended his talk more on a solemn note, where he told all the students he felt that if people only lived for the weekends, they’re broken inside. It was his final pitch and encouragement to student to venture off to solve problems that would be meaningful to the world. He felt that many university students go off to big multi-national companies, to earn money that they don’t need much of, only to be drained emotionally and mentally from work they’re not passionate about. Most of our lives are spent working, and he declared that it would be ridiculous for students to not work in something they’re interested in — even if students aren’t entrepreneurs, its then essential to find work that you like, or an environment that you wouldn’t dread Mondays for.
So that’s the 5 quick lessons I learnt from the talk with Tom Kosnik! These were the key points that strongly resonated with me, and its probably time for me to act on working on my own start-up now! 😊
-Tham Jiang Jun, N-House Residential Assistant