LESSONS LEARNED: The Creative Founder

Before this class, I thought:

I thought I wasn’t a leader-type. Wait, *rewind* I was always the leader in group projects in grade school. I thought I was a good leader. Why? Because I knew what the teacher wanted and always ended up doing most of the work. But throughout high school my motivation and willingness to be taking on other peoples’ jobs diminished, and I was more attracted to getting things organized. I was the secretary of the student council, taking notes, making sure plans were running, and sending out emails. I was more comfortable being someone’s assistant, managing their stuff, and being able to hide in their shadow. I hated being in the spotlight, being the face of something, and taking on that kind of responsibility so I never thought I’d be the CEO.

I thought business was boring and businesspeople are evil and I wanted nothing to do with it but I heard all my friends saying this class teaches you to become better at public speaking so that was basically 90% of why I decided to enroll.

I did this:

I became the CEO of pl8s aka BuildingBlocks. There was no way that I could go back to my old ways and do most of my team’s work. I think we struggled with that in the beginning–deciding who does what, and taking responsibility. I wasn’t comfortable having confident body language and taking up space. I fell into depression for a good month or so and blamed myself on my team falling behind. My team was getting frustrated that we were stuck, but didn’t blame me; we were all equally uncommitted and checked out. We had a few not-easy discussions. I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and got inspired. I felt like I’d be able to pull my team back together to get things done, and we were able to finish with satisfaction.

I read books on business and lean startup and it turned out that business wasn’t so evil and boring. Especially thanks to the colorful drawings of Business Model Generation. Business is essential if you want your ideas to come alive.

I presented almost every week and some of those presentations weren’t rehearsed, but it turned out that I’m not so bad at public speaking as I thought. I got better at managing (or rather hiding) my social anxiety and was getting less and less intimidated by guest critiquers (critics? I’m not sure). I started to accept myself more for who I am and was able to break away gradually from comparing myself to others. I also stopped projecting my feelings and fears onto others and thinking that I’m being judged.

I learned this:

CEOs don’t necessarily have to be the type of people who love being under the spotlight. They just have to have a clear vision and the drive to make it happen. I definitely had that with BuildingBlocks; I’m even considering to push it further as my senior thesis.

I learned that different people have different opinions. It seems obvious but I think this was the first time I’ve presented on the same idea to this many people, and it was interesting to see the different points they were interested in, different things they were unsatisfied with, different areas they valued.

Talking to people and getting feedback is so valuable. I get reminded of my Japanese-ness every time I’m hesitant to ask for feedback because I feel that I’m wasting someone else’s time. This applies to my friendships as well. I feel like I’m a burden to someone if I go to them for help, even though I’m always happy to help others and know that they’d be happy to help me. I hold things in and don’t let it out, which closely ties with my depressive tendencies. I’m continuously learning from Christina that it’s ok to take up space.

When I go out into the world, I’d do this:

Get out of the building!(blocks™)

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