We > Me
It was 2016. I was perfectly on track to take the GMAT and apply for my MBA. And, in three months, my future as I had planned it seemed like a distant memory.
A car accident that nearly claimed my life, the sudden and unexpected loss of several people very close to my heart, and my professional aspirations getting turned upside down all left me unsure of who I was and what I wanted my story to be.
It took time, but eventually, I stood back up. I took the GMAT (again), I filled out the applications, I interviewed. And, several years later, I was admitted to NYU. When I think about what I’ve learned/reinforced about leadership at Stern, the following thoughts come to mind:
Good storytelling can get people to move mountains. Being a speaker at Stern Speaks, a student-led program featuring stories about who students are, not what they do, has also clarified my voice -- values that become my fixed points in a spinning world. For me, my voice consists of three principles: courage, kindness, and joy. Discovering my voice has clarified that my purpose, at Stern and in life, is to empower others to find and use theirs. The best way I can accomplish this is to apply what Simon Sinek taught with the Golden Circle: think, speak, and act from the inside out by allowing your “why” to serve as your compass, and letting the “how” and “what” follow afterward. This, in my opinion, is how we close the gap between what is and what could be.
Storytelling is essential, but true leadership starts with listening. The single most underserved skill of modern leaders is their ability to listen -- to actively, truly, and genuinely open their ears and their minds as opposed to simply waiting to speak. Like any other muscle or business skill, this is something that can and should be practiced and applied daily. This is why, in conjunction with Professor Nate Pettit, we’ve founded Stern Listens -- the newest club at Stern focused exclusively on becoming a better leader through the skill of active listening.
As I think about leadership, I recall what Professor Pettit emphasizes in his Leadership in Organizations course: leadership is not a position -- it’s a set of actions. When I join Amazon after I graduate from the Tech MBA Program, I’ll be starting as an individual contributor. However, there will be just as many (if not more!) opportunities to provide leadership. It starts with listening and observing to discover how I can provide value and where I can empower others. Then, through a combination of empathy, passion, and a challenger mindset, I’ll be able to help bring out the best in myself, my colleagues, and my company.
I want to have a multiplier effect and leave the world a better place than I found it, and the Leadership Accelerator at Stern has given me access to the people, processes, and programs to make this goal a reality.