Sunday, September 23, 2007

Plus est en vous

Today was the Junior Convocation at Stanford. We were addressed by Scott Forstall, the VP at Apple who created the iPhone. He also happens to be a Stanford alumnus, in Symbolic Systems (my major). He was alternately funny and inspiring.

One of his themes was "plus est en vous": there is more in you (than you know). He spoke about how people often will have either fixed minds or growth minds - how fixed minded people will prefer to do things that show they're smart, but growth minded people will accept looking stupid as long as they get to learn something.

I felt, many times, like he was speaking directly to my own fears and insecurities - that I won't be good enough to do what I'd like to do with HCI. And I realized that, yeah, I may not end up being the best and the brightest in the field - but I could be good at it, and I could offer perspective that isn't there for those kids who go into it directly from highschool to college to working in the field. So yeah - it's okay to not be perfect, to take classes or positions that stretch me. Here's this VP who's done awesome things saying that he *hired* for that. That he *looked* for people who wanted to stretch, to take risks, to be willing to not "look smart" in order to *learn*.

He finished by challenging us to look for the "more" in ourselves, to be willing to take opportunities to explore things we had no idea we could do. It is nice to know that there are, at least a few, people out there hiring who candidates for more than just the safe bets. I, for one, find that reassuring.

EDIT: And as I turn to my Gmail, the quote of the day at the top of my inbox:
Babe Ruth - "Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back."

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