The following post is written by Texas MSTC Class of 2015 graduate, Rainya Mosher. You can find this original post and more by Rainya on her blog.
On 23 May 2015, myself and 65 other members of the cohort graduated from UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business with a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization. This one year Master’s program focuses on giving students the skills needed to take an idea, invention, or discovery through the immense amount of work needed to create and sustain a business. As my classmate Jonathan Cartmill said in his speech for the Teacher of the Year Award (given this year to Dr. Kate Mackie):
Just because you can detect salmonella doesn’t mean the chicken companies are going to pay you for it.
Tech commercialization is futuristic thinking grounded in the reality of the present. While brilliant thinkers, scientists, and engineers invent wonderful things every day, a commercialization expert ensures the invention connects to the real world in a meaningful way. This usually entails doing exhaustive research to find the group of someones who will pay to use the invention, and once these someones are identified, determining how much are they wiling to pay. It is a wonderful melange of business and science, finance and technology. Quite simply, it was the perfect degree for me!
Brett Hurt gave our commencement address with a message as timely and pointed as I could have asked for. A former entrepreneur-in-residence at McCombs, Brett is the founder of several successful startups and owns Hurt Family Investments. Below are my key takeaways from his brief but impacting speech.
On Tech Commercialization
There are many shortages in the world – food, water, energy, medicine among them. I challenge you to solve the world’s greatest challenges through technology commercialization. We are in the most amazing time in the history of the world for technology commercialization. The Internet and all its derivatives are being professionalized, making this period quite different from the dot com boom and bust of the ’90s.
On Books to Read
Watch less news. Read good books instead. Infinitely more thought has been put into them. This is where wisdom can be found. Specific books to inspire the dreamer in us all include: Abundance by Diamandis & Kotler; The Second Machine Age by Brynjolfsson & McAfee; and Man’s Search for Meaning by Frankl.
On Successful Entrepreneurship
The skills needed to to move from invention to a viable commercial product and finally to a prosperous business is what the MSTC program provides its graduates. Brett provided a reminder that some of the most important elements for success go beyond market validation and consolidated financial statements.
Live within your means
You’ll always feel rich (and be able to pursue your dreams) if you live within your means
Take time away from work
Take vacation time, even in the earliest stages of a startup, and use the time for deep reflection. Prioritizing time away to reflect on what you’ve learned and where you’re going. Some of the most important decisions affecting the direction of a company are frequently made while on vacation. If you don’t take the time to reflect, life and companies have a habit of running away with you.
Don’t forget your family
You’ll always feel stressed in some ways. There will be always be excuses on why you’re too busy to spend time iwth family. Don’t be that person who, on their death bed, regrets missing their children’s best years or wished they spent more time with their parents or partners. No matter how intense a business gets, time with family is truly just another choice you must make. Choose wisely.
Nourish your soul
If you lose your passion for a cause, stop pursuing it and find something else to ingnite the spark. Take a second look should you find yourself accepting a job solely on the basis of money or title. If you find you aren’t giving back either through your community or company, find ways to do so. Companies have souls that need to be nourished as well as people.
Take care of you
More important than all the other things is your health. Without health, nothing else is possible. You can’t enjoy the money your have earned or the time you spend with your family. The inner journey and maintaining health is as important as the outer journey and achieving success.
The Man in the Arena
Brett ended his speech with the famous “Man in the Arena” quote, taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 Citizenship in a Republic speech. This is perhaps my favorite quote of all time and fills me with strength in even the most difficult times:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
So now, MSTC Class of 2015, with hoods, diplomas, and a hearty UT hook ‘em, we leave behind our classrooms for an arena full of possibility. There, we will dare greatly to change the world for the better. Of course, a healthy dose of profit alongside our world changing ventures won’t hurt, either!
The full text of the speech is now available at http://lucky7.io/post/my-commencement-speech-for-the-2015-mstc-graduates-at-u.t.-austin