Life Lessons From A Stanford GSB Grad
For many, b-school is filled with important lessons from experienced professors. For Ian McMilan, Senior Director – Global Nike Services Lead at Nike and a Stanford Graduate School of Business alum, the most influential learnings came from his peers.
“Having six months to reflect, I can confirm the Stanford experience was easily one of the richest and most transformational of my life,” McMilan writes in a LinkedIn post. “I left with a completely new perspective, which was largely shaped by classmates. Being surrounded by peers from all walks of life gave me ample opportunity to be challenged and to grow.”
Here are a few of his takeaways.
“MAKE MORE THAN YOU TAKE.”
McMilan says the peers who stood out as exceptional at GSB were those who spent more time creating and less time taking.
In other words, rather than going through life’s mundane routine of working, eating, sleeping, and consuming media, they spent more time producing something new.
“My peers didn’t spend much time seated, staring at screens,” McMilan writes. “They were constantly investing energy in things that had some sort of tangible (often compounding) return beyond a short-term dopamine hit.”
Creators at GSB, instead, spent their time planning community outings, arranging visits to companies, creating art, launching startups, and planning shared experiences.
‘As I reflect on this, I realize consumption often leaves me feeling empty and wanting more (with the exception of holiday nog, which leaves me full and wanting to die), whereas creation leaves me feeling full and wanting to DO more,” McMilan writes.
“BUILDING YOUR ‘BRAND’ ISN’T JUST ABOUT YOU”
McMilan says exceptional peers at GSB took time being of service to others at networking events rather than focusing on themselves.
“Instead of going to events looking to make connections to benefit me, I began approaching events with a focus on how my connections and experience could help others,” McMilan writes. “This gave me a more definite purpose and the simple reframing shifted my conversations from superficial to deep, led to lasting connections, and made me feel like I earned the 20 crab cakes and four La Croix’s I consumed.”
“SPEAK YOUR DREAMS INTO EXISTENCE”
McMilan says one of the best things about b-school is the fact that you have an environment where you can think about what you actually want to accomplish in life.
And with a community around you willing to collaborate, it’s possible to literally speak your dreams into existence.
“One quick personal example to land this point (completely unrelated to “Business”): I grew up acting / writing / making short films and had long dreamed of writing my own comedy show,” McMilan writes. “I shared this desire openly, and as luck would have it, someone connected me with a classmate who had built a viral following on Instagram posting short, funny videos. He was looking to use this foundation to launch a true episodic comedy show.”
Read the rest of McMilan’s learning from b-school here.