Last semester, I took one of the most interesting and worthwhile classes I have ever taken as an undergraduate student at USC. On the first day of class, Professor David Belasco, Executive Director of the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Co-Founder of the brand new USC Performance Sciences Institute, introduced himself and the course, The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Taking the Leap, which is a guest speaker course focused on exploring the mentality and determination required in order to be a successful entrepreneur. Professor Belasco began his presentation with a long list of names of individuals who had been guests in previous semesters: Mark Cuban, John Legend, Quincy Jones, Pete Carroll, Gloria Steinem, Tony Robbins, Cindy Crawford, and countless more CEOs and industry leaders. I was excited when Professor Belasco then announced the first few guest speakers for our semester (Arianna Huffington, climber Alex Honnold, SoulCycle's Elizabeth Cutler, ClassPass' Payal Kadakia, Away Luggage's Jen Rubio), who would join us for a conversation with the professor followed by questions from several of the 270 students enrolled in the class. The professor ended the presentation with a photo of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers legend and recent Academy Award winner, announcing that for the first time ever, the NBA superstar would be joining the class in a matter of weeks. It was then that I realized it was going to be a great semester.
Throughout the semester, I learned an incredible amount about leadership, business, success and failure, and what it takes to be successful in the business world from Kobe Bryant and over a dozen other CEOs and entrepreneurs. There were so many highlights and special moments throughout the course that I will take with me long after graduating USC and entering the workforce. When Kobe expressed regret for lacking greater empathy for his teammates early in his career, I learned the importance of having strong emotional intelligence in life and the workplace. ClassPass' CEO Payal Kadakia's story about how her inability to find a way to express her love for dance led her to founding a multi-million dollar company taught me to focus on the passions in my life and identify exploitable weaknesses in existing industries. Each guest talk was unique and enlightening in many different ways, yet the common thread that ran through them all was the importance of doing what makes you happy and always being eager to learn more in order to get better. These valuable lessons made this course such a rewarding experience and I am so grateful to have these incredible opportunities available to me at USC Marshall!