My ego crushed itself, and took me with it.
A story of how a bunch of students brought me back to the ground.
Today in a university classroom the professor made an exercise to create groups. He picked 8 people to stand up and tell a little bit about yourself, sell yourself, so then the others in the class would show their interest in joining your team, I was lucky to go the front. Being an entrepreneur and having some experience taking in public in front of dozens of people, experience in business and negotiations and also networking; of course, this was an easy task, I’ve done it several times and this was no different. Only that it was.
In my stupidity, I figured these people in front of me, young, inexperienced, just-starting, did not deserve the best pitch about myself that I could give. So all I did was like: “I’m Harold, this is my schedule, this is where I live, in case you need to meet in person. I like using every tech tool we can use to collaborate”. And that was about it. I though mentioning my involvement in business or what I do for a living would be perceived as if I was being cocky or bragging, and I did not want them to reject me based on that.
After we all presented the professor asked the group to raise hands if they were interested in us. He said my name, and guess how many people raised their hands. Let me add we are 44 on this class. 10? 6? A cold lonely zero. Nada. No one showed interest in joining my team. My obviously human reaction to rejection, what a bunch of douches, right? Why wouldn’t they work with me when I have a bunch of experiences and contacts that can allow us to perform better and faster? I spend the rest of the class bitter, and frustrated.
At the end of it I had recovered and realized that this was all my fault, I’ll explain to you why as I learned 3 lessons, that I hope never to forget.
Do not underestimate
When meeting new people, you cannot take for granted that they are not valuable, just because of something they said, or how they look. I remember when I was 18-ish and starting to work, I always was the young kid that no one paid attention just for being young. People can surprise you if you crack their surface.
The value of selling yourself
This really hit me. I probably talked for 20 seconds and that is the impression they took of me. I did not mention anything related to my work or to the experience I have. Those 20 seconds probably will not define me as a specific type of person to all of them, since I will do my best they change what they thought about me at that time. But it reassured me that sometimes 20 secs or less (aka elevator pitch) is all we have to give anyone a great impression. I’d be so bothered by this situation if I’d never see these people again, the thought of not giving value to myself to this 44 people would not let me sleep at night. We need to be ready to have this type of encounters if we wanna get people reaching back to you.
Is not who you know. Is who knows you what matters.
How you react matters more than the why
I could have spent the whole week and the rest of the quarter, thinking how good I am and how bad they are, angry at everybody and not giving a damn about all those people. Instead, I have decided to learn from it and look forward to next classes and hopefully get to know them a lot more. This applies to school, work, and life. By ourselves there is so little we can accomplish. We need help from others, we need to learn from others. No one came to the earth knowing everything there is to learn, and no one will left know everything either. How you react to a situation like this will define if you succeed or fail.