(So thanks to a neat program at my school, I was able to do a 2-week long “Winternship” at a company during my winter break. I did mine at a small ed-tech startup, that created an app that makes school-to-parent communication more effortless.)
There’s something that feels hearteningly achievable and more familiar with the workings of the company right now. It’s currently on a positive trajectory, and it has already made significant impacts in the schools it targets. But at this stage, it’s still working out big kinks and dealing with the classic challenges of small, growing companies. Of course, I’m definitely not skilled enough to claim that I could build a company of my own like theirs, but I’m getting small glimmers of evidence here and there that the company looks to me like it was actually created by humans. As I watch the co-founders jump from meeting to meeting, switching hats back and forth and getting down on their knees every once in a while to do some not-so-CEO-ly work, for the first time ever, I can actually start to picture myself in their shoes — a Gloria who’s a few years older, a few years more experienced, and a few years more bold.
The monstrous enterprises like Apple, Amazon, or Google have now become so exalted and well polished, being constantly optimized by hundreds of experts in different fields, that they strike me as WAY beyond my own scope of understanding. It’s the same feeling of untouchable and captivating greatness you get from ogling at the masterpieces of a world-famous artist. For me, these exceptional models appear so watertight from the outside, that it provokes in me admiration and maybe a little inspiration, but not motivation. The creators of these things are the sort I haphazardly slap on with the GENIUS label, and never quite bother to figure out because I’ve rationalized that they’ve just got some god-given talent or have some secret sauce a mere mortal like me doesn’t have permission to taste.
The stuff that actually gets me off my butt and fired up is seeing the successes of people who are better than me, but haven’t yet shuffled out way beyond reach. The exemplars I follow are those who I could picture myself being if I could just muster up a little more elbow grease, creativity, and time. I think it’s for this reason that I’m really glad to have hung out with the team for the brief amount of time I had. I’m really glad to be learning so much.