What Pitch To Swing At
It is going on about a year since the point that I found the startup community and people whose sole interest in life is building businesses. Since that point, it's been essentially my obsession. It's all I think about. Books, podcasts, Twitter. Feel like I'm constantly on the hunt for an idea or someone to talk to. Opportunity is truly everywhere you look. When you can do anything, what is it you should choose?
My interest in this space was preceded by a strong passion for studying investing. I still have that but my love for finance has brought me here and so I feel that they're connected in a way. Early on, learning about Buffett everyone always mentions his baseball analogy. For those that don't know it, Buffett compares buying equity in a company to swinging at a ball. You don't have to swing at everything, just the right ones which will be few and far between. Stay patient when the ball is in the outside corner, but when it comes right down the middle, go all in. This theology is backed up by his investing track record - not many small bets and most go out of the park.
I was reminded of this story shortly after an interview for an internship with a private equity company. It's an interesting opportunity but it's been explicitly stated that it's unpaid and doesn't lead to a position because there are none available. I had a hard time squaring that idea in my head. Why does this company want to spend all this time developing me and not be interested in bringing me on - they haven't met me, how could they know? Felt like I was judged before I even got to the interview.
After some thought on the walk into the building, I realized that this job was similar to investing as Buffett talked about - a pitch. But was it down the center? Leading up to this I've been extremely tense in search of a job. Multiples of rejection letters, including my very favorite, the automated one you get immediately after hitting apply. They didn't even read it. But I've been trying to stay positive! I viewed this as another opportunity to network, learn some important skills. The thoughts in the back of my mind whisper "unpaid" and "waste of time".
I somehow found a way to square those things in the interview. The gentleman gave a nice overview of the position to which I replied "This is a very abrupt statement but I'd like to know in detail what I'll be doing. I am a full-time student, involved in clubs, and also am working another internship - I will not do busy work for you. I'm not going to make coffee or run errands. I'm here because I can add value to you and I won't do anything less".
The few seconds that followed lasted an eternity.
That moment was liberating. It felt like I took control of the interview by knowing what I was worth and recognizing that my time is valuable. It wasn't this one-way conversation of nervousness and worry that you'll answer something wrong. It wasn't begging for a job (I do still need a job but he didn't need to know that). It felt good to have the confidence to understand my own value at that moment. My walk was peppy even for walking 5 stories back up to my car.
Communicating in that way has got to be way everywhere. In every relationship - professional, personal, female to male, male to female - everywhere. Nobody should be afraid to know or to say that their voice is important. We need that.
Knowing your value allows you to swing.