Another Review of Tina Seelig’s “What I wish I knew when I was 20”
Ok, I’ll admit it, the only reason I read this book was because it was written by the Director of the Stanford Entrepreneurship Network. I figured since the author, Tina Seeling, is a leader of other successful leaders, she probably has at least some useful information to pass on to a wannabe entrepreneur like me. Boy was I right!
This book is full of eye opening stories which are especially useful for young people like myself looking for permission to think, and more importantly, act outside the box. For those of you who don’t know, “What I wish I knew when I was 20” is a crash course through Tina Seelig’s experiences and observations as an entrepreneur. The book started out as a checklist of things Dr. Seeling wanted to make sure to teach her son. It ended up being a bestselling book which she gave to her son for his 20th birthday. Many of the stories are anecdotal, which is one of the major appeals for me. Dr. Seelig talks about everything from how you should approach problems, to creativity, to quiting a job you don’t like, and even how you should live your life in general.
My favorite story has to be how Tina Seelig got herself into Stanford Medical School. Shortly after completing her BA at the University of Rochester, Dr. Seelig decided to pursue a PhD in something she wasn’t interested in at a school which I forget the name of (I think it was University of Minnesota). This was mostly due to pressure from her parents and peers. I identified strongly with this story because many of my own decisions have been adversely affected by suggestions from parents and peers. After her first year in the PhD program, she decided that it wasn’t for her so she packed her bags and moved to California. She spent half a year working odd jobs to support herself, and also spent a lot of time thinking about what she wanted to do with her life. During this time, she frequented the local library to read up on scientific advances in the field of neuroscience. As she grew more interested in neuroscience, she decided that she wanted to get back into a PhD program.
The difference was that this time she was motivated by her own desire to succeed. She emailed all of the professors and researchers at a local university (Stanford Medical School) in order to see if any of them needed help with their research. At first she didn’t get replies but after a couple of months she got an answer from a Professor who was doing experimental research on live patients and needed an extra hand. Dr. Seelig described how over night she went from bumming on the ocean to wearing scrubs in an operating room at SMS. When I read this, I literally fell out of my chair in amazement. Some simple emails, with a little bit of persistence, got her into a research lab at a top university. After spending another six months in this lab, she eventually got a letter of recommendation from that same professor, which ultimately led to her acceptance into Stanford Medical School. Wow!
The overall lesson from this story is that there are other opportunities for you if you are unsatisfied with your current situation. All you have to do is listen to your gut feeling and put forth the appropriate amount of work. Although this seems like common sense, it gave me comfort reading this from someone who has actually succeeded by doing this. There are numerous success stories like this in this book. Dr. Seelig has had the privilege of becoming friends with lots of interesting people, and she writes about many of their stories. I recommend her book to anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship or even just career advice at large.
Dr. Seelig stresses that there is no one path to success, and anyone can be successful if they put time and effort into what they are passionate about. You might be wondering how someone with a PhD in neuroscience ended up teaching entrepreneurship to engineers. If you are, make sure to pick up this book to find out. It’s a really short read and the lessons in it will surely help you on your journey.
Ali studied Biomedical Engineering for 2 years at Illinois Institute of Technology before transferring to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study Computer Science.