Planting Your Serendipity Seeds

05/11/2015
Illinois mechanicalIllinois mechanical engineering graduate Alex Meyer (1999) finished out the ME 390 seminar course with his presentation, “Things you might not think about… but should.”  
Alumnus Alex Meyer gives his presentation on "Things you might not be thinking about... but should."
Meyer has a “day job” in global business development at the consulting company SAP. He has also launched and is involved with Stage 773, a non-profit theater company and performing arts center meant for theater start-ups that also hosts the world’s largest sketch comedy fest. He is active in the Harvard Business Group and created the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition.  
 
“I’ve always lived life by trying to do everything at the same time,” Meyer said.
 
Meyer’s life philosophy is to create your own path. He sees the world like a mountain to climb, and believes that his most meaningful accomplishments have come as a result of this perspective. 
 
“The era of the single employer/lifetime employment is definitely over,” Meyer said.  “And for another thing, the era of having a clear career path with boxes to check probably never existed.”
 
Another big idea from Meyer’s presentation is that everything should have a value proposition, something that makes it valuable to someone. “It’s a fundamental truth of nature,” Meyer said.  “Everything in this world has a value proposition.” In general, engineers seem to have trouble communicating the value proposition of their idea, which can hurt their potential as a start-up. Investors care about the return on their investment, which comes from customers, and customers care about the value proposition. 
“The more effectively you can communicate your value proposition, the more successful you’re going to be,” Meyer said. 
 
Meyer also sees the world as being very connected and interactive, where everyone is connected to others in some way. He talked about the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Meyer finds this to be true and advises that you take it to heart.  “We live in a world of organizations, social structures, networks, transactions, interactions. You’re going to be much more successful if you’re able to leverage people effectively.” 
 
Meyer left us with his thoughts on serendipity, which is the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Serendipity is something almost everyone wants, and Meyer believes it is not necessarily random. “Serendipity is a result of human connections,” Meyer said. “The more meaningful connections you have, the more likely you are to experience serendipity.” Expanding and diversifying your network can directly affect this likelihood.  
 
The message is clear: you reap what you sow. “I truly believe that serendipity is not random,” Meyer said. “Those who plant the seeds of serendipity experience it more, over and over again.”
 
Some More Advice From Alex:
  • “Ride some waves.” Try out different things before specializing in something.
  • “You don’t want to marry someone you’re not passionate about. You don’t want to marry something you’re not passionate about either.” Make your job something you really want to do.
  • “Eat lunch with someone different every day.” Have a branching people network, not a dense one. Being a bridge between people makes you valuable.
  • “Become a student of your own productivity.” How are you productive? What are you actually doing, how are you doing it, and how could you improve it?

 

 

 

“Become a student of your own productivity.” How are you productive? What are you actually doing, how are you doing it, and how could you improve it? engineering graduate Alex Meyer (1999) finished out the ME 390 seminar course with his presentation, “Things you might not think about… but should.”  
Meyer has a “day job” in global business development at the consulting company SAP. He has also launched and is involved with Stage 773, a non-profit theater company and performing arts center meant for theater start-ups that also hosts the world’s largest sketch comedy fest. He is active in the Harvard Business Group and created the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition.  
“I’ve always lived life by trying to do everything at the same time,” Meyer said.
Meyer’s life philosophy is to create your own path. He sees the world like a mountain to climb, and believes that his most meaningful accomplishments have come as a result of this perspective. 
“The era of the single employer/lifetime employment is definitely over,” Meyer said.  “And for another thing, the era of having a clear career path with boxes to check probably never existed.”
Another big idea from Meyer’s presentation is that everything should have a value proposition, something that makes it valuable to someone. “It’s a fundamental truth of nature,” Meyer said.  “Everything in this world has a value proposition.” In general, engineers seem to have trouble communicating the value proposition of their idea, which can hurt their potential as a start-up. Investors care about the return on their investment, which comes from customers, and customers care about the value proposition. 
“The more effectively you can communicate your value proposition, the more successful you’re going to be,” Meyer said. 
Meyer also sees the world as being very connected and interactive, where everyone is connected to others in some way. He talked about the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Meyer finds this to be true and advises that you take it to heart.  “We live in a world of organizations, social structures, networks, transactions, interactions. You’re going to be much more successful if you’re able to leverage people effectively.” 
Meyer left us with his thoughts on serendipity, which is the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Serendipity is something almost everyone wants, and Meyer believes it is not necessarily random. “Serendipity is a result of human connections,” Meyer said. “The more meaningful connections you have, the more likely you are to experience serendipity.” Expanding and diversifying your network can directly affect this likelihood.  
The message is clear: you reap what you sow. “I truly believe that serendipity is not random,” Meyer said. “Those who plant the seeds of serendipity experience it more, over and over again.”
Some More Advice From Alex:
“Ride some waves.” Try out different things before specializing in something.
“You don’t want to marry someone you’re not passionate about. You don’t want to marry something you’re not passionate about either.” Make your job something you really want to do.
“Eat lunch with someone different every day.” Have a branching people network, not a dense one. Being a bridge between people makes you valuable.
“Become a student of your own productivity.” How are you productive? What are you actually doing, how are you doing it, and how could you improve it?