The experiences that I’ve had help shape and inform who I am as a leader. I’ve grown in being genuine, caring, and driven, through several experiences that follow.
Last fall, I led a small group of a dozen guys in my campus ministry. It was completely free-form and I was given the freedom to do whatever I wanted. This gave me the opportunity to visioncast and discover what my natural authentic leadership style is. I had a vision that the small group would buck the trend of groups that normally decline through the semester, and rather, multiply and grow in people taking on the role of a leader and forming their own small groups. And indeed, over the semester, as people grew deeper in their relationships, they also started reaching out to others in their own life. I also learned to be a servant leader - I would cook for everyone and clean after them every week, often acting most like a servant. But this grew and bonded our small-group in a way that a dictatorial leader never could.
A year ago, I co-founded a startup with my high school economics teacher and several economics classmates to provide an economics education for underserved communities. Because we were all studying at different universities and my teacher just had a baby, coordinating schedules for both meetings and deadlines was a mess. But during this process, I learned the virtue of patience, grace, and understanding others and their lives before jumping to conclusions. I saw this power of such a diverse group through our eventual accomplishments - we were able to deploy our curriculum into classrooms ranging from Harvard Kennedy School to local Austin high schools.
Prior to my current internship, I’ve never had any experience in corporate America. I’ve interned in startups, government, and research agencies, but never in an established finance firm like Amherst Capital. Through my internship, I realized that the same values that I held at school and among my personal relationships extended also to those in the corporate job. I brought my positive “southern hospitality”-filled self into the workplace, getting to know people beyond merely “hi” and asking how they’re doing - and got to see the mood of the entire workplace lighten. This made me recognize that setting a positive culture was possible regardless of what structures are in place.
Before going all-in on business, I was a very nerdy engineer. I interned at the National Institute of Standards and Technology for a summer, and was given the freedom to discover my own research project. Through asking my supervisor about his work and reading through his papers, I realized that there was a way to simplify a $1500 instrument he was using to only $15. I proposed this idea and was able to execute on it by the end of the summer. I learned to look beyond the status-quo and turn ideas into reality.
First small group meeting at my apartment