“It’s not a matter of how deeply you believe in this differentiating factor, but of how effectively you communicate that differentiation to your customers.”
What’s the one thing you’re most excited about learning at HBS?
The FIELD III module [on entrepreneurship] has impressed me more than I thought it would. Obviously, I knew we were supposed to incorporate lessons learned over the RC year into our project. But as our business idea evolved from conception to execution, I was surprised by the extent to which we could apply concepts we touched on in various RC classes. For instance, in our Marketing and Strategy courses, we talked a lot about how you need to position your particular business idea in a distinctive manner relative to existing business ideas; it’s not a matter of how deeply you believe in this differentiating factor, but of how effectively you communicate that differentiation to your customers. Our team is launching a wine recommendation app. Like others on the market, it can analyze your taste preferences. But ours emphasizes wine recommendations that take special occasions into account. Once we realized our core differentiating factor, all of our other activities pivoted to communicate our distinction.
How do your HBS ambitions fit into the big picture of the world beyond?
I’ve always been interested in technology. More broadly, I see that technology can have a profound impact on how people live their lives. I’m very intrigued by the "quantified self" movement, the idea of enabling people with metrics that give them deep insights into how they live, and make them better able to act in ways that contribute to their well-being. Blood pressure readings are an example. But now we have activity trackers that can give us quantified metrics relevant to any number of health goals. By observing these metrics and gaining deeper self-knowledge, we can be more targeted in the way we apply ourselves to our life goals. I want to help design systems and products that give people deeper insights into factors that improve their quality of life.
How are you pushing yourself?
I’m trying as much as possible to expose myself to things I wouldn’t have encountered if I weren’t at Harvard. The Kennedy School, for example often holds leadership conferences with interactive events or speakers talking about personal leadership development. Personal growth, leadership, career success – these are all deeply interconnected. When I take advantage of cross-campus events I find that they influence the interests I’m actively pursuing.
What might people find surprising about you?
In addition to being a relatively more quantitative person, I’m drawn to creative pursuits like photography and digital image manipulation. It’s very liberating to use a visual medium to describe a concept that previously existed only in my mind.