Final advice from our professor, Matthew Christensen

The program is over. A hint of sadness lingers as this indescribable chapter of our life has passed. LDOC was yesterday and for all of us, I can assure the last class felt bittersweet. At exactly 9 AM, Matt Christensen, our professor, briskly walked into a class of sleep-deprived students who had worked throughout the night to finish our papers due that morning. On the words, “O.K., let’s begin”, some of us inwardly moaned as we secretly wondered how we would be able to recall the reading from our sluggish minds. At the beginning of the program, Matt said that this course will challenge us like no other, and here came the ultimate test. . . We aced it. The discussion was scintillating as always, filled with thoughtful comments, points of epiphany, and of course, contagious laughs. To say that we will remember what was taught in this program for the remainders of our lives and our future careers is an understatement. This course taught us principles although centered on business were applicable across many disciplines and industries. We discussed education in our debates whether online learning could disrupt higher education. We delved into healthcare in our complex discussions inside and outside of class on ultrasound imaging systems. Intel. HP. The steel industry. The toy industry. The list goes on and on.

Beyond academics, DSV sought to teach us important life lessons. We eagerly listened to the advice from every speaker who was generous enough to share his or her story. We took a piece of guidance from each conversation, making sure that we were shaping the tenets that guided us in the right direction. The advice given was wide-ranging, some might even be considered contradictory, as people with diverse backgrounds and stories grew to have different outlooks on life. We took in all their regrets, their successes, their failures, and their epiphanies in stride, searching for that key perspective that can serve as the panacea for all our many questions. We yearned for this counsel from the best and the brightest that could help us make the right life-changing decisions when they come: ones that our careers, families, and overall happiness would depend on. Some of us might have probably been wishing these tough decisions be made for us. Should I follow the expected path and go into so and so career or should I follow my innermost dreams that may not guarantee any financial stability, but surely contentment? Should I work for a big company right after college and gain loads of credibility, or should I work at an unknown start-up where I can see my impact and be a part of a close team? The questions were endless. The advice varied.

What we were looking for came on the last day of class within the very classroom which was not meant to discuss these topics nor did we expect to. Yet, the advice that came from Matt after our case discussion, which by the way greatly exemplified everything we learned in class so far, was the one that hit all the right notes and did so with an incredible simplicity that didn’t invite dispute. Here is what he told us as he spun a tale of personal stories and treasured moments that influenced his life.

  1. Live your life so you’re ready to die. I think most of us can agree that we sometimes leave things off for the tomorrows of our lives instead of tackling them now. Matt warned us to break this habit. Stop procrastinating things into the future. When we do so, we are borrowing from what we don’t have nor is guaranteed – time. Who knows when we might go, but when we do, we do not want to leave with countless regrets and a drawer full of plans that were never carried out and wishes that were not fulfilled. Make the most of the present by doing things you value that make you better each and every day. Determine the impact you want your existence to have on the world right now, before it’s too late.
  2. Seek truth, not validation. Decide what is true for yourself, rather than constantly seeking for those around you to agree with your ideas. There are many historical figures who led a party of few and held on to unpopular ideals such as equality, freedom, or their dreams that were vastly unpopular at the time. Despite that, their conviction of what they thought was true helped initiate change.
  3. Build the habits you want to build. Think about the habits you have and are currently developing. Are you developing them on purpose or are they a result of things that just happen to you? Actively create habits that get you to where you want to go. If the ones you have don’t, kick them to the curb.
  4. Priorities are defined by what you do, not say. This is fairly intuitive, but perhaps the hardest to follow through on as a misalignment between one’s priorities and actions is difficult for most people to even spot, talk less of changing. In describing this advice, Matt gave a very interesting example about Twinkies – an inside joke for the class. What he said was if you say you want to lose weight, but every time you have the opportunity to eat a Twinkie, you do, then losing weight is not your priority is it? This simple example drives a significant point home. No matter what you say and how hard you say it, it is your actions that reveal your actual priorities.  Strategic intent vs. actions was definitely a theme for the course. Deliberate plans fail with priorities that do not put them in high value and priorities are very hard to change.
  5. You can’t necessarily get what you want, when you need it. Advice I believe is particularly meaningful for the family/career/life topic. You have to invest in the things you want. You can’t just make them appear with a snap of a finger. Matt purposefully cautioned against focusing on first your career then your life. Eventually, you’ll end up 5, 10 , or 15 years down the line with your career intact, but you don’t have what else you want — a family. In business speak, families have longer investment cycles and leading times. Thus, you can’t take what works for one aspect of your life – establishing a healthy career – and expect it to work elsewhere. Although, controversial advice to some, I especially relate to what he ended the class with: “No one on their deathbed says they wish they spent more time in their career.” No other success compensates for success in the home. Career success is fleeting. Your family is what matters.

With that, the pinnacle of the DSV program came at the very end. We thank all the speakers who came to our class or showed us the amazing companies where they worked. LinkedIn, Facebook, Apple, 18 Rabbits, 41st Parameter, Sequoia Capital, StartX, IDEO, and Google – thanks for having us! We are grateful to everyone who helped make the DSV program what it was: especially, the program directors, Kimberly Jenkins and Amy Unell, who stayed in California with us and worked diligently to provide the opportunities at said companies and arrange visits to thought-provoking conferences such as Athena. Last, but certainly not least, we are extremely grateful for our wonderful professor Matthew Christensen who taught the class with a unique and refreshing style. At the end, you said how “people grow to love the things that they sacrifice for.” Having to give up things for someone else, you are strengthening your commitment to them. You invest, you sacrifice, and at the end, feel a deepening love. Undoubtedly, leaving your wife and five young children for more than a month to teach a class of college students was no small matter. Plus, staying at our apartment complex for over 4 hours as you met with students about their papers was also a humongous sacrifice. Let’s just say, we understand what was unsaid and return exactly those same sentiments back. Thank you!

Ife Anyansi

Meeting Eddy Cue

Eddy Cue is Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services and is a member of Apple’s ten-person senior management team. He is a 24-year Apple Veteran and played a major role in creating the Apple online store in 1998, the iTunes Music Store in 2003 and the App Store in 2008. Today he oversees Apple’s content stores including the iTunes Store, the App Store and the iBookstore, as well as Siri, Maps, iAd and Apple’s iCloud services. He graduated from Duke University in 1986 with a bachelor’s Computer Science and Economics.

Between class with Matt Christensen, a talk by our program director Kimberly Jenkins, and a workshop on the power of networking, Friday (May 31) was already a long day for us. However, it was far from over. As we boarded the shuttle leaving Apple University at 3 pm, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement in the air. We were on our way to meet Eddy Cue in his office at a different Apple complex in Cupertino. As a huge Apple nerd myself, I was ecstatic to meet him. But first, we made a quick stop at The Company Store on Apple’s Infinite Loop office complex. After many of us picked up some apparel and other products, the shuttle made its way to the Results Way office complex. We were greeted by Cue’s secretary and were informed that he is waiting for us in his office. After a few minutes, she took us in.

Walking into Eddy Cue’s office, it is impossible not to notice that he is an avid Duke Basketball fan. My roommate, Michael Marion, recalls regularly seeing him at basketball games in Durham. His walls were full of pictures of the team. After asking us about our majors, he led us to a nearby conference room where we could all sit down.

One of the first points Cue talked about is the unique culture of Silicon Valley. “Here, people believe anything is possible”, said Cue. When he was a senior in college, the IBM PC had just came out, and he recalled that his goal in life was to get a job at IBM. It was not until later in his life that Cue had the thought that he could go out and do something totally new.

Another point Cue talked about is passion and not being afraid to explore new things.. Many people in the valley are often so passionate about what they do that it doesn’t really feel like a job to them. His advice to us after we go into the real world was to find something we are passionate about. While he started as a programmer at Apple, he soon explored other endeavors within the company. “I always relished the opportunity to go out and figure something new”, he said. Believing that he was smart enough to learn new things quickly was a key belief early-on in his career.

Cue also shared his opinions about the healthcare industry. He says most doctors today know how to treat the effects and symptoms of various diseases rather than their cause. He also compared medicine today, as advanced as it is, to the computer industry of the 1950’s. He believes that there’s a lot of room for innovation in the healthcare sector. Cue noted that one of the difficulties in advancing medicine is that everyone is different and responds to treatments differently. He imagined a future where doctors would be able to analyze their patients’ DNA in order to deliver customized treatment.

Finally, Cue discussed how he leads. He recalled always being able to lead others as a kid in sports and other settings by intuitively knowing what makes people tick. He says that to be a leader you have to like people because there will always be problems and issues you’ll have to deal with. Cue said that he likes being able to do more than he can do on his own by leading others. He also mentioned that, when you lead a large unit, the people you work with can either make you look really good or really bad.

Oh the places you’ll go, and the people you’ll meet…

Duke in Silicon Valley is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my time at Duke. As a rising senior, I am so grateful for the opportunities and guidance this program provides as starting my career becomes more of a reality. The lessons we learn in class, the speakers who share their knowledge with us, and the on-site visits we have are all an integral part in our forming a better picture of what we would like to do after our college experiences. I want to take this time to highlight some of the incredible companies we’ve visited and the people we’ve met along the way, as these visits have provided us with invaluable insight into how some of the most successful companies in the world are run, maintained, and experienced by their employees. The ability to get an inside look into companies such as Apple, LinkedIn and Fackebook, whose products we use daily (and multiple times a day at that) is an incredible opportunity we would not have been able to experience otherwise.



To start off, we have the unbelievable experience of having our class discussions at the remarkable Apple University building in Cupertino. From the second we walked in the door we were able to grasp a sense of the Apple Company culture. The buildings were simple and modern with lots of open spaces, white walls, and glass elements. It brought with it a feel of sophistication and elegance that is the essence of Apple’s product design. The rooms are conducive for discussion with a round table architecture that allows everyone to see and get involved. Being that this is where Apple employees learn about the different products and processes of the company, this open and transparent environment makes sense.

We were also fortunate enough to be able to visit Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, in his office at headquarters. Eddy is an exceptional speaker who discussed true innovation and how Apple approaches product development in a way that transforms the way we do things in a manner we never even imagined. This is different to the “jobs” centered approach for disruptive innovation we’ve discussed in class; thus, allowing us to see how different companies handle similar tasks. Eddy also talked about his career path at Apple and how his experience as a manager allowed him to be involved in a lot of different projects, an undertaking that he has enjoyed immensely over the years.



Another incredible company we had the privilege of visiting early on in the program was LinkedIn. As we’re continually urged to capitalize on the benefits of networking, the LinkedIn visit was a great way to see inside a company that facilitates this practice in our lives. As we approach finding internships and getting jobs, the Duke network and products like LinkedIn are great tools to facilitate these relationships. It was particularly interesting to see how a company addresses this need in a way that turns a profit.

At LinkedIn we were fortunate enough to meet with Alison Dorsey, a Duke alum who is working on Social Impact management at LinkedIn. This was an incredible opportunity to see how these growing companies are looking to give back and make a social impact using their resources and influence. Ms. Dorsey also highlighted her career path from starting in the start up community in Durham and the Research Triangle to coming to work for LinkedIn in the Bay Area. She highlighted the pros and cons of working in both, RTP and San Francisco, as well as small vs. big companies which added some useful insight into decisions we will have to make in the future.



For many of us Facebook is the product we use most in our lives. It was an incredible experience to visit its headquarters and see how the company is run. The atmosphere we encountered from the second we walked in the door demonstrated the young, fun, and creative culture Facebook fosters. The strong correlation between the environment and Facebook’s product development was clearly evident. This link between culture, values, and products was then stressed again when we met with Lori Goler and Greg Badros.

Lori and Greg both spoke about Facebook’s culture and how this leads to innovation within the company. They also highlighted the social impact Facebook hoped to have by connecting the people of the world together to do great things. This was evidently a key priority of Facebook, guiding their processes and business models. Seeing how these different aspects of the business are integrated at Facebook headquarters helped us to better understand the mission of Facebook and how in influences the decisions and changes they make to the site in order to achieve these goals.

All in all, the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met on this program have been incredible experiences. They’ve provided us with a ton of insight into some of the most successful companies in the world- an invaluable resource we dare not waste. Now, our goal is to employ these insights into ideas of our own, testing the principles and lessons we’ve learned in our own entrepreneurial endeavors.

The Value of Networking

While visiting companies and gaining insight from speakers of eclectic career paths, I couldn’t help but consider the daunting idea of “life after college.” As we all embark on the final years of our college careers, the real world that had always been this far-off dream is suddenly our impending reality. Studying and dedicating much of our lives to the idea of receiving diplomas and changing the world hasn’t left my classmates and I feeling all that prepared for the critical next step of finding careers, regardless of how much we have thought about the subject. As incredibly inspiring as our lecturers have been, and believe me when I say our lives have been altered for the better, reality inevitably rears its ugly head that our lives are our own, and that like our cases, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to every question, no one action to every endeavor. In a job market like the one we are facing, most of us undergo periods in which we feel a little unsure how to approach attaining our dream jobs.

Upon hearing our reservations about finding internships, Kimberly Jenkins and Amy Unell decided to create a networking workshop for the Duke in Silicon Valley students. The Friday afternoon workshop provided us with a framework to networking, including finding our focus and passion, doing the necessary research and preparation for interviews, and creating a value statement or “elevator pitch.” The activity forced all of us to really reflect on our lives and class experience, consider our interests, skills and passions, and think about what we wanted from a career, both short and long term. Regardless of your exposure or experience to networking, I believe I can speak for all of the students in saying that the experience was better than anything we could have anticipated. The experience not only showed me how to approach to my career, but also altered the way I will think about my strengths and weaknesses as an individual moving forward.

The first step she outlined was finding your focus and your passion. Kimberly asked us all to answer a series of questions, including everything from “What do you want to do,” to “Where do you want to live,” to “People we admire, to “Blogs, websites, TV shows, and movies we enjoy.” Whatever these things were, she encouraged us to write down the things that could be infused with energy, particularly when talking to a potential connection or employer. Through discussing a classmates interests and drawing logical career paths, the class was approach finding your passion in a very different way. I have personally always been one of those people who have known what I like, but not what specific career I wanted to get into, making the thought of applying to jobs a little nerve wrecking. Focusing on these elements that I did know really helped me to put things into perspective and think to draw connection to career paths I hadn’t considered. I hope that as a group, we do this exercise for each student, because the end result will indubitably introduce us to a new way of approaching these issues.

Secondly, Kimberly and Amy outlined the steps that are most important to networking. Whether it was memorizing the contents of their website and company news or contacting family and friends that know the industry, they stressed that the more you know, the better you would come off. Being specific about the things you enjoy about and showing genuine curiosity allow you to establish an instant rapport with people working in the industry. That “you can never say too much about their company or their work” was a major take away, pushing us to be as authentic about our connection to their work as we want to be.

Lastly, we each used our list of passions to create a 60 second value statement that could be delivered as a pitch to potential employers or anyone that could help us to attain our goals. Though the major points to hit, such as name, school, skills, and passions were standard, Kimberly really encouraged us to be specific and real, manifesting what about our careers and interests really excite us. Though I recognize qualities in others, viewing myself in the metaphorical “mirror” is not something that I do or even think about. Despite wanting others to see how you can add value, rarely do people take time to reflect on the qualities that make them valuable. Self-reflection, at least for me, is a little odd and uncomfortable, but clearly one of the most important things I could do in preparation for the next phase of my life. As odd as self-reflecting may feel in the moment, it speaks in volumes when you are able to confidently “Do The Ask,” or confront someone with how they can help you, and be prepared to relay how you could add value. Recognizing these elements is a crucial step and you begin to embark not only on a journey through the workforce, but on life as a whole. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses prepare you for being a better employee and a better person.

But even further beyond this idea, it was an incredible experience for the class that really solidified the bond we have been creating in our last several weeks of the program. As a group, we have really come together and become close in an astoundingly fast amount of time. Hearing praise from the people we have come to love, champion, admire, and call our family is not something to be overlooked. Not only do I now recognize in my strengths, but have come to realize that others also see these strengths and skills, giving me the faith and confidence to conquer the next phase of my life, no matter how unknowing, exhilarating, and/or terrifying it may seem. My hope is that through continuing these self-exploratory exercises over the next week and a half that each and every one of the DSV students can gain the same confidence and discovery from the exercise, especially as they go on to fulfilling what I know will be incredibly successful careers.

Kerry Nelson, Wake Forest University 2014

What Really Matters

A crucial part of the Duke in Silicon Valley (DSV) program is exploring our passions. Students applied to this program for a wide variety of reasons, including learning how to build a company, being immersed in the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area, and taking advantage of the opportunity to spend a summer on the West Coast. Although all of these benefits influenced my decision to participate in this program, I always knew that they were secondary to the truly profound motivation that drew me to this mouthwatering opportunity: the food.

And I have not been disappointed. The delicious creations, crustaceans, and dishes of Asian persuasion that I have enjoyed over the past couple of weeks have been a testament to the Bay Area’s tenacious pursuit of culinary innovation- and excellence. Although the DSV program has been the most rewarding academic experience of my life, I believe the only thing that has gained more from this experience is my palate. After all, where else can you eat sliced jellyfish? (Not that you want to.)

The saying goes, “Some people eat to live. Others live to eat”. I am an unwavering member of the latter. As I walked down Castro Street for the first time earlier this summer, I decided to use Yelp to find a great restaurant to start the summer off right. To my amazement, and delight, I realized that there were over 30 restaurants within .2 miles of where I was standing. From that point on, I not only knew that I had made the right decision to come here, but also that I had a daunting task in front of me: I needed to try all of them. And so my culinary excursion began.

As a group, we decided to start with the classics. Because most of the students in the program are from the East Coast, many of us had only heard tales of the enigmatic fast-food chain known as In-N-Out. Alas, I had already expressed my undying devotion to Five Guys. Unsurprisingly, however, the stories were validated: the food was incredible. From that point on, we strategically made our way down Castro Street, trying all of the restaurants along the way. The diversity of food was amazing: there was Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Italian restaurants on just one block! And this was not just quantity, the quality and authenticity of the food at each location was even more impressive than the last. Here are some of the highlights:

(Apologies if some of the picture seem to have bites missing. I tend to eat first and think later.)



The legendary In-N-Out experience

The legendary In-N-Out experience

mmmm lasagna

mmmm lasagna

Food from Facebook!

Food from Facebook!

Just a light breakfast

Just a light breakfast.

Finding your focus

For the past several weeks we’ve been meeting with various Duke alumni from lots of innovative companies in the Bay area to hear about their professional and personal experiences. Last Friday we got to have one of these sessions with our Program Director, Kimberly Jenkins, who in addition to founding and planning the Duke in Silicon Valley program has an incredible professional background of her own. After sharing some of her personal stories and experiences working with both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Kimberly led us in a session titled “Finding your focus” that helped us to frame our life and career goals as well as networking skills.

After studying business and visiting companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Apple the past couple of weeks, many of us have been reflecting on what type of companies we’d like to work at in the future. We were all pretty excited for this brainstorming session and to talk about what an entrepreneurial or atypical career trajectory could look like. Instead of jumping right in to job options, we took a few steps back and each made lists of things we love to do, people who inspire us, environments we enjoy being in, and some of our strengths and weaknesses. Then we used one student as an example and helped to collectively brainstorm jobs that fit his personality and interests. We started off by all talking about things he’s good at, like being persuasive and socializing, then tried to think of jobs that combined that with his interests in electronic dance music, squash, craft beer, and purpose-driven business. We came up with some surprising options based on his skill set and personality (varying from lobbyist to club promoter to entertainment industry entrepreneur), and I think a lot of us felt more open-minded and focused on finding what we truly want to do with our lives after going through the exercise.

It can be really tempting in a competitive college environment to judge yourself based on other people’s definitions of success. A lot of students on the trip have expressed this sentiment with feeling pressured to go into consulting, investment banking, or medical school. One of the really powerful things about this experience is that it’s helped us to see what some atypical jobs and careers look like and inspired us to think about what it truly is that we want to do. Entrepreneurship is all about recognizing opportunities and doing things in new and better ways, and the exciting culture of Silicon Valley and this program have inspired us all to do just that with our own lives and careers. Whether we want to found companies, make millions, or tackle some of the world’s biggest problems, we’re all excited to see where this entrepreneurial career path will take us next. As Kimberly put it, we’re still trying to “connect the dots”, but right now I think we’re comfortable knowing we’ve got time to figure out what the final picture will look like.

Courtney Sanford, UNC 2014

A Day in the Life

Hello readers! Amidst the speakers and site visits, you might have been wondering: what’s the typical day like at Duke in Silicon Valley? I’m here to answer from my own experiences and hopefully will provide a peek into our lives here.

Our days start off fairly early. My roommate Shadi and I are usually awake by 7:30am in our Oakwood apartment in Mountain View – an early rise that might not be typical of every student here! But over breakfast, we like to spend an hour discussing the case readings assigned for that day in preparation for class.

A shuttle picks us up at 9am and drops us off at Apple University in Cupertino. Apple’s corporate offices are dispersed all over the city, so we’re about 10 minutes away from Apple HQ. Apple University is where the company holds classes to train its executives, and we are grateful to them for allowing us to use one of their classrooms every morning. Some of us grab a quick drink from the company coffee shop before the start of class.

View from my spot at the table.

View from my spot at the table.

Although class is two hours long, it truly flies by – and this is coming from someone who struggles with 75 minute lectures at Duke! Part of the reason why is that the class is incredibly interactive (seriously – half of our grade is based on participation), consisting of back-and-forth debates among us and our professor, Matt Christensen. One student usually provides a summary of the cases to get us started, and over the course of class Matt makes ample use of the floor-to-ceiling whiteboards to document all our ideas and draw out diagrams. One of my favorite aspects of class is that everyone comes from a different academic background, and thus are able to contribute diverse perspectives to the discussion. Sometimes it feels like we’re in an actual board meeting, trying to determine our company’s next decision!

At least once a week, we have guest speakers come to our classroom right after class ends at 11:30. On these days, lunch is provided by Apple. On the day of the first speaker, much to our surprise, one of our program directors, Amy, simply opened the sliding whiteboard and behind it in a cabinet were plates of food!

Delicious lunch provided by Apple.

Delicious lunch provided by Apple.

Our speakers are usually Duke alumni or have some affiliation with Duke, UNC, or Wake Forest. We’ve received some amazing advice and insights from them in just an hour-long conversation.

After the speakers or guest visits, we’re back at our apartments by around 3pm. Afternoons are spent reading by the pool, going to the gym or grabbing a meal at nearby Castro St. Of course, the weather is nearly perfect every day and allows for socializing and relaxing.

View of the pool. PC: Michael Marion

View of the pool. PC: Michael Marion

One evening, we hosted a potluck dinner at our apartment complex and invited several alumni as well as our professor Matt to attend. Each of the twenty of us contributed an item to the meal, and we ended up with a great variety of foods (my apartment contributed guacamole, bean salad, and chocolate-covered strawberries) and included a grill-out by the pool! It was great to have casual conversations with our guests outside of formal networking events, and to just bond as a group more. This was one of the events that we organized entirely on our own, and I’m proud of our group for making it a success.

Potluck desserts!

Potluck desserts!

And there you have it – a snapshot of a day in Silicon Valley.

Janvi ShahDuke University ’15

* Note: all the above photos were taken with Instagram, the company that is the subject of my term paper for this course.

…and the Giants WIN!


It was a beautiful day to be at the ballpark. The Saturday before last, DSV traveled to AT&T Park in the heart of San Francisco to watch the San Francisco Giants take on the Colorado Rockies, the second game in a three-game series.  We left the apartment complex early that morning (for college kids, that means 11), walking first to the nearby CalTrain station. From there, we made the hour and a half commute to the city.  Most of the students, included myself, booked it to the concession stands upon arrival in an attempt to grab as much food as physically possible before the game started. I had been told that the stadium food was good. I did not know it was THIS good. Normally I exercise moderation when I spend money on food. Yet, on Saturday, I had no problem dishing out $8 for a bacon-wrapped hot dog, another$8 for an order of Gilroy’s garlic fries, not to mention another $10 for an order of loaded nachos. The only thing I regret is not having enough room in my stomach to try the bread bowl clam chowder.

To put it simply: The weather was beautiful. The food was outrageous. Nothing makes me happier.

However, no matter how much love I give the food, the game itself was the highlight of the afternoon. After trailing most of the game 0-4, the Giants made a late-afternoon comeback that brought the game to extra innings. In the top of the 10th, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitski hit a solo homer, giving Colorado a 5-4 lead. I won’t speak for the other DSV students but I thought the game was over. To my surprise, the Giants were not done yet. Just like that, the Giants’ Angel Pagan came up to bat and hit a two-run inside-the-park home run to win the game. Because words cannot describe how exciting the final inning of this game was, I have linked a video of the final play below.

The game we witnessed was far from ordinary. In fact, the last time a game ended with a player hitting an inside-the-park home run was 2004, when Tampa Bay also surprised the Rockies. After witnessing a game like that, it’s hard not to become a fan. Since Saturday, several of the DSV students have committed themselves to Giants “fandom” and I do not blame them. It is by far the most exciting baseball game I have ever witnessed.

A HUGE special thanks to Amy and Kimberly for hooking us up with tickets to the game! We couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon. 

Connor Gordon, Duke University 2015



Giants’ Angel Pagan squeaks by Rockies’ catcher, Wilin Rosario, in the bottom of the 10th for the game-winning run. The crowd went … well, wild.



DSV Students before the insanity that was the 10th Inning.


Measuring Your Life

Our time in Silicon Valley has been inspirational.  We are surrounded by some of the most successful companies in the world and the individuals who built them.  I will take the liberty of speaking for my classmates and say that for many of us this program has significantly shifted our career goals and clarified what we want to accomplish after we complete our educations.  However, there have been many instances where inspiration goes far beyond the professional realm.  Dr. Clay Christensen is one such inspiration.  Without exaggeration, Dr. Christensen is one of the most accomplished academics in the world.  While developing an entire school of thought on innovation, Dr. Christensen has been voted the single most influential business thinker in the world.  Not bad for a second career: he didn’t get his DBA until he was almost 40.  Despite his incredible success, Dr. Christensen carries himself with humility and friendliness. A few years ago Dr. Christensen suffered a severe stroke.  He had to relearn how to walk and speak the English language and has not yet fully regained his health.  Despite this Dr. Christensen spared his much sought-after time to fly to the Bay Area to teach a class of undergrads.  We are all glad he did.

Dr. Christensen surprised us by flying in to teach us on the third day of class. Already more intimidated than we would like to admit by his son, Dr. Christensen’s added presence did not help calm our nerves about the day’s case.  After Matt introduced his father the class applauded as he walked to the front of the classroom, Dr. Christensen quickly hushed us, joking never to clap before class because we had no idea how bad the teaching was going to be.  Of course, it was great.  The second day he joined us in class we took a group picture; Dr. Christensen proclaimed he never got to be in the front row of any pictures because he was too tall.  Upon hearing this those seated in front quickly cleared out some room and a laughing Dr. Christensen proudly lounged among my classmates in the front row, letting a few of us help him up afterwards. He clearly loves people.

At Apple headquarters, Dr. Christensen lectured for a few hundred Duke alums and Apple employees.  As he came on stage he apologized to the crowd, explaining that for long stretches he has to look at the ground to help him focus on remembering words as he continues to recover from his stroke.  Despite this, he lectured for well over two hours.  Several times he scrolled through in his presentation, laughed to himself, and said something to the effect of “This is great stuff guys. Quit napping.”  He had so much fun and clearly loves his work.

Through the two cases that we studied under Dr. Christensen, he stressed that managers take care to select the correct units of measurement for questions they need answered.  It is the application of this management theory to personal life that led to the title of his book “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Throughout the book Christensen reflects on how easy it is to place career success and the accumulation of wealth over one’s family and relationships.  Dr. Christensen warns that accolades and money are not the way to measure one’s life, rather the impact one has on those around him or her is a far more fulfilling metric.  He recalled an early conversation he had with his wife when they decided “Christensens will be known for kindness” and one of their priorities in life was to instill in their children a heart for others. Throughout the two days he shared with us in class he told several anecdotes about his children, seeming far prouder of the people his kids turned out to be than of their career success, or even his.

More than he loves laughing with students and teaching his work, Clay Christensen loves his family.  The students in Duke in Silicon Valley were lucky to have someone of Clay Christensen’s intellectual ability lead our class, but likely even luckier to have someone of Clay Christensen’s humility willing to share his wisdom.

For more on Dr. Christensen visit or check out “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon.

Brian Strubbe, Duke 2015

Talk with Kimberly Jenkins

Last Friday, we had the privilege of listening to the founder of our program Kimberly Jenkins share some of her stories and insight. One of the clearest messages that shone through this meeting was the significance and importance of connecting the dots between your career and your passions.

The meeting started promptly after our usual case based class with Matt Christensen. Kimberly opened with a video of the TED Talk that she gave. In the talk she described her experience at Microsoft. She shared with us that she had a passion for education. Kimberly also saw that there was a great opportunity for Microsoft in education. Up to this point Microsoft was not focused upon this market. Kimberly knew that a choice had to be made when she approached her boss with a problem, a solution and 2 manila envelopes; one containing a proposal for how Microsoft could enter the education market and the other containing her letter of resignation. Kimberly stressed the importance of approaching your boss not only with a problem but a solution to that problem. The people at Microsoft saw the passion and courage that Kimberly had to take such a risk and to go after her vision. She received the go ahead from Bill Gates for the project with certain conditions. I would say that upon hearing this story, like Mr. Gates, I was struck by Kimberly’s intensity to pursue her passions.

As I learned more about Kimberly this quality was magnified. Kimberly shared with us that she was an avid mountain climber. This being said, she decided to move across the country to Seattle to pursue her passion. This empowering story demonstrated Kimberly’s ability to make strategic decisions that were aliened with her dreams. As a young woman at that beginning of my career, it is truly inspirational to see someone like Kimberly who has accomplished so much both in her career and life. She has encouraged us to pursue our passions and to connect the dots between our careers and those passions. Kimberly you have inspired me to believe that no dream is too crazy to fight for and that no mountain is too big to climb.

Wilhelmina Ryan, Duke 2015