by Regan Fiascone
Confident, soft spoken, wise, and tall. Those were my first impressions of our professor, Matt Christensen, when he walked into the room on July 3rd, the first day of class. The nerves of my classmates and I were palpable as the aire of mystery built up around our esteemed professor turned to reality. After commuting as a group on the Caltrain and arriving on Stanford’s campus, it was finally time to begin our class: Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise.
To say I was nervous would be putting it lightly. I came in armed with written notes and aggressively highlighted case studies, and I wasn’t the only one (or maybe I was, but I’d like to think everyone else shared my anxiety). The classroom was definitely a cozy fit for the 19 of us, but Professor Christensen took charge and did some heavy lifting to adjust the layout of the room. The long table was pushed against the wall to allow us to form a U-shaped semicircle of chairs.
Matt demonstrates a way to get his nametag noticed
We went around and introduced ourselves. I never knew saying my name, hometown, and interests could be so intimidating. Then, it was time to launch into the discussion. Update: the nervous energy in the room had not yet faded and if anything may have increased as we delved into the topic of the assigned articles.
The nerves didn’t stop my classmates from making insightful comments and posing interesting questions, and I quickly found myself wrapped up in the discussion. We discussed a concept called the Halo Effect, which often leads to misanalysing the reasons behind a company’s success. We thought through many studies that have been conducted to determine theories behind success and evaluated the bias that could have led to their conclusions. We also discussed the idea of leadership within a company and what it takes to make a good company great: to be what is labeled as a “level 5 leader.” This led to some playful pondering of whether or not we have what it takes to be level 5 leaders.
Our first day of class
I was so impressed at the varying perspectives everyone had and the different insights people had to offer. While I could probably count the number of lectures at school that have fully captured my attention for their entire duration on both hands (or maybe one hand), I had no trouble remaining engaged for this two hour class. At the end of class, we filed out and our chatter filled the hallway as we finally broke our composure and relived the moments that had just happened. I found myself excited to return and ready to be challenged by Professor Christensen and my classmates. Day one: complete.
Walking around campus