Sunday, September 7, 2008

5 Tips for Entreprenurial Students

Dear Readers,

On Friday, I addressed a wonderful group of students at the Integrated Digital Media Institute at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, NY.  I was to show them my Website and talk a little about how I started the company and my strategy for the site.

And I did. I hope.

But what I also found myself doing, rather spontaneously, was giving these students a number of tips I think will help them as they begin to identify their first career paths and move forward toward fulfilling their dreams.

I was told by the Beth Rosenberg, who had invited me to speak to her class, that the students found my time with them inspirational. Well of course, it was they who inspired me, with their smart questions, their coming from various foreign countries (with foreign languages) to study in the US, and by their steadfastness to learn.

Still, if even one student was inspired by anything I said last week, I thought I would repeat some of those tips here. 

5 Tips for Entreprenurial Students:

1) Save for your dream. It's coming
I started my company on the small inheritance my late mother had left me when she passed away 20 years ago. This was the savings I would nuture and grow and one day, when the time was right, finally put towards my dream - whatever that was going to be. Even though there were tough times when I just moved to New York and could barely afford the makeshift room I slept in, or when I lost my job three times in two years during the early 2000's, or when there was lots of pressure to buy luxury clothing and shoes when I worked in the beauty industry, I never took a cent from that savings account. Not a penny. This savings account would fund my dreams.

So please, do not spend money on things you really do not need. Save it for your legacy. It's coming. Wait for it.

2) Be nice. To everyone.
When I first started my company last summer, I went to everyone who would lend their ear and advice. Some of those people I had not seen in years. One, my old colleague, Bernie Milan, from my days at New York Times Digital, gave me stellar advice and contacts to help move my idea forward. (In the first few days of starting a company, any and all reinforcement and support is incredibly inspiring). I thanked Bernie with all my heart, to which he replied: "Melanie, you were always nice to me."

You never know how the dots in your life will connect. People come into your life when they do for a reason. Don't be arrongant to think that people with whom you do not connect right away, are not the final connection in the future to securing what you need. Truth is - Bernie and I connected on day one when we met. But still, I am so happy he remembered me that way.

3) Be ready to help anyone at any time.
I have talked about karma a lot in this blog. As an entrepreneur, I cannot tell you how much karma has helped with the success of People often ask me for help. Sometimes it's business related, sometimes, it's not. Either way, I thank them for the opportunity to help. Selfishly, I know it's coming right back to me, by just the right person, at just the right time, just when I need it. And that never fails.

4) You're not entitled to feel entitled
You've got to earn your respect. Listen before your talk. Really. Listen. Listen good and hard. There is a lot to learn out there. The minute you think you know better, or know everything, is the minute you begin to fail. Learning is the key to success. Learning is the fuel that drives inspiration. When you listen, you learn. 

5) Read
Read something that will teach you about how best to succeed in your field of choice, every day. Find blogs that guide you. Buy books that teach you. Read the news. Read. Read. Read. And bookmark the pages you want to read again. Read one business book every two weeks. Read one business blog post every day. Read one business magazine once a month. Just read. If you are blogging more than you are reading, you're not listening. You're talking. So read.

I follow these tips and have since I was a student some years ago. I can't say I've been perfect. But I've been trying. So just try it. That's probably the best tip of them all.

Now I have to run to see my little niece. She's so funny silly delicious! But more tips, including some of the business blogs I love to read, coming soon.

Auntie Melanie


  1. I think you could easily replace "Entrepreneurial Students" with "Everyone". They are tips for being the best, most capable, and most useful kind of grownup. :)

  2. Great tips! Especially the one about being nice to everyone - it's important, that good ol' golden rule!

  3. Great advice for us all in any walk of life :)

  4. Excellent advice - for life not just for business. I totally agree with you about being nice to everyone. It's not easy (especially in the work environment I am in!) as there are always 'difficult' characters but I do always try to find a level we can communicate on. And do you know what, I always get their help when I need it. Well, almost always!


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