Be Someone’s Lucky Break

Last week, I had the honor of speaking to a group of business leaders at Midlothian (a suburb of Dallas) ISD’s kickoff event for their new innovation lab for students.

I firmly believe education is broken in several ways including the state-mandated curriculum that only teaches kids linear problem-solving for testing purposes and the growing student debt crisis. I’m also a big believer that innovation can happen anywhere if you’re willing to look – see the tractor photo below.

That’s why I’m so excited about what MISD is doing with its MILE (Midlothian Innovative Learning Experience) concept. They’ve repurposed an old elementary school to resemble an actual work environment with the goal of teaching kids real-world skills in cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, aerospace and civil engineering, and culinary arts.

When a friend of mine asked if I’d be willing to sit on a panel at the event, I jumped at the chance. Thankfully, he did a great job prepping our group, so it gave me time to think on a few answers and sound more put together than I am.

The last question he asked our group, “What challenge would you leave today’s audience with?”

After giving it some thought, my answer was, “Make small, frequent investments in others even when the rewards are unknown. Recognize the immense amount of luck we all need to succeed, and be that lucky break for someone.”

I’ve been the beneficiary of an enormous amount of luck, from the macro (being born in the US, parents that cared, etc..) to others doing something kind to great mentors who actually invested in my success.

Make small, frequent investments in others even when the rewards are unknown. Recognize the immense amount of luck we all need to succeed, and be that lucky break for someone.

As I’ve shared many times, the turning point in my career was getting laid off. I would have never joined a startup had someone I barely knew not made an introduction. He wasn’t the only one who offered to help and the kindness from my friends was overwhelming.

I’ll end this post with the same challenge. Obviously, I’m not asking you to disregard your own time or the relationships you’ve built, but when possible make introductions that have an impact, be an early customer of a new business, or spend a little time with a young entrepreneur.

It’s rewarding, it matters more than any of us realize, and who knows maybe one day someone will be talking about you as the lucky break that made it all possible.

Kevin Stevens

Partner @ Intelis Capital investing in the digitization of traditional industries. Previously product lead at KPCB-backed Choose Energy.
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