And in a single B L I N K, it all came to an end. I ask myself, how two years happened so HASTILY? I vividly remember Randy Scherer, from High Tech High, giving us the first introduction to the “Design Thinking” process, or the day we skyped at 4:00am when the documentary was due. In some way or another, every learning experience and memory that we’ve crafted during our time in the IA has made the past two years the best of my school life.
But not only has the IA enriched our knowledge, challenged our beliefs, and widened our skill set, in a way we’ve also collaborated by leaving a piece of who we are. One of the proudest things, I feel, we all leave behind is our outstanding culture, or like they call it in Mambo: COOL-ture. The unique personalities we possess make us different, a piece of each one has cleaved off to create the WONDERFUL culture we leave with Corey and the IA. We leave behind everything from the crazy imagination and creativity of DD to PB’s deep and critical thinking skills to the logical analysis of Gonchi. The IA has taught me that with a strong culture--a culture that unites team, inspires people, and builds ownership--you can go FAR. Today what sets certain companies apart is their CULTURE; this is a new competitive advantage, according to a recent article published by the Kellogg School of Management.
The COOL-TURE we’ve created in the IA resembles much more than CREATIVITY, AUTONOMY, and INNOVATION. To me, the IA culture reflects trust & challenge, taking initiative, and embracing failures, three key aspects that I’ve HARVESTED during my two years in the IA, and will carry forever.
The IA has taught me that trust is more about CHALLENGING yourself and other people than simply believing that people will do their work. Once you’ve built TRUST amongst your family, friends, and co-workers you can challenge and question them to help them flourish, and you can also feel warmth when they do the same because you know they want to see you grow. Once you have the certainty, confidence, and credibility you will challenge and let other challenge you.
In the past two years we’ve become a family; we TRUST each other immensely. Just like my family, my peers have CHALLENGED me to become a better person and learner.
Everyone knows that the last two years in high school are some of the biggest STRESS periods a young adult faces. Around the time of the documentary I hit that wall, and I lived, breathed, and thought about stress. I dragged stress around with me, it became contagious, and it began to ruin the class culture. Long story short, during the feedback sessions my peers CHALLENGED me to control my stress, to plan more in the short term and to exercise. Even though I haven’t fully learned to control stress, I feel that I’ve grown immensely in that area and I thank them for it.
I hope that in my next stop, Providence College and job, I will have the TRUST we had in the IA, where I could CHALLENGE my peers and mentor, and they could also challenge me.
In today’s current world everything is in high demand, certain jobs, excellent students, etc. Now that we are entering college we will be side by side with students who are as great or even better than we are. So how do we compete in this fast paced and ambitious world? Leaders and top executives in companies are looking for people that are constantly STRIVING TO ADD VALUE. This is another important lesson I treasure from my IA experience. Not only will you contribute more when you take initiative, but you will learn more. Especially in college, we will be granted tons of opportunities and resources and if we don’t seek out or take advantage of them, they will never be discovered or will never come to us.
“Success comes to those who are PROACTIVE”
I will always remember how a random reflection and simple idea completely changed our business. Before we left for summer vacation we were certain about doing a food truck, but as soon as summer started nothing was getting done. The feeling of not having met our goal, and leaving our business on hold over the break didn’t align with our mission, so Gisella and I decided to scale our plans down, and create something that was still going to allow us to reach our goal: smoothie cart. We designed it, pitched it to the class, got the approval, and began the making of it. It was this act of TAKING INITIATIVE that allowed us to have our goal tangible by our last semester in school. We not only followed our vision, but we also moved the FDR community.
If you look into the manual for success, many people don’t see failure as a step, instead they NEGLECT failure. But what many don’t know is that FAILURE is a huge part of success, and those at the top are people who’ve learned to embrace it. When I entered, I was another sheep; I REJECTED failure.
I remember way back when doing the documentary, Gisella and I had to delete our entire script because it was so biased. I couldn’t accept that all that work was going to be lost; we had spent so much time doing it. However, we had to restart in order to create an outstanding documentary. The first time it was hard to admit we had FAILED, but then this happened again and it was much easier to restart the script the third time. We now saw it as a motivator and a way to push us to create something even better. If it wasn’t for the documentary I wouldn’t have learned how to COPE with FAILURE, so I’m grateful I went through that experience.
I now know that to succeed you need to EMBRACE your mistakes, and that the more FAILURES you have, the more you’ll learn and the better your work will be. Seeing FAILURE as a barrier won’t allow you to reach success and it won’t make you a better, person, learner, or leader. The fear of being imperfect holds you back.
It is hard to sum up the OUTSTANDING experience I’ve had in the IA; it’s also extremely hard to synthesise two years into the main take aways from this journey. Every memory and learning experience, no matter how small, has taught me something VALUABLE for the future that is ahead of me. Even though we were guinea pigs as the pilot group I couldn’t have imagined a better experience than the one I had. I hope that wherever my future takes me I will be able to take a piece of the IA CULTURE with me and SHARE it.