Leaving Your Mark

Israel Rojas-Moreno '16

Israel Rojas-Moreno '16

By Israel Rojas-Moreno '16

When Jon Stewart took over the The Daily Show in 1999, the show was far from the cultural powerhouse it is today. Had it been recruiting MBAs, the show would have been stuck with a 4pm Friday time slot in C31 in May.

Sixteen years later, The Daily Show and Jon Stewart are both household names. At the time, Stewart had already failed with a couple of talk shows and been passed over for a few others. But at The Daily Show, Stewart found a platform that allowed him to mold the show to his liking and ultimately, to achieve the success he did.

The situation is just the latest reminder that it doesn’t matter where we wind up in life, what matters is what we do with the opportunity. This is particularly salient during recruiting, when we often make the mistake of believing success is determined by the offers we do or do not get.

Of course, it is natural to seek out the “best” firms or “best” jobs – our ambition demands it, otherwise we wouldn’t be at Booth today. The trouble comes when we trick ourselves into believing there is such a thing as the best firm or the best job – and the disappointment that comes if we don’t land the offers we seek. It is tempting to interpret the rejection as a reflection of our capabilities, but that would be a mistake. Rather, we should remind ourselves that the missed opportunity simply might not have been right for us.

I do this by reminding myself of my hometown Seattle Seahawks (you thought I’d write an article without mentioning them?). The team is full of players that were overlooked or passed over by other teams, but let’s pick a specific player: quarterback Russell Wilson. Five teams decided he wasn’t the right quarterback for them and all thirty-two passed him over at least once. Yet Wilson was the first quarterback in his class to win a Super Bowl because eventually he landed on the right team, worked hard to excel at his job and never lost confidence in himself.

Similar examples exist everywhere you look. Jack Ma was apparently not good enough for KFC (and twenty-nine other companies). Twelve publishing houses passed on Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling. So we shouldn’t get too carried away with landing at the “best” firm or believing the grass may be greener elsewhere. Instead, we should remind one another that we needn’t play for the LA Lakers to know we are good ballplayers. That the grass is greenest where we water the most. That no matter where we wind up, we can still be catalysts for change.

Author Israel Rojas-Moreno is a big fan of Jon Stewart and can be frequently found in Harper wearing a Seattle Seahawks cap.