I’ve been out of college for just about a decade now, but I jump at every chance to go back.
Jesse Pasichnyk (GeoRiot’s CTO) and I attended college at the University of Montana from approximately 1999 through 2004, where we started as freshmen roommates studying computer science. I quickly learned I couldn’t hack it in CS and shifted into studying business. Pasichnyk and I continued to be great friends and explored a few ventures together with a number of our other close friends, including Mario Schulzke and Chris Yates.
We collected some great memories together during those formative years, but it’s the memories I picked up inside the business school that stick with me today. Afternoon chess games with my entrepreneurship professor, classes with my favorite marketing professor… and the guest speakers who occasionally visited our lectures throughout the semester.
I always looked forward to hearing the stories of these visitors to campus. These guys were the ones who cut through the theoretical knowledge to share the dirt; the ups and downs of making things happen out in the real world. The lessons that were wrapped in a story always seemed to resonate more than the lessons laid out in textbooks.
As I write this, I’m headed back from Missoula to my “real world,” which happens to be GeoRiot’s Seattle HQ, after having the honor of presenting a couple of guest lectures in my old classrooms. I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel a little strange initially, being on the other side of the podium, but the energy and enthusiasm in each of the young crowds put me at ease and reminded me what the entrepreneurial spirit is all about.
In Jakki Mohr’s 200 level Principles of Marketing and Mario Schulzke’s graduate level Marketing Analytics class, I got to take my turn sharing my entrepreneurial story, with a few affiliate marketing tidbits sprinkled in.
While it was great sharing the story of GeoRiot and teaching something I’m passionate about, it was meeting the students, hearing about their entrepreneurial experiences, getting their emails, and connecting on LinkedIn to become a resource for them and their pursuits, that was ultimately the most gratifying part.
College life was good. I wasn’t an outstanding student, but I enjoyed the idea of academia and being surrounded people who shared a hunger for asking questions and learning. For that reason, I’m grateful for the opportunity to go back for a week live out a dream of mine, playing professor.
Hopefully, someday I can make it back to the university for a longer period and share even more about the industry I now eat, sleep and breathe.