SOMEWHERE OVER THE PACIFIC—During the past twenty years I’ve had the strange privilege of living in ten different cities. To be fair, the first two pre-date my memory. But even so, I think it’s fair to say that I have a pretty unusual definition of what it means to be going home.
The prevailing lyrical literature on home, from Bruce Springsteen to Skylar Gray, supports the idea that home is where you grew up, or where the people you love live. If that is the case, then Naples, Italy, where my family currently lives, is home for me. Why, then, do I feel like I’m coming home as I fly back to Boston, and Harvard?
LANSING, Mich.—“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it!” Shakespeare, it seems, understood entrepreneurship as well as he did the English language. Fear of being cheated, hunger for new business, obsession with adding unique value, and the satisfaction of loyal teamwork—highly chaotic and unstructured, this has been my summer as an entrepreneur-in-training.
I took this job as a business analyst for a global engineering services startup, hoping that the experience would illuminate the secrets behind starting a successful new business. What makes entrepreneurs tick? How do you build the right team? How do you guarantee a profit—especially when the financial stability of so many families depends on you?
PRINCETON, N.J.—I could hear my heart pounding as we approached the cash register. Surrounded by three teenagers and my fellow counselor, Walter, I imagined that this was how a bank robber must feel in the moments before he raises a gun and demands all the money.
I was in charge of these students; if something went wrong, it was up to Walter and me to back them up. The calm I'd felt while going over this scenario on the train dissipated in an instant, and I feigned confidence as the smallest of our students approached the man at the register with self-assurance.
MENTON, France—We were on our way back from Monaco for the last time. When we got into a taxi at dawn, we were still full of laughter. But the sunlight was ominous. “Wake up!” It said. “You’ve been dreaming!”
The sky glowed with haze. The sun was so strict in its movement, it made me nervous. “It’s time to go!” There was no doubt that it was saying, “It’s all over!”
RIO DE JANEIRO—“You don’t have to be afraid of going there—my cousin is a drug lord so the big guns won’t bother you,” my tour guide Filipe assured me. “It’s OK. I don’t need to collect data from that neighborhood,” I responded. We decided to stick to safer favelas.
I nervously clung onto the waist of my motorcycle taxi driver as we sped down the motorway. I was comforted, in part, by his decision to take the potholes slower than he normally would have. The obvious fear that the wide-eyed look on my face conveyed had convinced him to do that, but not to encourage me to wear a helmet—he refused my request, saying it was unnecessary.