The pitch for my alma mater, St. John’s College in Annapolis, is that it teaches you to think. It’s less known for turning out business successes.
Changing that perception was part of the idea of asking me to moderate a panel of entrepreneurs last weekend during homecoming, which happened to be my 30th reunion.
We had four panelists, Jac Holzman, (1952) who founded Elektra Records and Nonesuch Records; Leslie Jump, (1984) CEO of Different, a VC firm; James Passin (1994) an independent investor and Josh Rogers (1998), CEO of Arete Wealth, a firm in Chicago.
My takeaway: the school helped all four to be open to new ideas and adapt to changing conditions. Their success however lay in seizing opportunities that appeared suddenly, such as when Jac went to a club in LA and “discovered” the Doors or Josh quit law school to work with Jay Walker, who founded Priceline.com. Leslie started a VC firm in Cairo, while James got involved in a mining venture in Mongolia.
Jac captured it best when he said: “If you want to do something you find the means to do it.”