ENRIQUE ALLEN Last updated 6/12/09 Academic FailuresNot doing the basics: From arriving to class on time to finishing my homeworkbefore deadlines, I didnʼt commit to doing my best in all of my classes. Too often Imade the excuse that, “I just didnʼt try hard enough.” Advice from one of mymentors still rings true, “East Palo Alto will still be there for you to change butyour transcript is history once youʼre done with school.”Finding mentors: For my first two years I rarely talked to any professorsbecause I didnʼt want to be a “brown-noser.” Although I needed time to learnwhat I was passionate about, professors and upper classmen are a tremendousresource beyond my wildest dreams.Working in groups: I pride myself on being an awesome team player thatʼsmotivated by people rather than grades. However, for classes without groupprojects I usually worked alone because I failed to reach out to a stranger.Looking back, the best outcomes often resulted from some form of groupinnovation.The myth of multitasking: Constant switching costs are potentially unhealthyparticularly in the pre frontal cortex.1 Setting large blocks of time withoutdistraction is difficult but a necessary discipline for quality learning. My day wasbroken into many pieces that did not facilitate consistent study. I need to utilizethe rule of three and actually finish my plate before signing up for new things.Getting my hands dirty early: Whether its learning more technical skills instatistics or literally getting my hands dirty, I didnʼt have enough academic biastoward action early in my Stanford years. I would avoid taking action only for it topile up and come back to haunt me. Itʼs better to fail early on the hardestproblems rather than waiting to act at the last minute or not doing them at all. Personal FailuresThe courage to move on: I value loyalty and sometimes fooled myself intothinking it was love. When my relationships with girl friends turned south, Ialways dropped everything to “make up” without really saying how I truly feltbecause of fear. Having the courage to move on rather than waiting for theopportune moment or excuse would have saved a lot of grief. 1 http://www.apa.org/releases/multitasking.html
Taking my family for granted: I always talk about how important my family isbut in reality they have been a small percentage of my attention while atStanford. I thought that going home would take too much time but turns out Ispent more energy on less important things. There is no excuse for not simplycalling or even texting my family.Honoring my culture: From attending ceremonies to surfacing relevant media, Ihave failed to cultivate modern Native American culture by continuously revisitingmy roots. Talking to more elders and proactively seeking insight should havebeen more of a priority in college.Setting aside quality time with loved ones: Instead of having a deep andintimate experience with my girl friend or friends, I often tried to cram many thingstogether to “knock-out two birds with one stone.” While this strategy is not bad forsome situations, it really detracts from the valuable attention my loved onesdeserve.Listening to the voice inside: You can feel when youʼre inner voice is talking.Itʼs almost like itʼs echoing from a far off cave. Even though Iʼve taken decisionanalysis and know that our intuition often leads to bad decisions, my inner voiceseems to have a strong track record. I think the trick is to document when it startstalking and check it against other assumptions. Professional FailuresBeing the best in the world at one thing first: Rather than the rule of 10,000hours to become successful, I failed to carve out a small niche e.g. 50-80 hoursthat Iʼm distinctly the best in. Once establishing credibility in one point, I nowrealize that I can easily expand to other sectors.Not going to the MLS: I took a backseat my sophomore and junior year bylosing hope in my ability to go pro. I didnʼt make a commitment to take it to thenext level and I will never know if I could of made it.Short-term and long-term planning: Balancing and executing priorities in adiscipline manner eluded me because I failed to distinguish between urgent/non-urgent and important/non-important tasks. Too often I spent time executing thewrong tasks even when I knew I was making a bad decision at that moment.Setting expectations and over delivering: After failing to go to events or fulfillprevious commitments, I understand the importance of setting clear expectationsthat Iʼm confident I can over deliver on. A simple heuristic would be taking what Ithink I can do and dividing that by 2. My lack of clear communication of
expectations has lead to both professional and personal issues in terms ofplanning, execution, and performance.Email is not work: Because I like people, I confuse email with actual work.Usually there are multiple steps before and after communicating with someonethat I fail to complete properly because Iʼm caught up in email that drains myenergy.