2020 Reflections: Hello world!
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Whew, what a year.
In all honesty, this blog post — my first blog post — feels somewhat detached given the state of things around me. In fact, I recognize that I am in a position of privilege to have experienced a relatively safe year, all things considered. But as I learned this year, positive and scalable change starts first with myself. That change is the good type of contagious.
So, no, I won't spend the few precious minutes that I have with you harping on COVID-19, quarantine, remote classes, and Zoom fatigue. I'm sure you get enough of that on Twitter.
Let's look at the positives for a change..
To that end, I spent some time reflecting on my year... what happened, what didn't, and how things changed. In the process, I wrote down some important lessons that gave me incredible energy. I hope they do the same for you.
So, here goes.
Hello world. My name is Jeremy Navarro. Here's what I learned this year:
The opposite of a good decision can still be a good decision.* Life is full of choices. As hard as we might try, we'll never make the 'correct' decision 100% of the time. So, don't define your decisions according to a set of absolutes. Make informed decisions, understand the results, and always reflect on how you can do better. Consequence lies on a spectrum that you have to take in stride. Don't be afraid to decide. *All credit for the original quote goes to Rory Sutherland, author of Alchemy.
Rarely is anything ever mutually exclusive. I mean, seriously, I'm an aspiring venture capitalist with a Comparative Literature degree. Even if not obvious at first, I've learned to understand just how deeply interconnected everything is. Don't discount one element because of its distance from another. Bridging that distance represents mileage, history, and resilience — all of which are valuable assets for any career.
Paying it forward has the highest return. There are so many problems with the world. I can't realistically hope to fix all of them. However, I take pride and energy in the fact that I can help empower, educate, and enable communities (especially diverse ones) to tackle goals collectively. We are mighty, together.
Understanding your weaknesses is a superpower in and of itself. For the longest time, I took myself out of the game because of my differences. I'm non-technical, with a non-quantitative degree, from a non-target school. While I thought this meant that I understood my weaknesses, it really meant that I was hiding because of my differences. Once I took some time to reflect on where I had room for improvement, I defined tactical ways for self-educating and brought myself closer to a seat at the table.
Celebrate the little wins. God, it was a hard year. Don't shy away from self-love. Accomplishments, big and small, deserve celebration.
In the spirit of lesson #5, here are some things I'm proud of accomplishing this year:
In February, I launched dormops. Despite first-founder-struggles and a global pandemic, dormops has persisted. It evolved from a marketing agency into a marketing education product studio and got some noticeable glances from some truly powerful players in marketing. All while being entirely and remotely student-run. As first startups go, dormops was and still is a resounding success.
A few weeks later, I published the first issue of The Cereal Intern. Who said literature majors don't fit into tech? I spent tiring, but fun, hours researching, writing, memeing, and reporting about news and startups in tech. While I placed the newsletter on hiatus towards the end of the summer and the start of my senior year, I have some big plans for the publication moving forward!
In May, I then joined Dorm Room Fund as Head of Growth. Not only was joining Dorm Room Fund a sorely-needed reminder of the value I can bring to tech, but it also marked the first time I ever realized that tech was truly where I wanted to be. Seven months later, I've learned a ridiculous amount about startups and built a truly energizing network of founders, investors, operators, and storytellers. Hands down, the greatest decision of my undergrad career.
With my in-person startup internship cancelled, I then joined Juix as an Associate Product Marketing Manager for the summer. I learned a great deal about myself (and the remote charging market!) as well as how to deliver value-add as a non-technical product associate. Many of the skills and techniques I first learned/applied at Juix remain critical tools in my product toolkit today.
Frustrated with my job search struggles, I also launched development on Sprout.ly with the help of Open Water VC. Sprout.ly, a project-based networking platform, is focused on democratizing access to networking for all students. I managed a product and development team through three months of development and, by the end of the summer, we had generated a waitlist of 400+ students in only 3 days!
I also committed to improving my skillset as a founder and operator by taking on fellowships with both Day One and Pillar VC. Both programs left me with newfound skills across the entrepreneurship lifecycle, whether that be in marketing, product validation, or even fundraising. However, on top of all that, both programs showed me the importance of community-building and how vital the right community can be for any founder.
Inspired by my interactions with Pillar, as well as my network at Dorm Room Fund, I took on fellowships at both Ripple Ventures and Republic. Both experiences marked my first adventures into the world of funding, and I'm proud to say that I stayed true to my personal, people-driven thesis. I learned invaluable skills like sourcing, conducting due diligence, operating funds, and networking all while studying full-time.
One month into both fellowships, I fell deeply in love with venture and its ability to facilitate impactful change. However, I found that my non-technical background often precluded me from positions at funds that I admired and followed. So in early November, I joined Correlation One's Data Science For All as a participating fellow, to gain skills in data science, analytics, and programming languages like Python, R, and SQL. 8 weeks in and I've learned more than I ever could've imagined.
And finally, with the year closing, I found another amazing community over at Astra Labs with an unrivaled commitment to change over profit.
All in all, it's been a wildly chaotic, and yet somehow, productive, year. I started two companies, built an amazing network of friends across the tech ecosystem, and positioned myself for an energetic 2021.
What's in store for 2021? Taking all the learnings of 2020 and applying it to the world around me. That means more launching, more communities, more writing, and more growth. And of course, the never-ending job search.
But you'll just have to wait for the next blog post to keep up ;)