I found it! The key to success! 

It was right in front of me all along. All I needed to do was look through the lens of possibility and there it was! 

“The key to success is the ability to extract the lessons out of every experience and to move on with that new knowledge.” 

At least that is what author, Tina Seelig, writes in her awesome book, “What I wish I knew when I was 20”. Tina Seelig is a faculty director at Stanford Technology Ventures Program where she teaches courses on creativity and innovation. Tina teaches her students the art of having an entrepreneurial mindset and to recognise the possibility in everything that is around them.

Opportunities are abundant.


To prove this, one of the first exercises Tina assigns her students is to make as much money as possible with only $5 and two hours. After the initial ideas of lemonade stand or carwash, have been yelled out, the groups start to think outside the square and come up with some super interesting ways to make money.

One group identified a problem with long lines outside popular restaurants on Saturday nights. They started a restaurant booking service, where the team members would reserve tables at busy restaurants to sell their tables to people who didn’t want to wait in line. Brilliant.

Another group recognised the value of their 3 minute presentation time for the exercise in front of the class. They sold this 3 minutes to a company that wanted to recruit students. They made a three minute commercial for that company and showed the class making a nice $650. Very clever. 

The students that did well in this exercise didn’t use the five dollars at all but realised that focussing on the money framed the problem too tightly. By reinterpreting the problem to how do you make money if you start with nothing? They gave themselves the freedom to solve problems they’d never noticed before or had the time to reflect on.

The take-away?

To recognise that problems can be opportunities if you can reposition them as such. 

In other words, the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. Most people approach problems as though they can’t be solved and therefore, can’t see the creative solutions sitting right in front of them. 

An entrepreneur is someone who is always on the lookout for problems that can be turned into opportunities and finds creative ways to leverage limited resources to reach their goals.

What I wish I knew when I was 20 is jammed packed with inspiring stories that show again and again that thinking outside the square and using less traditional methods to tackle big problems ultimately leads to more interesting and inspired outcomes. Each story is an example of an actionable approach that anyone can use. This book will empower you. 

The best part is that everyone can embrace this mindset. It is not just for the students or university professors - it's for anyone who is willing to look outside what is expected to find value in the problems, whoops, I mean, in the opportunities that are all around us. 

Keen to talk a more about the book, or maybe you have a tip for another super inspiring read? I’m always happy to connect. 

Video of the Week
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Oblikua: font of the week designed by Sergio Villar

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