The Journey, Not The Exit

By Evan Bayliss C’16

One Friday recently a friend suggested that I check out a brown bag lunch sponsored by the Wharton Alumni Relations Council and Alumni Relations. A Wharton alumnus named Joe Meyer was going to be talking. On a whim, I decided to go. That whim may very well have changed the direction of my life.

Joe Meyer is a serial entrepreneur and Wharton MBA—he was the CEO of HopStop.com, recently acquired by Apple. I walked in knowing only this, and honestly expected to understand about 2% of a talk coming from a man capable of successfully building multi-million dollar companies from scratch.

Joe spoke about his experiences running and working in startups, and what I heard was refreshing, inspiring, and powerful. He described the entrepreneurial life: there is no easy way in entrepreneurship, it is a struggle and a journey, but entirely worth it for those who can stomach the risk and extremes. He was unwaveringly supportive of learning on the job as the best form of education for an entrepreneur.

It was amazing to hear from a successful entrepreneur that great grades are not necessarily the key to success and jobs: there is no substitute for performing in the real world. Joe’s talk changed my mindset about entrepreneurship. I was convinced that only the brightest people in the room could be entrepreneurs. Joe let me see it’s really courage, emotional stability, and perseverance that define a good entrepreneur. The ability to weather the storm and learn on the fly can trump an MBA. Walking out of that room, I thought about my future differently—with entrepreneurship at the top of my mind.

Besides the business side of his life, Joe talked about family and opened up about how entrepreneurship has changed his lifestyle. What was most moving for me: the journey matters most, not the exit—so enjoy the journey. That goes for businesses, for jobs, and for life in general. Especially at Penn, we focus so much on getting to the next step that we can all too easily forget to appreciate and cherish where we are in the moment.

I’m glad I followed that whim and went to hear Joe Meyer speak. Thanks to him, I see opportunities all around me now, to be an entrepreneur in business and in life.

Evan BaylessBio: Evan is a Penn sophomore studying Science, Technology, and Society. He hopes to work in startups or innovative corporate functions after he graduates. As the founder of PennConnect, he has dabbled in managing a club and concept from scratch – more information can be found at http://pennconnect.us/.