By Aliza Selter, WiTNY Intern
In the third of WITNY’s Summer Conversations, I had the opportunity to meet the Chief Entrepreneurial Officer of Cornell Tech, Greg Pass. Greg leads the Cornell Tech studio-based education and entrepreneurial curriculum, helping to develop student leaders and their startup ideas. For years, Greg has involved himself in numerous startups, from CTO and VP of Engineering at Twitter to CTO and co-founder at Summize. He is not only willing to embrace the unpredictable but he is constantly reinventing himself and finding new ways to succeed.
In our conversation with Greg, these four C’s really resonated with me: Curiosity, Commitment, Creativity, and Confidence.
Curiosity and Commitment:
In our digitally advancing world, our minds and bodies need to keep learning, reinventing, and discovering new things. There will always be a newer and better final product. The end product, says Greg, should be a driving concept, but not a defining concept. While ‘keeping his eye on the prize’ is an important concept, he is always changing the prize.
This idea of constant change was unsettling for me, but Greg gave some encouragement. He said that to work in the tech field, primarily start-ups, means "being okay with doing the wrong thing and not getting deterred.” It takes a certain curious mind and motivated self to ‘thrive in uncertainty’ that will make one successful.
Creativity and Confidence:
In addition to his focus on curiosity and commitment, Greg focused on creativity in the workplace. He is constantly thinking on his feet and challenging his mind. He does this all while recognizing the importance of branding, design, and confidence in the market. Greg has an admirable ability to thrive in both an entrepreneurial and computational environment. To think like an entrepreneur, he says one must think creatively, and be okay with thinking the wrong thing. Confidence along with the willingness to change one’s mind and reinvent oneself are crucial to success.
As someone who juggles numerous interests, from math, tech, and nutrition, I related a lot to what Greg said about creativity. He spoke of combinatory play, the act of mixing concepts to construct a new way of looking at the universe. This creative thinking process keeps driving him to reinvent. Maybe I can combine nutrition and math like I always wanted. "Ideas are non-linear,” said Greg, and it may seem crazy until you find a way to connect the dots. Greg has so many interests from CS, startups, nonprofits, spending time with family, learning Japanese, and relaxing to TaiChi. It’s his random walk that keeps him learning new things and has mapped his diverging interests into the 2 dimensional plane.
As women, especially, we need to remember that new ideas mean new ideas for everyone. If we have curiosity of mind, commitment to learning, creativity in ideas and confidence in our work, we will go so far in all that we do.
A bit about me:
My name is Aliza Selter, and I just finished my fourth year at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Hunter studying Mathematics and Economics. I was shocked to find myself saying that I would be staying a fifth year to complete a Masters in Statistics. After Stats, who knows where I will be! I have this gushing passion for Nutrition, and I would like to get a Master in Public Health one day. I love traveling, hiking, food documentaries, and making coffee.
I have always enjoyed doing math, but I never thought this was a job for a woman. I became interested in WiTNY because I am truly among the minority in my STEM field. WiTNY offered me an opportunity to get professional experience without the pressure and judgment that many women face. It has provided guidance and opened me to a network of more women like me.