In typical Davidson fashion, I don’t really know what I’m doing – but I’m attempting to work it out. Over the past two weeks, I have been thrust into the business world, wholly unprepared for the challenges and breadth of acronyms that awaited me.
I arrived on day one to this tiny office off Johnny Dodd Boulevard with three IKEA desks and a few guys in flip-flops. My first thought was, “Is this what business executives look like?” But I quickly learned that when working for high-powered entrepreneurs, office décor had no affect on daily operations.
I walked into a world of $10 million EBITDA businesses, LPs, GPs, IRR, MBAs, 1099s, W2s, LLCs, S-Corps, B-Corps, C-Corps, MDs, PhDs, PEFs, VCFs, Angels, Accelerators, Incubators, Funds of Funds, Funds of Funds of Funds, and Funds of Funds of Funds of Funds, OPM, TMs, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, COOs, EHRs, EMRs, PHI, EPIC, Next Gen, IT, ITL (R.I.P.), LCP (R.I.P), SFA, MPGs, Zzz’s (sorry Dave) and as I soon came to realize, a lot of BS, an area where I happen to excel.
Your typical pre-med Davidson student, my acronym lexicon ranged from SALCs to ACh and to my knowledge, I was pretty good at Excel, but in this world – I was way out of my league. My third day in, we leave the office at 10:30 p.m. and while I was feeling the threads of exhaustion tugging at my eyelids, my bosses looked like they were just getting warmed up. Five dead whiteboard markers later and partnership negotiations had barely broken the surface.
Thursday of week two, a last-second day trip to Durham and Chapel Hill to talk collaboration with UNC and Duke professors was no big deal. Four and a half hours in the car both ways for three meetings? Cakewalk. Quick lunch with Fuqua in downtown Durham, a speedy drive to Kenan-Flagler in Chapel Hill, and then a walk/sprint in a navy suit to a 2:30 p.m. meeting at Gillings. Outback steakhouse for dinner, home by 10:30 p.m..
So here I am, Friday at the office, a knock at the door brings Jimmy Johns delivery for lunch while I work on funding proposals and fiscal timelines. I listen to Dave’s recruitment pitch for about the thousandth time and roll my eyes as he says, “it was like a natural golf swing.” But it’s impressive.
It didn’t take long to see where they caught the sickness. Their work ethic, their demeanor, they basically reek of the Davidson grind. Graduates of 2000 and ’99, they didn’t enter this world with a full-fledged business background, but in their late thirties, they’ve sped past the competition.
It’s a way of thinking that we all share, it’s a work ethic that can’t be matched, and it’s a passion and drive for everything we do that makes us remarkable. We may enter situations without a clue in the world what’s going on, but it doesn’t take long for us to catch up and we quickly reach the top.
A public health major through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, I have no idea what a Search Fund really is, and I am doubtful that I will ever truly understand IRR. But I can say with confidence that by the end of this summer, I will have renewed perspective on what it means to have a Davidson education. Well, that, or my website will contain several very embarrassing and difficult to explain pictures of me.
It doesn’t take much to gain some perspective – just a push in the right direction, alongside a Davidson education, is all you really need.