Never Say No to “No”

Written by: Minna Tang

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Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business held its annual Intercollegiate Business Convention at Hynes Convention Center last Saturday. Because of the strong bond between herNetwork and Unitiques, I was lucky enough to be invited by Alex Shadrow, the founder and CEO of Unitques and one of the panelists at the convention. As usual, there were many amazing speakers, such as the COO of Instagram and the CEO of McKinsey. However, I have to say my favorite was Amy Chua.

Amy Chua is a law professor at Yale University, but she is most known for her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. She started by telling her story as a kid living in an immigrant family. Her parents were so strict with her academic performance that they would sit down with her to reflect on the exams if she ever got a below an “A” grade. She said that the first time she ever rebelled was during her prom. Her parents would only allow her to attend prom if she comes home by 9 pm, so she came back and jumped out of her window to go back to prom.

After practicing on Wall Street for a while, Amy wanted to be a law professor. She applied for law schools all the over the country and expected numerous acceptances after many preparations and interviews. However, with only 1 acceptance, she got 100 rejections. Calling her dad, who is a professor at Stanford, Amy cried and said that she would never be able to become a law professor because she was not good enough. Her dad consoled her and told her that 100 rejections meant nothing because he had more rejections when he tried to support a family as a new immigrant with poor English. Therefore, she waited. A couple months later, Duke called her and told her that there was one open position for her. She went and started to write books on the topics she fascinated. In 2001, Yale, who rejected her at the first place, invited her to join the law faculty.

The story she shared is only a small part of her life, but it reflects the belief she holds: Never say no to no. At the end of her talk, she gave 5 pieces of advice:

  1. Go for it: Never don’t do anything because of fear of failure.
  2. Don’t try to plan your life: Life is exciting, and we should keep exploring.
  3. Find your comparative advantage, embrace it, and show it.
  4. There is always light at the end of the tunnel: It opens up new opportunities when you push through, and you will end up emerging stronger.
  5. Be generous: Lightening your burden helps you to see the way ahead.
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