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  • Writer's pictureBaker Institute Team

"If there’s a rocket ship, take any seat you can."

John Schaaf '21 | Start Up

Major | Finance

Minor | Integrated Real Estate

Hometown | Tewksbury, NJ

LehighSiliconValley has given us the opportunity to learn from very successful entrepreneurs from all different backgrounds. We have been lucky enough to hear people in all different stages of the startup process, hearing from both the entrepreneur and investor sides of it.

From day one we were lucky enough to go to VMware and spend the day with Tom Gillis, who is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Network and Security. After introducing us to different successful entrepreneurs, he talked with us about his journey and the different experiences that he had to deal with. While giving us tips on how to thrive as an entrepreneur, he was able to teach us overall life lessons. I will never forget when he was talking about different opportunities and said “If there’s a rocket ship, take any seat you can. It doesn’t matter about what your title is. When given opportunities, crush it.” If I were able to spend more time talking with him, I would love to hear more about his first few years as an entrepreneur and how those experienced helped prepare him later on, along with how he was able to continue his success year after year.

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