What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World

Seelig, executive director of the entrepreneurship center at Stanford’s School of Engineering, presents a thoughtful, concise set of observations for those making the unsteady transition to adulthood. While the majority of her advice is intended for would-be entrepreneurs, her accessible lessons should come in handy for those in any field, as well as those still trying to decide on a field. Culled from her personal experience as an entrepreneur and teacher, as well as the stories of entrepreneurs and students she knows, Seelig avoids (and at times dissects) cliché and provides informative discussion throughout, despite a narrower focus than readers might expect. A chapter on acknowledging, learning from, and even seeking out failure (“Fail fast and frequently”) provides valuable advice and comfort for the fearful, including Seelig’s own “failure resumé” (broken into professional, academic and personal failures). The chapter titled “Don’t listen to career advice” helps readers avoid the pitfalls of oft-heard, wrong-headed maxims like “follow your passions” and “stick to the plan.” Readers will either be relieved or frustrated that Seelig doesn’t provide any numbered steps, bullet-pointed recaps or self-assessment quizzes, but she makes the most of her knowledge and authority with a friendly, efficient voice.
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