AS MORTARBOARDS flew into the air at graduation ceremonies across the country over the past few days, students were left to ponder countless commencement speakers telling them to bravely seek a newer world, take risks, ignore naysayers, and generally emulate the ideal of the late Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice,” Jobs told the graduating class at Stanford University in 2005. All very inspiring. But how does one translate that into an actionable plan? Steve Blank at the University of California, Berkeley, has blogged some solid advice that any student, and certainly any entrepreneur, should take to heart. Blank runs a program for startup founders called Lean LaunchPad, and he fully embraces the idea that creativity and craziness go together. But he asks three fundamental questions: Are you really passionate enough to sustain your belief in your project? Once you have heard all the negative evaluations, can you actually explain why you still want to persevere? (Hint, stubbornness is not enough.) Will it change the world enough to make it worth all the pain? In other words, to paraphrase an old Paul Simon song, will you be still crazy after all these tears? If the answer is yes, then go for it.
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