Andrew Coats, Erik Kennedy, Lindsay Redmond, and myself were panelists for an Olin-Babson conference on entrepreneurship education for engineers (somehow this becomes the acronym SvE^3). I missed the bus there by one minute, which led to me running pell-mell from the next bus (a half-hour later) down Great Plains, backpack swinging, waving a bright yellow sign that said "PLEASE GIVE ME A RIDE TO BABSON! LATE STUDENT!" and giving desperate looks to passing drivers.

I did get a ride about halfway there, and ran breathless into the room four minutes early (technically 26 minutes late for briefing), then followed the eloquent trio of Andrew, Erik, and Lindsay talking about Olin's entrepreneurship programs by telling the audience all about how I'd stayed as far away from formal programs at Olin as possible, swearing not to follow in the footsteps of my dad, a MechE-turned-MBA. "But I still consider myself an entrepreneur," I told them (roughly paraphrased). "It's not just about starting businesses. It's about creating value." When an audience member asked what Olin students went on to do after graduation, Andrew and Steve Schiffman pulled out the Post-Grad-Planning sheet and read the numbers of alumni in startups, going to Harvard Business School, and so forth; I piped in and said that the kids going to grad school or industry would  be acting entrepreneurial within their institutions as well.

Thing is, Olin made it really easy to start things. Businesses. Clubs. Independent studies. Classes. Projects. Committees. Hacking the school itself (in the "changing tradition and policy" sense, not the "MIT prank" sense). Our ideas don't have to all be good, or work, or even be remotely sane for people to take them seriously and allow them to happen. They don't so much allow them to happen as tell you to take whatever initiatives you want; it's an ask-forgiveness-not-permission mentality. In Gardner's words, the school is "...a fertile seedbed from which enlightenment can spring" - not that it will spring, but that it can, and part of allowing it to spring up is making it okay for many, many things to fail.

After the panel, we were treated to a lovely dinner at which a soon-to-be-professor from Florida gave me some wonderful advice about being a master of jack-of-all-tradesness. ("Being an integrator is a very important role! You probably won't get hired for that for your first job, so you may have to start with a specific project, then move on to as many different projects as you can, until they find out you're a wonderful generalist... and then you're set.") Once the conference attendees left, Erik and I had a good conversation about IdeaTree (his startup) and then walked back to the dorms, where I ended up staying at Boris' room, then waking up at 6am to catch the train to OLPC. I love my life right now.

Fun fact: Fenway House is over a century old, something I learned from Gui when he showed me the "basement" (really a crumbly dirt pit dug out by the foundations for storage) and pointed out that the upstairs rooms used to be slave quarters. If these walls could talk, indeed.