Keep Moving Forward: A Tale Of Institutional Bureaucracy

3 minute read

In the
classic film “Rocky Balboa,” Sylvester Stallone offers his son solace in
his moment of defeat, “Nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about
how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward….”

These words
have always inspired me. They speak to me of an unbroken spirit, of a soul that
refuses to give up.

Perseverance
is a quality that I hold close to my heart as an entrepreneur. It keeps you
going when everything is stacked against you. In moments of defeat, it’s the
strength that helps you get back up and keep fighting. This is something I have
learned through personal experience.

In high
school, I left my mornings open so I could take classes at the University of
California Irvine. Since I was not a full-time college student, I had to wait
until the last three days of the one-month registration period to enroll in a
class. 

On the night
before I could register for Linear Algebra, the class filled up. I could only
get in if someone dropped the course within the three days, which was highly
unlikely given that there were already six people on the wait list. I had to
figure out a way to get into the class, as my high school registration period
had already passed.

Working Out
the Options 

I scheduled a
meeting with the head of the extension department to figure out my options. I
asked if they could increase the enrollment limit. When she mentioned there
weren’t enough seats in the class, I offered to bring my own chair into class.
However, this was against the fire department protocol. Apparently, you can
only have as many students registered in a class as there are seats “bolted
into the ground.” 

Desperate
Times = Creative Thinking

This wasn’t a
problem that could be solved through normal channels. It would need a bit of
creative thinking. If that classroom was too small, I thought I could just find
a bigger room. The registration closed on Friday at 5 p.m. By that time, I had
less than two days to organize a classroom change. 

I spent hours
going through all the classes that took place in the morning to see which rooms
in the math and science department were free. And there it was: a room with
three additional seats – 86 instead of 83 – that was free during the morning
session. 

But the quest
was far from over. The head of the extension department was doubtful that I
could change the classroom. I was not a full-time college student and this had
never been done before. To implement the change, I needed approval from four
parties: the chair of the math department, the professor of the class, the
registrar and the fire department.

The Power of
Persuasion 

In a
near-perfect execution of plans, I sent out emails, made calls and scheduled
meetings. I spent most of Thursday and Friday morning running all around
campus, explaining to each individual the advantages of switching classrooms
and getting their approval. I argued that the larger room, which was already
available and located in the math department, would allow three wait-listed
students to take the class.

Friday
afternoon, I had all the required approvals. With just a couple of hours left
for registration to close on Friday, I enrolled in the course.

A Lesson Well
Learned

This
experience taught me that perseverance is truly the key to any unfavorable
situation. At VenturePact, we are constantly reminded of the importance of
perseverance. We have faced several roadblocks during our time of growing and
building a startup, many of which were due to institutional red tape. 

However,
drawing on my experiences at the University of California Irvine, I can state
with conviction that being creative and persistent when solving problems can
make a huge difference. It’s helped us get through several challenges and I am
confident that it will serve us well in the future as we grow the company.

Remember,
regardless of who we are, our defeats do not define us. Instead we are defined
by “how much we can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.

Randy Rayess
is the cofounder of 
VenturePact, a marketplace that connects companies to
prescreened software development firms. Randy has worked in private equity at
SilverLake Partners and at startups in machine learning, transaction processing
and financial services. Randy completed a Masters in Systems Engineering at the
University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelors of Science in Economics with
concentration in Finance and Statistics from the Wharton School. You can reach
out to him on 
Linkedin or Twitter.

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