Four years ago I found myself about to jump out of an airplane (with a parachute) in the middle of the Namibian desert, after I thought I was just going to spend my day at the beach. During a year at sea with an experiential education school called Class Afloat, I’d started to learn that the best things in life are sometimes the most unexpected. So when the giant SKYDIVE sign caught our attention, our group did not hesitate to alter the day’s objective. This particular experience was the foundation of our school’s “Adventure Club”, and the development of the club’s number one rule that would ultimately become my personal motto: “No Plan, Best Plan”.
What began as a simple mantra has become a way of life for me. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a “life plan” is a bad idea, but rather being able to take what life throws at you and roll with it has unfailingly led me in new and exciting directions — most recently taking an unexpected semester off to work for Make-A-Wish Foundation in New Zealand. People often get trapped in their plans, and frustrated when things don’t follow a certain path. But I believe there is a beauty in being veered away from those anticipated trajectories. In addition, there’s no shame in following one path with conviction, and finding out it’s a dead end. The only way we fail is if we don’t learn anything.
I’m talking about this now because I believe Matter’s own mission and outlook mirrors this ideology, and was a big reason I wanted to join the team. Change is an opportunity for growth, belief in ideas is a way to inspire, and failing is just the possibility for new directions. This is what moves me about Matter. I have a lot to learn about the startup world, but Matter is all about “navigating the fog” of entrepreneurship, and I am ready to jump into it. Likewise, what excites me about media is its versatility and ability to change, the more we give voice to people who want to revolutionize the field the faster we produce new cultures and viewpoints, new ways of thinking, and new ways of interpreting media.
As a student at UNC Chapel Hill I am constantly surrounded by individuals who are inspired by change and who are in an environment that facilitates innovation. But I believe that as we move deeper into the working world, environments that encourage transformation and variety become rare. Especially in today’s media industry, catalyzing change in some of the bigger, static companies becomes difficult and slow. However, in Matter’s self-created sphere, stumbling into opportunities and altering directions is encouraged. When I learned about Matter through UNC and several past interns, its collaborative environment and emphasis on community immediately inspired me. In the same vein as “No Plan, Best Plan”, I am not sure where I will end up after college, but I do know that Matter provides a unique and multi-faceted learning environment to help me discover whatever that will be.
After seeing Matter’s Partner Bootcamp in New York City, and experiencing first hand the fast-paced enthusiasm that Matter incites in people, I can officially say I am hooked. Design thinking can take a group of diverse people and instantly connect them through a singular goal — to create something together. A goal, however, is very different from a plan. No one walked into that bootcamp knowing what he or she would accomplish or create, but by the end each team had pitched something unexpected and remarkable. For me, my goal is to soak up as much knowledge as I can in the next two months. But I don’t have a plan, because I know the ways in which it will happen are limitless.
I look forward to helping Matter launch its sixth class, and furthermore to be a part of Matter’s New York City foundations. A new city, a new class, and a lot to learn ahead — I’m just excited to say it’s only the beginning.