About Our Challenger
John Chisholm ’75, SM ’76 met with Ellie Leahy, our MIT10 staff advisor, to discuss his role in the MIT10 Challenge. Here’s her report:
- What made you choose MIT as a place to volunteer?
- That’s easy: MIT alumni. They form the most creative, thoughtful, and proactive community of which I am privileged to be a part. Their ideas, plans, and accomplishments constantly energize and inspire me. I’m grateful to be one among them.
- You often say that volunteering with MIT helps alumni build professional, social, and communications skills. How so?
- Regional clubs and class reunions let you develop as a leader and discover your management style. My many years helping lead the MIT Club of Northern California was key to the success of the companies I founded, for example. Just attending alumni programs and events can extend the intellectual growth and excitement we experienced at MIT throughout our lives. Any alum can enjoy these priceless resources and experiences just by getting involved and volunteering.
- You’ve started successful high-tech companies and launched them into the mainstream. How can MIT10 successfully face this year’s Challenge?
- With a combination of passion and perseverance. Visualize how your gift will help a student in need; urge your classmates to give as well. Passion, an attitude, and perseverance, a behavior, reinforce each other. If you stick with something long enough, get better at it, and start to like it and then love it, that’s perseverance driving passion. Conversely, if you already love an activity, it is easy to persevere. Such feedback loops pervade business and life; recognizing, nurturing, and riding them is key to success. For more, see Unleash Your Inner Company.
John Chisholm is CEO of John Chisholm Ventures, an entrepreneurship advisory and angel investment firm in San Francisco. He has three decades of experience as entrepreneur, CEO, and investor. He founded the online software companies Decisive Technology (now part of Google) and CustomerSat (now part of Confirmit). He has invested in dozens of privately held companies and mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs on five continents. He is past president and chair of the MIT Alumni Association, a trustee of MIT and of the Santa Fe Institute, and a contributor to Forbes. He received bachelors and masters degrees in EECS from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
He is past president and chair of the MIT Alumni Association, a trustee of MIT and of the Santa Fe Institute, and a contributor to Forbes. He received bachelors and master’s degrees in EECS from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.