Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Jack Dorsey hour-long keynote at the University of Waterloo. Jack is a co-founder and chairman of Twitter, and co-founder and CEO of mobile payment-processing company Square. I knew I'd be foolish not to go for the $10 ticket price.

The presentation wasn't exactly what I expected it to be. I imagined he'd talk about his work, give advice on what to do, what not to do etc. You know, the usual.

Instead, his presentation took the form of a story. He gave an elaborate timeline of his life, starting all the way back to the time in which his parents first met (it was at a pizza restaurant). I felt that this style of delivery was pretty effective, and allowed the audience to take away different points that may have relevant to their own personal stories. Here were my takeaways:


1.) Your passions should be at the forefront of whatever you're doing.

“When you have that passion, and you want to see it in the world, you’re going to do whatever it takes.”

Every story Jack talked about ultimately started with something he was passionate about. He was a coder because he loved it. He got a job in NYC at a dispatch company because he was fascinated with the way cities were run. He went to school to learn how to design jeans because he loved denim. Real-time communication was a strong interest of his, and Twitter was born.


2.) Let your curiosity lead you.

“I have always had a curiosity about the way the world works, what’s out there, and I want to see every aspect of it.”

I think this is ultimately how you discover your passions. We're all curious about different things, but never really give a whole effort in satisfying these curiosities. Dorsey essentially went to the extremes in order to do so. In one story, he told us about how he was highly curious about these caves that were used for recreational purposes (owned by people who had mansions) that existed in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. While most of us would forever go wondering, he took a tour of one of the mansions. They still wouldn't show him the cave, so he volunteered to be a tour-guide for the mansion. He still wasn't allowed access, so eventually got a job as a server at the mansion. All this just so he could satisfy his curiosity of seeing the cave.


3.) Anyone can do big things.

This one's my own observation rather than anything that was said. When the UW staff welcomed Dorsey to the stage, I was expecting this big hulking man in a shiny suit to show his presence. I was expecting every word that came out of his mouth to be pure genius, demonstrating an intellectual level that was unequivocally superior than anyone's in the room. He was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people and named an “outstanding innovator under the age of 35” by MIT’s Technology Review. He co-founded Twitter. But instead, what I saw was an average human being. He looked no different than any of us, and he behaved no different than any of us. What it really told me was, with the right mix of hard work, passion, dedication, and persistence (and whatever else you want to throw in there), there's no reason why any of us can't come up with the next big thing (or thing(s) in his case).


In conclusion

Overall, making it out to the presentation was definitely worth my time. I'd really like to make it out to more of these kinds of events, because learning and modeling yourself after highly success people can go a long way in yielding similar results for yourself.

You can also read Communitech's recap of the event here:

Jack Dorsey at the University of Waterloo