This past Monday, CORE (Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs), with CCE and CEO (CBS’s Entrepreneurs Organization), brought Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey to campus. Attentive socializers Alexandra Svokos and Arvind Srinivasan–half of Bwog Tech–sat down with Mr. Dorsey, who was wearing a great pair of Levis, before his big talk in Roone Arledge. At the big talk, he revealed that Columbia has been granted access to Square Cash. Get the instructions for that at the end of this post.
Let’s start with the basics: Jack Dorsey’s an awesome dude. He was at the forefront of two major lifestyle changes in the last several years, has a crap-ton of money, but still works hard to change our daily lives in innovative and functional ways. First there was Twitter and then there was Square–that thing you plug into an iPad and can swipe a credit card through to pay for things. Joe’s has it.
At our roundtable interview, Mr. Dorsey (we’re still too intimidated to call him “Jack“) wasn’t allowed to talk about Twitter cuz, you know, but he very much wanted to talk about Square and its expansion into New York. They’re opening up and expanding offices in the city and really want smart people (looking at you guys) to apply. Mr. Dorsey explained that NYC has something different from Silicon Valley. While out there people are inspired by nature, “New York is great if you’re inspired by people.”
But New York, one interviewer prompted, is full of cash-only neighborhood favorites. Can that change with Square? According to Mr. Dorsey, indubitably. Square markets the register to small businesses on ease of use, flat fees, and quick setup (traditional point of sale systems can take weeks or months to get up and running). However, Mr. Dorsey also believes that the most tech-apprehensive clients will be able to better serve their customers by just using Square’s inventory management software, which links individual sales to the bottom line.
Arvind wanted to know how to improve technologic and entrepreneurial education in universities like this, rather than turning to self-teaching. Mr. Dorsey explained that entrepreneurship is not just about having the idea: you must also have the attitude. Universities should foster this kind of supportive spirit. He also encouraged people to intern in practical positions as earlier as possible–one former Square intern was just in high school.
Alexandra wanted to know how to push through roadblocks and inefficient systems (not at all related to Columbia, obvs). Mr. Dorsey said that as an innovator, you must have something to show–and the patience to follow through. He discussed the start of Square, which was initially met with disapproval. By physically showing people how the system worked, though, he was able to gain traction and support.
As a non-techie, Alexandra asked it point-blank: are humanities majors screwed?
“Nah,” Mr. Dorsey responded after a laugh. He went on that, in fact, technology is coming back around to the basis of humanity itself. Think of the fingerprint scanner on the new iPad–technology is continuously finding ways to bring us back to our physical beings. “More and more, we’re just using what we’re born with.” Square’s new venture, Square Wallet, allows you to pay at a counter without even taking out a card. Instead, you just confirm your name–“you pay with who you are, not an object.”
Moreover, though, the humanities are necessary to help and inspire technology. The more developers work with the humanities, the better the technology will be.
Mental health (especially concerning stress) is of great importance to Mr. Dorsey (who knows a thing or two about it, having served simultaneously as the CEO of two companies for a small period). Arvind asked about the much-discussed wellness: as a leader, how do you promote a mentally healthy culture? Mr. Dorsey asserted that we have to “own your own stress.” By that he means, “if you need to take a vacation, take a vacation.” He explained that you have to do what’s necessary to make you as individually successful as possible. There is not a vacation policy at Square–people can take off as much time as they feel they need.
“If we’re not healthy,” Mr. Dorsey said, “we’re not going to be able to do anything meaningful at all.” That said, he went on that you have to communicate with people who rely on you before taking time off, just to give them some warning. Mr. Dorsey wants to ensure that people have the support to take the time and actions they need, and that they remember that these options (to take a break) are available to them.
After such an enlightening and serious conversation, there was nothing left to do but ask Mr. Dorsey to officially baptize our new Vine account. We think he digs our name.
Square Cash: Like Venmo, this is a $$$ sharing platform, to send and receive cash from your account. So basically you can set this up with your parents if you need an innovative new way to beg for cash.
Jack via Wikimedia Commons