John Suh ’88 Returns to Campus for PolyConnect
John Suh ’88 returned to campus on Wednesday, April 13 to speak to 26 Upper School students about his path to entrepreneurship. He began attending Poly in fifth grade, and after graduating in 1988, attended Harvard. It was at Harvard where he had a unique opportunity to create a major and curriculum called Organizational Behavior and Public Policy. After Harvard, he became an associate consultant at L.E.K., where he frequently worked 100 hour weeks and realized his dislike for the slow paced management. He returned to Harvard for his M.B.A., while the internet was a hot topic and students were buzzing about the multiple opportunities in technology. After business school, John joined the Castling Group as CEO, helping launch internet divisions of big companies like JCrew, Barneys, and Ferragamo. After successfully building online portals for multiple large clothing lines, John took two years off to travel and re-evaluate his role as an entrepreneur. He traveled to Singapore, India, Brazil among many other countries, and played golf in between. When he returned, he was hired on to the LegalZoom team as CEO, leading them 11 years later to be America’s most recognized legal brand.
John believes that being an entrepreneur is a very hard job, but also extremely rewarding and exciting. He said, “As an entrepreneur, you are always thinking that there are problems to be solved. I love the ability to think creatively about a problem, and when you solve it, you’ve fixed a small part of the world.” He claims he knew he wanted to create solutions and solve problems at a young age, but no one would give him the responsibility to do it, so he became an entrepreneur. “It fits my personality and my strengths,” he says, “I’m bad at many things, but I’m good at coaching other coaches to lead others and do extraordinary things.” His first major piece of career advice came from his father, who told him to “forget what you want to do, what are you good at? If you’re good at something, you will have success, and passion will follow.” John’s second advice was: “Every move in your career will open and close doors. In the beginning, everything is open. So experience the widest continuum in the world, get as much variation as possible, and narrow it down.” John urged the students to travel and experience as much as they could to figure out what they want to do, seek the work life balance in the rest of the world, and make decisions for their own careers.
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