Lessons From a Guy in a Hot Tub

This last week I was at the FBLA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, CA. My partner, Sahil, and I reached finals (Top 15) in our category, Entrepreneurship. Along with the competitive events, there are many amazing seminars and workshops at the conference. I attended great workshops including a panel of three tech entrepreneurs telling their experiences in creating successful businesses, a talk by the founder of dormco.com, and a speech from Stevens Institute about critical problem solving. However, despite the amazingness of the the seminars, the best lesson was from the stranger in the hot tub.

While swimming with my friends at the pool at the Sheraton, my hotel in Anaheim, I overheard the words “conservative” and “government” coming from the hot tub. As I could never voluntarily shy away from a political discussion, I was compelled to listen in. Sinking in to the hot, salty water, I readied myself for one of the best lectures of my life. I soon realized that the political discussion stemmed from the debate over ethics in business, one of the categories of another student in the hot tub. The girl was discussing with a man, around 25, about why corporations should care about ethics, and, he, playing the devil’s advocate, questioning her. Intrigued, I spoke up about my “controversial” opinions on the matter but those are a discussion for another time. Surprisingly, the man agreed with a lot of my points. After the discussion, the girl had to leave, so the discussion shifted focus to what the the man did for a living, why he was here in Anaheim, and the question on everyone’s mind, “Why was this 25 year old man sitting in a hot tub sipping martinis and chatting with a bunch of high schoolers?” We learned that his name was Jordan Tinning and he was a “recruiter” for Tek Systems, a tech industry job matching firm. Over the course of the next 2 hours he talked about topics ranging from how to adapt your actions based on who’s around you to knowing how to drink alcohol properly to how to properly convince someone to do something. We learned as we walked away at the end that he himself had gotten a similar talk from another stranger at a hotel when he was in high school and felt the need to pass on the favour. Trying to recreate the exact conversation here just can’t do it justice. However, if there anything you can take away from this post it is to always be open to meeting and learning from new people and that some of life’s greatest lessons can come from the most unexpected places.