The daily routine of waking up before dawn, sitting in traffic during the morning commute and working from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. makes even the most optimistic person lag from time to time. It only becomes a joyful ritual when the work impacts others in a positive way. For some, it might mean working for a nonprofit organization, but it doesn’t have too. For Shawn Xu (Pi-Beta, ‘09) it means helping businesses emerge in worldwide markets.
Xu was traveling in China one week and France the next; it was the jetsetter life that his global business degree prepared him for. Joining a small startup with a few friends quickly molded into creating the data infrastructure and software for Medicare. It put him on the map for a small startup named Square; they sent him to the United Kingdom to expand into Europe. Then, it was time to switch gears.
“One of my Brothers went to the University of Chicago’s Business School. When I was trying to decide, ‘should I go to grad school or not’, he was one of the first people I called. He gave me a ton of advice. Another one of my Brothers when to UCLA for business school and he said, ‘you should totally do it.”
That decision earned him both an MBA and Master’s in International Studies, along with connections to the most powerful people in tech. His work landed him on the radar of some very important people, ones whose names turn heads at the rumor of their presence at a conference. Those individuals nominated him to become a Forbes 30 Under 30 award recipient. Time stood still just as it did from countless 15+ hour flights across the globe.
“It was not the award that was worth it, it was the journey. I’m very grateful for it, but the thing that made it exciting was meeting all these startups along the way and helping them where they needed to go. The journey is the stuff that rewarding, it’s not the award.”
The journey included the advice, counsel and connections made through his Lambda Chi Alpha network. Without the recommendation from his Brothers, Xu wouldn’t have expanded on his education. He would not have become a Senior Associate Venture Capitalist in his first 10 years and he surely would not have become a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient.
The Forbes 30 Under 30 award reflects the hard work it took in order to receive it. The plaque sitting on the shelf holds memories of late nights with his coworkers and waking up at 4:00 a.m. to catch a plane. It’s a constant reminder that his hard work was because the kindness of others cleared a path for his talent to prevail. On the tail end of his high, Xu has a message for those that will soon take his place:
“I want to pay it forward; I want to help younger Lambda Chi’s do the same thing.”
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