915,103,765. I discovered this remarkable number earlier this year at the Lego House in Billund Denmark. Near the exit is an automated machine that melts, molds, and packages gifts of six red Lego blocks. On the wall, in bold black numbers, I see it for the first time. 915,103,765. Almost 1 billion. That is the number of possible combinations from just six red bricks.
Frankfurt School has provided us each with a remarkable set of bricks for the future. I represent just one set, one collection of books and lectures, studies abroad and case studies. And the possibilities are endless. There are few things so individual as the MBA Journey, because business itself is about the constant reimagining of human needs and human potential. This journey gave us a glimpse inside dramatic global transformations that shapes our opportunities in surprising ways. Many of us have felt limited by challenging economics or personal twists and turns. At times we feel like we reached and came back with empty hands. But our hands are not empty. We have the pieces of a bright future, even when difficulty mounts before us.
I see my peers in the MBA program and I am awed by their creativity and steadfastness. One classmate managed logistics across the Atlantic and another, the virtual worlds of gaming communities. Some managed businesses back home, like a chemical business in Nigeria or an e-commerce network of craftspeople in India. In coming here, many crossed continents, left families and friends, learned a new language, and took finance for the very first time. Others spent all day in classes, and then, late at night, nurtured newborns. And now, in our hands we have what we need to foster collaboration between human workers and artificial intelligence, to manage supply chains of rockets en route to Mars, or to market entirely new products across the globe. We do not have to be the engineer, scientist or graphic designer to make these things happen, but we must be the dreamers and managers, the financiers and strategists, who empower talented teams to start building. And, when things fail, to build again.
We are so grateful to our professors who filled our hands with new bricks. They brought this coursework to life with unique insights and experiences, with challenging case studies and whiteboard sketches of global trade. We are grateful to the MBA team for building a program that went beyond classrooms. We met CEOs, start-up founders, and boards of directors. And we met each other, a talented group from dozens of different industries and nationalities. These relationships carried us through long nights and intense pressure. We became lifelong friends. And then there are our families. Our families are a lighthouse in the dark unknowns of life. They gave and carried so much to help us through these programs and to free us to chase our fleeting dreams.
We have gained so much in persevering. We joined a global network of alumni and together we can help each other reinvent what is possible. My thesis project with Amazon Web Services only became possible because of my relationships with two outstanding classmates and a simple 300-character message to an FS alum I’d never met before. When we build with those around us, unexpected opportunities materialize before our eyes.
What will you build with your six red bricks? What impossible idea will come together in your hands?
Lay that first brick, build something new, and you will not only weather the storms ahead, but perhaps be the one who powers a city with hurricane winds.
One billion possibilities.
You have what you need.