Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) was founded and is being overseen by Sonicbids founder and Berklee alumnus, Panos Panay, ‘94. The Institute fosters an entrepreneurial mindset across the Berklee community of students, faculty and alumni. It has been gaining popularity, garnering support and press in 40 publications, including Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Inc, BusinessWeek and many others. TEDxBerkleeValencia Marketing Coordinator, Michelle Golden, got the chance to speak with Panos, who was selected to speak at the inaugural TEDxBerkleeValencia, which took place in June 2014. His talk, “How My Guitar Taught Me Entrepreneurship” examines his personal experience with music and how learning to play the guitar led him to be a successful entrepreneur. Check out this interview to learn more about Panos, his idea about changing currents, and three pieces of advice he would give his 25-year-old self.
What did you think of last year’s first ever TEDxBerkleeValencia?
PANAY: I loved it! I do a lot of speaking. But it was great to be coached by someone else to develop the speech. It was definitely a valuable growth experience for me. The preparation was one of the highlights. Of course the actual event was extremely wonderfully produced. The rest of the speakers were fantastic.
Why do you think it is important for people to participate in conferences such as TEDx?
PANAY: The older I get, the more I believe that asking good questions is more important than getting the right answers. Learning how to ask good questions, learning how to speak outside the constraints of any environment we live in, is essential. When you go to TED, you walk away not with a bunch of answers, but certainly walk away with an interesting framework of asking good questions about our world, society, the future, and diversity. It’s an easily digestible format for provoking thought and getting insight that, frankly, cannot be replicated in an online way.
Has anything new and exciting happened since last year’s TEDxBerkleeValencia?
PANAY: I’ve been working really hard to build Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship at Berklee College of Music. We’ve launched several classes through the Institute. My approach to building the Institute has been this desire to bring diverse people from different backgrounds to the college, because I feel that inspiration is provoked by accessing ideas that are different than the framework you operate with on a daily basis.
This year’s theme for the second edition of TEDxBerkleeValencia is “Changing Currents.” To you, what does “changing currents” mean?
PANAY: We are going through a transition in society and in the music industry. Technology is taking us to new places and new areas of focus. Change is happening all around us – the way we interact with our families, the way we learn, even the way our children play. To me, changing currents ultimately means this tidal wave of change that is happening in our society and world at large.
If you could give three pieces to your 25-year-old self, what would they be?
PANAY: Seek to get as many experiences as you can outside the very narrow field you envision yourself working in. Get a diversity of experience and be exposed to different people. This is absolutely critical in terms of how you relate to the world, and in terms of how you go about your career. Focus on meeting one new person every day. Make sure you continuously grow your relationship network. Focus on building the relationships. Don’t be a networker – be a relationship builder. Your career will never be a linear path. It will take all sorts of twists and turns. Be open to new ideas and stimuli. Listen more than you talk. Care more about being interested than interesting. Learn how to ask good questions rather than to give the right answer.