Randolph School

Senior Speech: Taking Risks and Finding Happiness

Senior Speech: Taking Risks and Finding Happiness

By Abhishek Mentreddy '21

In life, I believe that we should all take risks and try everything around us. I guess you could call me an Epicurean. A person who achieves pleasure by trying new activities. Whether it be trying a new food or starting a business, we live one life, we might as well make the most out of it.

We have had quite a school year. From starting off on a hybrid system to going traditional, to going fully virtual and now back to a traditional in-person environment. I think we should give ourselves a round of applause and a pat on the back for not going insane and having the hope and persistence for everything to get back to normal. After the last school year’s abrupt end and before this school year began, we all went through a… it's hard for me to even say it without wanting to throw up… we all went through a lockdown. There we go, I said it! During lockdown, some of us became toilet paper collectors, got TikTok famous, found a new hobby, and then there were some of us who were just counting days till we could leave our “prison.”

"Entrepreneurship is something I am attracted to because it is a career where a person has to take risks. Whether it be launching a new product or buying a property, there is a risk of failing."

For me, lockdown was quite interesting. I had a mix of productivity and laziness. At first, I would sulk all day and tally the days like a prisoner until lockdown would end. But then I thought to myself, instead of sulking, why not take the time to get better at skills I am flawed at and complete the tasks I always told myself I would do when I have time for myself. I learned to cook some dishes without burning my house down. I tried to master the art of making perfect eggs, which I am still trying to accomplish. I told myself I would be healthy and fit during lockdown. I got back into working out. I worked on cardio and lifted weights, but then I started to bake cookies almost every week and stopped working out with weights and started to work out my taste buds. Cooking was not really something I was quite good at, so I moved onto something I would consider myself being good at, e-commerce and marketing. As I mentioned earlier, I love to take risks and try new things. If you ask any of my friends, they would tell you that I am not afraid of going outside my comfort zone.

Business and entrepreneurship is something I am attracted to because It is a career where a person has to take risks. Whether it be launching a new product or buying a property, there is a risk of failing. During lockdown, I explored e-commerce and marketing. This sector at the time was booming due to the lockdown and people were spending thousands of dollars on online shopping. After seeing how many people could easily start a business from home, I decided to start two! I first worked on an automotive accessory store and then a clothing brand. These two businesses were all set for launch, but the only thing I could not crack was marketing my products. When coming up with my business plan, I did not take into consideration that the products I am selling are quite ubiquitous and will not drive attention from the public. Due to there being so many clothing brands, none of my products drew attention and my online businesses failed.

I was not too surprised about this since I didn’t know how to promote the products, but I was persistent in understanding successful marketing. This past winter, to understand the skills of marketing, I interviewed for a sales job for a national marketing company. This was a perfect first job for me, I got to build on my communication skills by speaking to a variety of people and building relationships with customers. I got to experience the ups and downs of sales. For instance, my first day on the job was a no sale. I was pitching a set of knives to a customer. I had followed my manual and scripts I was given for the meeting. In my head, I thought that this customer was going to purchase a set of knives, but the customer and I were not on the same page. After showing the company’s flagship model, my customer was not quite satisfied with the product. So, I showed them some more sets and offered to even build them a custom set of knives. They were still not satisfied and told me they were not interested in purchasing the set. I then put on a big smile and thanked them for listening to my pitch. I was mad, not at them, but at myself. During my job interview, I had heard stories from a majority of sales representatives who got their first sale on their first day on the job.

Many of you do not know this, but I have a high self-ego. I like to be in control and be the center of attention. When I did not get the sale on the first day, I beat myself down and told myself that I was incompetent at the job and that I was not ready for sales. In reality, there are a variety of different types of customers when it comes to sales. Not everything is going to go according to plan and not every customer is going to buy a product. The next day, I put on my game face and was ready to make a sale. Luckily, this customer was familiar with the brand and had purchased a set from a Randolph alum years back. I followed my training and delivered my pitch. After promoting the company’s flagship knife set, the customer told me she still had the set she bought years back and was planning on giving it to her son and purchasing a new one. Without any delay, she told me what she wanted and I processed the order. Jackpot! I hit my first sale!

"We all attain pleasure from whatever we do, but a majority of the pleasure we get from activities are short term due to amusement or desire. We have to take the time to ask ourselves what really gives us pleasure and for how long will it last. "

Working in marketing and sales allowed me to understand more about how to promote a product and what all to do to successfully sell a product. It has also taught me to not trust a robot with my contacts list. These were not the only business sectors I explored. Other opportunities while I have been in the Upper School at Randolph have allowed me to learn about the stock market through Investment Club where I made a couple investments. I learned that the stock market was not really my cup of tea. Through the summer internship program, I also got the chance to shadow a doctor and learn about owning and managing a private medical practice.

A couple weeks back, in Mr. Gee’s AP Lit. class, we were analyzing Aristotle’s “Pleasure and Happiness.” At first, I was not quite interested in the essay, but after analyzing the piece of writing, I felt a connection to it. Aristotle writes on pleasure and how it can be attained through amusement or happiness. Pleasure obtained from amusement is considered to be short term due to desire and greed. Whereas pleasure obtained through happiness, by doing activities where we are at our highest peak, are considered to be the right ways to attain pleasure.

I have experienced both of these ways of attaining pleasure. I received it from amusement by starting an online business because of a desire for wealth. The pleasure earned from this was only for a small period of time, but the pleasure earned from trying new activities and speaking with different people was through happiness. The short-term pleasure earned from desire for wealth has helped me realize that trying new activities, taking risks, and meeting and speaking with new people gives me a source of infinite pleasure. I tie my small lockdown story with a highly valued essay to show that we all attain pleasure from whatever we do, but a majority of the pleasure we get from activities are short term due to amusement or desire. We have to take the time to ask ourselves what really gives us pleasure and for how long will it last.

Seniors, I urge you all to take the summer before college to reflect on what all you have accomplished, what gave you the most pleasure and was it received from amusement, desire, or happiness. Try a variety of opportunities around you in college, allowing you to have the most valuable college experience! And to the freshman, sophomores, and rising seniors, I urge you all to take these years in high school to try a wide variety of clubs and sports that this wonderful school offers and see what gives you pleasure. Find an activity that will give you infinite enjoyment, like meeting new people and taking risks does for me. It's alright if you receive pleasure from desire or amusement or that it lasts temporarily, they will help you realize what gives you the right pleasure.

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