As a 14-year-old growing up in a Southern California mountain town, she listed among the things she wanted to do one day: go to a good college, be a pilot, become an Olympic athlete, be an ABC TV reporter and build a log cabin.
Inspired by a visit to her high school from explorer John Goddard, the list became a roadmap for her life. On her way to working at JetBlue, Simi combined unflagging support from her mother and others with a contagious can-do mindset to tick off each thing.
Today, she is paying forward the lessons she’s learned along the way through her work with JetBlue Technology Ventures, one of the top 20 international corporate venture firms.
Bonny’s journey is full of inspiration for mission-driven entrepreneurs of all stripes, as we quickly learned when she dropped by the KZSU studio at Stanford recently for The Innovators Radio Show and Podcast.
Her advice for founders comes down to three basics:
“People will dream big when they’re a little kid and they’ll say, as they’ll grow older, ‘I can’t do that because of this.’ I just say forget those obstacles. Just take one step along the way,” she says.
Keep taking small steps to realize that dream
“Whether you’re an entrepreneur or venture capitalist, you can get paralyzed by that long, long goal, and then you don’t take that first step. For me, I started taking that first step and that was very achievable. Oh, I can take another one. Over the course of time, my confidence got built up … what a feeling of accomplishment.”
Be a visionary and know how to communicate your vision
“Entrepreneurs will not be successful by themselves. They have to build a great team. And the way you build a great team is to have a great vision and communicate it to your team. They, then, can come in and remove those obstacles of ‘I don’t know how to code, I don’t know this, I don’t know that.’ Your team if, they’re inspired by your vision will help you with that in that next step.
Listen the full interview here, or jump to the time stamps below.
2:55: Imaging a future without obstacles
5:27: Why crashing 52 times didn’t deter her
7:29: Learning to make things work a step at a time
11: 50: No one succeeds alone
13:07: Why being an athlete gives her an edge
16:37: Reimaging higher education with JetBlue Scholars
24:18: What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
37:08: The biggest mistakes founders make
37:12: Why ethical considerations should be paramount
42:09: What makes a world-class leader
43:30: To master problem-solving, everyone must lean in
51:26: Her advice for founders: Have no fear and be willing to ask for help
53:27: “Who says when there’s a fork in a road that you have to choose one way or the other. Why not do both?”
56:07: Building a legacy: “It’s not what I can accomplish, but how I can help others accomplish”
The Innovators Radio Show and Podcast highlights the best and brightest mission-driven entrepreneurs — people dedicated to making the world a better place. The show airs Mondays at 11 am PT/2 pm ET on Stanford University radio station KZSU, 90.1 FM, and is streamed at kzsu.org, Past episodes are archived here.