As the head of business development for social-networking website Foursquare, Tristan Walker is always in the right place at the right time. Follow in his footsteps
“Growing up, I never had an interest in technology,” says Tristan Walker, 25, who left a fruitful career as a Wall Street oil trader in 2008 to attend Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business before landing an internship at Twitter in early 2009. “I just wanted to be entrepreneurial.” Today, the Queens native is brokering deals with companies like Bravo, MTV and VH1 for Foursquare, the popular location-based social networking site. Here, he draws a road map to becoming a master of your own destiny. —Chris Yuscavage
CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP
During my first year at Stanford, my alumni mentor said, “This summer, for your internship, you have the opportunity to do whatever you want, but you’re not going to get that summer back.” I emailed the founders of Twitter that day. Then I went through 20 different venture capitalists to see if any had an in. The 21st one did.
RETURN THE FAVOR
The best advice I’ve ever gotten: “You spend the first third of your life learning, the second third earning and the last third returning.” Once I heard that, I wanted to shorten that second third and spend the rest of my life returning. It’s your duty as an entrepreneur to help the next generation.
You don’t get what you don’t ask for. From Wall Street to Stanford to Twitter to Foursquare, I’ve had to hustle—but, mostly, I’ve just asked questions that other people don’t.
SHOW AND PROVE
Passion and humility—if you want to command the respect of the people you want to help you become an entrepreneur, those are two things you need. At Foursquare, I walked in and said, “I will do whatever you want for a month for free. If I deliver, let’s talk.” And it worked out for me.