The first inkling that Katie Fang, the founder and CEO of SchooLinks, was destined to be an entrepreneur materialized at age 12. She made a bet with her parents that she would be accepted to an aerospace camp in Houston, Texas. While Katie’s declaration would be bold for any teen, this one was especially ambitious because she wasn’t an American citizen. Originally from China, being accepted to this camp meant she would move to a country on the other side of the world, where she needed to apply for a visa, learn another language, and live independently. Privately, her parents laughed to themselves about her aspirations. Yet, as entrepreneurs themselves, they knew they needed to give her a chance. They half-jokingly agreed she could go if she handled all the paperwork on her own, thinking it was a safe bet because there was no way she would be able to follow through on such a complex process at the age of 12.
At the time, there wasn’t a robust support system for Chinese students to study in the United States. This uncertainty and lack of structure didn’t deter Katie. She was practically starting from scratch, but she was determined to make it happen. She had the idea, and she knew she needed to act quickly to get her paperwork in by the deadline. She dove right into the tedious application process and pulled together the required information that allowed her to be competitive for a student visa. When she finally got everything together, she took a deep breath and hit send on her application.
The joke was on Katie’s parents! Bucking expectations, she was accepted to the program, and her visa was approved within a few weeks. What else could her parents do? They looked at each other, sighed, and gave her the nod of approval. From that day forward, she has been blazing her own path.
What makes Katie so special? Is the entrepreneurial spirit encoded into her DNA? Was her success a byproduct of having the right role models and resources to build these skills throughout the course of her life? The answer is that Katie’s strengths lie in two sides of the entrepreneurial mindset: She has the personality trait of action orientation, and she has the unique skillset of idea generation and execution—or being able to dream big and then make things happen.
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