/b Hello, my name is Oscar Ybarra, and I'm a faculty member in the College of Literature, Science, and Arts at the University of Michigan and also a faculty member at the Ross School of Business. I will be sharing with you what I have learned about what an opportunity is based on my research, my teaching, my experiences running a research lab, and my experiences starting a company. The word opportunities suggests something positive, an event that will allow you to move forward, to learn and make your life more rewarding and satisfying. But what exactly is an opportunity? I will go over four aspects that can help you answer with an opportunity is, where to look for opportunities, and how to decide if an opportunity is promising. First of all, opportunities are many times about other people's problems or needs. Although it's natural to think about an opportunity as something that's good for you, opportunities many times are tied to other people, such as helping others with a problem they're facing or a need that they have. By helping someone else solve a problem, you are providing value to them. If this is something that involves one person or a couple of individuals, the opportunity is that you can develop a relationship with them, create trust, and develop reciprocity. If the problem or need you're helping with involves many individuals, like creating a product that will help people get better work done, the value you get in return, for example, could be a source of revenue. In the end, an opportunity should allow you to get some rewards and help make your life more satisfying. But these rewards won't just jump into your arms, they reflect that you have offered something to others that they also find valuable. Number two, opportunities are assumptions that need to be tested. When we're scoping out problems or needs that people might have or we're considering just what we want for ourselves, like a new job, these opportunities are just ideas. We don't know if they are real or not. It's amazing that we can envision in our mind so many ways to make things better, but we will not know if the idea is in actual opportunity unless we act to test it and to validate it. Number three, opportunities are social creatures. Our minds are designed to help us develop relationships with others. If we can't develop relationships, we cannot rely on others for support. There are different types of social support that are important for developing opportunities./ These are informational support, instrumental or material support, and emotional support. Informational support matters because other people will have different skills, experience, and knowledge. Maybe you haven't come up with an opportunity idea yourself, but someone in your social network might provide you with information, for example, about a problem or need that they think exists, and this inspires you to do something about it. Other people in our social networks may also have experience in developing opportunities themselves, so they can provide advice. Or they may have resources that they wish to invest in your opportunity idea. Finally, our close friends and family provide us with emotional support. When we take on challenges in our lives, like trying to develop an opportunity, we will likely experience obstacles or setbacks. And it is these close others who can provide us with comfort and encouragement at these difficult times. So opportunities are very social. We use our social skills to notice others' problems and needs. And the people we know and have relationships with can provide us with different types of support that is instrumental for developing opportunities. Finally, opportunities should make sense in terms of resources. The value we get from our activities and from our efforts comes in different forms. The value can be emotional for example, when we feel good or happy by helping someone solve a problem. But some attempts to help others solve a problem or fill the need may take considerable investment in terms of time, energy, and possibly money. So although your opportunity idea might help somebody with the problem that they have, and this could make you feel good, if it leaves little time or energy for your other goals or the money that you get from your effort is less than what you put in, you may not be able to sustain yourself. This also applies to decisions that are more focused on what you want to do with your life. Maybe you have grown tired of your job or your current path in life and want to try something new, like a new job in a different city. But in thinking through this, you realize the cost of living is higher where you would be moving, and that you would have to put in a lot of time and energy reestablishing yourself and your family in the community. In summary, then, promising opportunities are as much about what you want, and also what other people need. Opportunities are ideas that have to be tested in order to be developed. Opportunities require relationships with others who will support our efforts. And opportunities should make sense in terms of your resources.