I love a good story and have learned not to underestimate the power of the story to draw you in, soften your heart, and change your mind.
My first life story was in a hospital in Ohio where my parents were making a very last-minute decision about my name. After agreeing on Esther Samara, my mother, an English professor, wanted to swap the first and middle names. Sam Esther (which rolled out as “semester”) would be the perfect nickname for a baby raised on a college campus. My dad agreed on the condition that I must only be called Samara (not Sam!). I was born and handed to my father, who took one look at me and lovingly exclaimed, “Hi, Sam!”
I was raised on all manner of stories. My namesake, great grandpa Sam, and my grandparents were Holocaust survivors, whose astounding stories made history and heroism personal. All my life, I have watched my mother and father, a Rabbi, inspire and educate through storytelling.
At Penn, I studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, and at some point realized I was just one course shy of an accidental minor in creative writing. SoI enrolled in a course called “Entrepreneurial Journalism.” In each class, we met and heard stories from founders while working on our own startup ideas. I ended up winning the class pitch competition and graduated with a small bit of funding earmarked for my startup, a news site and betting market to harness the wisdom of the crowd and run predictive analytics. Later that year (2015), I met and pitched Vivjan, John, and Brendan (Hyperplane: Chapter 1).
Throughout my career as a founder turned product lead, and later a consultant with projects that ranged from aluminum manufacturing in Alabama to launching a dairy brand in Brazil, I’ve been compelled by people’s stories. The night before taking my GMAT (2018), Vivjan DMed me and asked if I wanted to forgo business school and join Hyperplane (Hyperplane: Chapter 2).
I am convinced that our lives, work, experience, beliefs, and entrepreneurial dreams are incoherent until they are shaped into story. My hope in doing this work, is to support founders, as you build, to shape the narrative, choose characters, and determine the arc of your adventure.
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This American Life
Remembering song lyrics
Sweet and sour Hi-Chews