Skip to main content

Mary Lou Song Kicks Off the e@nu Speaker Series

Mary Lou SongWhen Mary Lou Song joined eBay as employee #3 in her mid-20s, she wasn’t worried about making mistakes. With degrees from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism (’91) and Stanford, Mary Lou was bored with her job at a PR agency. She wanted to be energized, excited. So she took a risk. And in front of a full house at the McCormick Tribune Center on Friday, she told Northwestern students why they should do the same.

“If you’re going to take the risk, do it while you’re young. Do it early, when you have nothing to lose, and when you have all the freedom in the world,” the alumna advised. Now married with children, Mary Lou pointed out that, at 45, there are plenty of other worries interfering with working at a startup, which is a 24/7 endeavor.

Recalling fondly that her three loves at the time – the Internet, shopping and community – are what got her excited about eBay, Mary Lou also urged her audience to listen to and doggedly pursue their passions. “When the universe answers your prayers and the love of your life comes through the door, you have to answer.”

Mary Lou lauded the value of building teams with people you love and want to spend time with. Now CEO of Fuel451, her fifth startup to date, Mary Lou has pieced together a team that represents a diversity of values she seeks in her colleagues. At the top of the list, she says, is likability. “It doesn’t matter if you have the best and the brightest on your team, it matters a whole hell of a lot that you can all get along.”

Asked to summarize the lessons she hoped her audience would take away from her talk, Mary Lou was succinct: ““Do what you love; work with people that you love, and walk on fire for it.”

Check out tweets and photos from Song's talk below. 

Back to top