Quotes to Live By

The semester is flying by. It seems like we just got back from winter break, but we are well past halfway done with the school year…the home stretch so to speak. The sheer amount of responsibility that we as MBA students have acquired can, at times, be mind numbing. So it is easy to lose sight of what has been driving us all year.

Dean Ward spoke to our class a couple of days ago and spoke of a quote by Albert Einstein that I found rather interesting: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” As students and budding professionals, we are groomed to place a high value on thing such as GPA, salary, etc. While those things hold importance, there is so much more to the game. Things that are difficult to measure often play a huge role in our experience. The relationships and connections we make are so valuable not just to our academic and professional careers, but our development as people. The MBA program has brought that fact into laser focus.

“If you admire somebody you should go ahead and tell them. People never get the flowers while they can still smell them.” Ahhhh yes, the infamous Kanye West, the self proclaimed “voice of a generation,” is responsible for this one.

While I can’t cosign everything that Mr. Yeezy says, I am particularly fond of this gem. I think people who genuinely show there appreciation for others is rare nowadays. Typically, most feedback is negative. If you are doing a good job, you normally don’t hear about it. Things as trivial as simple compliments can go a long way and it is really easy to underestimate the impact they have on people. Attitude, whether it is positive or negative, is extremely contagious. Try to spread the good and limit the bad.

Finally, ““It is never too late to be what you might have been.” This quote, by novelist George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) is especially powerful. I think as we get bogged down with projects, exams, internship searches, and everything else that is thrust upon our plates, doubt about our futures can start to creep in.

I know there have been several occasions where I have questioned whether I would be able to accomplish everything that I set out to do at the beginning of the academic year. But, I know that the only real obstacle standing between me and the place I want to be is myself. My efforts will determine where I go, not my circumstances. That has helped me tremendously. Hopefully I can keep this focus not just for the remainder of the MBA program, but for the rest of my life.

Frequent Flyer: Working on the Road

Cramped airline seats, small hotel rooms, and spotty internet – as I find myself on yet another plane on my way to yet another work trip, I begin to worry about the week ahead of me but also about what I’m missing back at school.  Balancing business school and traveling for a full time job is certainly challenging.   In the past year and half, I have completed 27 credit hours and have clocked in over 30,000 frequent flyer miles.   Here are some tips to balance school while on the road for work.

Pre-Trip Checklist

  • Check the Syllabus:  Take a look at what your classes are covering while you’re gone and the week after you return.  You will be exhausted and will not want to play catch up the moment you return.
  • Talk to your Professors:  Kogod professors understand.  A simple heads up before you leave can make all the difference, especially with that class participation credit.  I try to send my professors an email as soon as my trip is confirmed then send a reminder the week of my class.
  • Coordinate Group Project Work:  Don’t forget to let your team members know you’ll be away.  Also ask them to share their class notes with you.

Dedicating a few undistracted in-flight hours can catch you up on schoolwork pretty quickly.  Unless you are in seat 37E and 36E is reclined in front of you while 37D has fallen fast asleep.  Aim to get work done on the plane but prepare to be unsuccessful.  Getting your schoolwork done before your job responsibilities begin will bring down your stress level once you arrive.  Once I land, I find myself so focused on work that schoolwork becomes challenging.

Road Checklist

  • Charge your laptop before boarding:  While more and more airlines are providing in-seat outlets, conserving power on your laptop can make the difference between a productive flight and watching a bad movie.  Many airlines provide in-flight internet but I prefer to avoid the distractions of Facebook and Gmail.
  • Print out reading materials in advance:  While you may not be able to solve complex financial problems, you can read that upcoming case assignment while you enjoy your complimentary peanuts or a taxi ride to your hotel.
  • Large hotel room desks can be your best friend:  Create your own workspace and position your laptop, work files, text book, binder, and notes as you would at home.
  • Get out and see something new:  Working on the road can be draining.  While it’s easy to order room service and watch TV, I make it a point to leave my hotel room at least one evening.  Whether it’s eating at a local restaurant or taking a walk around the block, try to actually enjoy a bit of the city you’re visiting.

Final Word of Advance: Do it before you go
My best piece of advice for working on the road is to try not to work on the road.  Once you leave the office/campus, you never know what you will encounter.  As long as you plan in advance you can save your stress for that work project and feel confident that school is under control.

Bon voyage!

Jersey Shore and a Part-Timer’s Guide to Free Time

Jersey Shore Stereotype.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve somehow been able to keep a pretty balanced lifestyle. Sure, I’m consumed with an inordinate amount of reading and class work, but I’m still finding it possible to fit in some fun time for myself and my fiancé, Ashley. Here, I will give some recommendations to current and future part-time students on how you can still fully apply yourself to the MBA and still feel like you’ve got a life through the lens of one of this generation’s highest quality TV shows, “The Jersey Shore.”

STEP 1: Don’t live your life in front of the TV. Before I started school, my regular work day went something like this: get up, work 9-hours, gym, eat dinner, television. TV time would last from 8:00 till I went to bed. That’s three hours a night! With my newly acquired MBA math skills, that’s about 15 hours a week…an eternity for a part-time MBA student. The cast of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” teaches us that you should never waste a second (granted, all their seconds are spent getting wasted, but that’s neither here nor there). The point is that I’ve drastically cut down the amount of television I actually watch and instead use this time to get some work done. When the weekend comes, I’m set up nicely to enjoy it.

Wise Man.

Step 2: Work on the weekends…but do it early in the day. In the words of Pauly D, “Sometimes you gotta put sleep aside, bro…and get your GTL on.” I couldn’t agree more, especially since GTL stands for “Go Tackle Learning.” I strongly recommend taking advantage of your weekend mornings. Usually, I head to Starbucks on Saturdays at around 8:00am. It’s cliché, but I’m productive there. I setup my computer, get out my highlighter and get to work. I’ll usually hang around there until early afternoon, and then meet Ashley for lunch. All books are forced close by 4pm, at which time I call it quits and commit the rest of the day to quality relaxation time (i.e. movies, dinner, etc.).

I have the rest of my life to be tired, but let’s be honest…most of us are only tired right after we wake up. This weekend, get the motor running early; open your eyes, throw a little cold water on your face, and faster than you can say “yeah buddy,” you’re ready to go for the day. Think of what else you’d be doing if you weren’t working during this time. If “sleeping” is your answer, you might want to make an adjustment.

HA HA.

Step 3: Do your best to stay ahead of your course work. Getting ahead is a one-time effort. Once you’re ahead, staying there is easy. We can all take a lesson from “The Situation” in this respect. His hair doesn’t magically spike itself. Rather, there is a concerted effort on his part to diligently prepare.

As an MBA student, preparation is critical to a sane lifestyle. I recommend “staying ahead” by doing your weekly reading assignment BEFORE your class lecture on the subject. It might take a little extra effort to get ahead, but doing so gives you the slack you need to enjoy some free time. A perfect example is the last minute trip I took a few weeks ago. I felt a lot better about making the trip because I was ahead on my class work. Of course, now I’m “on-time” and will need to work to get back ahead of schedule, but at least I’m not behind schedule.

Feel free to share any tips you have on giving yourself some extra free time…or on how to create the perfect blow-back. Keep those fists pumping and be sure to give yourself some free time to enjoy.

I Do? MBA Husbands & Wives

I do?

I met my husband on a blind date on Valentine’s Day years ago. After years of sharing long dinners over bottles of wine, having fiery debates over politics (I almost stopped dating him after he told me his position on healthcare, but it was after all, only our second date), sharing numerous stories about our childhoods and life before meeting, and discussing our values and dreams for our future, we decided to get married.

Conversely, it took exactly 7 minutes into a slide presentation before I decided that I wanted to “marry” my MBA wife.

Basically, my now-MBA wife was giving a presentation for our case competition during our MBA Orientation week (a presentation I only went to because they were our competition, go figure), and I liked her presentation style so much that I decided that although I didn’t know her at the moment, I certainly was going to get to know her.

She made such complex sales figures sound so simple. She commanded the room. She answered the judges’ questions with authority. Keep in mind, this is before we even had officially started school. How did she do it? I didn’t know, but this is one of the reasons I was in business school; so, I fully intended on finding out.

I approached her soon after and made a study date with her, and well, the rest is history. Like many relationships, she tolerates my shortcomings and amplifies my strengths; and I’d like to think I help balance her MBA life as well. We keep each other honest about the subjects one of us does not excel at or particularly like that the other might have some skill in (read, she forces me to study Accounting and I force her to work on our Information Technology projects). We share information, we strategize together, and we make sure the other is never far behind in the ever deadline driven world of MBA work. We’re partners.

We’re also not the only ones. There are tons of MBA couples throughout our entire class and the second year class ahead of us. Some women with other women; some men with men. Some women with men. Some threesomes. You get the picture. No… not that picture, but you get it.

Having an MBA spouse is one of the critical aspects to surviving –to making it through the up to 2 am with homework or studying nights, to remembering the deadline for applying to that internship opportunity that you completely forgot about with the other five things that was due that day, or even the more fun parts such as remembering that there is a theme party this Friday night and you really have to work on your costume in between that Accounting final, International Business paper due, and IT project deadline.

MBA spouses make life better and help you succeed, and because they help support you, you just might make it through the next two years to actually graduate with your sanity, your wits, your MBA degree, and most importantly, all of your other relationships intact as well.

So Far, So Good…

The past couple of days couldn’t have been more disparate weather wise. Yesterday was absolutely ugly…cold, rainy, and overall miserable. It wasn’t just normal rain, it was that “big ol’ fat rain,” in the words of Forrest Gump. Also, I repeat, it was cold. I’m a firm believer in if there is going cold precipitation, it might as well be snow.

The wisest of men

Today was the complete opposite. The upper 60s temperatures and bright sunshine were a welcome change. Great weather has the tendency to lift my mood and as I basked in my natural high, I reflected on the academic year so far.

I remember studying for weeks for the GMAT and feeling like I hadn’t studied enough. I remember interviewing with admissions and stressing out. August seems like so long ago. I remember not having the slightest clue how the year would unfold and feeling anxious. There was definitely some bad weather along the way. Exams, projects, and all nighters all had a way raining on the school year a little bit.

Perfect

There were plenty of great weather days as well. It’s always a rush to get good results on assignments that I poured many days and hours into. It’s always rewarding to feel like hard work is starting to pay off. Even though there will continue to some bad weather days, I know sunshine will make everything worth it.