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.

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.

Food Networking

To be clear…this entry has absolutely nothing to do with TV, top chef competitions, or celebrity cook-offs. Rather, it serves as analogy between an activity that intimidates a lot of us and my most beloved thing in the world. Yes, in a lot of ways, I think it is wise to approach networking in the same way one approaches food. Stick with me, I promise this will make some sense.

As many of us know by now, networking is a huge part of the MBA experience. It plays a large role learning about industries in which you are interested, meeting professionals with vast amounts of knowledge, and putting yourself in the best possible position to advance into your career of choice. Basically, it is so important that you need to do some form of it everyday…much like eating. Make sure you are well fed ladies and gentlemen.

Some of the most meaningful meals I have had in my life took a long time to prepare. Likewise, the best networking relationships are formed over time. In a perfect world, we would be able to send a brief email to a particular professional and get all of the information we needed along with that coveted internship. But we can’t eat Ramen Noodles and Hungry Man microwaveable dinners all the time. In reality, it takes a lot of time and effort to build the trust necessary for someone to really support you professionally.

Think about it: would you be more impressed with a three-course meal or an Oscar Meyer Lunchables? If you said Lunchables, I would have agreed with you about twenty years ago.

Now, not all of your grand meals will go according to plan. I can’t even count how many times I have set off the smoke alarm in my kitchen or gotten an underwhelmed reaction from someone I cooked for. But you get better each time. You learn when to add seasoning, how long to cook something, and what foods best complement each other. In networking, you aren’t going to get close to everyone you talk to. Slowly but surely, however, you learn when to send emails, take people out for coffee, and what approach works best for you. It is a process and just like everything else in this world, it takes practice.

I won’t say that you can’t have a Pop Tart every now and then. But pay attention to your networking diet. Proper sustenance is the key to getting your career off the ground.

In the words of Wim Taylor of the KCCD, “You’ve got to put that thing in the oven, let it bake for a while, check on it, let it bake some more, and finally you will have something good to eat.” You have been shopping for the necessary groceries all of your life whether it be through work or academic experience. It is up to you to fine tune your networking recipe and create a feast fit for a king. Bon appétit!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

I have always considered myself a very self-sufficient person. I figured that I was born with enough ability and aptitude to conquer anything I put my mind to. If I couldn’t solve the problem after countless hours and attempts, then the only solution was “this is impossible.” If I couldn’t figure out a 17-letter word that described the derivation of sub-atomic particles, then I was certain that it didn’t exist. As self centered as it may be, it was a symptom of being the youngest child in the household and always having something to prove.

Business school is a completely different animal. So much emphasis is placed on working in teams. While I may have had some initial resistance to the idea, upon further thought, it makes so much sense. For one, my classmates come from so many different backgrounds. These different backgrounds have allowed them to develop skills in areas that I love to avoid…namely accounting (among others). Efficiency ensues. I can focus on areas where I feel comfortable while my teammates do their thing. In the end, a great product is produced and everything is empowered because they feel they had a hand in the team’s success.

This process very closely mirrors what goes on in the business world. The best managers are able to organize teams in a manner that maximizes each individual members talent base to achieve a desired result. It all makes sense now…business school is preparing us for the business world. Kogod, I see what you are doing here. Thanks.

Caffeine = MBA fuel

Before this semester began, I had only drunk coffee one time in my life. I was about 3 or 4 years old and was really curious about what all of the adults were sipping on during the morning. This was at an age when just about everything I was eating/drinking was fruit flavored: fruit snacks, fruit punch, Fruity Pebbles, Froot Loops. Needless to say, my taste buds were less than thrilled to be experiencing the phenomenon that is Cup-O-Joe. I swore it off for life.

Should have stopped a few cups ago.

Fast forward twenty some-odd years. As I am faced with innumerable assignments to complete chapter upon chapter to read, and events to attend, I suddenly feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get a good night’s rest. How can I possibly be productive during these long weeks? Should I turn to the beverage I cursed as a child? Should I go against everything I had preached for so many years? DEFINITELY.

In the right situations, caffeine is a godsend and has helped me power through some of the longest days I have experienced as a student. My adult-style tastebuds have grown to actually enjoy the taste.

As a rookie coffee drinker, I quickly learned that you can have too much of a good thing (diminishing returns for you econ heads). But, I am pretty confident I have found the right balance to get me through the day without having me bounce off the walls. So when you need some fuel to get through those final few pages, a hot cup of coffee just might be your answer!