Brought to You by the Letters M-B-A

My daughter is obsessed with YouTube snippets of Sesame Street –every night she makes either my husband or me watch at least a few of them before we tuck her into bed.  And by a few, I mean as many as she can sucker us into letting her watch before we once again say, “This is the last one; then bed” and truly enforce it regardless of her squeals for more Elmo.

Elmo, the object of my daughter's affection.

Having seen most of the universe of these Sesame Street snippets, I am realizing that not only are they starting the process of teaching my daughter core concepts, but they are helping reinforce some important adult versions that, at times, you forget on the path to getting your MBA.

The three Sesame Street snippets that are brought to me this past week by the letters MBA are Healthy, Stubborn, and Balance.

In the Healthy snippet, celeb Ellen Pompeo and Elmo remind me that “taking good care of yourself” is important and show me that there are “lots of good ways” to do it, including eating fruits and vegetables as well as getting proper rest.  Ruh-roh.  In the last week, I’ve officially eaten out of the vending machine for my meals twice (which incidentally, violates general healthy eating habits as well as one of my New Year’s resolutions), and I’ve stayed up till 2-3am doing schoolwork 3 out of the last 4 nights (which merely violates the laws of good sense).  As I slipped a banana into my bag this morning as a snack, Elmo would be tickled to know that I silently thanked him for the reminder.

I'm pretty sure even Oscar would have preferred competitive pricing.

One of my all-time fave Sesame St. characters, Oscar, also has been teaching my daughter about being “stubborn.”  With all of our group presentations of late, I have needed some remedial consideration of the word “stubborn” as well.  I literally stopped making a point in a meeting with one of my groups this past week, when I realized that I was embodying the definition of “stubborn.”

Apparently, being “stubborn” happens when “you only want to do what you want to do, and you don’t care what anyone else says and you won’t change your mind.”  My presentation group was in the middle of discussing a pricing strategy:  premium or competitive pricing.  All of my other group members were advocating for competitive, and I was trying to hold out for premium.  I realized after a while, that I only wanted to do what I wanted to do and I had no intention of changing my mind.  Then Oscar and his grimy trashcan popped into my head.  Ugh.  I get it.  And yes, competitive pricing can make sense now that I think about.  Oscar 1, Stubborn Maria Teresa 0.

What manner of monster are you, madame?

The last (and probably not least) Sesame Street snippet that has caught my attention is celeb Emma Stone and Abby Cadabby’s word of the day:  Balance.  Emma tells me that balance means when something “doesn’t fall over because it has equal weight on both sides.”  My daughter the other day kept putting two of her picture books on her head – imitating Emma’s attempt at balance —and thinking it was hysterical when they kept falling off of her head.  It took three of her attempts at “balance” before I even realized what she was doing.

Incidentally, it is usually when things start “falling off” my head before I realize how imbalanced I am between schoolwork and home life.  While Abby Cadabby is trying to teach my daughter the literal application of balance, she is surreptitiously reminding me that when I so narrowly focus on the one side of the weight that is school, that you can very easily tip over when it isn’t balanced with the other side of home and family.  Thanks, Abby.  I haven’t fully figured out what manner of monster your character is as of yet, but I appreciate the reminder of the importance of balance.

So, although I am learning and exponentially growing in truly sophisticated and complex ways in my MBA program, taking the time to sit down and watch some good ole Sesame Street may reinforce some foundational blocks that are key to my ability to add more fancy blocks.

Now, if we can just get the Count to teach me about the Weighted Average Cost of Capital, I think I’d be set.

I'm positive that the Count would have been a strong Finance or Accounting member to pair up with for group work.

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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.

120 School Days + 2,688 Miles = 1 Amazing LA Vacation

A couple of weeks ago I visited two of my cohort mates in Los Angeles.  It was freezing in DC, and the opportunity to cash in my miles and seek warmer ground was a no-brainer.

Shopping in Santa Monica

It was amazing!  Thirty minutes after arriving at LAX and after jamming my down wintercoat into my suitcase, I was eating lunch at a Santa Monica eatery with the sun on my face and the Pacific Ocean in my view.

The next few days were a whirlwind:  shopping in Santa Monica, racing down Pacific Coast Highway, soaking in the art and gardens at the Getty Museum, standing in line for an ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese near the UCLA campus, boutiquing in Westwood, riding the winding Malibu canyon on a Harley and stopping at the Rock Store off of Mulholland Hwy, bowling at the infamous bowling alley from the Big Lebowski (mark it zero, please), taking an hour to go 4 blocks in infamous traffic (ok, not so fun), and celebrity sight-seeing (I swear I saw Khloe).

1st Year MBAs (L-R) Alexandra, Jen, & Maria Teresa at the Getty Museum

As I sit here in DC a few weeks later, I smile as I think about how different this trip to LA was compared to my previous visits.  I’d been to LA a couple of times for both vacation and business, but I felt like I saw this trip differently.

For example, while in the legendary line getting my ice cream sandwich at Diddy Riese for $1.50 and feeling an instant exhilaration at how cheap and delicious a deal this was, I then realized that this was an exact example of what one of my professors called “consumer surplus.”  Good thing Diddy Riese doesn’t know just exactly how much I would indeed be willing to pay for that there sandwich.  As I walked out of their shop, I wondered how Diddy Riese could possibly be making money charging such deliciousness at such an obscenely low rate?  I glanced at the long line that I had just been standing in and remembered the concepts of volume sales and cost efficient goods providers.  Gotcha.  Of course, both concepts flew out of my mind as I polished off the rest of my sandwich.  In fact, much of what I was thinking flew out as I finished such deliciousness.

Diddy Riese Cookie Sandwiches...a $1.50 slice of Heaven

Being an MBA student has given me another way of viewing the world around me:  it’s like I’m now traveling with 3D glasses with my newly acquired knowledge.  One semester in, I was sitting in my free ticket seat and wondering what dynamic pricing models my airlines had used in offering seats on the plane to wondering what the size of endowment and interest rate the Getty might need to operate such a facility for the public good.  It was as if I saw business everywhere and it made the strings of connecting everything so much more vibrant and clear.

I’m looking forward to going on one of the study abroad trips that Kogod is offering over the next break.  I’ll have gone through six more classes and learned a slew of other concepts and developed a host of skills.  On that note, maybe I’ll try considering consumer surplus while consuming macaroons and an espresso from Ladurées on the Champs Elysées next?  Oui!  Oui!