Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get a Free Palm Pre (free being the best kind of course)

I've heard from multiple MBA students that having a smart phone is a great (practically essential) way of managing the deluge of activities, meetings, etc, that occur on a day-to-day basis at grad school. Shortly after I matriculated at Kellogg, I began scouring the internet for information on smart phones, hoping to decide on one before heading out for Evanston in August. My goal was to stay with Sprint if possible, which pretty much limited me to Blackberrys. I did look at the Iphone, but I didn't think it was worth the cost of entry. Then, much to my delight, I heard about the Palm Pre, with Web OS and cards multi-tasking, which would be coming to Sprint.

Unless initial reviews looked bad, I planned on picking one up sometime in mid-July, but maybe I won't have to wait that long. I just applied for the Palm Real Reviewer program. If selected, you get a free Palm Pre with six months of service to use and write about. So, if anyone else out there is thinking of picking up a smart phone for grad school, maybe you can get one for free, on Palm.

Friday, April 24, 2009

2011 Kellogg Austin Admits Happy Hour

0423_austin_admits_happyhour, originally uploaded by oneillo.
I met up with three of the other five (myself included) known Kellogg admits this Thursday for a Happy Hour at J Blacks in downtown Austin. As expected, everyone was extremely nice and outgoing, and they all had interesting backgrounds.

Between the four of us, there was an engineer (that's me!), a corporate strategy consultant, an education strategy consultant, and an entrepreneur. We covered the usual spectrum of topics, including the state of the economy, our current jobs, the agony of waiting for the program to begin, future goals, etc. We all shared a common desire to eventually return to Austin (this city is awesomtastic).

It's amazing to think that Kellogg is able to fill up an entire class with people as interesting as these folks. I'm excited at the opportunity to meet as many of them as possible come fall.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MBA Resources for Minority Applicants/Students

I've recently learned about a number of programs geared towards minorities in business/MBA programs, and I thought I'd share. The programs focus on professional development, job opportunities, and financial aid (scholarships).

BCG Scholars Program
Management Leadership for Tomorrow
The Consortium
MBA Jumpstart
National Society of Hispanic MBAs

Unfortunately, I've already missed out on a few of them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Built to Last

I just finished reading Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I first read about it in this WSJ article, where CEOs pick their favorite leadership books, and after seeing its high ratings on Amazon, decided to pull the trigger and pick it up.

The book was written by a team at the Stanford GSB, and it identifies and discusses the common behaviors and practices found in visionary companies while discrediting common myths by comparing them to a set of counterparts considered less visionary. For example, 3M is compared to Norton, IBM to Burroughs, Merck to Pfizer, etc, etc. The book defines visionary companies as "premier institutions in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long track record of making a significant impact on the world around them".

I took away the following key points:
  • A company doesn't need to be built around a great idea/product. They refer to Sony and 3M as examples of companies that were created in order to pursue a goal and initially toyed with a variety of products before finding anything that gained traction. Sony's founders wanted to improve the image of Japanese products across the world, so that "Made in Japan" would be a sign of quality; they just didn't know how to do it at first.
  • A visionary company doesn't require a high-profile, charismatic leader. Although having someone like Steve Jobs as your CEO is nice, a lot of great companies (3M, Procter & Gamble, Sony, Boeing, Merck) are started by regular Joes like you and me.
  • It is important to have a core ideology that never changes. It should be composed of core values, which are a small list of unequivocal tenets that the company/organization adheres to at all times, and a purpose (why the company exists). This core ideology should be ingrained in the fabric of your company, and employees should be sought that wholeheartedly believe in the core ideology. In some of the companies studied, the culture, built on the idealogy, was almost cult-like. For example, at IBM, we have a company song, Ever Onward!
  • Outside of the core ideology, everything else can change. The book's core principle is summed up as "Preserve the Core/Stimulate progress". They recommend putting mechanisms, such as Big Hairy Audacious Goals, in place that will give the company/organization something that it can constantly strive to achieve and a reason to continue improving. Complacency is your worst enemy! New things should be encouraged, and you should only hold on to what works. These mechanisms should align closely with your core ideology. They identify "alignment", the process of setting your company up to succeed per its core ideology, as the most important job of a leader. Above all else, the leader should build a company that can continue to succeed even after they are gone.
There were other ideas, such as leadership progression, covered in the book, but it is getting late, and I'm too tired to remember or cover them all.

In summary, if you are interested in starting/managing a company or organization, I would highly recommend that you pick up this book. It is a fairly short read, and it is well worth the time required to cover it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grad School Prep Updates

  • I put my house up for sale 4/1 (yikes...) at market price ($180K) after spending around $3500 to get it ready for the sale
  • North Austin had a massive hail storm right before the house went up for sale. I am now in the process of working through a claim with my insurance agency. I may have to get the roof replaced
  • I've had 6-10 showings of the house so far, but no offers yet :(
  • Although I planned to look for a 1-bedroom apartment in Evanston, so that I could have a place away from "Kellogg" to retreat to when I needed to study/focus, I decided to wimp out and apply for McManus housing after seeing The Grey One's post that the app was online.

Financial Aid
  • The process of financing grad school was easier than expected (sounds like it is much more of a pain for international students)
  • Filled out my taxes, FAFSA app, and Kellogg financial aid form the first week of February
  • Received a provincial financial aid offer on March 4th via email
  • The financial aid package uses the value computed via the FAFSA as the amount that the I'm expected to cover for the school year
  • The package is a combination of loans, grants, and scholarships that covers the entire anticipated cost of the first year, including the amount I'm expected to cover
  • As mentioned in their F Aid page, scholarships are awarded throughout the process, not just when you are initially accepted. I received some scholarships via the Financial Aid package, and then another one 3 weeks later
  • I'm now searching and applying for outside scholarships; this means writing more essays. NSHMBA has a great scholarship opportunity for Hispanics

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

MBA Essays

mba_scholarship_app, originally uploaded by oneillo.

Although it is for a scholarship this time, this picture pretty much sums up my experience writing essays throughout the MBA process.