Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kellogg Student Video Cameos

I love that professors are so willing to participate in student videos for the various projects and competitions that take place throughout the year.  Here is a video from this year's Marketing Competition with Prof. Kraemer that I found on Andre's blog.  



And here is one with Prof. Mazzeo and Prof. Allon, who just got the Prof of the Year Award, for the Kellogg Marketing Conference that took place this month.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's In A Name

My blog's URL has definitely been advantageous, most likely contributing to my near equal split in new/old visitors and my search-related traffic, and yet, I regret going with it. I think that it comes across as way too pompous, as if I'm somehow trying to proclaim that this is the definitive viewpoint for a class filled with 500+ amazing people who continue to impress and humble me on a daily basis.

When I decided to write a blog last year, I was driven in part by the large number of informative grad school blogs that I stumbled upon that were discontinued shortly after the blogger started school. They were really helpful to me as I weighed the decision of where to spend $150K and 2 years. I wanted to take my own stab at it in hopes of providing something at least equally helpful to anyone that found themselves in the same situation in the future. It wouldn't be my first time blogging, as I had hosted several blogs starting back in college, and I really enjoy going back and reading things that I wrote from years ago; it absolutely blows my mind to read something old that I wrote, like an undergrad paper on wireless standards, and realize how unique it is to that period of my life.

Once I made up my mind on both a school and blogging, I wanted to get a unique URL for the blog (on the cheap). I wanted something that would be easy to remember, and I had hatched up a scheme to avoid the pitfall of starting a blog that I wouldn't be able to keep up with. My plan was to post a message to all of my soon-to-be classmates in the Kellogg Class of 2011 Facebook group inviting people to collaborate with me on the blog. I'm a big fan of collaborative content-generating communities, like the one embodied by Wikipedia.

Given that premise, I ultimately settled on the "kelloggmbaclassof2011" name.  Soon thereafter, I had second thoughts about my plan because I was afraid of establishing an unfavorable first impression with my classmates.  After all, I was looking forward to the friendships that I would form during my time at Kellogg, and I didn't want to hamper that by surrendering my ability to control the first impression they would have of me. Although I probably accomplished just that with my posts on the admit student's forum, I couldn't help myself; I was way too excited about finally starting grad school, something I had been working towards for 2 years.

I've been reflecting a bit on this recently, and I've decided that I want to emphasize the fact that this blog only represents my flawed and biased perspective of the Kellogg experience, which isn't perfect, but is pretty damn amazing.  That said, I don't want to give up on my URL either (at least not until I've graduated), because I've challenged myself to try and get to the point where my blog is one of the top 5 results that pops up when you search for "kellogg mba" on Google (I know....it's kind of egotistical, but it motivates me to keep writing at least!).

I enlisted my friend's help to quickly throw together a new banner that hopefully does a better job of communicating the personal nature of my blog.  The photos in the banner are of:
  • my apartment, the "Fortress of Solitude," where I spend way too much time studying
  • a portion of the path that I take almost daily to get to campus
  • the Jive Turkeys' "Gobble Gobble" signs from CIM, where I formed some of my earliest bonds
  • Professor Kraemer, who indirectly helped me remember how important soft skills were for me coming into this (I'm definitely going for a MORS major now)
  • and finally, one of the first pictures I took at Kellogg after driving 13+ hours with my parents to Evanston, which for the time being, is my home
In the end, this is just my way of sharing my experience with family and friends (many of whom I've never met and may never meet).


Cheers.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Take On Consulting Recruiting

I just wanted to highlight busicow's post on recruiting for consulting. Busicow has actually been going through recruiting full steam, so there are some great insights to be had in the post.

In particular, I want to reemphasize the importance of the fit portion of the interview.  I think there are multiple benefits to nailing the fit portion, assuming they have a fit portion, like going into the case with more confidence/momentum.   I was nervous as hell heading into my interviews, and I had to use everything at my disposal to psych myself up for it (music before hand - thank you Jason Mraz, replaying past successes in my mind, reminding myself that I was offering as much value to the company as they were to me, etc).  Fortunately, I was able to relax a bit during those initial 15 minutes, and it made a world of difference for me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Heads Up: Live Chat With Kellogg Admissions

BusinessWeek is going to host a live chat with Beth Flye, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at Kellogg, tomorrow.  She is the one that called to deliver the good news to me back in 12/2008 during an inopportune time....I was on the "throne"...anyways,

More information about the event is available at BusinessWeek's site.  Great opportunity to take your questions to the folks that are actually in the know.
Live Chat: Kellogg Admissions
Kellogg's MBA admissions director Beth Flye fields questions about the application process, while career services guru Carla Edelston discusses the recruiting outlook
null
Beth Flye
Northwestern

Chat: Jan. 28, at 11 a.m. EST

Guests: Beth Flye, assistant dean and director of admissions at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, and Carla Edelston, senior associate director of the school's Career Management Center

Thoughts On Recruiting For Consulting

After 3 weeks of grueling preparation, 1st-year Kellogg students started officially interviewing this week for summer internships. I know for certain that consulting and finance interviews have started, but I'm not certain about the other functions (marketing, general management, etc). There are a lot of people recruiting for consulting, and it is an extremely competitive process. They gave us the latest Kellogg employment report on Monday, and although 2009 wasn't exactly a "normal" year, here are the number of interns that were hired last summer by some of the larger firms.
McKinsey & Company - 24
BCG - 22
A.T. Kearney - 6
Bain & Company - 6
Monitor Group - 5
Unfortunately, I don't have any detailed insights about the process because I've been in the role of curious bystander throughout most of it. Nonetheless, I do have some thoughts and general insights on the consulting recruiting process that I've picked up through chatting with friends, working with the Consulting Club, etc. I'm going to summarize that information into a simple timeline to help give you an idea of the entire process.

Please take all of this with a grain of salt. It definitely isn't based on any insider information, and it isn't meant to discourage any of you that are thinking about recruiting for consulting. I wholeheartedly believe, whether naive or not, that if you want something, and you bust your ass to get it, the world around you will change to accommodate you.

< September
  • Take advantage of any free time that you have before the first quarter to perform general industry research and determine if consulting might be a good fit for you. You don't have to be 100% certain at this point, as there is always a chance things will change once you are exposed to other functions and industries at Kellogg, but it is still a good idea to think about it; particularly given how demanding the recruiting process can be.
  • Once you get a Net ID and can access restricted portions of the Kellogg intranet (The Serial), I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the resources offered by the Career Management Center, such as access to Vault.com's company/industry information.  Once the quarter begins, it will be harder to take the time to look through the website; I still don't know what are all of the resources they offer, but I've heard they are extremely helpful.
  • Keep in mind that consulting firms look at your GMAT score.  I don't know how much weight firms put into GMAT scores, but I've heard that they are becoming increasingly important, given that they provide a standardized way of comparing candidates.  If you got into Kellogg, then you probably already have a competitive GMAT score, but you'll have to think about it in terms of the pool that you are in.  In the extreme case, you can always consider retaking the GMAT to try and improve the score, but I wouldn't wish that upon anyone.
September
  • Think about how you are going to allocate your time between studying, socializing, networking, etc.  For most functions, you will be told that your grades in the first quarter don't matter.  For consulting and finance, grades matter.  From what I understand, their wasn't any direct correlation between closed list interview spots and grades, but I don't know if that will hold when it comes time for the firms to make their offers.  It is probably safe to assume that top consulting firms want to hire the best candidates possible because their success is directly tied to the skill of their consultants.  Now think of what their first impression might be if they see that your grades were "B,B,B,B,A" versus "A,A,A,B,B".  I thought one of the Consulting Club officers said it best when they told us "just make sure that you get more As than Bs."
  • Speaking of grades, put some effort into the MORS class that you take during CIM.  This is probably the only time that you will only have 1 class to worry about, so it is a great opportunity to go for an A.  It is easy to get caught up in all of the CIM excitement though and completely deprioritize this class, especially when everyone is inviting you to go out every night.  I'm still pissed at myself for getting a B in this class.
October - November
  • Begin learning about specific companies through Lunch & Learns.  An L&L is a 1-hour long presentation where a company representative discusses a topic of their choosing.  I think they are a great way to indirectly learn about a company's culture through the representative; they also give you a sense of the kind of work that the company does.  Although the firms aren't allowed to use L&Ls to advertise themselves or collect the names of people that attend, you should still treat them as evaluative.
  • Go to official firm presentations to express your interest in the company, begin developing contacts, particularly in the offices that you are interested in, and learn more about the company.  Most of these presentations will occur at either the Hotel Orrington or the Woman's Club of Evanston.  These are definitely evaluative!  The firms will collect the names of everyone that attends, and you will interact directly with representatives from the different offices.  This is a great opportunity to ask specific questions about the offices, learn about what they do (different offices tend to focus on different industries), find out about the culture at the office, and establish a connection within the office.  In the words of Ru Paul, "you better work...work it."
  • Reach out to your classmates that interned with your target company or are sponsored by them.  Most Kelloggers are more than willing to sit down and chat with you about the company, their experiences, etc.  Furthermore, firms ask their alums to watch out for strong potentials amongst their classmates, and they might seek feedback from them, so this is an indirect way to express interest.  Although the conversations tend to be informal, still treat them as evaluative, meaning don't be a jerk.  For example, just this month, some 1st-year students skipped out on meetings that they scheduled with sponsored 2nd-year students to do case prep without any notification; you can bet that hurt their chances with those companies.
  • Attend any other company events that you get invited to.  I don't know how people get selected for these, but firms will do an excellent job of reaching out to potential applicants, via dinners, happy hours, and other "informal" activities.  Some of these occurred immediately following the official presentations, others were scheduled via email.  As always, treat these as evaluative; in particularly, I imagine that they are watching out for a good "fit."  The classic "fit" question that everyone mentions is "would I want to be stuck with this person at an airport or in a car for a long drive to a client's office."
  • Consider participating in case competitions and NBI.  You don't want to go overboard with activities, given that there is a diminishing rate of return, but it is still a good idea to consider participating in company case competitions (AT Kearney and BCG have them for example).  These will help you get some additional exposure to the companies, and if you are successful (proceed to the next round), it is a potential way to distinguish yourself.  NBI is another way to gain exposure to some of the top companies, but it is a bit of a toss up, because you can't select the team that get assigned to.  The 3 teams that made it into the NBI final presentations were all placed on "watch" lists for 2 top consulting firms; we were assured that it helps with recruiting, though I can't say for certain.
  • Go to any general info sessions that the Consulting Club puts on.  The club will put together events to help you prepare for the recruiting session, such as an overview to the case interview process and function primers (Marketing, Finance, Strategy).  At this point, you don't have to dive into case prep (you'll have plenty of time for that) or any specific practice, but it is good to take a cursory glance at the process.
December
  • Submit applications and cover letters for interviews through the company website and/or the CMC (some companies require that you submit to both).  Things slow down a bit in December, since students are focused on finals, Ski Trip, treks, and vacation.  Last December, some of the application deadlines occurred during Finals week and ski trip (the following week).  Try to spend some time putting together a strong resume and cover letter to get your foot in the door via interview spots on the closed lists.  It is possible to bid for a spot on the open lists, but you'll have a limited number of bid points at your disposal.
  • Familiarize yourself with the case prep process.  If you have a case book, like Case in Point, this is a good time to read it.  When you return, you want to be comfortable with the general process for handling a case (summarize the problem, ask for a moment to collect thoughts, write out framework, explain framework, etc) to get the most out of case prep.
  • Begin practicing for the fit portion.  It is easy to get so hung up on the case portion of the interview, that you forget about the fit portion that precedes the case and is equally important.  Start thinking about how you would answer the questions that are likely to come up: walk me through your resume, why consulting, why our company, etc.  It is extremely possible that everyone will do fairly well on the case during their interviews, so the fit portion is a great way to differentiate yourself.
January
  • Companies will contact the candidates selected for closed interview slots during the first half of the month; this time around, the emails were sent out on Fridays.  If you didn't get on the closed list, then you'll have to bid for open slots in this time frame.
  • Interview Prep. Interview Prep. Interview Prep.  Start doing case prep with your classmates.  It is a good idea to begin with other 1st-years because they'll be able to help you improve on the basics.  Once you are comfortable with the fundamentals, 2nd-year students will be able to provide more detailed feedback that will help you go from good to great.  You will get plenty of help with interview prep; one of the Consulting Club officers spent 20 hours last week doing case prep with 1st years.  The companies set up case prep for all of the applicants selected to interview, classmates will be available to help, the CMC will perform mock interviews to help with the fit portion, and the Consulting Club will put together workshops with 2nd-years and company representatives to provide more practice.  A case prep session tends to last between 45-60 minutes, with 30 minutes devoted to the case and the remaining time devoted to feedback.  There is no magic number for how many to do; some people do 30+ and others <10. 
  • Rock the sh** out of the interview.  1st and 2nd round interviews occur very quickly. I've heard that people that make it to the 2nd round will interview within a week of the 1st round.  If all goes well, you will know where you are working this summer by mid-February.
The entire process is very time-consuming and demanding.  I don't think it is possible to truly convey this with a blog post.  Fortunately, it is an extremely well-document and well-traversed path, and you will have no lack of help in preparing for it.  Kelloggers (both students and alums in the indsutry) do an amazing job of helping throughout the entire process.  I think it is a wonderful example of the "collaborative" nature of the Kellogg experience.

I'm hoping to be a part of the Consulting Club's leadership team next year to continue helping others out with recruiting as much as possible. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me when you make it to Kellogg later this year or at any point in the future.  Who knows; maybe you'll find yourself walking through a case with me next January!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Video of Prof. Kraemer discussing "168"

A few posts back, I mentioned a presentation that I went to where Prof. Kraemer discussed time management in the context of the 168 hours we have every week.

I managed to find a video of him discussing the same topic at a Catholics@Kellogg event. I don't know how old the video is, but the speech is an abridged version of the one that I heard. This is only the section where he discusses time management, but you can find the entire video here.



If you end up at Kellogg, I definitely recommend that you take advantage of any opportunities to hear Prof Kraemer in person.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Microeconomics - I kind of like it

The basic Microeconomics class, MECN-430, in the core curriculum at Kellogg is not the sexiest of classes; that much is apparent by the general lack of enthusiasm in class (to some extent on both sides of the lectern), but I kind of like it.  The concepts that we discuss are intuitive and easily applicable to scenarios that closely approximate the real world, versus say, using a geometric distribution to determine how many attempts it will take before your old 1972 AMC Gremlin finally turns on;  DECS-433....I'm looking at you buddy.

Although the things we discuss make sense, it is still nice to gain an understanding of the quants that keep the gears turning as you'd expect.  Here is a graph from the last HW assignment we had to turn in.


What you are looking at are the Min Average Total Cost (variable costs per unit + fixed costs per unit at that production level) and Min Full-redeployment Average Total Cost (Min ATC + annualized capital charge per unit at that production level) curves for an imaginary firm.

The key takeaway is that when looking at long term supply curves for an industry, a firm will only continue to operate if the market price of the good is expected to remain above the firm's Min ATC.  Furthermore, if the market price for a good exceeds the min FR-ATC, then firms with this cost structure will begin to enter the market, effectively capping the max price for the goods in the market.

If that last paragraph doesn't get your heart pumping, then I don't know what will!


BTW,  if you are looking for general "How Do I Get In" advice, then I suggest you drop by Jeremy's newly redesigned blog!  He has started posting his very thoughtful responses to emails that he gets from applicants.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Practicing for the next MORS450 Speech

I have my next MORS-450 speech tonight, so of course that means more iMovie practice!

The theme for this one is "Keep It Simple," and our goal is to explain something complex in a way that is accessible. As with all of our speeches, we are supposed to focus on both content and style, since either one can improve or worsen the presentation. I chose to go with "Writing Better Computer Programs" because that's just how I roll.

One of the pieces of feedback that I received last week was to not turn my back on the audience when I am moving to different parts of the room, so I wanted to practice side stepping.  I also wanted to focus on eye contact, though I didn't receive critiques on that area last week.

After practicing a few times, I realized that it is really hard to work on eye contact when I am looking at a plain wall.  I plan on taping some "targets" to my wall to help out with my future practice sessions.

I made a few mistakes during this go round, but hopefully it isn't anything too distracting.



Here are some screenshots from the Powerpoint slides that I am using in the presentation.
  • The sample Perl function


  • After using whitespace to improve layout



  • Then using descriptive names to convey information

  • Finally adding in comments to make it easier to understand

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What are you doing with your 168?

I went to a presentation today by Professor Kraemer, former CEO of Baxter International and rockstar professor who teaches Managerial Leadership, on applying business concepts to life.  There were so many students who came to listen to him, that they had to move the event from a classroom to the auditorium.  I think that he is really popular with the students because he has a very likable personality, coupled with a lot of enthusiasm, and a command of the topic of leadership that implies that he has spent a lot of time reflecting on what he teaches.  This was my second time listening to him, and once again, it was invigorating.  There was one part of his speech that I particularly enjoyed because it is something that I have been thinking about a lot recently, and he did a great job of verbalizing it.

He started by saying that "168" was a very important number and then asking if anyone knew what it represented.  Someone quickly responded that it was the total number of hours in a week.  At this point, Professor Kraemer asked if we had ever considered what we were spending that time on and how it aligned with our "perceived" priorities.  His point was that the things that we think and say are important to us don't always align with how we actually allocate our time.  For example, if someone says that they really want to start exercising more, but they never seem to find the time to go to the gym, then exercising isn't actually important to them, regardless of how much they say it is.  Essentially, it boils down to not only only "talking the talk" but also "walking the walk."

He stressed that everyone has different priorities, and that that's OK because there are no right or wrong priorities.  Rather, he wanted us to make sure we take the time to reflect on what is truly important to us, and then allocate the limited number of hours we have per week appropriately.  This is something that I've been thinking a lot about lately, because although I spend the lion's share of my waking hours focused on Kellogg-related activities, I still manage to get distracted often and waste a lot of time every week.  This has prompted me to focus on how I manage my time, something that is critical right now given the deluge of work and activities at Kellogg.

I think that one of the best things about the limited time at Kellogg is that it forces you to be honest with yourself about your priorities.  For example, before school started, I swore up and down that I wanted to participate in Board Fellows and go on a Global Initiatives in Management (GIM) trip to Japan.  When I spoke to classmates, I made a point of mentioning how crucial these two things were to my overall experience.  I went to the information sessions and left even more excited about each one, but then a curious thing happened when it came time to apply for Board Fellows and bid for GIM;  I decided that they didn't fit into my overall plan, and I let each deadline pass without feeling a hint of remorse.  Since then, I've spoken to 2nd-year students who say that they were both amazing experiences, but I now realize that they just aren't very important to me.

On the flip side, I have done a much better job of sticking to my own stated goal of "helping my classmates prepare for consulting recruiting however possible when class begins."   After going through the recruiting process with BCG last summer and securing an internship early, I realized that I would have never been successful without the help of plenty of Kellogg alums and students.  I immediately resolved to pay it forward and use the experience to help my classmates.  This was also what motivated me to apply for a Consulting Club Director spot, even though I felt conflicted about it at the time.  Now that recruiting has begun and interviews are a few short weeks away, I'm helping out by giving practice cases to whoever asks for them and answering questions about the experience.  This week, I spent as much time doing case prep with my classmates (some of whom I hadn't met before!) as I did sitting in my classes.  I'm a bit behind now, but it was completely worth it in my opinion.

Going forward, I have recommitted myself to making the most out of the 168 hours that I have every week and ensuring that every night I go to sleep a little wiser than when I woke up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Various Types of Teamwork

I'm sitting in Kellogg's Career Managing Center (CMC) managing the Consulting Club's case interview workshop, where 2nd-year students walk 1st-years through a practice case. My "shift" ends in 20 minutes, so I thought I'd take advantage of the idle time to write up some of the different types of teamwork that I've encountered so far at Kellogg. Given that the school prides itself on its collaborative nature, it is safe to assume that you will run into a lot of group assignments while you are here, even in classes that don't seem as conducive to the format.

Here is what I have personally experienced thus far; please keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list.
  • Coffee Chat - This is when you run into a classmate outside of class (normally still in Jacobs) and start chatting about something interesting from class.  These normally benefit from being good friends with the classmate, as it is then much easier to carry on an honest discussion, particularly when there are areas of disagreement.  These small encounters with classmates are one of my favorite parts of the experience so far, and they can even rival the Roundtables that I describe below in terms of quality.
  • Han Solo - This is where 1 person volunteers to put together the "first" draft of the group assignment, effectively anchoring the team to their work. This can result in an awkward situation if the draft isn't good, because people are less likely to criticize it given the amount of individual effort that went into it; fortunately, I haven't run into this situation. This is particularly popular on smaller writing assignments, where it is important to ensure that the paper "flows" well.
  • A la carte - This is where everyone does the group assignment individually, and then the team meets to pick and choose the best answers for the final assignment. This works really well for small weekly HW assignments, particularly those that involve individual questions. There generally isn't a lot of deep discussion involved with this strategy, unless there are some glaring discrepancies in the answers.
    • Sometimes the final process of combining the answers occurs entirely via email
  • Divide and Conquer - This is where the team comes up with an outline of the final product, divides out the different sections, and then merges them together at the end. You'll normally run into this on the larger projects (research papers for example), where it is too hard for everyone to do the assignments themselves. Professors warn against using this model, because it might result in a paper that doesn't "flow" well; students normally counter this by performing multiple rounds of reviews/edits after piecing it together. 
    • Note that there is also an opportunity here for the Han Solo situation. Sometimes a member of the team will opt to take all of the individual sections and rewrite them into the first draft; I was surprised by how well this can work.
  • Roundtables - I've only come across this in discussing the cases for the Business Strategy midterm and final, and I think it is extremely useful.  Here the group just starts an open discussion on the assignment (case) centered around the questions that they expect to encounter on the final.  It requires critical thinking, since everyone has to apply the various concepts taught in the class to make or refute a poin and is extremely valuable in my opinion.  Honestly, I wish that there were a lot more of these, because I've found them to be the most engaging/enriching type of teamwork so far.  Unfortunately, the case discussions I've had in class have rarely been as good.
I'm curious to see what else (if anything) I'll run into during the remainder of my time here.  Given the trend so far, I am fairly certain that I'll be working in teams in all of my future courses.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Lost the Blogging Challenge

Well, that didn't take very long at all.

Last week, Stephen and I made a friendly bet to see who could get to 200 unique daily visits first. The loser would have to buy the winner a box of delicious donuts. At the time, I was averaging around 55 uniques a day, and he was at something like 40. I thought the contest would be a fun way to motivate us to write more, ultimately benefiting the folks that follow our blogs.

It seemed like a great idea, but then Stephen had to ruin the fun by increasing his daily traffic over 500% in a week in order to win the whole thing.  Although there are a lot of potential explanations for how he managed to do this, the easiest one is that he writes very thoughtful blog posts.  So much so, that one his posts on the value of Twitter was picked up and carried on Pehub.com.

Congratulations Stephen! I now owe you a box of donuts, which I'll be getting from Bennison's Bakery because they make the best donuts in Evanston.  I hope you are hungry!

Practicing for MORS450 Speech

My first speech in Management Communications, MORS-450, is coming up this Tuesday night, so I've been practicing for it via iMovie.  The assignment is to deliver bad news to a panel of superiors and request more resources (time, money, people, etc), a situation that occurs frequently at work.  We have a maximum of three minutes for the presentation, and afterward, we'll receive feedback from our classmates, who have all been instructed to be brutally honest.

It seems easy enough, and yet, I only completed the presentation 4 out of about 30 times during tonight's practice session, which lasted a little under an hour.  I still have one more night to work on this, so hopefully I'll get it together before presenting it in front of my group.  Until then, enjoy this video I put together of a few of tonight's takes.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Addendum to the pre-Kellogg To-Do List

Now that Kellogg has started accepting students for the Class of 2012, it is a great time for me to address something that was missing from the pre-Kellogg To-Do list that gets sent out to incoming students.  I'm not quite sure how they managed to forget something this important, but I can only imagine that some heads rolled for this egregious mistake.

Before the first day of CIM (orientation), make sure that you know and can sing along to the following songs:
In addition to a common distaste for the letter 'g', these songs share a special role at Kellogg as our informal anthems.  Anytime that you are at a social event, the probability that you will hear either of these songs increases exponentially as a function of the number of Kellogg students at that event.  It only really takes two students before you have a fairly good chance of hearing the songs.

At the ski trip in December, we were even treated to the seemingly rare, yet probably quite common, back-to-back playing of the songs during the 80's Party.  I managed to record the first half before giving in to the sheer awesomeness of it all.  BTW, trust me when I say that the video below does not do justice to the amount of energy that always greets these songs.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Apparently, you all are interested in Kellogg

I started tracking my blog's stats with Google Analytics a few months after I birthed it. Since then, I have occasionally taken a moment to peruse the wealth of information that the service provides and to try and gain some general insights from the data.

I won't bore you with the details, but one thing that comes to mind after looking through the data for 2009 is that a lot of people from a lot of places all over the world are interested in reading about the Kellogg/MBA experience.


It's not entirely surprising given how much time I spent devouring as much information as possible about Kellogg via whatever blogs I could find, many of which were discontinued within 1-2 quarters in the program, before and after enrolling.  What is surprising to me is how many people have dropped on by, particularly given that I tend to write slightly off-beat posts, versus some of my much more informative peers.

I only bring this up to make the following point to aspiring MBA applicants: if you have ever thought of blogging about your own experience, then go for it!  It doesn't matter if you think that your posts won't be the most deep or insightful; people will find value from another unique viewpoint, especially if it pertains to one of their target schools.

You also shouldn't be deterred if you aren't going to a big-name school like Stanford or Harvard.  I am certain that the MBA experience can be amazing and profoundly transformative regardless of where you end up.  By relating that experience to everyone on the internets, you will surely help out the people that are bound to follow in your footsteps.

In closing, thanks to all of you that have taken the time to visit my little corner of the world (wide web).  I promise that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lorena's MBA Journal blog at BusinessWeek.com

BusinessWeek has finally started posting more MBA Journal entries by Lorena Sanchez, one of my friends here and fellow KWESTmates on the Hong Kong trip.  Lorena is an international student from Mexico City, so be sure to check out her posts if you are interested in a unique perspective.

Here are her two latest posts.

A Cosmetic Change
Friendly Competition

I even got a shout out in the "Friendly Competition" post; I'm the "Puerto Rican blogger" she mentions!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Talent = Persistence

Before I get into the post, one quick note.

I've accepted a challenge from Stephen, who is an all around bada$$ dude that I'm certain will eventually be a bada$$ Venture Capital dude, to see who can get 200 unique visitors in one day to their blog first. The loser has to buy the winner a box of delicious donuts.

He just put up a great "Day In the Life of a Kellogger" post, so if you haven't checked out his blog, make sure to send some love his way.


Today we discussed a concept in my MORS-441 class, Managing People for Competitive Advantage, that I hold near and dear to my heart.  I couldn't wait to get home and write something about it because of how much I believe in it.  It's a simple concept, but I think that if you are able to accept it into your core beliefs it becomes a ridiculously potent source of motivation and individual competitive advantage.  It's the idea that
You can become better.
Regardless of the nature of the activity, you can become better at it by being persistent, making mistakes, and practicing.  I'm sure that you've come across the same concept worded differently at some point in your life, but that is how I have assimilated it into my life.  In class, we discussed the concept as it pertains to the conventional management wisdom on "talent" and "being smart."  The underlying motivation was to dispel the widely held and perpetuated belief that "superstars" excel in their respective activities because of some natural talent (X Factor) that they were born with and people that underperform do so because they are stupid.  The main takeaway in our course was that an organization with great systems in place and "average" employees can outperform a crappy organization full of "superstars."

Of course, there are some things that are out of your control that make you better suited for one activity or another.  For example, being really tall may give you a huge advantage for getting into the NBA, but that isn't enough to get you there.  You still have to put in a ridiculous amount of practice to make it.  Case in point, Michael Phelps is amazing at swimming, in part because his body is well designed for the sport, but more importantly, because he has a ridiculous daily training schedule that he adheres to and has done for years.  One of my classmates mentioned a supporting point from the book Outliers: The Story of Success; according to the author's research, becoming a virtuoso at something takes 10,000 hours of practice. That is the key to becoming better and improving: PRACTICE.

As I mentioned above, this belief has been one of my primary sources of motivation and advantage, compelling me to work as hard as possible to improve.  I have alluded to it in a number of previous posts, such as in my post about TurboFin, where I wrote
I stuck with my decision, in no small part due to my stubborn pride, which is constantly whispering in my ear that I can do well in anything as long as I bust my butt, and I am happy to report that I made the right call (for me at least).
In my life, I have used it as inspiration on countless endeavors with overwhelming success.  Here are just a few of my favorite success stories.
  • Throughout most of my childhood, I was terribly unathletic.  I still remember that in 8th grade, I couldn't run a mile or do 10 push ups.  In high school, I decided to do something about it and began exercising regularly.  That kickstarted a long string of experiences that would easily lead someone to believe that I was an athletic kid: played Lacrosse my senior year in HS, played rugby in college, and sparred (and survived) against a pro boxer at Lord's Boxing Gym.
  • I didn't finish the GMAT the first time I took a practice test; in fact, I scored in the low, low 500s.  I quickly enrolled myself in a prep course, spent 2 months preparing everyday for the test, and then went in and scored significantly higher on the actual GMAT.  I was originally trying to get into UT's night program. This was the catalyst that led me to apply for other schools, eventually getting into Kellogg.
  • Speaking of Kellogg, I went through 3 rounds of applications before getting into one of my target schools.  I consider the first 2 rounds practice for the one that counted.
As a final thought on the subject, I may not be good at public speaking right now, but give me a few years; I guarantee that you'll eventually think that I'm a natural :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Walking to Kellogg POV

Today was the first day of class for the Winter quarter.  I woke up bright and early for my 8:30AM DECS class, which was my only class.  I decided to record the walk from my apartment near Oak and Davis to the Kellogg building.  It is about a one mile walk, and it normally takes between 15-20 minutes depending on my stepping speed.  Here is the route that I took (the last leg of the walk is inaccurate because Google is stubborn).
 

View Larger Map

I make a few observations/comments during the walk, but mostly, it is just me sniffling (it's cold!) and background music from a live recording of a Jason Mraz show; that's the kind of music I would normally be listening to on my 5+ year old Ipod mini.

So if you have 15 minutes to kill, here you go!