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.

4 comments:

  1. Prof. Kraemer is awesome! I heard him talk during KPW and what he said about leadership really resonated with me too!

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  2. prioritization and focus are two very very importatnt things that one needs to realize continuously every moment. i have only read about Prof. Kraemer and his work, would love to watch him talk. any videos?

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  3. Hi sh00nya!

    I managed to find a video of Professor Kraemer speaking where he discusses this very topic. I'm putting it up shortly.

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  4. hey thanks for sharing it, and i really admire your enthusiasm and efforts to maintain regular updates of your Kellogg experience.

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