Archive for September, 2009

Big man on campus

September 17th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Despite the title, this post is not about being a 2nd year MBA student (although it is nice to start this school year feeling much more “in control” than last year). We had a visit from the real “big man” today–President Obama. obama
He spoke to the entire University of Maryland campus and community about his healthcare proposals.

I was really amazed by the showmanship and personal feeling of the event, despite the fact that there were thousands of people gathered in the stadium. President Obama personalized the entire message, so that every story was relevant to college life, parties, and drinking. He was introduced, in fact, by a UMD student who dealt with a major medical crisis during the last year. Her message was, in essence, “without my parents’ health plan, under which I will soon lose coverage, I would have been without means to pay for my condition.” Obama quickly referred back to the story she told, promising college students coverage under their parents’ plan until age 25.

He also told the story behind his rallying cry of “fired up–ready to go”. Although the story was told very casually, with lots of personal touches, by the time President Obama finished the speech, he was able to get the entire stadium (including me, the political skeptic) to chant the phrase with him.

There was one heckler during the speech, but the president was nonplussed. He continued speaking witht the same, eventone manner. The crowd began reacting to the heckler, but Obama told them “Don’t worry about him. We’re doing fine.” The distraction was then ignored while he was taken out of the stadium by security. It was a brilliant move by Obama. Not only was his problem solved, but he also came across as open-minded, patient, and considerate.

(I have some videos of the event, which I’ll hopefully figure out how to post very soon.)

In the end, I feel really grateful to be going to school so close to the nation’s capital, where I can take advantage of amazing opportunities like this. Going to b-school is not just about salary increase for me–I want to be using this time to learn and grow. And this was not only a boost to me political education. Obama is also an award-winning marketing communications manager, having won the Grand Prix marketing award at Cannes this year for his election campaign. Since I’m moving into a marketing position after school, I wouldn’t mind having a little bit of his marketing and PR success rub off on me.


Ah, a relaxing weekend

September 14th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Triathlon Picture2So, you might be wondering, what does a father of three young children, full-time student, president of an active graduate club, with two on-campus jobs do for relaxation?

The answer (which I’ve already given away by the logo I attached), is run a triathlon, of course. What could be more fun to do at 7:00 AM than swim in the Potomac River for a mile, jump onto a bike for 25 miles, then run another 6?

In truth, this was my first race of any kind, other than a few Turkey Trot 5K runs. My school buddy Matt and I decided, during the first year of the MBA program, to train for the triathlon. Although I can’t say I followed the training regimen with 100% dedication, having a goal in mind certainly helped me see beyond the overwhelming pressure of first-year MBA courses and a stressful internship search (I still say that before this suumer, I’ve never had a job where I spent more time trying to GET it that I actually spent WORKING in the position).

It’s also important to keep a real sense of identity. It’s very easy as an MBA student to label yourself as a marketing person or a finance person, which is probably helpful in pursuing short-term goals. But a human being needs goals and growth in more than just a career. The challenge of running a triathlon required more strength, planning, and self-motivation than anything I’ve done in a long time. That’s a valuable (and enjoyable) part of my life that I can apply to other future challenges.

In the end, I beat my goal, which was to complete the olympic-length triathlon in under 3 hours (I did it in 2:45, plus 10 minutes of transition time between events). I also was able to keep my blood sugar at a healthy level throughout the race, which was my other real challenge. So, I don’t think I’m going to be recruited by any professional race sponsors, but I am looking forward to someday completing the “real deal” triathlon that I marveled at as a child. I won’t tell you exactly what it is, but it happens in Hawaii, and it starts with “Iron”…


Please say "no"

September 8th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

So, I’m supposed to be asking people to do things for me for a class project, and it’s harder than I thought it would be. Especially since I’m supposed to ask them for favors to which they will say “no”. I think the idea is that too often we don’t push people hard enough in a business sense, and money gets left on the table. Tonight I tried to get someone to say “no” to me, and I called Verizon, my wireless provider. My basic pitch was “my bill is too unpredictable–I want free text messaging” (it was not already included in my plan). She listened politely, clicked around in her computer, and told me she could add 250 txts per month to my plan. Since I had already told her that I never send more than 20-30 in a month, I couldn’t very well ask for more than 250!

I think my professor would say that I still “left money on the table”, meaning that I could have asked for more. When you get an immediate “yes” it means you probably didn’t ask for as much as you could. It’s been good for me to get out of my range of business comfort. I’ve been asking for discounts all over the place, from REI to the Dry Cleaners to the guy who sold me a wetsuit.

I’m happy to have the free txt msgs–that should reduce my monthly bill ever so slightly. But it doesn’t help me get any closer to collecting enough no’s to complete my assignment.

Time to call my car insurance company…


Back to school… x2

September 4th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.


This past week was something new for our family–two kids in school–if you count me as one of the kids. My oldest son is 5 years old and starting kindergarten at our neighborhood school. He is so completely confident about himself that he has never said one thing about being nervous or scared.

I, on the other hand, feel a little bit scared about starting my second year of the MBA program. (Spoiler alert!) The classwork load during the first year is absolutely scary, but it’s much more relaxed during the second year, so my current classes are much less stressful than the ones I was taking this time last year. But the extracurriculars are by far more taxing. This year, I’m the co-president of the Graduate Marketing Association. We held our kickoff meeting this week, and even though there were two of us to execute it, there was so much work in just setting up the room and getting the food there. (I got some interesting stares at Target as I pulled up to the cashier with several hundred cans of soda and plenty of snacks). We ended up having over 60 people at the event, which is more than 1/4 of the entire full-time student body (if you do a more in-depth analysis, you also see that since most of the attendees were first-year students, we probably had more than 1/3 of the 1st year students at our meeting). Very good turnout!

A first year student approached me this week saying, “I hear your wife had a baby during finals last year. My wife’s due in December. Help!” Luckily, I was able to tell him that the Smith faculty were extremely generous in helping me to make sure my family came first, so he shouldn’t worry about that potential conflict (I was worried one of my profs would criticize me for poor planning). In the end, I took all my finals on time, because I wanted to have a long winter break to spend with my family. It was the longest and best paternity leave I could have asked for. In case anyone out there is wondering, we’re NOT planning to have a baby during THIS school year. At least not that I’m aware of….