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shawn's top 10 tips for success

April 7th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

People have been asking for me months now, “Shawn – how do you do it? What is the secret to your success?  We want to know!”  I have tried placating them with excuses about “being born under a good sign” or just “being in the right place at the right time” but alas – the masses have won out!  I can’t put it off anymore.  It’s time I shared my proprietary tactics for success.   Dear reader – please note: I share these strategies with you in hopes that they will be used for good and not evil, that they will be tempered with good judgement, and that you understand the definition of sarcasm.  With that, here are my tips to win friends, influence people and get a job:

1.  Don’t be late.  Ever.  It’s terribly tacky.

2.  Dress for success!  Ladies: Contrary to public opinion (circa 2000 when Ally McBeal was popular…) camisoles under your suit jacket and short skirts are not acceptable.  Gents: Invest in a good suit.

3.  Be prepared.  I recently heard an excellent way of thinking about a job interview….”Let’s say you worked in sales and you had a presentation for a sale that would net you a $100,000 commission.  How long would you prepare for that presentation?  How much research and effort would you put into that presentation to make sure that it was perfect?  That’s how you should think about EVERY job interview.”     

4.  Flashcards.  An excellent way to make sure you have concise, on-hand answers to possible questions.  Use them to prepare for tests, interviews, dates. 

5.  Smile.  But first make sure you don’t have anything in your teeth. 

6.  Follow up and follow through.  Don’t say you are going to do something unless you plan to do it. 

7.  Be honest.  People hate bull sh*tters. 

8.  Know yourself.  How can you sell yourself effectively if you don’t know your product?

9.  Be aggressive.  Hustle.  Don’t wait for someone to hand you what you want.

10.  Be open.  Think twice (or three times) before turning down an interview, a job offer or an invitation to have coffee with a total stranger.  If you narrow your options too severely you may miss out on an incredible opportunity.


week of doom

March 26th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

This is a busy week for me.  Crazy schedule is as follows:


Assignment:  Supply Chain simulation

Thoughts:  I hope my inability to manage virtual inventory is not an accurate reflection of my actual ability to manage actual inventory in my post-MBA supply chain job. 

Monday night: MUST send out invitations for Ashley’s bridal shower or face  risk of expulsion from the bridal party.

Tuesday morning:  Digital Business Markets presentation.

Thoughts:  Researching eHarmony for this project has been very interested and actually fun.  The only downside being that to find out the competitor’s pricing I had to create an account profile.  Now I receive 5 matches every day from jdate, match and  Boyfriend may be upset with that. 

Tuesday afternoon: Pricing & Revenue Management homework due, in-class case discussion.

Thoughts: Amazingly, homework was finished this weekend. 

Wednesday:  Barilla case for Supply Chain & Operations Management.

Thoughts:  Must find Barilla case.  And read.  Must stop waiting till last minute

Wednesday night:  Dinner at Komi with Paul. 

Thoughts: Pros: Voted #1 restaurant in Washington, D.C. by Washingtonian Magazine, Dad gave us fatty gift certificate for Christmas, I LOVE FOOD, made the reservations 2 months ago.  Cons: Midterm tomorrow.

Thursday: PRM midterm

Thoughts:  Senioritis

Thursday night: Ben’s birthday celebration

Thoughts: Senioritis

Friday: Case due for Business Plan competition

Thoughts:  One sentence down, 1 page minus 1 sentence to go.

Friday night: SAWMBA reception with EMBAs

Thoughts: Intelligent women, great conversation, looking forward to it.


If I only had a hat to throw in the air

February 2nd, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

It is unbelievable that I am in my last semester of business school.  In 2007, when I received my acceptance letter from Smith welcoming me to the class of 2009 it seemed like my graduation date was eons away.  At the time, I was in full on Secret mode and trying to harness the power of the laws of attraction (thankfully, I didn’t get entrenched enough to build a visionboard…but I was close) so I tried to envision what my ideal future self would look like.  Future Shawn would be smarter, more confident and raking in a salary at least twice my former one.  She would be in control of her destiny, making moves, closing deals and droppin’ bos on anyone who stood in her way.  (Future Shawn would also be happier, thinner, in a serious relationship with a mature man with hair and driving a motorcycle…but I should save those details for my other blog).  I can’t say that Present Shawn is that much different than the idealized version of myself I envisioned nearly two years ago.  I think that is pretty awesome.  Actually totally awesome.  This MBA has changed me more than I could have ever anticipated.  I am more aware, confident and determined than I thought possible.  This education has allowed me to change careers and secure a spot in a supply chain leadership development program – a career that is actually BETTER than anything I could have thought up or pasted on a visionboard.  While I may not be using the Newsvendor model on a daily basis in my new job, knowing that I COULD use it if I needed to, gives me confidence.  I have so many tools in my toolbox that I need to build a toolshed in my backyard.  While I may feel different tomorrow, at this moment I feel like I could conquer the world.

I’m gonna make it after all.


What happened to the English language?

December 2nd, 2008 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I should preface this conversation by saying that I am a total hypocrite.  I consistently, and purposely, use incorrect grammar and abbreviations for effect and ease.  In fact, I’m sure that there are multiple examples of slang and spelling mistakes in this very entry.  But I do not consider myself a professional writer or journalist.  That being said, I am extremely disappointed in CNN.  I consider CNN to be a fairly reputable news source and usually find their online articles to be relevant and well written.  So I was fairly surprised today to read this article: 

and see that the author actually uses “LOL” in a sentence. Yes, I understand that it is used for effect and perhaps a comment on the ridiculous lawsuit and/or Axl Rose’s ridiculous hair and Botoxed face, but it’s still inappropriate and juvenile.  Unless you are a tween or have managed to return to 1997 via the DeLorean then you are not allowed to use LOL.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad (obvious) news, that’s just the way it is.   The proliferation of slang words and online abbreviations in mainstream media is part of the reason why students think it’s okay to use such nonsense in homework assignments.  Check this out:  Frightening! 

so – are you 4real? cuz i would h8 to think that u dont know the diff btwn correct grammar and incorrect grammar  step it up yo   


90% of our lives are spent indoors

November 24th, 2008 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I find that figure amazing.  90%?  That’s just frightening.  I’m surprised that that human race has not yet become allergic to the sun or universally agoraphobic given that we spend so little time outdoors.  Even more disturbing is the realization that if only 10% percent of my time is spent outdoors at least 50% of that is spent in the car…So I’m looking at breathing (somewhat) clean, unfiltered air only 5% of the time.  (Which is a little over an hour a day…which actually sounds like a generous estimate of how much outdoor time I afford myself).  Even worse, it’s estimated that 30% of buildings have poor indoor air quality.  No wonder I’m always sick!  (Compounded by the fact that stress weakens your immune system).   Solution?  Don a Michael Jackson-esque face mask to filter my air?  Add “good air quality” to the requirements list for my post-MBA employer?  Both are unreasonable and will potentially hinder my job prospects.  However, I will be more informed, educated and aware when I buy my first home and fill it with all the potentially toxic things that reflect my personal style.   


I heart iTunes

November 4th, 2008 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I just had a major epiphany: audio books.  I spend between 80 minutes and 2 hours in the car everyday driving to and from College Park.  (The trade off for being able to take a cab out to dinner and walk to Georgetown….)  I was lamenting about how if I could spend as much time reading as I do driving I’d be way ahead of the game when…ah ha!  I can!  Well not read, as much as listen, but the end product is the same.  The fact that you can find Five Dysfunctions of a Team in the same place as John Legend’s new album is a testament to Apple’s incredible ability to serve their customers.  Kudos. 


Difficult Decisions…

October 22nd, 2008 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

To prepare for an upcoming interview I’ve been looking through lists of possible behavorial questions that I may be asked.  It’s odd to remember that before I came to Smith to get my MBA I didn’t even know the term behavioralquestions existed…And now I find myself obsessively studying a 3″ stack of index cards with possible question and answer combos written on them.  Some of them are obscure (“What element best describes you: earth, water or fire?) and some predictable (“What is your greatest strength?”)  but one really made me think about how I ended up here.  “Tell me about the most difficult business or personal decision you’ve had to make.”  Fairly tough question…Life is made up of small decisions we make every day but to select the single most difficult one requires perspective.  A choice that seemed immense and intensely stressful at the time (i.e. should I buy a new car or a used one?  or just keep riding the subway?  or maybe buy a vespa?) seems trivial in hindsight.  And others that I made on the fly (“Should I have dinner with this guy?”) have had a huge impact on my life (that guyis now my live-in boyfriend).  But one decision I knew would have a profound effect on my life was deciding whether to attend a full time MBA program.  After thinking about getting my MBA for a few years and looking at the part-time programs available in Boston (where I was living) I’d made the decision to go full-time.  I traveled for my job and knew that I wouldn’t have the flexibility needed to attend a part-time program.  So after months of essay writing and GMAT studying and traveling across the East Coast to visit schools I finally had completed all my applications and was just waiting to hear the results.  And then I got offered my dream job.  And I didn’t even ask for it.  Things had gotten a lot more complicated all of a sudden.  A job in which I felt I was underutilized and frustrated hadjust turned into an opportunity to travel, challenge myself and move up the corporate ladder.  Right about the time my acceptance letter from Smith came I had to make a decision….Do I  A) stay and see what this new position has to offer?  I had a good idea of the responsibities and what would lie ahead and it sounded fun.  Plus I’d be in Boston with my girls, my apartment , my salary and my ample free time.   Or do I B) leave and experience the unknown: Maryland.  I had all of two acquaintances in all of the DC-VA-MD area.  And I had no idea if I could even succeed in this MBA program or what kind of job I would be able to get afterwards.  All I did know was that I’d have a hefty loan at the end of two years.  Ultimately it came down to me picking which option I was more excited about…Which one would offer me the greater opportunity to experience something new, something challenging, something I could potentially fail at?  That choice was the MBA program at Smith.  And so here I am.  Needless to say my past bosses were a little surprised when I left that dream job opportunity to go to school full time…but I’ve never regretted it for a minute.  I have been challenged, enlightened and excited every day since I made the decision to come to Maryland.   



October 16th, 2008 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Apparently Wednesday is the new Friday.  Before I returned to school for my MBA I thought Thursday was the new Friday (largely in part to the $1.99 appetizer happy hour at McCormick & Schmick…) but for the last seven weeks Wednesday has been the culmination of my work week.  Don’t misunderstand me – It’s not as though my work ends on Wednesday.  It’s just that my classes are front loaded to the beginning of the week and pretty much all of my deliverables are due by Wednesday.  This week was especially intense because of finals.  Between Monday and Wednesday at noon I had just a few things to do (i.e. Business Law final, group presentation for Negotations, group presentation for Strategic Procurement and a take home final for Strategic Procurement).  But it’s now Wednesday at 3:15 pm and I’m still alive. Victory!  Finals have been completed, presentations given and Thursday (i.e. SnoozeDay) is quickly approaching.  So other than me trying to explain to my friends why I can’t return phone calls before Wednesday night…what is the point of this rant?  TIME MANAGEMENT.  We talk a lot about time management in the MBA program.  That should not be surprising – obviously you need excellent time management skills if you want to be successful in the business world.  It’s the implementation part that’s tricky….How do you keep all those metaphorical balls up in the air?  My technique is Post-it notes.  As juvenile and wasteful as that may sound that’s honestly what works for me.  Lately flourescent Post-it notes seemed to have taken over my life…they’re everywhere….on my desk (“Write blog entry TODAY!”), on the refrigerator, inside my planner (which kind of defeats the purpose of a planner), on the dashboard of my car…but they do keep me in check.  I can’t pinpoint why Post-its are so much more effective for me than a list or pop-up reminders on my Blackberry.  Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of crumbling that note and throwing it away when the task is done?  Maybe it’s the fact that it’s hard for me to ignore the hot pink heart Post-its that seem to mutiply overnight?  Whatever the rationale, they do the job for me and so I’m sticking with them.  So thank you 3M from the bottom of my heart.  You can rest assured you’ll stay in business until at least May of 2009 when I graduate from the MBA program.