Archive for September, 2011

Fed Board Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin Speaks at Smith

September 27th, 2011 by under Articles for the Smith School, Economics, Public Policy. No Comments.

Before her appointment to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Sarah Bloom Raskin was the Commissioner of Financial Regulation for the State of Maryland.

I had the pleasure of attending a morning speech by Sarah Bloom Raskin, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

You can read my article on the Smith webpage about the event and watch the event for yourself here.

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Getting Fit for the Top Part – III: Personal Development

September 21st, 2011 by under Best Lessons Outside of B-School, Leadership and Managing Human Capital, Professional Development. No Comments.

This is Part III in a three-part series on how Smith MBAs use fitness and sports to develop the attitudes, discipline, and habits of effective business leaders.

Personal Competitive Advantage

Just as organizational culture can create competitive advantage for the firm, so do personal capabilities create competitive advantage that distinguish individuals.

“Getting up before most people gets me ahead of them,” says Narda, with a smile (profiled in Part II).  “By the time I get to work or school, I’ve already heard the news and I’m awake.  While everyone else’s brains are still warming up, I’m ready to take on the day.”

Being fit and involved in team sports also opens up new channels to network and more ways to connect with others.  Participants in these networks can take advantage of the multitude of weak ties to get more information or can use fitness as a way to strengthen existing ties that will facilitate achieving their professional and personal ambitions.

Ambition

People who set fitness goals and then follow through have to be willing to push themselves beyond what they are.

A.P. Patel, Joe’s running partner, encouraged Joe to augment his workout with more running.  To A.P., endurance running is about pushing himself more and more.  “If I’m not shooting to improve, then I’m not working out,” he says.  Joe echoed this sentiment, saying, “Either you win or you quit.  You’re always improving – being better than you were yesterday.  That kind of attitude is lost today.”  Recently, the two ran a 50K race together.

Creating a vision for oneself requires not only self-reflection, but also strategic planning and being able to ask the right questions: where I want to be in five years? how I’m measuring up today? what are my biggest opportunities (i.e. where am I falling short)? and what is my a plan to get there going to look like?

AP running the Northface 50K Endurance Run, Great Falls, VA June 2011

Abhijit “A.P.” Patel

Smith MBA 2012

Summer Internship: Organizational Improvement Consultant Intern, Target

Regular Workout: 4-5 times a week; running and hiking

Sports Played: Cricket, Volleyball, Football

Discipline and Delayed Gratification

Such motivation and forethought lead to success, which in turn can make one more confident and more ambitious.  Smith students dedicated to fitness know that willpower and discipline are the glue that connects this virtuous cycle.

For example, rising at 5:30AM almost every day to work out has taught Narda that “I have to do it now, no matter how I feel.”  “You just get used to it,” adds Joe.

Consistently making small success is important to building the courage necessary to stand up for one’s work or one’s beliefs.  “Working out has taught me that even if I’m confronting things head on, no matter how difficult they may be, I know I’ll be that much better for doing it,” Narda says.

Moreover, she adds that “being dedicated to something outside of the workplace shows the level of commitment that I can have; it keeps me from leaving things half finished.”

These Smith students know thatthe payoff is when you derive real enjoyment from the hard work you put in.  “You can’t expect things to go right for you if you are not putting in the right amount and kind of effort,” A.P. says.  A.P. runs because he enjoys it, yet at the same time, he knows that “you don’t enjoy it unless you are training to get better at it.”

A dedication to fitness helps us reach great heights. Joe McDonald (Smith MBA 2012) took a trip to Machu Pichu between his summer internship and 2nd year of business school. Source: Joe McDonald

(more…)

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Getting Fit for the Top – Part II: Manage Yourself, Manage Others, Build Teams

September 14th, 2011 by under Best Lessons Outside of B-School, Leadership and Managing Human Capital, Professional Development. No Comments.

This is Part II in a three-part series on how Smith MBAs use fitness and sports to develop the attitudes, discipline, and habits of effective business leaders.

In my most recent Project Management class, Prof. Corwin railed against the habit of allowing others to dictate one’s time.  Part of effective project management comes from managing one’s own time effectively through the combination of a personal work ethic and negotiating how others want to use or interrupt your time.

Smith students who practice physical fitness gain these skills through their own self-reflection, perseverance, and discipline.

Narda Ipakchi, Smith MBA 2012

Narda Ipakchi

Smith MBA 2012

Summer Internship: Global Brands and Commercial Services Intern, Hilton Worldwide

Regular Workout: 5-6 days per week; 30 minutes Cardio, 30 minutes Weights

Aggressive Time Management

When Narda Ipakchi, began her daily exercise routine three years ago, she noticed that whenever she did not get to exercise, she felt less energetic and attentive.  “I realized that exercising is me-time that helps me prepare for the day.”

Narda adjusted her schedule to get her work done and go to bed early enough to be able to rise at 5:30AM for a morning workout.  “It’s hard sometimes,” Narda says.  “Sometimes, I turn down hanging out with friends really late in the evening, but I do it because I recognize that I need to make exercise a priority in my life.”

Fitness requires not only commitment, but also the skills to prioritize activities, negotiate schedules, and manage the people around you.  At Smith, this can be especially difficult with the multitude of evening meetings required for team assignments and competitions facing MBAs.

Joe McDonald, Smith MBA 12, sums up this time management process in Three Principles:

  • Get up Early
  • Go to Bed Early
  • Get Work out of the Way

“There are so many steps that are required to make room for the important stuff,” says Joe.  At Smith, being an aggressive time manager and learning how to stay disciplined around priorities builds the habits of strong leaders and managers.

The Ability to Motivate Others

Yet, these habits go beyond the individual and allow Smith students to influence others.

Understanding other people’s motivations and thought processes makes Narda a better communicator and better able to push others to meet shared goals.  “Once I was keeping a
regular morning workout routine, I understood the importance of motivating others to get results,” says Narda.  “I know how hard it is to be motivated to get up and accomplish my own plan, so I’m able comprehend the difficulties others have following through with their priorities.”

Being a positive influencer is a fulfilling role and Narda says “It encourages me when I see the change in behavior of others once they start adopting this kind of lifestyle.”

Smith MBAs Won the Darden School's 2011 Softball Invitational

Smith Students: Fit Minds, Team Attitudes

Besides supporting each other as fitness partners and encouraging each other as business colleagues, Smith students play team sports together, including coed basketball, soccer, and Intramural Football.  Smith MBAs also play other MBA schools in basketball and softball.

When A.P. Patel (profiled in Part III), played cricket with other Smith MBAs at the Darden Invitational, working together as a team cleared up some of the biases he had about other team members.  “Working toward a common goal brought us closer,” he said.  Not only is team sport a chance to keep playing sports and be competitive, it’s an opportunity to build the trust, accountability, and the results oriented culture that make a good team (for more on this, see Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which we read during our first year).

This October, Smith students will be running as a team at the Baltimore Running Festival to raise money for Team Red, White, and Blue, a non-profit veteran support organization dedicated to enriching the lives of wounded veterans and their families.

This month, The Value Proposition is profiling the role of fitness in the lives of Smith MBAs and how they actively apply the attitudes, discipline, and habits of fitness to their the business world:

Part I: Getting Fit for the Top; Joe McDonald, Smith MBA 2012

Part II: Manage Yourself, Mange Others, Build Teams; Narda Ipakchi, Smith MBA 2012

Part III: Personal Development; A.P. Patel, Smith MBA 2012

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Getting Fit for the Top – Part I: Physical Fitness is “A Contributing Factor, Not a Symptom” of Success

September 6th, 2011 by under Best Lessons Outside of B-School, Leadership and Managing Human Capital, Professional Development. No Comments.

Source: Fitness Business Conference
This is Part I in a three-part series about how Smith MBAs use fitness and sports to develop the attitudes, discipline, and habits of effective business leaders.

At 5AM, Joe McDonald lay in his bed drifting dangerously back to sleep and listened to the cars outside his window drive through the pouring rain.  He didn’t want to meet A.P., his
fellow Smith MBA, to go running that morning, but Joe knew that if the roles were reversed, he would be annoyed if he ventured out and his running buddy failed to show.

The thought passed briefly, and Joe forced himself up from the comfort of the bed to meet for his regular morning workout.

To Joe, an inactive duty Army Captain who has been involved in multiple sports since high school, fitness is about making a commitment to oneself and to others.  “Fitness is a
lifestyle, not a diet,” he says.

Getting Fit for the Top

Recently a number of articles have highlighted the role of fitness and sport in the lives of top executives from the world’s largest multinationals.  Paul Polman, CEO of
Unilever, gets up at 6AM every morning to run on the treadmill in his London office.  Polman says he runs because it gives him time to reflect on work and the day ahead while “maintaining his stamina for the ultra-competitive business world.”   In 2009, Polman raised $100,000 for the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust when he ran the Boston Marathon in 4:00:06.

Another regular marathon runner, N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services, also advocates fitness as a way to hone the mind and body.  TCS employees following his example have become one of the largest teams running the Mumbai Marathon.

At Kraft Foods, CEO Irene Rosenfeld credits playing volleyball, field hockey, softball, and basketball with giving her the drive and discipline to set high goals and achieve them.  “I’d like to think I could have become chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods even if I hadn’t been an athlete,” she says, “but I truly believe I am a more focused, more competitive, more successful leader as a result of my experience in sports.”

Joe McDonald, Smith MBA 2012

Joe McDonald

Smith MBA 2012

Summer Internship: Senior Associate Intern, PwC

Regular Workout: 5-7 days per week; Cross-Fitness, Running, Rock Climbing, Hiking

Sports Played: IM Men’s Football, IM Coed Football, MBA Softball

Endogenous to Success

The personal fitness achievements of these business leaders are admirable in their own right and Joe is quick to point out that practicing physical fitness is “a contributing factor, not a symptom” of their success as business leaders.

Over the next two weeks, The Value Proposition is profiling the role of fitness in the lives of Smith MBAs and how they actively apply the attitudes, discipline, and habits of fitness to the business world:

Part I: Getting Fit for the Top; Joe McDonald

Part II: Manage Yourself, Mange Others, Build Teams; Narda Ipakchi

Part III: Personal Development; A.P. Patel

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