Wednesday, June 11, 2008

50% MBA Officially Completed!

I finished my last final examination of the quarter (and of my MBA1 experience!) today. It was a little bittersweet, to be honest. It was another indicator that the year is over which I wasn't really ready for yet. I have been helping pack up all of my friends' things over the past couple of days and watching them leave on their crazy summer expeditions all over the world. It is a bit sad as I have developed very close relationships with numerous people at the GSB and I probably won't get to see them for three months.

I am very excited for the summer, however, and possibly even more excited by the fact that I am going to have a couple of days with very little to do...something that is very rare at Stanford!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer Internship...

All of my GSB classmates have been getting amazing offers all over the world for their summer internships. We have about 14 weeks free and a GSB'er likes to try and fit 2 internships and maybe some traveling to truly maximize their "free time." I had been getting a bit nervous when, in late March, all of my friends seemed to be finalizing their summers and I had no clue what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to do something related to entrepreneurship and I wanted a challenge...a great team...a great idea...and something I am passionate about.

Enter Hasso Plattner Ventures - of Africa. It is a new VC startup, based in Cape Town founded by Hasso Plattner (the founder of the Stanford d.School and Founder and Former CEO of SAP Software). It focuses on Mobile, Tech and Cleantech investments. I randomly stumbled across it when searching for possible entrepreneurial opportunities for the summer. I followed up by asking my d.School colleagues if they had any connection to Hasso Plattner, of which numerous people did and they connected me with the M.D. who I hit it off with immediately. It is the epitome of a startup, opening its doors in late February. There will only be 5 of us there and we will be looking for great entrepreneurs to back. I am so excited to be working with great ideas, in a startup environment and interact with a myriad of entrepreneurs.

My thinking is that if I can figure out the elements of being a successful entrepreneur in the challenging environment that Africa offers...I can do it anywhere!

Almost the end of the 1st Year as a Stanford MBA...

I just stumbled across this blog while perusing the internet as I sit in the Schwab Residential Center (the main residence hall for 1st year MBA's). Unfortunately, I have done pretty much zero blogging since I made the decision to attend the GSB. I wish I had recorded it, however, as it has been one of the most amazing few months of my life!

Some highlights:

-Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability- traveling to Ethiopia, interviewing rural farmers and creating a product for the poor
-Meeting inspirational Classmates
-IM Sports
-Talk '08 and Talk '09
-Entrepreneurship Club
-Intimate Interaction With Faculty
-Alumni Interaction
-Study Trip to China and Study Trip to India
-Planning to Lead a study Trip next year to India
-Great Mentors (Patell, Klaus, Saloner)
-Trip to Napa
-Being in the Heart of Silicon Valley
-Hearing Prof. Grousebeck Speak
-and so much more!

I am really going to try and write EVERY day beginning now to continue to document and remember my days at the GSB, my upcoming summer in South Africa, and the beginning of the 2nd year.

Please feel free to contact me any time to discuss the GSB, entrepreneurship, ideas or anything else!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Great Things from Childhood!

Taking a break from my MBA journey, here is a random thing I want to share.

Things I absolutely LOVED as a kid (and most I still do!):

-The American Gladiators
-Koosh Balls
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
-Moving Walkways at Airports
-Apple Crisp
-Baseball Cards
-Water Balloons
-Fish Sticks
-Little Poofy Dogs (The poofier, the happier I was/am)

The Phone Call and Decision

The phone conversation began similar to the hundreds of others I have seemed to have over the couple of weeks after my acceptances. I told her what my goals and ambitions were at this point and what I thought were the pros and cons of both Harvard and Stanford. She gave me many of the same statistics and figures that I have heard many times previously and it seemed that this would be the last call before I would "accept Harvard's acceptance!" We were wrapping the conversation up when she changed from giving me the facts to talking to me in the most straight forward manner I could have ever asked for. She told me that the name really doesn't matter and the Stanford name would open just as many doors as the Harvard name. While I think that is probably the case, I am already quite familiar with having an unknown undergraduate university on my resume' so it would be nothing new if I had to work just a bit harder to open those doors.

Our conversation came down to one thing that really stuck with me which would ultimately result in my decision. Yes, both Stanford and Harvard would be great schools and could easily propel me down the road of becoming a successful business leader. With either degree, I could be financially secure and would have incredible opportunities afforded to me. But, she told me I need to ask myself... do I truly want to be the best leader I can possibly be? If the answer is yes, then I need to put aside' advice... and reflect on myself.

What program suits who I am? Which institution will focus on developing my weaknesses, push me to the limit and create that top leader that I want to be?

I hung up the phone, so thankful to this woman who just changed my entire thought process on choosing my graduate school and so "un-thankful" that I was now back to square one. I grabbed the Harvard acceptance form and slid it in a drawer where it stayed.

Over the next few weeks, I did visit Stanford. It was not admit weekend so I had my own personal tour where I met pretty much everyone involved in the program, from first-years up to Dean Joss, each offering their own insight about the Stanford MBA program. I can honestly say I met some of the most amazing, humble, and kind people I have ever known that weekend. I came back to Ohio Wesleyan and, as the woman suggested, sat by myself and reflected on the questions she posed.

A few hours later, I called my father and told him I would be attending Stanford's Graduate School of Business next year.

Why? Every person I met there was incredible! They were so diverse in every way and had ambitions of changing the world. Everyone seemed to have ideas and there is nothing I love more. The program is much smaller (370 students vs. 900 students at HBS) creating a smaller, more intimate environment which I am more familiar with and thrive off of. Their curriculum is more personal and offers greater flexibility. Finally, in entrepreneurship it is unbeatable due to its proximity to Silicon Valley.

My decision was made and final. I am a member of the Stanford GSB Class of 2009!

Note: This was a VERY abbreviated version of my decision-making process and there were many more people who graciously gave their time to help me think through it. I thank everyone who helped me and would most definitely help anyone else who is going through a similar decision!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stanford VS. Harvard (PART II)

The next few days, I reflected a lot on my visit to HBS and continued to speak with HBS professors, the Admissions Dean, alums of the program and students. They all had only great things to tell me and had pretty much sold me. I called my parents and told them about the visit and the many people I had spoken with and that I had made my decision to attend Harvard Business School for the next two years!

I was not even going to visit Stanford anymore. It was always up in the air because our collegiate Ultimate Frisbee team had one of our biggest tournaments during Stanford's Admit Weekend and as Co-Captain of the team, there simply was no way that I could miss it. Our team had come so far together that season (our most successful of all time) that I would not have let them down for anything. Thus, if I was going to visit the GSB in Palo Alto, it would have to be a personal visit on my own time. But, it didn't matter anymore. I was going to be a Harvard man. The concern I've had all my life that I didn't attend a college with a "prestigious" brand name was over because now I was going to attend HBS. There was just one last detail stopping me from signing the acceptance agreement. Before I finalized my HBS decision, I had emailed somebody from Stanford who knew both schools very intimately and asked if she would be willing to speak with me about the decision-making process. She said yes and we setup a phone conversation for a few days later. I would feel horrible if I emailed her back to tell her we didn't need to talk anymore because I chose Harvard. Thus, I decided to hold off on confirming HBS, until I at least spoke with this woman who graciously offered her time. I thought of that upcoming phone call as simply a polite formality, but it turned into something that would alter my life's journey and send me to the West Coast for good (well, at least the next two years).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Stanford VS. Harvard (PART I)

Most of my friends and family can attest to the immense difficulty I had in choosing between Harvard and Stanford for Business School. Both are, undeniably, amazing institutions and I am sure either could offer everything that I would ever need in an MBA. Having the decision fresh in my mind and having not begun my graduate school experience yet, I still often look back, wondering if I have made the right decision. How would my life be different if I would be getting ready to move to Cambridge in September rather than Palo Alto? When I was accepted into HBS and I shared the wonderful news with my friends and family, they were elated and proud and so was I. The three words, "Harvard Business School" could very well be the most powerful short phrase any resume' could possibly contain in terms of opening doors and gaining instant credibility. They have no problem proudly stating that their alumni network is THE most powerful alumni network in the world; full of investment bankers, rich politicians, hedge fund managers, and captains of industry. As far as business schools are concerned, HBS is the epitome of prestige- and accepted applicants are fully aware of all these factors. Thus, the rate of accepted HBS students choosing to attend the Cambridge Palace is almost 90%! That's right, 9 out of 10 people who get in, choose HBS over every other program they were accepted into.

I was amazed with all of these things as well and when I visited campus during their admit weekend, it was hard to not sign up right there. The HBS campus is almost indescribable! Everything about it is top class, from the classrooms to the food services to the giant gym facilities. Even the grass was groomed perfectly on every inch of the lawn. I had heard that HBS was incredible, but this was truly astonishing. I met with other admitted students, who were mostly already vastly successful and wanting to build on that. I heard faculty members speak and had the opportunity to personally interact with them as well. Saying that they were THE elite members of the academic world of business would be an understatement. Classes, faculty, people, facilities, and prestige were all at the top of the scale and I found myself continuously being in awe of my surroundings.

A peer once asked me, "If you get into HBS, how could you possibly choose anywhere else?"

Throughout the weekend as I strolled through the HBS grounds and the events of admitted student weekend, I found myself asking the same question.

"How can I possibly choose anywhere else???"

(to be continued...)