November 2006

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November 2, 2006 R #

I found a new drawer of clothes this morning!!! I got bored of the clothes I've been wearing, and realized that I didn't know what was in the lower right drawer of my dresser (next to the lower left drawer I was looking through).

I met several prospective LFM's last night at an info session. I only got to meet and chat with them for a half hour before I had to split, but it was an eye opener. I've become accustomed to seeing faces among the Sloanies which are generally energetic and positive, but mixed with pressure to perform while in B-School. Talking with these prospectives, it was a contrast to see them in process of reaching to something they're excited about and believe is attainable. but not carrying a backlog of pressure. The prospectives are hoping they're "good enough" to be admitted to the program, whereas many of us presently slogging though our first semester are wondering if we really are good enough to be here. The difference between "hope" in the faces of the prospectives, and the "effort" in the faces of present students was something I didn't expect to see.

I would have to recall and evaluate my past experience further to confirm this, but it seems that the hope in people through the application process gets transformed into a seasoned confidence with all the "effort" required to make it through the first semester. Also, there is a marked difference between the demeanor of the second year and the first year Sloanies, and it will be interesting to be on that side of the fence next year and know what that difference is.

Quote of the day (yesterday) from a favorite LFM friend:

"Just before mid-terms I was thinking of quitting and moving to Africa."

One of the prospectives last night commented that he feels a little provincial because "so many of the people have such a diverse background, and all I've done for the past three years is live on a submarine." If living on a submarine for months on end doesn't bring a unique and valuable perspective to team dynamics and conflict resolution, I don't know what does.

It occurred to me that when we get into MIT Sloan, we find that all our classmates have such amazing experiences, that it becomes easy to wonder if we do stack up. if we really are "good enough" to be here. If we begin comparing our own experience to the collective experience of the whole, there is no way we're going to match up. The important thing is to learn what you bring to the group, offer that to others, and to learn all you can from what they bring to the group. We become more rounded by learning of others experiences as they share those experiences with us. Belonging at MIT Sloan, or in LFM, is not about "being good enough for the group", but about "bringing something good to the group."

I've also been interacting with a few Harvard Business School students through the MIT Astropreneurs Club, and it has been noteworthy to see the general difference between the confident demeanor HBS habitually exudes, compared to the relatively modest MIT Sloan demeanor. The faculty of each school consciously seeks to instill confidence and modesty to different degrees, and for different reasons. Whatever the causes are, it becomes clear that they succeed in the attitude they want to cultivate in their students.

I've commented several times that HBS classrooms, hands down, are run far more effectively than MIT Sloan classrooms (and Stanford classrooms from what I experienced). Looking back now, keeping in mind the different objectives in attitude cultivation, I recognize that the HBS case discussions are designed to make the students sound intelligent, impressive, and authoritative. HBS classrooms operate best when participants carry these characteristics. The MIT Sloan mix of theoretical lecture, and different style of case discussion, are designed to operate on a level of uncertainty motivating intelligent discussion. HBS thrives on confidence that you are intelligent, whereas MIT Sloan operates on intelligence to substantiate your confidence.

To illustrate this in the use of motto's...

HBS: "You know you're smart and talented, so lead on in full confidence, and lead fast! You'll accomplish your objective before anybody else learns that you didn't know how to do it when you started!"

I like that work style. It's fun. It's a style I learned from my Mom, and it has worked for me on many occasions.

MIT Sloan: "Only the paranoid survive." Borrowing from the Google Founders. (I think).

This style has been exemplified to me by my Dad. When dealing with a more complex operation or project, especially something of an engineering or logistical nature, and especially with heavy consequences for failure. this is by far the most valuable mindset to carry.

It seems to illustrate the saying "Whenever someone from Harvard wants to get something done, they go find and MIT grad to do it for them." It's a good interaction between the two schools. A successful venture needs highly talented people personifying each of these characteristics.

I would label the results of each as Dynamic Confidence (HBS) vs. Steady Confidence (MIT). The hope that new applicants carry in applying to these programs can be converted into either type of confidence.

Quote of the day, Today:
"Leadership: Getting people to do things they don't want to do, and making them feel happy about it."

Enough for today. Now off to study for my Organizational Processes mid-term.

I ended up scrambling this in my personal journal from a conversation and email from my little brother, and just thought it might be worth posting.

I had a conversation with Brandon the other night, stepping out from our Finance mid-term Review session. He picked right up onto the fund idea, and has a very realistic view of the idea, the challenges, and so forth. He wrote an email with his thoughts on making a profit, and what is or is not morally correct in that aspect. Like me, he is very aware of his motivations for his actions. He is evaluating them, and as he does so, he will develop his moral foundation. That moral foundation can only be developed through time, but when it is developed, it gives you a strong foundation and driving force. For the most part, I feel that I have developed much of my moral foundation, and I have fleshed it out to understand it. There are still aspects that I don't understand, and there will always be new applications where I will need to evaluate the application in light of my moral foundation, but I have searched and formulated much of that foundation. To have that foundation developed is an advantage that leaves me free to execute at this point. and to execute with the moral confidence I want / need. Jim Denny from yesterday, and many leaders before him, say the most important thing for a leader is to "know yourself." It takes time and focused though to learn yourself, and that is what Brandon is doing. He is learning himself. It takes time and experience to sort out the discrepancies between what you are told is the virtue and quality in yourself, and to really learn what is the virtue and quality in yourself; to differentiate between what you are told is "good," and to learn what you intrinsically value as "good."

November 9, 2006 R #

What NOT to say...

I thought I had learned most of the wrong things to say around a girl, but I keep inventing new blunders.

If you're dating a girl (or in my terminology, "spending a lot of time together"), and she is your "girlfriend", never, ever, refer to her as "some girl I'm spending a lot of time with."

So. this is my girlfriend!!! code name: Minovia. Yes, I'm absolutely in love with her. and yes, she is absolutely in love with me (it's a wonderful mode of interaction). We spend a lot of time together, but I don't think we act like a stupid lovey dovey couple, and we do get out plenty in larger social settings.

Using the "girlfriend" word is totally foreign for me. I never had to get comfortable saying "my girlfriend" because I wouldn't date a girl long enough for that to become an issue.

Well, Minovia and I have been under "girlfriend and boyfriend" conditions for a while now, and things are still going really, really well. that is, unless I thoughtlessly refer to her as "some girl I'm spending a lot of time with." Don't worry, she only stayed agitated by the comment long enough for me to realize it was the wrong thing to say (about 20 minutes. yes, I'm pretty slow).

But I'm going to pass the buck, claiming that my older brother is mostly to blame for deeply ingraining a negative association with that word. He would incessantly tease me about any girl interaction while I was growing up, so "girlfriend" was always associated with feeling embarrased. Then when Greg stopped teasing me, I was perturbed when guys used the object of a "girlfriend" as a self inflating medal of honor to show off that they were cool, or something insecure and stupid like that. So, I had no respect for guys using the phrase "girlfriend." Wife or FiancÚ were good labels because both seemed very personal and respectful. Girlfriend? Impersonal and disrespectful (especially when guys would say "the" girlfriend. I still hate "the" in front of girlfriend, wife, whatever. terribly disrespectful. in my preception.) When a girl claimed to be a guy's girlfriend, it always seemed happy and loving. When guys used it, it always seemed self congratulatory or constraining. I never wanted to be one of those disrespectful guys, and never wanted to treat any girl so disrespectfully. But. those were my perceptions. Apparently those perceptions are not shared by others. especially by Minovia.

But I still feel totally awkward using the title "girlfriend." So. I'm practicing. I'm trying to get used to using the word "girlfriend," and associating it with a complimentary meaning. Psychologically, it would be a lot easier to refer to her as my wife, because it would come across respectfully (in my mind). But it's only been a couple months, so even if things keep going as well as they have been, we still have a long time for being in this girlfriend and boyfriend status. so I guess I better get used to it. Such a hassle (but worth the effort).

For the record, I consciously haven't written anything about Minovia. I don't plan to write much about her on this blog. Nor do I plan to travel log our relationship. I'll just say she's a great girl, intrinsically happy, steady in her character, very talented, thoughtful, and I love her... a lot.

Warren Miller

The incident inspiring that last post occurred just after the Warren Miller 2006 ski season kickoff here in Boston. It was a blast, as always, anywhere in the country! Skiers are a good crowd.

And in spite of my bad luck in choice of words . I won free lift tickets!!! I've never won anything in a drawing before! We filled out the sheet in the magazine, and they pulled my name out of the box during intermission. I was stoked!

November 15, 2006 W #

Free Donuts!!!

I just got hooked up with a whole bag of free donuts!!! I love cool checkout girls when they're closing up Dunkin Donuts! and I didn't even have to ask!

Back to reading cases.

November 17, 2006 F #

Worst in Class

Here at MIT, I'm accomplishing things I never before dreamed of!!! I don't think I've ever before accomplished the feat of scoring at the absolute very bottom of the class, but in OP (Organizational Processes), I have done just that!

Score: 45
Class Avg: 75.7
Std Dev: 13.5

Two standard deviations below average places me in the bottom 2.5% of the class. In a class of 60 people, I numerically have to be at the very bottom.

The funny thing is, for the summer term I scored a mix of A's and A-'s, giving my MIT GPA an unblemished, perfect 5.0! I've never done that before either!

So... I don't get it? I was having a very difficult reading day when I had my OP mid term (it happens sometimes), and seriously doubted that I would even be able to read the case when I walked in the class... but I didn't think it was that bad. Oh well. I guess somebody has to be on the bottom of the pile. My other mid terms were a totally random mix. Econ put me 1.7 std dev's above average, and Accounting landed me right smack in the middle.

But don't worry. Minovia scored 1.7 std dev's above avg in her OP class, so as long as I can keep her around, she should be able to compensate for me.

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