Archive for the ‘Business School’ Category

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“It’s time to let go of childish things…”

In Business School,Life on June 14, 2011 by thebetweenthoughts

When I re-started my blogging career I had promised more frequent postings.  Considering that I have not submitted a post in over two months, I believe I may have failed on that promise.  Sorry ’bout that.

I am not going to make excuses about my lack of content on this site, but I do have to say it has been a busy time for me.  Two years of business school finished up.  Employment uncertainty has finally been settled.  And I am on the cusp of a new phase of my life.  Once again, no excuse for my failed promise but I just want you to understand the contextual factors at play.

Is it time to become an adult?

It’s been nearly five years since I moved to New York City.  When I made the decision to move, the driving factor was my desire to write.  [We all know how that has turned out.  Of course, depending on your opinion of stand-up comedy as a creative pursuit, I may have somewhat succeeded in that endeavor.]  The other less publicized factor was that I wanted to leave behind the corporate life that had consumed me since graduating college.  I needed a break from being an adult.  I needed a break from having any sort of accountability to anyone other than myself.  In the end, that’s what “adulthood” is all about – having responsibilities outside your personal sphere.  And so I went to New York, a city where you can act like a child as long as you want.  [I guess I could have done this anywhere, but New York allows you to act with such anonymity that responsibility and accountability never seem to take hold.]  And I did.  The first few years here are full of stories (documented in the old blog) of childishness and carefree activity.  The decision to enter business school was an admission that it was time to grow up.  [I know many of my business school colleagues would probably disagree with that statement.  For many, business school is an opportunity to party, travel and drink on the government’s dime while increasing their earning potential through two years of shallow academic activity.]  Business school was a way for me to re-acclimate to the corporate world.  To the world where money matters.

[Random sidenote: The old blog is officially gone.  I ended my previous account with Apple and erased my laptop without saving the old entries.  It was devastating at first realizing that four years of random musings were gone.  They were the musings of a different time.  Though they served as signposts of my intellectual development, they are nothing more than old thoughts.  Old thoughts that shape my current thinking, but old thoughts nonetheless.  As you can see, I’m still getting over it.  =P]

Now that business school has ended and I am back on the path to corporate success, is it time to stop being a child?  What do I need to leave behind to move on to the next phase of life?

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Job v. Career

In Business School,Life on April 11, 2011 by thebetweenthoughts

While talking to one of my classmates last Friday, we veered into the dreaded subject of what our plans were after school.  It’s always a delicate question at business school since you never know who is all set for the rest of their lives and who has failed horribly at recruiting (me!).  After that initial brush of awkwardness, we started talking about embarking on a career for the first time.  The expectation after attending graduate school (and in particular, a professional graduate school) is that you’ve finally chosen your career.  You’ve finally found the pursuit that will provide liberty, life and happiness.  It’s much different than your undergraduate years, where no one ever thinks that the first job taken lasts them a lifetime.

At almost 30 years of age, isn’t it about time to have a career?  I have bounced around the biotech world, the consulting profession, the nonprofit space and, currently, the banking industry.  Have I found a career path in any of this?  It doesn’t seem like it…not yet.  But aren’t I running out of time?  Am I afflicted with so much ADD that I’ll never be able to settle down on a career?

Like most people my age, we were told as children that we could be anything we wanted.  Unlike other eras, any opportunity was genuinely available for us.  Instead of embracing that opportunity and becoming a special generation, we focused instead on the “want” aspect of the lesson.  We didn’t know what we wanted.  We’ve been paralyzed by the options.  Numerous studies have pointed out our lack of loyalty at work.  I’m not sure if it’s loyalty that’s lacking, or if it’s just a lack of conviction.  We’re constantly hedging our bets and refusing to commit fully.  Instead of acting, we think…and think…and think.  [Of course, isn’t that what this blog is about?  Me…thinking and thinking and thinking…without ever resolving anything?]  Maybe that’s why a site like Facebook is so appealing to us, we’re able to engage in our thoughts without any real consequence of action.

A career sounds nice, but the reality of something so permanent is frightening.  Isn’t one of the major tenets of life that nothing lasts forever?  I’m not sure if I’m ready to choose yet.  My ready made excuse is that I enjoy “new” challenges, but we all know that I’m just scared.  Fear of the unknown pales in comparison to the fear of the known…especially a known that becomes more and more familiar over time.

;P

Articles

Scratch Pad!

In Business School,Comics,Life,Politics,Stand Up Comedy on March 22, 2011 by thebetweenthoughts

Introducing the Between Thoughts Scratch Pad!

This will be an online memo pad to scribble down the short bursts of inspiration that arise throughout the day.  Some of them will turn into longer blog postings, but some will probably stay misshapen thoughts.

Please join in!  Brainstorming was never easier…

;P

Articles

What is Value?

In Business School,Life on March 17, 2011 by thebetweenthoughts

Before business school, I thought I knew what the word “value” meant.  Value was how much something was worth to you.  Sometimes it was measured in dollar signs, but more often it was the general sense of satisfaction associated with an object or an experience.  I never really thought about quantifying that feeling.  Value was more of a binary question for me – either it existed or it did not.

Business school has essentially been a dissection of value.  But value only in the financial and business sense – firm value, customer value, shareholder value, value proposition, enterprise value, etc.  On the surface, this seems like the best definition of the term.  The end measurement, a monetary denomination, is clearly understood and is comparable across different subjects.  The process to obtain the measurement also seems clear and unambiguous – calculate the future cash flows of an asset and discount that amount by a risk-adjusted rate.  This superficial clarity is why this version of value seems to dominate all aspects of our lives.

As finance has come to dominate our economy, so has its theorems and ideals come to dominate our cultural mores.  Our value as human beings has been reduced to only being a product of what we can contribute (monetarily) in the future.  We readily accept this contract too.  When we’re offered a salary at a new job, they’re paying the monetary amount they believe they can extract from us discounted for time, productivity and attrition.  Our contributions to the firm can be expressed in the $50,000, $80,000 or $150,000 salary that is written on that offer sheet.  No more, no less.  Because work has become the dominant part of our lives, salary has become our only tangible measurement for value.  We have lost the ability to assess and respectfully accept any other forms of value.  How often have you met someone at a bar who sizes you up based on your job and title?  Did they care about your intelligence?  Maybe.  Did they care about your artistic aspirations?  Only if they were profitable.  Did they care about your sense of humor?  Probably not.

[Random aside about social returns – when we donate money to a cause, what are the expected returns?  Is the value solely derived from the act of giving?  Do we need to see the tangible outcomes of our dollars?  Do we view donations in the same way we vie w equity holdings?  If we don’t, why not?]

As I mentioned before, monetary measurement is easily understood and simple.  But it’s too simple.  By reducing people to dollar signs, we prevent ourselves from understanding the complete picture of value.  We can consciously change this though.  We all recognize the shallowness of viewing value in this form.  What is more difficult is shaking ourselves of the concept of “future contributions” when we value someone.

When a parent looks at her two children – one “destined” for success, the other destined for a life more mundane – does she unconsciously value them differently?  Will she shower one with more love, more attention?

Do we value friendships based on the future social returns?  Late night chats on the phone, holding your hair back when you puke, someone to play video games with.

When we look at someone, do we even care who they are at that moment?  Or are we only concerned with how they can contribute to our lives in the future?  Do we care about what they did yesterday, or only what they could do tomorrow?

If we have no value in the present, then does that mean our existence is meaningless?   Our value is based on what our potential is, not who we actually are.  The here and now doesn’t matter anymore.

It’s easy to casually disagree with these statements.  But think about the people around you, can you actually seem them for who they are?  Or do you start to think about the next time you’re having a drink with them?  The next time you’re going to call them and ask for advice.  The next time you’re playing basketball with them.  It’s all about next time.  We don’t know how to think about the present anymore.  We don’t know how to enjoy the present anymore.

[Random aside about this blog: For those of you unfamiliar with my writing, I tend to ask questions without ever answering them.  I guess this is my own way of succumbing to the fallacy of the future.  Questions are just contemplations on the future.  I shy away from declarative statements because they seem so permanent.  A question can hang in the air unanswered forever.  Once a statement is made, an opinion has been staked into the ground.]

So, what is value?  I’ve (hopefully) undermined the application of the financial definition to other aspects of life.  [I didn’t even go into why the financial definition is a shaky one even in financial terms.]  So then, how are we supposed to measure and assess the experiences in our life?  What methods and metrics are appropriate?  How do we know if a friend, an outing or a lover is valuable?

;P

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