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Oxford (Said) MBA Admission and Related Blogs!

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Joined: 19 Feb 2015
Posts: 113

Kudos [?]: 4 [0], given: 0

Concentration: Marketing, Technology
GRE 1: 320 Q159 V161
GPA: 3.49
WE: Sales (Advertising and PR)
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New post 29 Jul 2016, 14:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: London – The BEst Kept Secret
London is the best kept secret of the corporate world. It is English speaking and time delayed by only 5 hours. That means when London goes home at 5, San Francisco is just heading into work providing you with coverage from coast to continent for 16 hrs a day.

London also is filled with productive employees who work hard but also realize, down to their bones, that work does not define them. They are more than ready to take off by 7pm and leave their laptops at the office. For context I once HD a job in DC literally a 12 minute walk from home. I was required to bring my laptop home.

Londoners also have a realism when it comes to relaxing with coworkers. Within 2 days on the job I knew my coworker was dating a “free spirited artist” and that his drink of choice was a lager.

He and I had had a handful of lunches together (Sad desk lunch is discouraged) and I know he values evening time with friends over morning time.

London work life gives you the flexibility you need to work and live.

London also recognizes the value in taking serious conversations about performance out of the office environment where a desk gets in the way of honesty. Instead they have them at the pub just downstairs.

The London work environment is rigorous and is hard work, but it manages to produce amazing work without sucking your soul away like NYC and to be honest, all of the US professional services.

I’m feeling very grateful for the chance to work here and look forward to my next review with my manager, this time over a Guinness.

 

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Joined: 19 Feb 2015
Posts: 113

Kudos [?]: 4 [0], given: 0

Concentration: Marketing, Technology
GRE 1: 320 Q159 V161
GPA: 3.49
WE: Sales (Advertising and PR)
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New post 30 Jul 2016, 09:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Trump – Media Manipulator
Donald Trump won the GOP Primary because he manipulated the media each and every day. I’ve had this thought in my head for a while but it came back to me this week as I was sitting on the tube reading the 2012 book Trust Me; I’m Lying the confessions of media manipulator Ryan Holiday the former CMO of American Apparel.

The book details the economic incentives that drive bloggers and the online news cycle of clickbait articles and scandal and how the author has used them time and time again to dominate media coverage and garner support for his clients. Holiday worked under the same media philosophy that Trump does, All press is good press. Especially in a world saturated by media where the worst thing is obscurity.

I’ve lived in this world so it took me a while to read this book, but for those who haven’t had the curtain pulled back Holiday does so succinctly in this paragraph:

“A portion of the advertising on blogs is sold directly by the publisher, a portion is sold by sales reps who work on commission, and the rest is sold by advertising networks that specialize in the remaining inventory. Regardless of who sells it or who buys it, what matters is that every ad impression on a site is monetized, if only for a few pennies. Each and every pageview is money in the pocket of the publisher.”

While 4 years old, this book remains relevant as the situation has only gotten worse. With the NYTimes selling articles to advertisers the entire publishing world has become consumed with getting traffic to its pages to resell as ads.

Because of this, it is relatively simple to manipulate the press and thus public opinion. Donald Trump is a master at this. He knew that as long as the story was focused on him then it would take the focus away from his opponents. If he wanted to take over 3 days worth of news, just simply say an absurdity and then either walk it back or enjoy the flocks of people with whom that rhetoric resonates with.

The purest example of this is that the day Ted Cruz overtook Trump in Iowa by 10 points in polling Donald Trump announced a plan to ban all muslims from entering the country. Trump knew that if he stayed silent the news would be incentivized to focus on Cruz’s surge. Instead he gave them a juicier story guaranteed to steal the attention and for which editors would get the clicks they needed.

If you are an editor which do you care about more, the truth that is boring or a sensational story that will boost your ratings? This isn’t a new phenomena as Ed Murrow once famously stated:

“If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, there would be a considerable number of stations which would decline to carry it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable.”

While this isn’t new, the media is today being manipulated to promote a xenophobe. We can change that by installing AdBlockers and paying for quality news. By disavowing Trump for the xenophobe he is but also anyone who supports his xenophobic philosophy.

Ryan Holiday concludes his book with this paragraph and it is how I will leave you today.

“You cannot have your news instantly and have it done well. You cannot have your news reduced to 140 characters or less without losing large parts of it. You cannot manipulate the news but not expect it to be manipulated against you. You cannot have your news for free; you can only obscure the costs. If, as a culture, we can learn this lesson, and if we can learn to love the hard work, we will save ourselves much trouble and collateral damage. We must remember: There is no easy way.”

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New post 31 Jul 2016, 12:01
FROM Whiplasher - Current Student: The Startup of You
The Startup of You by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha is a book that was released back in 2012. It was quite popular right around the time I started my MBA (was on several MBA reading lists) but I had not gotten around to reading it until now. I read it mostly for the content on networking and I will get to that in a bit.

As the title suggests, the central premise of the book is that in today’s fast changing business environment, one should think of oneself as a startup and act accordingly. I found the chapter on developing a competitive advantage quite interesting. As a PM, when I work with my team to find the right positioning statement,  we use a template such as “Because of [x,y, and z] our product does [a,b,and c] better than our competitors. The authors suggest applying that template to ourselves to see how we are positioned. If you are not able to, then it may be time to develop a competitive advantage. What is a competitive advantage? It’s a mix of your assets, aspirations and market realities.

At the end of every chapter is a nice summary of the chapter along with short and long term things that the reader can do to benefit from the chapter. For instance, on the competitive advantage chapter, the reader is asked to come up with a competitive advantage statement (I’m still working to acquire the skills to be be able to write the one I want. They also offer suggestions on discovering your assets such as talking to your co-workers or friends or looking at Linkedin profiles of similar people for inspiration.

“Chapter 4: It takes a network”, was the one that I was looking forward to the most as Reid Hoffman’s started Linkedin as a bet on the importance of networks. The chapter first explained the different types of networks and their benefits. This material was similar to the strong and weak ties that I first encountered during the Strategy and Innovation elective  during my MBA. For the uninitiated, strong ties are close relationships i.e people who you can turn to for advice and who will always back you. Weak ties on the other hand are acquaintances who will expose you to information that you would not discover by yourself. Both are essential for a thriving career as together they make you better and help you land new opportunities.

While I have built a few strong ties at work, I am lagging on the weak ties. I suspect this is true of most introverts. In the past, I had tended to dismiss this by telling myself that networking was inauthentic and slimy. Hoffman suggests that to get over this, you think of networking as a two way street i.e you are looking to help the other person just as you hope that they will help you. By first focussing on how you can help the other person, your mindset should change from “What’s in it for me?” to “What’s in it for us?”. There is also a lot of good advice on maintaining a network which I found quite interesting especially the concept of ‘gifts’. Btw, one hack for introverts that I got from the S&I course was to build strong relations with at least one ‘broker’ i.e a person who is a good networker. This person can then introduce you to their vast network of weak ties.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s a quick read and nothing dense, it’s mostly common sense if you really think about it. Like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, this is not a book to read and move on, it’s highly recommended to note down some of the points listed at the back of each chapter and take the recommened action.

Note: I plan to continue with a few more blog posts that deal with general career advice. This will be based on advice that I have read over the last few years and some of the mistakes I have made in my career. Look for them in the next few weeks.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 31 Jul 2016, 14:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Mornings are for Adults
You can say many things about me except one. I am not a morning person. Unless by morning you mean about 10am.

That being said, this morning the sun woke me up I felt energized. After doing some reading and catching up on emails and texts, I felt the need to do something else uncharacteristic. I put on my shoes and went for a run. I’ve never really enjoyed running but if I’m going to do it I need a view.

Now where I live is nice but there isn’t really a good place to run that isn’t just houses and neighborhood. So instead I walked 20 minutes planning on running a 1 mile route around a garden nearby.

As I get near the garden I realize I’m just another 5 minute walk from Kensington Palace so I keep walking.

‘I made it all the way to the palace so I might as well put it to good use’ I tell myself and so I find a route and end up running a 5k.

Towards the end of my run I realize the pure insanity of this. Me. David Baker. Who hates mornings and running just voluntarily woke up early and accidentally ran 5k. WHAT!

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It was at this point that I passed alongside this statue and realized what has happened. I’ve grown up. This morning I woke up and behaved like a responsible adult and in doing so went to the birthplace of Peter Pan so I could be reminded of that fact.

I’ve been blessed to live in a fantasy world of school for the past year but that has ended, it’s time for me to put away my childish irresponsibility while keeping my childlike sense of learning. It’s time for me to wake up while still appreciating all around me like this view I caught on my run.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 01 Aug 2016, 16:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Finding Energy Without Carbs
I’m sorry that today’s post is not a real post. I wrote something for today but it isn’t quite ready yet but I hope it will be soon. Instead rather than not post, I’m writing this. And rather than be nothing, I’ll talk about food. I love food so much. Especially Pasta, Pizza, Burgers, Rice, basically all carbs. Its one main reason why I have a spare tire these days.

In the UK I’ve justified it because at least there are no preservatives and I do a lot of walking and its worked. I’ve been able to maintain my weight while upping my carby foods. Today I ate no carbs. I had some Shakshuka for breakfast instead of my usual breakfast tacos. I had a Chipotle substitute with no tortilla and veggies instead of rice. I snacked on almonds and carrots and an apple and for dinner I made stir fry with Cauliflower rice.

I’ve had headaches all day and my energy was really low until I had that snack. Maybe I’m not cut out for this adulting thing in the end. However, I think I might be and I’m going to keep it up. I’m not being crazy about 0-carbs or Only whole-grains. Its more recognizing that when I have a choice, consciously choosing the healthier option and recognizing the value of that.

Don’t worry, I don’t think I could make a diet that didn’t have my cookies in them so those won’t be going anywhere.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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WE: Sales (Advertising and PR)
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New post 02 Aug 2016, 16:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: The Past is Providential
Sometimes, what you are trying to run away from – catches up to you. My dad is a mining engineer by training and a serial entrepreneur by passion. Following a divorce and a rough & rocky relationship with my dad, I made it clear that I was NOT going to enter the family business, I was not going to ever work for my dad and nor would I be involved with mining. I was so adamant about this that Freshman year of college I declared my major as Pre-Dentistry because it was the furthest thing from mining I could think of. That and I’d always had an affinity to the character of Hermy the Elf

I’ve since moved on from dentistry and ran into a half-dozen other majors before finding a passion for politics. My brothers, on the other hand have all worked for my Dad. I escaped to the safe refuge of Politics which is known for its low divorce rate (HA!) and thought I was all set.

Then I saw how almost all of the people I respected had an MBA and so I looked into it. At first I was repulsed because I didn’t want to become the entrepreneur that my Dad was and wanted to avoid “business” as much as I could because of it. Eventually I got over that but only after starting my own consulting firm!

This week, while working on my main client for this internship, I was placed onto an internal project related to Mining. I just about died from the humor of the situation. In the end I reached out to my Dad and my brother to pick their brains and as I tried to recall all of the endless stories I’d heard over the years. They were more than happy to share and jog my mind which wasn’t paying all that much attention the first time around.

In the end, the value & insight I was able to bring to bear on the project was only because of my past. I’ve spent a long time running away from what I’ve been. From Mormonism to Mining. Today I had my view reenforced, my view that all of life’s experiences have value – even if it takes you a while to see it.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 03 Aug 2016, 16:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Brace for Feedback
The greatest gift you can receive is the gift of honest feedback. It may not feel great and hell it can downright hurt sometimes, but it is a gift and it is worth remembering that.

Feedback gives you a point of view on your blindspots and gives you the opportunity to improve, but you have to be ready and open to it. I’ve spent a lot of time this year getting comfortable with myself and constantly checking my ego.

After all, I have accomplished a lot in my few short years. From surviving BYU to leading comms for an LGBT non-profit. From being invited as a guest lecturer to debating at the Oxford Union. From helping a documentary get to Sundance, being recognized on the earnings call for Google, fencing at the Junior Olympics and performing at the Kennedy Center. To getting into Oxford and interning in London.

On the other hand throughout my life I have been fired, expelled (twice), rejected again and again and again. I’ve been called names and lost friendships. I’ve bailed on commitments to others and to myself. I constantly find myself in a position of doubt, of feeling like an impostor.

Feedback gives you the lens by which you can really see how you are doing. Last night I got some feedback on an evening call with my manager. It was something small and was really a misunderstanding on my part. What was interesting is that my manager told me, essentially “Don’t worry David, I’m not being critical.” The subtext being don’t think this means you aren’t going to get hired at the end of this internship, I’m just trying to redirect the work.

I had to tell my manager “You don’t know me that well yet, but once you get to know me you’ll see that this is exactly what I needed.”

This wasn’t always the case, but because I was in a position to receive feedback and be open to actioning it I was able to apply her feedback on something specific and apply it to a different piece of work entirely helping to improve what we were doing.

The only reason I was able to be so open to this feedback was because I’ve spent time constantly riding the balance between the under-qualified and the over-confident versions of myself. And that was because of the amount I’ve been reading in order to learn from others. In one book a quote from Anne Lamott was included that stood out so much that I have a simple note alongside the passage that reads “Shit this is accurate.” In keeping the imagery she evokes in the front of my mind I have remained open to feedback and learning without being paralyzed by fear. I’ll leave you with the passage because shit, it is accurate.

“If you are not careful, station KFKD (K-****) will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo. Out of the right speaker in your inner ear will come the endless stream of self-aggrandizement, the recitation of one’s specialness, of how much more open and gifted and brilliant and knowing and misunderstood and humble one is. Out of the left speaker will be the rap songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn’t do well, of all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime, the doubt, the assertion that everything that one touches turns to shit, that one doesn’t do relationships well, that one is in every way a fraud, incapable of selfless love, that one had no talent or insight, and on and on and on.”

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 04 Aug 2016, 15:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Tube Trouble!
Imagine being packed into a sardine can shoulder-to-shoulder with hot air blowing on you despite the heat outside. Add in egregious noise and remove all manners. That is your typical peak London commute.

Thankfully during this internship I have been lucky enough to travel at less-peak times. I try to get into work early and I leave a bit later for many reasons (but definitely not trying to be THAT Intern). Door-to-door my commute is 40 minutes assuming I catch the train just right. I walk to the tube, hop on one-line and sit down for a dozen stops, and then walk to work. Most days. I’ve used this system to get through 4 books this summer.

Some days I get finished with a meeting at the client site and we decide to leave and go home to finish somethings up. At 5:30pm at a central tube stop that mixes tourists and commuters. That requires me to transfer lines, take a bus, or walk 25 minutes. Literally I had to queue up outside the station to get into the station. I may have been able to walk home faster than it took to get into the station. And then when I finally got onto a train the elbows digging into my kidneys were just unacceptable.

Is this how it normally is? My experience so far has only really been DC & SF which is crowded but only this bad for things like the inauguration, pride, and that time Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert took over the National Mall. It honestly shaped my entire view on London in an instant. Enough that I am going to work as hard as I can to live on the same line as my work or close enough to it that I don’t have to transfer. Or better yet, somewhere I can walk to work in a not unreasonable amount of time.

It may end up being expensive but it is going to be worth it. … assuming I get the job, take the job, and can get a visa in this crazy world we are now living in.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 05 Aug 2016, 10:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Women in the Workplace
In the class of 16 people, 9 were women 8 were men. Throughout the day 46 questions were asked by the men. 6 by the women.

This isn’t some grand social experiment, this is what I observed as a member of that class on my first day on my internship. I literally started keeping track because it was very clear that gender ratios had been kept in mind (awesome) for this group of undergraduates and MBAs however the men were still dominating the conversation. In fact, of the 6 questions asked by women that day, 3 were to another female presenter and 2 were to our internship manager whom we’d met already several times.

What is it about our society that pushes men to be more vocal and women to be more quiet – even in a highly selected group of high performers who represented the top 1% of almost 2,000 applicants?

As I’ve worked here for the past few weeks I’ve kept that question in the back of my mind and shared my observations with a few in the class as well. What is interesting to see is how this shakes out the higher up you look – and this applies to most any firm.

The higher up you go the more you find the women who have conformed to the male-role of asking questions. On one team I had a junior female team mate who at first wasn’t asserting herself into the conversation to ask questions until she gained a familiarity and had built a relationship with the person speaking, unless the person she was talking to was another woman.

Conversely on a different project I have a senior female member who has no qualms about speaking her mind and jumping in to ask the same questions and generally exuding the same behavior that I’d expect from men.

Today we met one of the few female partners in the firm and she is one of the first examples of where I’ve seen someone who balances the two different styles.

I don’t have a magic answer for this observation but as a white male I have a responsibility to ensure that women (and other minorities) are provided with an environment where their talents can come through and not where they have to force themselves into a box. I am by no means perfect at this but I wouldn’t have even thought about this question without several rounds of unconscious bias training and in particular this video from my friend Marie-Anne. Give it a watch.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 06 Aug 2016, 19:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Showing Up
95% of life is simply showing up and being open to experiences.

I am currently reading Michael Lewis’ book about the 1996 Republican Primaries and his log of following the candidates around. What struck me is that the access he was given was largely due to happenstance where he recognized the right person and said something.

What is striking is how much he I’ve seen this in my own life. For instance, today I spent the day with a friend who lives in Naples, Italy but who was up in London for the weekend. I met him at an Easter brunch this year through a friend who I met originally at the Detroit airport Delta lounge. Had I not been willing to chat, I would never have visited Italy when I did and would never have met these people in my life.

Just a couple weeks ago, in the span of a week I met three different groups of women in London who I struck up conversations with. Ultimately we all ended up sharing some Prosecco and getting to know each other. That only happened because I introduced myself to them for one reason or another.

And way back in 2009 I showed up to a political chat event and went to the networking event after. It was at that event that I met one of my best friends. Over the course of our friendship we have helped each other get jobs, traveled to Ireland and Stockholm and soon Montreal together. He has been there when tragedy has struck and when celebration is called for. Had I not shown up we wouldn’t have met.

There are definitely days when I want to just sit at home, watch TV or read a book, and talk to no one. But then I think of the opportunities I’d miss out on and I more often than not, I find myself out of my house and open to something new.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 07 Aug 2016, 15:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Why Fencers are Great Strategy Consultants
Fencers are great strategists both on and off the piste.

I just finished watching the gold-medal bout of men’s foil fencing having watched the bouts all afternoon. As I sat here in my London flat watching olympic fencing I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to my own life. After all I may not have been Team USA material, I did fence at Nationals and the Junior Olympics during my short fencing career.

What is interesting to me is how successful (American) fencers are which when I stopped to think about it made sense. The top fencing programs in the US are all at Ivy-league schools – not big state schools. Which means that in addition to being athletic, competitive fencers also have to be whip-smart. And when you think about it – while they may not be smarter than others, they end up being faster. This is because fencers spend all day outwitting an opponent who is traveling at 90 mph.

Fencers are able to take what just happened in an action, process it, and then respond immediately. The fencers at the top also respond correctly. They are able to take mistakes in stride and deal with failure and ambiguous situations. And they know how to understand and utilize the rules of a situation to their favor.

All of these skills are critical in a business function.  What is also interesting is how often you’ll find a few key books on a fencer’s reading list. The Art of War, The Book of 5 Rings, On War, and The Prince  – books that form the foundation of the business strategy literature. This is because coaches keep pushing fencers to think strategically about each action, each bout, each practice, each tournament, each season. And these books end up being seen on the same tables that sell extra blades or t-shirts at various tournaments.

Fencers also make good strategists because they know remain a student. At my first tournament my coach told me simply – “David, today you are cannon fodder; you will lose every bout and that is exactly why you are here.” He was wrong – I won my first bout due to dumb luck but lost everything else. But I didn’t quit, I didn’t give up, I was energized by it. I knew that I could be much better than I was but only if I admitted that I didn’t know anything. That mentality has stuck with me throughout the years and is a critical factor for success in business today.

I am excited to be at Deloitte where US Olympic fencer Gerek Meinhardt will be returning to after Rio. I am excited that the skills I learned through my years of fencing have value in the workplace.

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New post 08 Aug 2016, 15:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Salt & Pepper Wakeup Call
“David, How do you have so much fun when you are so old?”

My heart sunk down to my toes and in the abyss I could feel the heat of anger at such an accusation.

“OLD? …. OLD!!?!! First off how old do you think I am and Second why do you think that means I have less fun?”

At this point the undergraduate intern had realized her mistake and tried to backpedal graciously by stating “Your like what? 21? 22?”

I could not deal with the conversation any longer. The following week this story was brought back up and in an attempt at defending herself she brushed the side of my head and said “Well you do have some grey hair here.”

Oooooooooh Child! – I had a talking to with her and told her a simple story that text doesn’t fully capture so I shan’t try. That was on friday evening.

Today at work, disaster struck.

After fixing my hair in the bathroom mirror I caught the light reflecting back into my eye.

“No, it couldn’t be. …. It couldn’t be. NO!”

I had seen it. No not the salt & pepper in my hair that the intern had rightly called out. Salt & pepper in my mustache. I felt an ugly, Luke Skywalker-esque yell swell within me. I held it back but I still feel it rising up.

I AM getting old(er). I had originally grown the beard to help play up my age, now it was happening all by itself.

Last week I wrote all about my childishness and adulting, but it wasn’t until today that I felt the wake-up call. I don’t have a plan yet and probably won’t write about it here because that statistically means it’s less likely to come true. But after I figure out what my next job is and where I’m living beyond mid-September, I’m going to whip myself into shape and start taking care of my body.

I’ll still have fun despite the erroneous thoughts of my friend, but I’ll work to do it more healthily for certain.

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New post 09 Aug 2016, 16:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Stay a Student
Aha! Eureka! The Flash of inspiration or insight. Sometimes it just hits you and you suddenly find a solution to a problem you’ve been working over in the back of your mind.

I absolutely LOVE this feeling and it happened just last night as I was trying to figure out how to build a presentation and make it rock. You see we have to give a presentation in front of the entire internship class and a panel of judges on what we did this summer. Its all very formulaic and pretty simple to do okay at. But its me, I want to do really well!

It had been on my mind since Friday night when someone had overheard my telling of a story to the intern who called me old. They were drawn in by it and mentioned that they hoped I gave that good of a performance during my presentation.

Since Friday its been on my mind … how can I give a meaningful presentation that works. I’d stared at the problem directly for far too long, chatted with a few people about it, and even sat trying to think about it from a new angle.

It wasn’t until I was working on something else and I heard a vocal track in a song I was listening to. The vocal was sampled from Missy Elliot’s Work It and the line was her “Flip it, Reverse it”.

Something about that lyric made a connection to the problem that had been on my mind. I started to run with that concept. I had to flip the expectations and reverse the way I presented at the event.

The formula had been very much – Agenda, Cases you worked on, what you did, what you learned, What you enjoyed over the internship with the goal of the judges to evaluate our ability to build and then present a 7-10 minute powerpoint.

I am going to flip this, and reverse it; leaning on the great resource of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” as I rebuilt the entire narrative around why I am on the internship to begin with. I am going to communicate this why by starting with a personal story that frames the Why and draws he listeners in. I’ll be using techniques of story telling I learned this year from Simon Bucknell who presented to us three times at Oxford on telling stories in business. I’ll lean on Margot Leitman’s book “Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need” that I took the time to read this year as well.

At the end of the day the slides I built and the content in the middle is very similar to before I had this flash of inspiration. However now it has a consistent theme that would never have happened had I not had this flash of inspiration. Had I not been pushing to make the presentation better, had I not been pushing myself to learn more from great teachers, and had I not been constantly reading whenever I find a spare minute.

I’ve had this flash over a hundred times and what is key is that it always interlinks things I’ve had in my mind recently or that I learned a long time ago. My brain skips a synapse and makes a new connection to material in my head and helps me make it better. This only happens when I keep my mind open and I’ve got a problem in the back of my mind that needs to be solved. It is a constant reminder that I need to stay a student in order to keep making things better.

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New post 10 Aug 2016, 15:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: A Cry for Peace
In a year of xenophobia and hatred, we have come together in the spirit of humanity. I have spent all year watching Donald Trump creep closer and closer to destroying America. I spent passed the year working on my MBA trying to stay out of Republican politics and instead focusing on figuring out what I stand for and what I am willing to fight for.

Over the past months I took a bigger step outside myself an acknowledged that the pain and frustration I felt as haters throw judgements at me for being Gay & Mormon are the same if not easier than the pain and anguish that my friends hear hurled at them from positions of power.

I’ve spent a year being an immigrant in a country who had a major talking point during their last election all about kicking out the immigrants. I joke that I’m here to take their jobs but I see with greater clarity the danger that xenophobia has created.

That is why I am so happy that we have come together for yet another Olympic Games which were founded with the purpose of promoting peace and unity within the international community through the medium of sports. We get to gather together and celebrate humanity in all its forms. The only thing separating athletes is the flags they wear.

No one is afraid of Simone Biles because she is black but because she is America’s Princess FIERCE! No one is afraid that Tom Daley is gay, they are hopeful that he has a chance to bring #TeamGB a gold medal. No one is afraid of Rafaela Silva because she came from the favelas but because she could kick your butt in Judo. No one is afraid of Ibtihaj Muhammad because she wears a hijab but because she can fly down 14 meters of a piste with a sabre in her hand.

Most impressive of all is that no one is afraid that the Refugee team is going to bring secret ISIS agents but rather are inspired that we have a refugee team who represents the 21 million displaced human beings.

The Olympics are a time to put away racism. To put aside xenophobia. To silence the jingoists. Yes it is a time for intense nationalistic pride, but not because we think we are ordained by God with something unique, because – on a level playing field – we have a chance to outperform, outlast, outgun our fellow human beings. Lets keep the spirit of the Olympics going in our hearts and in our words.

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New post 11 Aug 2016, 16:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Privileged to Be Here.
Today I am grateful for the privilege based on the country and family I was born into. I may have had my challenges – and they were very real challenges – but today I was reminded in such a stark contrast how much different my life could have been.

I finished up a day of work and headed out to a happy hour networking event for LGBT employees of my firm as well as some of the other firms nearby. An opportunity to get to know other LGBT workers in the area and perhaps do a bit of flirting. Its pretty standard and at this point in my life I’ve done far too many of these events to consider.

That being said, I’m looking to make new friends who have similar interests in a new city – its a great place to chat and meet people so obviously I went.

At the risk of sounding like a power-player gay I also – following that event – had another LGBT networking event. This one was for the Young Professionals for Equality Committee. YPEC is a part of OutRight International an organization that works with LGBT groups on the ground in local communities and hostile countries to save lives however they can.

I got involved with YPEC & OutRight following an event where I heard the Executive Director tell the story of how OutRight helped save 2 gay men from being thrown off a roof by ISIS. Tonight we heard from a handful of speakers including an Academic, a UK-based International HIV organization and Becki.

Becki is from Ethiopia and he goes by Becki in the LGBT world because it isn’t safe for him to use his real name. Becki and his friends have worked tirelessly in Ethiopia to push for the recognition of LGBT people. Full Stop. Literally to be recognized because the President tells the people that gay people do not exist in Ethiopia. And yet that is what they are preached to each week, and if arrested and convicted of being gay they have a potential 15 year prison sentence.

So Becki and his friends work to do what they can. Which at this point is to educate men who have sex with men that it is in fact possible to contract HIV through same-gender sex. Because they have only been told about the dangers of HIV transmission through straight-sex, they think it isn’t transmitted through gay sex. Because of this, these men don’t use condoms or lubricant and in fact they can’t really get either.

Becki came to us asking not for money, but for someone to help him build a website and a mobile app that can be translated and then shared so they can help get the word out. Becki and his friends are not trying to build an Underground Railroad to escape this world, but instead are working to build an Underground Safe haven.

I grew up with parents who love me for who I am and the privileges that comes from being born White, Male, and American. I owe it to Becki to donate more, to do more, and to engage as much as I can with groups like OutRight International.

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New post 12 Aug 2016, 12:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Analog Innovation
When I hear ‘Innovation’ my mind thinks ‘digital’. Maybe it’s because of the time I spent at Google or just in general the culture around start-ups but this is my default. I imagine a new website or app; maybe social integration or ratings into an application.

I think of a bed that manages my sleep from end to end. It measures my sleep, connects to my WiFi and controls the lights and temperature of my room to keep me in great sleep cycles. It might even control my laptop and shut it down so I can’t stay up late watching TV or my sound system to play calming white noise. That’s where my mind goes when I think innovation. A connected world.

But more often than not, innovation is much simpler than that. For razor blades it wasn’t a new Mach 7 Turbo Jet Glide by Gillette, but a simple ‘Our Blades are F***ing Great’ slogan and price point that made the Dollar Shave Club a $1 billion dollar acquisition this year.

One story I heard this week as a warning against consultants was about a toothpaste company who found they were shipping a handful of boxes without the tube of paste inside causing issues with their distributors. They hired some expensive management consultants to examine their operations and the team came up with a great system that weighed each box at the final stage of packaging. If a box was too light an alarm would chime and one of the line-workers was tasked with removing the package from the line.

After a few weeks the alarms stopped completely and the team was brought in to see why the new system wasn’t working. They checked the wiring, examined the logs, and finally spoke to the line-manager. He had been so frustrated by the alarm that he set up a large fan facing the line and it simply blew the boxes into a container if they were empty. It’s a simple and innovative solution that serves as a reminder to not over engineer a solution.

My favorite examples of this simple innovation happens in the men’s room. There are two key problems with Men’s room and they boil down to Splash Damage from the urinal. You could spend a lot of money designing a urinal that is mathematically calculated to reduce splash back no matter where the pressure is coming from.  … or you can put a small sticker of a target onto the bowl in a minimal splash zone and the problem is solved. Nothing makes it onto the floor and everyone is happy.

The second Men’s room innovation I love is found at the Georgetown Business School bathrooms where they have this simple design. Image
For the women readers let me assure you – the designer is a genius. Normally men have to decide between risking splash damage from using the child-urinal or standing far too close to a man’s private space. As a rule you should always leave 1 urinal between you and the next person. Sporting events being really the only exception.

This design solves that problem beautifully without the need for massive Japanese robot toilets that produce a privacy hologram or anything else digital. They simply solve the problem in way that has significant impact.

Innovation doesn’t have to be digital and in fact should be platform agnostic but all too often we get caught up in the shiny new gadget, the expensive weighing-alarm system or a mobile app. But in reality Innovation is just a way to solve a problem that is outside the standard process.

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New post 13 Aug 2016, 11:02
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Travelling
In the span of two years my worldview has completely changed. In July 2014 I took my first international trip as an adult. No family vacations for me. This was me and some friends travelling. I spent a week in London on my own spending way too much on a hotel and visiting Oxford – changing my life forever.

I then met up with my friends in Dublin and had a blast. I enjoyed that first trip but considered it exotic and the exception to the rule that I traveled domestically.

The next international trip I took was in December of that year after being encouraged and persuaded by some friends. I went to Italy to meet a friend I’d made on a domestic trip. I didn’t speak the language but knew enough Spanish to survive in Italian and had my friend as a tour guide. That was exactly the trip I needed following a rough October & November.

At that point I was hooked and followed it up with a flight to Costa Rica for my birthday in March of 2015 to learn how to surf and enjoy the jungle. I met new friends there and learned that I am terrible at surfing. I had a blast and the next month went back to the UK to visit Oxford again before making my call on the program.

At that point I took a few months off knowing I’d be leaving soon and traveled to LAX, SF, SEA, CHI, DFW, NYC, and home to SLC. But in September 2015 – just a little more than a year after my first trip – I moved to the UK.

I started to focus on school for the first semester but by December needed to travel. I went to Israel in December, spent New Years in France, Valentines in Greece, Easter in Italy, France again in April, Berlin in May, Scotland in June, and Sweden in July. Since December I have traveled to a different nation each month and it has been fantastic.

Traveling has exposed me to new cultures directly – in a way that meeting people from various places during the MBA couldn’t fully do. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for all humanity and it has really helped to solidify my stance against xenophobia that seems to be sweeping across Europe and the United States.

By now I am limited only by time and cheap flights and with my internship ending in 6 days I have the biggest trip of my life coming up. On the 19th I fly to Barcelona for an amazing friend’s Bachelor/ette party. On the 22nd I land in Tokyo and spend 4 days experiencing the first country where I can’t at least read the alphabet and try to piece things together. And on the 26th I take off and then land 3 hours earlier in Montreal for a best friend’s Bachelor party before flying home to London on the 29th. Around the world in <10 days and I couldn’t be more excited.

I just packed my one bag that will accommodate the beaches of Barcelona, the summit of Mt. Fuji, and the clubs of Montreal. Because in addition to getting better at seeing humanity all around me I’ve gotten better at packing light too.

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New post 14 Aug 2016, 03:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: GUNCLE David
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Today, August 14th, is Gay Uncles Day. As a proud gay uncle of 10 nieces and nephews I have been somewhat negligent in my duties. That being said my oldest niece is around 10 and the youngest just a little over a year old and I’ve been abroad at school and travelling! But last night, in honor of this auspicious day, I watched one of the greatest films of all time. Auntie Mame.

Auntie Mame is a 1958 film about a 10-yr old orphan who goes to live with his madcap Aunt in New York City. Auntie Mame quickly makes it her mission to give her nephew Patrick an education in culture and living and to fight against the menace of the knickerbocker bank who controls Patrick’s trust.

Mame’s love for her nephew is apparent throughout the film and serves as a high benchmark for all gay uncles to achieve. I hope that at some point I can play that role for my nieces and nephews. That I can be a home away from home filled with exotic travels and auspicious adventures.

I haven’t played my part that well yet but in the coming years I hope to do as Auntie Mame did and “Open doors you never even imagined existed” for my amazing nieces and nephews. After all, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

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New post 15 Aug 2016, 14:02
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Talking to Strangers
My internal mindset is a poor reflection of reality, particularly when it comes to myself. This creates a constant need for perspective that is reinforced every time someone calls me an extrovert.

Because to me, they guy who writes 500 words a day, who keeps his nose in a book, enjoys building spreadsheets to track my goals, who grew up with like 1 friend at a time and who literally played dungeons & dragons is a textbook introvert. But my friends and colleagues see a very different view.

They see David, first to raise his hand and ask (or answer) a question. David, ready to dive into a networking event and meet new people. David, unafraid to get called up onstage and draw/dance/sing etc at an event. David who tries to be everywhere and ends up being double or triple booked. They see a very outgoing and extroverted David.

What people don’t know is that I ask or answer a question because I want to understand even more. That I network well because I forced myself to go to events and not to leave until I got 1 person’s card … and then 2, and then 5. That I get up on stage in an attempt to not be called out for being the awkward wallflower. That I double-book myself so I can keep things surface level because *whoops, got to run*.

That being said, the more and more I experience other people and thing about my extroversion I find that my close friends are right. I am extroverted. I see it in the fact that I got up early and stood outside a polling place for 12 hours – literally talking to strangers about voting for my guy. That I went to rallies and made my voice heard. That I protested on the steps of the Supreme Court and went on camera for doing so. The fact that I do all this and as I do it more and more, gain energy from it.

Today I spent most of the day at a customer’s store approaching strangers and asking them to talk for a few minutes, asked them questions, got a feel for their experience, took notes and then moved on to ask someone else. Was I nervous in approaching people? Yes, who isn’t somewhat afraid of approaching the unknown. Did it paralyze me? Hell no. Did it energize me? Yes & No. In the moment I was energized. I was ready to go so much that during the lunch break I made friends with Kristos the Greek running the sandwich shop down the street to the point that if I worked there I could start becoming a loyal customer with a “usual” order in about a week. But when it was over, when we got on the train back to London and I stopped engaging with people I crashed hard.

But even now, 4 hours later, after time to level-out I find my base-level energy as being higher than it normally is. While I may have felt crashed (and mentally I was) when I did a mock interview tonight, the interviewer commented on my personality and emotiveness as a core reason why I would get the job (putting my mental farts aside).

Even writing this entry I feel empowered enough to hold off eating dinner and focus on this task. I guess what I’m saying is that my mental picture of myself doesn’t reflect reality. And it isn’t because the world doesn’t see why I do things, its because I don’t see what the world sees. The more I can see the truth instead of my own insecurities, the closer I can get to reality.

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New post 16 Aug 2016, 16:01
FROM Yudanashi - Current Student: Working Hard – Or Hardly Working
Sometimes you work a 14-hr day. You get in by 7.30 and get started and by noon you have to pivot and get something completely different ready for a client meeting the next morning. So you grab a conference room, a bottle of water, and plenty of paper and get to work building something from nothing.

Ego goes out the window and you defer to the account lead’s vision as you divide and conquer a 20-page presentation. You bond, joke, and get closer as a team. The fire alarm goes off cutting off precious time you could have been working together. You learn that the guy sitting next to you grew up 2-doors down from your adoptive Jewish mother in DC. You bond some more.

You eat a few meals together, yell at each other out of frustration a bit, and at the end of the day have a solid presentation that is 90% ready. Its 10:30 pm and you are exhausted. You order up an Uber and pull out your notebook to capture a few hundred words to the blog you’ve committed to writing each day. And then your Uber Driver hears that you are American and launches into an amazing celebration of America because of something Joe Biden said to the Iraqi PM about how they (both old men) were going to live to see a free Kurdistan.

He then goes into depth about the 30-yr war that has been raging in Syrian Kurdish lands and how the Kurds have established 3 free and democratic cantons (similar to the Swiss). He talks about how they have been fighting ISIS who controls the land between two cantons. He talks about his cousins who used to live in the Mountains and were given the slur “Mountain Turks” but who now reject that and proudly call themselves Kurds.

He talks about secret deals with Erdogan and Merkel to keep Kurs out of the EU press or else Turkey will release more refugees into the EU. He says “Kurdistan is coming, its a region that doesn’t care about your religion. Where voting is based not on ethnicity but on living there.” He is energized with the pride he feels in his nation and the captive audience he has writing down his every word. He says:

“I eat my pork, I drink my beer, I have my fun Image
and I don’t HAVE to go to Church.”

He tells me that every family of Kurds in Eastern Turkey has had a loved-one murdered or raped just because of their ethnicity. That this 30 years of violence has WOKE the rising generation who go meet up with resistance fighters as they are fueled by the hatred caused by these murders. – Yes he used the phrase #StayWoke.

He then tells me about the women of Syrian Kurdistan. The YPJ forces. The female battle units who are trained snipers who just this week helped liberate Manbji in northern Syria from ISIS control. One female solider said “It was complicated for us to save civilians from the area, but we did it. Terrorists are now fleeing. We will go after them no matter where they are heading to.” … We will go after them no matter where they are heading to. These are empowered women who, everywhere they go are leaving a trail of women who will #StayWoke behind them.

Women who have seen and survived ISIS and been liberated by other women who, by example show them that they can be strong and don’t have to take it any more. Women who sign up by the hundreds because they “take strength from YPJ fighters when we see them in the battle field.” The women who just this week burned their burqua and men who shaved their beards

The energy and passion and fight for his homeland reminded me of the Israeli women I met when I was in Tel Aviv. My college mate’s cousin who embodied the term sabra or tsabar. The Cactus that will stand there passively, but when attacked naturally fights back hard and tough and aggressive.

Its fitting then that when I looked up the Syrian Kurdish region one of the first articles I saw was about diplomatic channels opening up with the only other secular, democratic nation in the region, Israel.

I guess that sometimes you work a 14-hr day, think its over and then discover an entirely new and amazing story about an inspiring culture from a man so excited to share it. I could have shut down and asked him to instead turn up the radio. Instead I listened, took notes, gained a different perspective on the world and realized I’d been hardly working today.

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