Saturday, October 31, 2009


Party Last night I attended a Halloween party thrown by the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. What's creepy is that nobody was there -- I took pictures of the empty room, and when I looked at them, lo and behold, the room was full of ghastly spooks. Upon realizing this, I hastily evacuated the dance floor.*

Mike and I (pictured below) were a Spider-Man-esque devil and a cook in the cafeteria of a mime school respectively. (Sadly, Mike, in this photo, is wearing his mask on top of his head ... I guess I have no future as a photo-shoot director.)

Mike and JohnAnd we saw a wonderland of clever costumes, most of which I can't remember, since this was all of 10 hours ago. But let's see ... there was a Swiffer, Moby Dick, Marcia Brady, a beer pong** table, a cowboy on a horse, and Someone mentioned that it was "good to see [me] out." Point taken.

Today I'm going up to my brother's to go trick-or-treating with my nephews, despite this being a radically busy weekend work-wise. I will bring work and do some of it. I have to say this was a very enjoyable week at school, despite that it's much busier than I could ever have imagined.

*Not true. The party was populated with live people, and I like this picture.
**An immensely popular activity at Yale, for whatever reason.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm getting another roommate!

My best friend Matt was offered, and accepted, a job today with the Hartford Courant. He'll be moving up from Virginia in a couple weeks, and moving in with me and my roommate, Susan, who is also Matt's girlfriend.

This is absolutely fabulous news for all involved -- the news we've been waiting on the edge of our seats for. Here are five reasons I'm excited about Matt moving in:

1. I like to try new things. Matt and I have never lived together, although he spent nearly every waking moment at my apartment back in Corpus Christi. It's something we always wanted to do, and now we get to!

2. It will probably be good for me and Susan to get a little dose of the real outside world in our regular daily lives. Right now it's hard for us to stop studying. We'll still need to study, but a little bit of a "bad" influence may do us good.
Vinnie, a cat

3. Vinnie, the cat, will be happier. He needs more attention.

4. Matt was an accounting major and can help me with my Sourcing & Managing Funds homework.

5. My rent and utility costs will fall by 33%, and the savings come at a good time -- I need to get my New Zealand/Australia tickets pronto!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Unilever They are all Unilever products. I went to their corporate presentation yesterday and (a) scored some awesome swag, and (b) kept coming back around to this brand management idea. I'm so conflicted! When I'm at a marketing event, like a corporate presentation or alumni panel or even the Customer class, I really think it's for me. It's only in the cold light of day that I wonder if it's really really for me. But I think I'm coming around to at least thinking it would be a good idea to shoot for a big CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) internship this summer; it would be good for the resume, good experience, and I can see if I like it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quiz: What do these things have in common?

Quiz: What do these things have in common?

The answer will come tomorrow!

She won the Ecedemy Ewerd?

Here's a screen shot of a nice, relaxing game of hangman I was playing. And, yet, it was not a satisfying diversion, and if you look carefully, you'll see why. See it yet? Doesn't life sometimes feel like this? You're playing fair and trying earnestly to get the right answer, but you can't ever seem to get there, and then you realize it's because the game itself was flawed. (Don't read too much into that ...)

It's icky out

It's cold and nasty out there today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Negotation with captions

This is why I love Yale SOM and my classmates. I sent the photo from the last post to Max and Peter, and Max sent back this (click to enlarge if you can't read the small print):

I make an OK female basketball player

Max, Peter and John For our new Negotiations class, we were randomly assigned into groups of three to conduct a mock negotiation, and some groups were asked to videotape their meetings. Ours was one such group.

In the exercise, we were assigned roles. I was a basketball player (who the case describes as a female named Hoopster Hayden), and Peter (middle) was my agent. Max (left) was the general manager of a team, and, to make a long story short, the three of us were trying to agree upon one of five salary packages for me. (It is possible that some of our video could be shown in class, although I'm not convinced our negotiation was necessarily so exemplary.)

It was fun. I really enjoyed it. One issue I'm having with Negotiations in general, though, is that I don't gain any pleasure out of getting more than I think is fair; in fact, I actively don't like it. Some people would call this a problem -- "Oh, you could have negotiated for a higher salary," people will say, "or a better deal on such-and-such." Meh. I don't like to be bamboozled, obviously, but if I feel I can reasonably ascertain what's fair, then that's what I'd like to think I will argue for -- not what's best for me, if it's what's worst for the other guy.

For example, when I went from the Caller-Times to the Star-Telegram, and it came time to talk salary, I took what I was making at the Caller-Times, adjusted for the difference in cost of living (according to a Web site), and added 10%. And I presented that offer as exactly that: a calculation I thought was reasonable and fair. And that's what I got offered. Could I have gotten a better offer? I suppose, though probably not by much. And ultimately, I would rather just make an offer I think is fair and get it than feel like I'm pushing or tricking someone into giving me more money ... money that, really, amounts to peanuts in the grand scheme of things.

It's the same thing in this class. I understand that negotiation is an important skill, but I'm a real proponent of fairness, and of everyone feeling comfortable. Obviously not everyone always agrees on what's fair. But if we can agree that a solution is fair, then that's the solution that should be chosen.

In the exercise, that was my strategy. Beforehand, I did a few back-of-the-envelope calculations and determined which package was fairest for all three of us. Nobody disagreed with that. But, of course, the conversation didn't end there -- people want to push for what advantages them, even if they can't look you in the eye and deny your assessment of what's fair. And since I made my "fair" argument plainly from the beginning, I just stuck with it the whole time: "This is what's fair, period. If you don't agree it's fair, let's discuss that, but if you do agree it's fair, there's nothing else to say." I was unyielding, and in the end, we went with my original proposal.

Does that mean I "won"? Not at all -- in fact with some shrewdness and smarts I might have been able to argue for a better deal for myself. But I would rather go with what's equally best for everybody. Maybe that's not the head I need for business, but it's the head I was dealt.

Finally, a leisurely paced morning

CoffeeThe Class of 2011 at SOM is divided into four cohorts: Green, Silver, Gold and Blue. I am in Blue. Students take (almost) all their first-year courses with their cohort, and the schedule isn't up to us. Blue had the unlucky distinction last quarter of being the only cohort to have an 8:15 a.m. class every day; that's the earliest our classes convene. That meant that every morning was something of a dash, although I always made sure to leave enough time for breakfast, a shower and often a jog (and/or finishing homework for one of those 8:15 classes).

This quarter we Blues get a wonderful break, since we have an 8:15 a.m. class only two days a week (Monday and Wednesday). On Tuesday and Thursday, we don't have a class till 10. O happy day!! I hardly know what to do with myself.

The answer is read. I can already tell that this quarter really is going to be a killer. Observe. Here was my breakdown yesterday:

-- Waking up to 8:15: Jog, eat breakfast, shower, brush up on a case we were to prepare for Competitor at 8:15.

-- 8:15 to 9:35: Competitor

-- 9:35 to 10: Print out some slides and sheets we were to have printed out for Investor at 10.

-- 10 to 11:20: Investor

-- 11:20 to 12:20: A pre-arranged lunch with a second-year student who is (very, very kindly) advising me on matters of career

-- 12:20 to 1: Brush up on one of the cases we were to prepare for Negotiation

-- 1 to 3: Negotiation

-- 3 to 4: I strolled home to get some fresh air and consume a healthy snack

-- 4 to 4:45: I was back on campus to meet with another student to show her how to use Audacity, an audio editing program, because she wants to do some podcasts

-- 4:45 to 5:30: I attended a cocktail reception for an open house for prospective students

-- 5:30 to 6: I attended a video presentation for Negotiation

-- 6 to 6:40: I attended a mandatory data collection training session for Competitor

-- 6:50 to bedtime: I was home. I read materials for Customer, Sourcing & Managing Funds and Competitor. I heated up dinner. I did two loads of laundry. I watched 10 minutes of "Family Guy."

I'm getting a feeling that every day is going to be at least this busy, and probably busier. But you get what you pay for.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Maine pictures


Maine Waves, in Maine.

Maine Mike, in Maine.

Maine A bird being smooshed, in Maine.

Here's the new class lineup

Mike and John in Maine

Look at these happy men. Just look! Maine was wonderful. It was crisp and gorgeous and full of delicious food and quaint townage. We went to Ogunquit for the weekend to relax and get away from school, and for the most part we did, aside from about an hour we spent reading some cases.

Tomorrow, Monday, is the first day of Fall II, the second quarter. It is striking fear into the hearts of SOM students. It appears there will be substantially more group assigments, case work, outside-of-class commitments, accountability and structure -- every class has assigned seating, for example. No slacking in Fall II.

Fall II marks the beginning of the "Organizational Perspectives," the integrated curriculum that makes Yale SOM unique. Each class looks at an aspect of business from a particular perspective, and then brings in material from various fields and disciplines to add dimension to that perspective. The idea is that these classes more realistically simulate the way problems arise in the real world. (For example, as a manager, I won't have a problem about "marketing," I will have a problem about "customers.")

Here's the lineup:

1. Competitor. This course uses economics, accounting, marketing, organizational behavior and politics to help us recognize constraints, predict behavior and generate strategies in a competitive environment.

2. Investor. This is a quant course that draws on what we did in Probability Modeling & Statistics and Spreadsheet Modeling to analyze how investors think, what they care about, and what they do.

3. Customer. This course aims to illustrate how to become a customer-focused and market-driven company, it draws from HR, accounting, marketing, strategy and operations.

4. Sourcing & Managing Funds (SMF). I've heard this is the hardest class in Fall II. It's about how people at a firm raise and manage capital.

5. Negotiation. This is a three-week course, with the option of continuing all quarter, about the art of deal-making. It involves videotaped negotiation exercises and case readings.

Who's ready?? (Silence)

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm going to Maine

MaineToday I'm going to Maine. I've never been there. Any attempt to stop me will be met with furious resistance, and the attempter will be thwarted swiftly and mercilessly. Goodbye.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A beautiful day to learn how to rule the world

John, chillin' on the quad, y'all!!!What a delight it was to have been so wrong about the weather. This morning I took a refreshing jog, and it was rather cold. Thus, when my servant dressed me later, I chose a turtleneck sweater and a jacket. Come to discover it got into the 70s, and I was able to strip down to my white T and take a relaxing breather beneath one of my favorite trees:

A tree at YaleMeanwhile, it's been a week of self-discovery and fun group work, thanks to Managing Groups & Teams. We have one more session tomorrow. I have learned many things, both about myself and about my work group, and about leadership in general. Here are 10 things we've done this week:

1. Our group (me and the seven people I was assigned to work with in August) was given a disaster scenario in which we were shipwrecked on an island with a hurricane headed our way, and we had to rank items in order of their importance to our survival. We then did some calculations to come to the conclusion that our group had a nice amount of synergy -- we arrive at better conclusions when we work together. Not all groups have synergy, though.

2. Our group, and all the groups, named ourself. We went with Mikejoja Sajemajo, which is a combination of the first two letters of each of our names. It's very DaFoWo Show. Professors thus far avoid trying to pronounce it.

3. Our group had to designate two managers to figure out how to explain to the rest of us, with many limiations, how to construct a puzzle. We completed the task, but not in the timeliest of fashions.

4. Individually, we took a very lengthy online test of our leadership abilities. We were given 30 cases and had to decide how we'd go about reaching a decision -- whether we'd just make a decision, consult people individually, consult people as a group, facilitate a discussion, or delegate. We then learned a particular model/formula for picking the best method, based on characteritistics of the matter at hand. Turns out that, based on that model, I'm already in good shape as far as my management choices.

5. Speaking of me, me, me, I also learned that my leadership style is "supporter." Kind of self-explanatory. My opposite type is "director."

6. Our group, during that hurricane exercise, had to videotape our 40-minute discussion, then watch it and make observations about the way we interact with one another. I was surprised to see that I talk an awful lot (I mean, I know I talk a lot ... I was just surprised that I seemed to do about 90% of the talking, in a group of eight). But apparently, and fortunately, I'm not dominating the discussion with my opinions; in fact, later in that same activity, there was a way of calculating how much we influenced the group's overall decision (based on how much the group's ranking differed from our original, pre-meeting individual rankings), and it happens that I was the least influential person in the group. This all underlines Point #5, that I'm a supporter ... I talk a lot, but don't assert many opinions forcefully. I just try to ask questions and keep things moving along. Apparently that is a management style I can be comfortable embracing.

7. We watched 12 Angry Men and stopped it throughout to discuss the ways people were successfully or unsuccessfully persuading one another. One moral: It's persuasive to not be an asshole.

8. We watched videos of rehearsals of two orchestras, one that has a conductor and one that doesn't, to compare authoritarian leadership with a totally democratic method. Each has pros and cons.

9. We played an elaborate game in which we traded marbles, were split into hierarchical groups and then did other things too complicated to explain. The point was to illustrate the way in which a hierarchy causes people to identify with others in their group and internalize their status and even think that there's a just cause for things to be the way they are, even if there isn't.

10. Tomorrow, I think we're building something out of Legos.

Perhaps not all dreams mean something ...

Last night, I dreamt I was back in the house I grew up in, and I opened the refrigerator, and there were two newborn kittens in the lettuce crisper.

On with real life ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A nightmare I had gotten nowhere

I've been having some very stressful dreams (nightmares, even) in the past few weeks. Although I'm generally happy while I'm awake, I have been waking up in something of a panic, probably because I'm overwhelmed by all the important tasks before me.

Last night I dreamt I was back in Texas and was receiving e-mails from SOM as if I had been admitted (telling me about orientation and classes and so forth), but I suddenly remembered I was actually waitlisted, not accepted. In addition, I had been persuaded into taking a buyout from the Star-Telegram in light of the fact I was returning to school. After realizing I would not be going to school, I tried to get my old job back, only to find out that they were pretty happy I was gone and that they weren't going to be considering me for my old position. So I asked for, and got, my old job back at the newspaper in Corpus Christi, where I worked before I went to the Star-Telegram.

To be clear, in real life I loved working at that newspaper in Corpus. But in the context of the dream, being back there represented having failed at moving forward -- so much so, in fact, that I was moving backward. And I blamed myself entirely; I internalized that I had blown the opportunity at the Star-Telegram by not working hard enough.

I admit I have some insecurity about not working hard enough. I tend to assume everyone else is working constantly, and that when I'm not working, I'm falling behind. The other night, Mike and I hooked up my old Nintendo and conquered Super Mario 3. It was a lot of fun, but part of me couldn't help but ask -- shouldn't I be improving my resume, or researching companies, or doing some of the work I volunteered to do for the Media & Entertainment Club, or getting a head start on reading for the classes I'll be starting next quarter? I know there's a legitimate answer -- that it's OK and necessary to relax. But it's easier to say that than it is to truly believe it, when there are so many other things to do.

Maybe the real issue is that I need to switch to decaf.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Grades are rolling in

I've mentioned before, but it bears repeating, that there are no "grades" at SOM. The deal is that at least 80% of students in a course receive a "Proficient." (The motto around here is "proficient is sufficient.") Then, at the professor's discretion, up to 10% of the top students can receive a "Distinction," and up to the bottom 10% can receive a "Pass" or, if they failed to meet minimum expectations, a "Fail."

There's no GPA or ranking system, so these grades don't mean much, except that if you get a Fail, you have to retake the class write a massive paper; you can't graduate if you have more than four Passes; and if you receive a Distinction, you can put that on your resume, and you're eligible to be a TA during your second year.

There's a bit of a contradictory feeling around school, and from me, about the grading system. On one hand, it's designed to promote cooperation, and, I think, to not punish people from unconventional backgrounds who might be less familiar with, say, accounting and economics. It also gives people flexibility to focus their priorities on what's most important to them without feeling anxious or burdened by a competitive grading system.

Irrational as it may be, however, people do still want positive affirmation. So I still hurry over to my mailbox every day to see if there are graded assignments in there. A pat on the head feels nice, especially after you've worked hard.

There's some suspicion among my friends that, since the grades themselves don't matter, the grading process itself isn't perfect. People noticed having identical answers to certain problems and getting different amounts of points taken off, depending on which TA is grading them. That's further evidence to suggest that it's best to break out of the approval-seeking mentality and just do work for the sake of learning.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm back like Baby Got

I'm well-rested and have been properly fed and watered, and now it's time to return to classes. This week, SOM puts the "Management" back in "School of Management" with a weeklong class called "Managing Groups and Teams." There are eight three-hour sessions spread over the next five days, and I've heard it compared to summer camp. We'll be rotating through different topics, with a variety of lecturers, activities and readings.

Learning how to lead may sound, to some, a little soft and touchy-feely, but I think it's crucial. At both the newspapers at which I worked, training in general was lacking (which happens when money is also lacking), and it seemed to me that some managers hadn't received much training in the leadership aspect of their jobs; that's not a knock against any particular people, just an observation about the priorities of newsrooms. But managing is a skill that takes knowledge and practice; effective leaders understand team dynamics, methods of motivating, how to define a clear vision, how to set boundaries, and so forth. So I'm looking forward to starting to learn these skillz, which in due time I can only assume will pay the billz. Holler?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dara caught a lizard

My niece is dexterous. She caught a lightning-quick lizard with her bare hands ... twice.

Here are five more pictures from Florida.

Dara + lizard

I still can't believe she did it!

Dara in a car

"What's life all about?"

Dara + her father

It's a big, blue, watery road!

Diane and Richard Dara's grandparents

Dara + ducks The ducks' fear of Dara running at them outweighed their hunger/interest in the lettuce she was holding.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Five pictures from Florida

John, thinking about his vacationIt wasn't easy to get here, y'all. My alarm didn't go off Thursday morning, and I awoke more than two hours late. Somehow I made it from the warmth of my bed onto an airplane in Providence, two hours away, in 2 1/2 hours ... despite being out of gas, and having a malfunctioning GPS, and originally going the wrong way on the Interstate. It's a freakin' miracle.

And here I am, visiting my parents, my brother, his ex-wife and their daughter (my niece). I just turned in my last paper for the quarter, so I can actually enjoy the weekend! Who'd have thunk?

My niece has good taste in victuals.

My niece has good taste in dessert -- vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.

Pop and Dara

For some reason, I find this photo kind of precious! My dad and his granddaughter.

Keri (mom) and Dara (child)

Dara and her mom, Keri.

Typical: My mom slaves away, while my dad puts his feet up. A typical scene -- my mom acts like a martyr in the kitchen while my dad puts his feet up.


My brother Rick tries to capture the moments.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stats exam is over

I did it. It's over. My work was neatly done, and I had what I felt were decent answers for all the questions. I cannot ask for more.

Tomorrow: Flying to Florida -- and finishing a Careers paper on the plane.

I make brilliant decisions

Here is the forecast for New Haven, where I live ...

New Haven five-day forecastAnd here is the forecast for Sanibel, where I'll be ...

New Haven five-day forecast

I make brilliant decisions!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Exam post mortem

Mike Gannon and beerAfter trying to scribble words, graphs and numbers to persuade a TA that I learned some economics, I like to enjoy my three favorite things -- food (not pictured), beer (right) and the company of the delightful and academically helpful Mike.

And that leads me to my fourth-favorite thing: Resting on the couch.

John Metz

Econ exam is over

I did it. It's over. My graphs were neatly drawn, and I had what I felt were decent answers for all the questions. I cannot ask for more.

Tomorrow: Stats.

It's getting hot in herre

Last night I got the chance to spend quality time with my neighbors because our building caught on fire. (Or so say the fire alarms throughout my building.) The alarm activation transpired twice, although I missed the first go-around because I was taking an exam. My neighbors, many of their pets and I gathered outside as firemen casually uttered "How ya doin', folks?" as they entered the non-burning building.

I can only gather that the alarms had something to do with the heat kicking on. Yes, the temperature has dipped just enough that the old, familiar smoky smell of heat is in the air. Having lived in Texas, the smell makes me a bit nostalgic, since I associate it more with my long-ago youth than with my adulthood. I can't wait for it to snow. Oh goody, snow!!

In our apartment, some of the heaters are covered with attractive heater-cover-things. Come to think of it, all of them are except the one in my room. Observe:

Heaters with and without a heater cover thingy.As you can imagine, the lefthand heater thingy seems like a nice place to leave things, like stacks of papers, or a candle. Apparently one should leave nothing atop the heater, as it gets hot.
Speaking of things I'm afraid to touch, there's an Econ exam this evening. Study time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Accounting exam is over

I did it. It's over. My stuff balanced, and I had what I felt were decent answers for all the questions. I cannot ask for more.

Tomorrow: Econ.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

3 accounting fun facts!

Why get an MBA to learn accounting when you can just read this blog??

1. Customers spent $220,000 on merchandise over the accounting period. Forty percent was in cash; the rest was on account. The merchandise cost $160,000 to buy. The journal entries look like:

Dr. CASH ............ $88,000
Dr. A/R ............... $132,000
Cr. SALES ..................... $220,000

Dr. COGS ............ $160,000
Cr. INVENTORY ........... $160,000

2. During the accounting period, the last principal payment was made on a loan, as was interest. The former is a financing expense; the latter an operating expense that, if paid in cash, would not appear in the indirect statement of cash flows because it would not be an adjustment to net income. (It would, of course, appear on a direct statement of cash flows, because it would be a use of cash for operations.)

3. Accumulated depreciation goes in a contra-asset account. If a piece of equipment was purchased for $4,500 and has an estimated life of five years, and is subject to straight-line depreciation, then after one year the $4,500 remains in the Equipment T-account, but $900 is credited to the Accumulated Depreciation contra-asset. On the balance sheet, this may appear as two items, or as one $3,600 item listed as "Equipment, Net." The depreciation is balanced with a depreciation expense that will appear on the indirect statement of cash flows in the operations area, because it is a non-cash adjustment to net income.

Somebody check my work.

My study methods: Effective?

Must absorb knowledge. Must absorb knowledge.At SOM, our professors are kind enough to supply us with previous years' exams, which is also terribly unkind, as the extra study materials ruin the weekend by (a) taking away excuses to not work, and (b) making John feel stooooopid.

Take Microeconomics. Please! How I cry when I simply cannot proceed with a problem. But practice makes perfect, and now I can invent problems and then solve them! Let's do just that.

Suppose I want to start a business selling chocolate milk. I can produce the milk using a machine that has two speeds, high and low. The fast machine makes 100 gallons/hour and uses $120/hour in labor and 3 oz. of the magic chocolate ingredient per gallon, and the ingredient costs $0.16 an ounce. The slow machine makes only 75 gallons/hour and uses $90/hour in labor and is also crappier; it only uses 2 oz. of the magic chocolate ingredient per gallon. The machine is being lent to me for free for 12 hours/day. How does the market price of chocolate milk determine the speed at which I run my machine?

Funny you should ask:

100 gallons/hour
1200 gallons/day
$1080 labor
$384 ingredient
AVC = $1.22

120 gallons/hour
1440 gallons/day
$1440 labor
$691.20 ingredient
AVC = $1.48

The answer is that you would not start manufacturing this chocolate milk until the market price is $1.22. Then I ought to run at the slow speed and make up to 1,200 gallons/day. I should keep doing that until the market price rose to ($1.48x1440 - $1.22x1200)/(1440-1200) = $2.78. At that point, I should switch to the high technology and run it at full capacity. The reason I need to wait until it gets up that high is because there's an opportunity cost to running at high-speed.

Somebody check my work.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Far-Too-Happy Hour

Every Thursday night, SOM has a happy hour, recently rebranded as Closing Bell. And each is sponsored by a different student club. Last night's was put on by Q+ Gay/Straight Alliance, of which I am a member, seeing as I'm gay and prone to allying.

Although they do serve food at these events, it's not dinner food, and I wasn't yet hungry, so I never ended up having dinner. Big error. After a couple glasses of wine, the evening quickly dissolved into mayhem as I scooted along with second-year students to a party, and then to GPSCY, the grad-school bar that has free beer till 10 on Thursday nights. Things got wacky and wild, relatively speaking, and wound down around midnight or so, although the end-of-the-night details are blurry. (No, I didn't drive.) Eh, it was the last day of classes.

This may sound like the words of a functioning alcoholic trying to justify his behavior, but I do happen to think that these types of occasional evenings are good, even professionally. I met loads of second-year students I hadn't, including a girl who knows people doing what I want to do when I graduate. I'd say that alone is worth the cost of a little embarrassment and a hangover.
The day's getting off to a very slow start, though, and I need to get my head in the game. Exams! Exams!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Corporate Presentations

This week, I attended two corporate presentations at SOM. These are an integral part of the internship and career process. Companies come to campus and make their pitch to persuade students to apply to their programs, and likewise students dress in suits and try to ask intelligent questions to start building a bridge to a place they might like to work.

First up, on Tuesday, was Mars Inc. Lunch was provided -- pizza, salads, cookies and, of course, many Mars candies, of which I chose Twix. (Please watch the commercial above ... it's about 10 years old, and one of my all-time favorites.) Three people from the company, including a recent SOM grad, talked about the company and highlighted some of the aspects that might make it appealing: It's privately held, so they answer to their customers, not Wall Street. It's the 6th largest private company in the U.S. and boasts many of the most popular and recognizable brands in the world (including M&Ms, Skittles and Snickers, but also Whiskas and Pedigree pet foods, and Uncle Ben's Rice). It's a lean company (meaning it's not weighted down by lots of layers of management) with an open physical office layout (no private offices ... everybody sits together in an open room), and they encourage their employees to be free and creative. After they give the pitch, people ask questions, and some people hang around after to shake hands and say hello. (I prefer not to do that, but to each his own.)

On Wednesday (today), I went to the presentation for Thomson Reuters. Although that's a totally different company from Mars, it was a similar gig: food consisted of nice sandwiches, chips and baked goodies, a few people including a recent SOM grad gave a PowerPoint presentation and pitched their internship opportunities and post-MBA rotational program, etc. As different as the two companies are, each has appealing aspects, but it's all going to boil down to What I Want To Do, which is still an issue.

Back to the really important point, which is hilarious commercials from 1998, here was my other favorite. I don't know why I remember these commercials ... they just made me laugh a lot.

Exciting news for Catholics worldwide

New pope elected.At the Yale School of Management, a new pope has been elected.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I saw David Sedaris

I did! He read some stories and essays last night at the Shubert Theater. I'm a fan, though not die-hard. I've read two of his collections: Holidays on Ice and When You Are Engulfed In Flames, and back when I was a New Yorker subscriber (when I had time for such trivialities), I was excited to see his name in the table of contents. The "show" wasn't "thrilling," but I laughed a few times. I preferred it when he was just telling stories and answering questions to when he was reading.

I went to David with my friend (I guess we've been here long enough to use that word) Erika. Beforehand, she and Mike and I went to Pacifico for tapas, which I am starting to suspect restaurants are cleverly jumping on so they can make wider profit margins, since they truly are, in fact, ridiculously overpriced appetizers. I mean, let's call a spade a spade. That's fine for people with money, but I'm a struggling student for Pete's sake. Delicious, though. Well some of it was delicious. My soup tasted like flavorless chunks floating in packaged gravy.

Today marks the first time I will attend a "corporate presentation," the first of three I want to go to this week. Today is Mars Inc., the company that makes M&M's and other candies, as well as Pedigree pet food and Uncle Ben's rice. A corporate presentation, as far as I can tell, is an event to which you wear a suit and learn about a company. I will provide details later. The other presentations to which I have RSVP's this week are Thomson Reuters and Unilever.

I am so excited to report that the number of graded assignments remaining in the core, excluding three massive nightmarish finals, are three -- one more statistics problem set, one more piece of accounting homework, and a 6-page paper for Careers. It's very exciting to be wrapping these classes up, and despite the pain of stress, I've learned a lot in a short amount of time. I better have -- this quarter cost $10,000.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A party picture

JD/MBA partySince I'm almost never in any of the pictures in this blog, here's proof I did something. This was part of a super-fun Friday night: Dinner (i.e. margaritas and appetizers) with my Australia group, followed by some quality time with a few folks at a cigar bar called The Owl, and then off to this joint JD/MBA party thrown in a super-nice apartment. Pictured is me with two other first-years, Suzanne and Rasanah.

Check Providence off the list

TrinityYesterday I went to Providence, but not Boston. That was my compromise. In a previous blog I mentioned my original plan, to do Providence on Saturday and Boston on Sunday; then I expressed concern that I would get too far behind on work. But I do not want to be setting precedAliyahents, even in the core, of choosing work over friends, because if that becomes my tradeoff now, when will it ever end? So Providence it was, and I'll do Boston another time.

The child you see at top is Trinity, second daughter of my college friend Stephanie (below). The first daughter is the lovely Aliyah, at left. It was not only fun to see Stephanie and her husband, and meet their children, but especially nifty to see where they live, which is next door to the house Stephanie grew up in. Stephanie's parents still live in that house, and now Stephanie and her husband, Shane, live in the house Shane grew up in. And there are other relatives and family friends on the street. A far cry from my family, which has been scattered around these United States for 20 years.

So I am gracing Northeastern cities with my presence one a time. And now, it is time to work.


Friday, October 2, 2009

SOM needs an auditorium!

Kroon Auditorium I mean it when I say there's not much to complain about at SOM. It's a great school. Some people are down about the facilities, but I usually come to our school's defense. Sure we have chalk boards, and the hallways get a little jammed between classes, and the bathrooms are tiny, and ... well, I'll stop there. But, you know, get over it ...

But one thing that has been a consistent problem has been that our school does not have a venue that seats all the students at once. Thus, when we've had a class-wide meeting or presentation, we've always had to hike to another school and use its auditorium. Today, we had a resume workshop (which also covered interview tips and cover letters), and we had it at the Forestry and Environmental Sciences School. As you can see, beautiful. Gorgeous! And apparently, unsurprisingly, green. In the bathroom, there was a toilet, which is no surprise, and above it was a sign explaining that for liquid waste, you should flush it by pulling the handle up, and for solid waste, you should flush by pushing down, because they activate flushes that use different amounts of water. I suppose this will save the Earth?

Anyway, Yale is constructing what promises to be a beautiful new building for SOM, supposedly ready around 2013. After seeing this other building, I'll say it's needed ... a first-class facility for a first-rate school.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One more week of the core

Yesterday I attended a roundtable about media and technology. We discussed, among other things, AP considering cracking down on non-subscribers using their headlines and linking to their content. Good luck with that ...

Oddly, it's the third time newspapers have come up at school this week. In Game Theory, we discussed a hypothetical case in which two companies were considering starting up daily newspapers in the same city. Of course, the professor pointed out that this was an outdated example. And at yesterday's debate-team callbacks, one of the topics was whether newspapers should be able to be 501(c)3 nonprofits. Unfortunately, by random selection that was the one topic I had to sit out on ... Instead, my topics had to do with TARP funds and healthcare reform. Not my finest hour, and I didn't make the team. I would've loved to have done it, although I am not sure my training in tit-for-tat high-school debate style was exactly what they were looking for. (Well, that's obvious ...) Maybe I should've been more passionate and bombastic.

Meanwhile, our core classes are winding down. Hard to be believe ... kinda. Classes end a week from today, and then exams begin the following Monday. Although I'm all for learning, I hope we don't cover too much material in econ and accounting over these next couple lectures, because I'm already a little behind as it is. After the core, we start the "organizational perspectives" courses, a cornerstone of Yale SOM's integrated curriculum.

What those multisyllabic words mean is that instead of taking traditional "silo" classes like finance and marketing, we take team-taught courses that each look at business from a particular perspective. So next quarter's classes are Customer, Investor, Competitor, Sourcing & Managing Funds and Intro to Negotiation. So this will be the fun stuff, it seems.

Not that the core hasn't been fun and all ...

I have plans to visit some old college friends this weekend in Providence and Boston. I realize, though, that this would be an ideal weekend to get caught up on studying ... So I'm considering a postponement, although philosophically I feel that to have a life of suitable work-life balance I need to learn how to make those choices now and deal with the consequences. I remember when I was going to undergrad my brother once advised me, when given the choice between staying in and studying and going out and doing something, I should always choose going out, because I'll remember that years down the road, but I won't remember staying in and studying. True ... but I do, like, need to learn accounting and econ and stuff.