Archive for August, 2006

August 15, 2006

Life’s Wisdom from an MBA

Some I learned the hard way and some I picked up along my journey so far. If I only had this knowledge earlier in life, I would have saved tens of thousands of dollars on my MBA!!!

Finance/Macro-Economics. “Learn how to invest.” The reality is….money does indeed make the world go round. So accumulate as much as you can of it — because money will indeed make life easier. More importantly, learn how to invest it and get started as soon as possible. If the stock market confuses you or you could care less about the real GDP of some foreign country, then have someone else manage your money. But at least understand 3 things about this subject: cash flows, savings, and the time value of money.

Accounting. “Show up. Be on time. And know your lines.” The most “creative” of all subjects as you can always play with the numbers to get your desired outcome. The reality is….life is one big movie project and you’re the star. So show up, be accountable and be consistent because sometimes that’s just as important as what you’re really trying to accomplish. And as they say, don’t sweat the “immaterial” stuff. Do this and you’ll be sure to see some nice cash flows in life.

Decision Analysis. “Trust your gut or just Google it”. Like accounting, statistics is a numbers game and can also be just as creative if you take the time to understand this subject. But if you think X and Y are simply letters that come before Z or regression is a 30 year old sticking straws up his nose, then reject the null hypothesis on this subject because the reality is….don’t believe everything you hear and don’t be afraid to question it. Yes, correlation does not always mean causation even if the infamous THEY say it’s true. So before you make your decision tree and hold all things constant, know that the reality is ….. there are no certainties in life, so trust your gut or just Google it.

Micro-Economics. “Maximize your utility to the fullest”. While you can try to quantify life in equations and curves and plot one’s tastes and behaviors, just know that a little psychology goes a long way. And yes, you do get what you pay for in life – so don’t buy crap. And as you begin to understand the learning curve of life in this subject, my only advice about this subject is….. the reality is life is short, so live it to the fullest and maximize your own utility with those you care about the most.

Technology. “Gadgets are great, but if they don’t make your life easier, don’t bother.” Not much else to say here. The reality is….the world is wired and technology is cool – the kind that actually improves the quality of life. K.I.S.S.

Communications. “Remember the 3Cs and don’t forget to engage your brain to mouth filter.” The 3 C’s of communication are: confidence, competence and credibility. Confidence = be confident in what you are saying and act confident when you say it. Credibility=confidence will help this, but too much BS will not. So make sure you maintain your credibility when you speak. Competence=don’t be an expert if you’re not. And don’t forget to engage your brain to mouth filter otherwise you can throw the 3C’s out the window. The reality is….before you hit that send button, before you insert your foot, before you open your mouth and scream and yell….stop, engage the brain to mouth filter, and think!

Organizational Behavior. “Make friends, treat people well, try to find out what motivates them, and be a thought leader.” In the hierarchy of things related to this life subject, money is important but not necessarily the motivating factor of people’s happiness. Of course if you’re looking to unmotivate people, just use some of the great buzz words that fall under this subject. Win-win, core competency, synergy, paradigms, value added, bandwidth, circle back, critical path, take that offline, grab the low hanging fruit, and my favorite of them all “grab the bull by the horns!” Well let me grab the “bull” (and my shovel) right here right now. The reality is….the only bull in this life subject is a lot of bullcrap!

So make friends, treat people well, and understand that a little psychology goes along way. Study leadership but no matter how much you learn about it, the reality is …. you just can’t control or change people’s behavior that easily. Leading people is hard and few actually do it effectively. Its even harder to lead someone who is just as educated as you (or more educated for that matter). However, anyone can lead by infecting thoughts and inspiring others. So be a thought leader, seek respect and credibility, and inspire those around you. If you inspire people, they just might want to change themselves or change the world for the better.

Ethics. “Decide on what kind of person you want to be in life, try to maintain a positive attitude, and most importantly keep your integrity in tact.” This is all about knowing yourself as a person and deciding on what kind of person you want to be in life. Know what you know and know what you don’t know. For the stuff you don’t know….fake it ’til you make it but realize that BS only goes so far. So make an effort to speak the truth, but remember 3 things: 1) there’s a right way how to do it, 2) a time and place for it, and 3) not everyone always wants to hear it. Also, righting all the wrongs and injustices might require superhero-like qualities in a person. So don’t be a hero unless you’re willing to accept the responsibilities and consequences that go along with it. As it’s been said before me, pick your battles wisely and remember that no good deed goes unpunished. The reality is… will learn the most about this from the school of hard knocks. So don’t be afraid to bend the rules or even break them, but understand the risks. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them, but make a conscious effort to stay positive no matter what (yes, attitude is everything!). And finally….understand that there is simply nothing more valuable than life experience with integrity.

Strategy. “Have a game plan. If you don’t have one, make one. Work towards “the plan” but realize sometimes, life gets in the way of your plans. ” Strategy is useless without a game plan. So once you figure out your “competitive advantage” in life – the things that make you unique, make sure you come up with a game plan. No you don’t need to use SWOT analysis when deciding what city to live in or what house to buy or what person to marry. But always be thinking about a game plan. Oh and don’t forget about your mission statement — I mean mantra! Just keep in mind that the reality of this subject is this… can set a direction and do all the planning in the world, and just when things are going according to plan, life happens — a baby is born, you or people you know get sick or pass away, people marry or people divorce, accidents happen, mother nature unleashes her fury, etc… These things are out of your control, so don’t dwell on them, don’t blame them, don’t get angry; instead accept what has happened and be prepared to change the plan, or scrap it, or draft a new one.

General Management and Entrepreneurship. “Don’t be a monkey, be a manager; better yet, be an owner.” Monkey see, monkey do and monkeys never manage nor do they make good managers. So become a manager of life and adopt your own management style that works for you. We’ve all heard it before — when it comes to managing, know what you can and can’t control. So understand this point when it comes to managing your time, your health, money, projects, family, relationships, politics, and one that crosses all topics and subjects – risk. I could elaborate more on each one, but there has to be like 5 million self help “guru” books already written that you can reference (most of which are BS). So if you don’t have time to read all of them, then simply become an entrepreneur and create something you have ownership in — and one day you can have other people manage everything for you.

Marketing. “Learn how to sell yourself.” In this crazy consumer driven, sales oriented, advertising polluted world in which we live….there’s only one thing to learn about sales and marketing — and that is to sell yourself. The reality is….be unique, find your niche(something your are passionate about), and add value to those around you or those organizations you belong to. That’s all the marketing you will need to know in life.

National Business Systems. “The world is at best controlled chaos”. NBS connects all the dots and extracts ideas from all of the above life subjects. From financial markets, to how we educate our children, to governments and beyond — it’s clear the world is a fragile place. While we’ve already learned that money does indeed make the world go round, this subject teaches us this world is at best controlled chaos — a fragmented web of people and cultures connected by the systems and rules they put in place to socially interact with one another. Some are more controlling, some are more free, and others remain a work in progress. And the reality is….without these systems and rules, we would have chaos.

To summarize:

Finance/Economics. Learn how to invest.

Accounting. Show up. Be on time. And know your lines.

Decision Analysis. Trust your gut or just Google it.

Micro-Economics. Maximize your utility to the fullest.

Technology. Gadgets are great, but if they don’t make your life easier, don’t bother.

Communications. Engage your brain to mouth filter.

Organization Behavior. Make friends, treat people well, try to find out what motivates them, and be a thought leader.

Ethics. Decide on what kind of person you want to be in life, try to maintain a positive attitude, and most importantly keep your integrity in tact.

Strategy. Have a game plan. If you don’t have one, make one. Work towards “the plan” but realize sometimes, life gets in the way of your plans.

General Management/Entrepreneurship. Don’t be a monkey, be a manager; better yet, be an owner.

Marketing. Learn how to sell yourself

National Business Systems. The world at best is controlled chaos.

Final thoughts….I read somewhere once that the only thing constant in life is change. So don’t expect perfection and realize that no person is perfect, no system is flawless, no policy is foolproof. And hopefully this “curriculum” will help you navigate through this chaos called life.