Friday, October 18, 2013

TALKing in class

So, this blog is about talking. TALK and talking. One thing is awesome, with the other one I am actually having my problems. But good things first...

TALK is Stanford. TALK is the school community. And TALK is one of the things that sets the GSB apart from most other business schools. The concept is fairly simple. Every Monday night more than 200 students get together in the MBA lounge (a tiny little room) and listen to 1-2 fellow students tell their life story. And I do not mean in a "I-am-so-great" Business school essay style, but really their own personal story. Oftentimes that makes the TALKers vulnerable and exposes deep feelings and emotions. Oftentimes it is really, really funny. But first and foremost you get to know your classmates and feel that that some sort of a bond that holds us together gets stronger and stronger. First I was skeptical what benefit it brings to do that "soul striptease", but after a couple of talks I realized that it is actually just another form of self-reflection, owning one's actions and decisions and opening up to grow as a person. I really need to start writing down stories and anecdotes for my TALK.

Talking in class
Well, I mean participating in class, but talking sounds better. Because of TALK. You get it... Anyways.  I big portion of our grades is determined through classroom participation. In sections of 70 students and classes of 105 minutes in which also the professor speaks once in a while it does not require a Stanford MBA to see that airtime is scarce. So what do a lot of people do? Right, try to make a comment. Almost force to make one in order to be on the safe side to secure their grade. Other people just talk to bring the class forward and therefore naturally speak less. It is tough to differentiate between quality and quantity, but the current system probably only focuses on the later. I personally think it's better to shut up if you can't bring the class forward. Professors disagree (though they would not say that, but I am sure quantity is what influences their view on a student). So, what consequences do I draw from that? Try to talk to people before and after class to actually discuss, for the sake of everyone I'll also shut up if I can't say anything valuable in class and I am really looking forward to the electives with only 30 people.

I am off to the Disney party in a bit. I never thought costume stores would have a chance to survive. At least now I know who buys Peter Pan outfits.

Next time I'm gonna talk about taking deciding on norms about basically everything. We do that a lot here.

Cheers + bis bald,

TALK on Mondays

We actually have a cactus garden on campus... 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Eat, Sleep or Socialize?

I was told that business school could be boiled down to the following dilemma:

You can only pick two out of the three things: Study, Socialize, Sleep.

What I am experiencing here at Stanford is somewhat similar. I feel that my outlook calendar (well, I use a Mac now...) is more cramped than when I was still working. And people who know me know also that I was managing EVERYTHING through outlook. It is quite a lot, mostly classes, lunch session, speeches, workshops, 1:1 coaching, mixers, study groups, case groups, cocktail receptions etc etc etc. There a also unofficial things, this week namely the 80s party, whiskey night, wine circle, small group dinners, TALK, brainstorming session, recruiting events, FOAM etc etc.

So now the interesting question: Which two things do you pick?

The top 10% of the class are named Arjay Miller Scholars (Arjay was a former Dean of Stanford). A title that might give you self-satisfaction, a nice certificate and some attention during graduation. Not a whole lot more though. Oh, and hours of studying and headaches whether you actually make the top 10 %. It is hard for a group of overachievers that have constantly been on top of their game to accept that many of us will not end up on top of academics here at Stanford. Hard for my classmates, but also hard for me.

But is it discouraging enough so that I become a study beast and worry only about academics?  NO

I came to Stanford not for micro, accounting and strategy classes. I came for intellectual stimulation that can happen in class or after 3 bottles of Cabernet in the Schwab Courtyard with my small group dinner comrades. I also came to hear other people's stories, to be inspired and to learn from the many, many experiences.

So I am faced with somehow clear expectations of why I came and a track-record of academic success. I know that I want to prioritize the first point, but it feels damn strange to knowingly push aside the second part. A lot of MBA2's told me, and I come more and more to the conclusion myself, that choices are and will be necessary to have a great time here. And when I am self-reflective those choices prioritize many, many things over academics.

To actively listen, talk, interact, discuss, exchange, argue and agree I need to be somewhat awake, fed and relaxed. So I guess I will pick socialize and to a somewhat lesser extend sleep.

How that entire socializing thing works will probably be a part of a future blog. I haven't really figured it all out yet. But hey, it's week 3.

Cheers + bis bald,

PS: It was a thoughtful post so I had no picture initially. I guess that one will do!