Monday, November 24, 2014

The Best Lunchtime Talk at Stanford

The last two weeks have been filled with quite a few group projects, papers and a lot of really interesting speakers:

Lars Dalgaard (Founder and CEO of SuccessFactors)
John Morgridge (CEO Cisco)
John Pendergast (Human Rights Activist)

This blog post is dedicated to a young woman that has one of the most widely viewed TED Talks worldwide: Hyeonseo Lee

Hyeonseo fled North Korea as a young adult and then dedicated her entire life to rescuing her mother and brother from the scrupulous regime Pyongyang.

What her story boiled down to is that she had rescued her family from North Korea, illegally crossed China and entered Laos, where mother and brother were kept by the Laotian police. Hyeonseo had used and borrowed all money she could to bribe the officials who always kept demanding more. In total despair an Australian man approached her, communicated through his cell phone and ended up giving her several thousand US dollars to bail out her family as well as other North Korean defectors.

Hyeonseo ended her talk at Stanford by saying that we are all fortunate and that we should reach out to those in need. This Australian man had transformed her life and she owed him everything. She called him an angel.

After the talk I wondered whether I have had similar impact on people and whether I have reached my hand out enough. I strive for large scale impact and for solving global problems (to be cynical: basically what gets you into business school and sounds interesting). I wonder whether I have neglected trying to improve lives for people that have names, faces and a very specific story. I also wonder whether it is actually possible to combine both things in the long term.

I think my problem in helping individuals is that I want to be fair and help the person most in need. But can I say that Hyeonseo in North Korea needs help more help rescuing her family than the little girl in a Rwandan village that seemed so bright but could not go to school or the homeless guy at Frankfurt train station who I see every morning going to work? And just to be clear, this help doesn't necessarily have to be money. It can be affection or attention.

I guess the answer is very similar to which sector in development work brings most return. Is it water? Education? Nutrition? Safety?

In the end they are all equally important and one cannot really make a differentiation. But instead of just collapsing under that lack of knowledge one simply has to start and work on something. Or to simply reach out and help someone in need. Ultimately it is a combination of the macro and the micro things. The big pressing problems worldwide and the effects those have on individual lives. I hope I will have enough opportunity and courage to never lose sight of that.

Cheers + bis bald,

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I have five friends

First of all sorry for taking so long to write another post. In between London, Miami, Rwanda and Palo Alto I somehow didn't find the time to sit down, come up with a decent topic and put it into words. Thanks to all of you out there who asked when I will post a new article. It feels good to know that the stuff is being read.

But hey, I found a topic and I found time. So lets go. 

How many friends do you have? 

4999? (I think thats how many you can have on Facebook)

I guess answers vary substantially to this questions as do definitions of a "friend". Is that someone that you met at a party and sort of remember the name of or is it someone that you call when your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you? Or is it someone in the middle?

And how many friends are actually normal? (I guess most of us don't want to look like social outcasts).

The topic has come up multiple times when talking to friends (or classmates, or colleagues or acquaintances or whatever you want to call those people). We only have two years at Stanford (and now less than one year left). Most of us are here because of the great people that also come here. Deepening that network and making lifelong friends is what an MBA is mostly about. But am I actually doing this? Should I be more open and reach out to more people I don't usually hang out with? I guess a lot of those questions are related to fear of not making the most out of whats out there.

I can't fully answer it, but I can at least try to make it a bit clearer for myself. Given that I have been moving more or less every two years for the last ten years it is really difficult to stay in touch with people. You don't just run into them at a party or at the supermarket, but you have to make an effort and send an email or a Skype invitation. 

Let me try to divide my social life somehow: 

1) Close friends: 5-10
From where: Everywhere (high school, college, work, b-school)
Stay in touch: Monthly and its a top priority to answer emails

2) Friends or people I hang out with: 50-150 
From where: Where I am right now
Stay in touch: Bump into them, parties, scheduled lunch meetings, etc

3) Lose Acquaintances: 100-250
From where: Everywhere
Stay in touch: Randomly through Facebook (but I know where they live and what they do), maybe meet up when I'm in town

4) People I know: ???
From where: Everywhere
Stay in touch: Not really, I have to ask what they do, where they live, but I know the name and how we met

So what does success for me at Stanford look like with regards to my social network:
- Find 1-5 people for my first bucket
- Find cool people to hang out with (also post-GSB)
- Expand (3) with cool people all over the world 

I think I have around 5 people I would do everything for. If I find one or two more here than I'm gonna be a happy camper. Thinking that one can find 50 new best friends is unrealistic, puts pressure on oneself and makes one be less oneself in my opinions. 

I think its a trade-off between quantity and quality and I'll definitely go for the quality side. 

Would love to hear your comments,

PS: Thinking back to my last post about engineering your life makes me realize that this post might actually go into that direction. Oh well... 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Engineering Yourself - How to increase your performance. Or not.

Time in bed: 5:13h
Sleep quality: 46%

I am at IAD in Washington waiting for my flight to Addis and feel a bit tired. Which makes sense because I only go 5:13h of sleep last night due to a delayed inbound flight. For the last six months I have been tracking my sleep with the sleep tracker app ( I thought it'd be good to get more transparency on my sleeping patterns so that I could make sure to monitor whether I go to bed early enough and which days of the week are especially tough for me to get enough sleep (Mondays by the way). I have noticed a couple of things and with the help of the app tried to smoothen out my sleeping pattern over the week. As a result I actually get more sleep and feel better. Whether thats true or just placebo I don't know. I just feel better.

After I go to the gym I have a protein shake. I take it with water and a splash of milk. Too much milk makes it more difficult for the body to absorb the protein. Or so I have been told. I watch my diet to not eat to many carbs and make sure to get enough other proteins in order to gain muscle and not get fat.

Before I go to bed I watch (German) news for fifteen minutes. During the day it is really difficult to keep up with whats been going on in the world. I feel that I need to know about current events in order to participate in conversations and to fit that image of smart, self-reflected and informed young professional.

When my mum tells me about an upcoming birthday in the family I ask her to send me a calendar invite so that I don't forget. At Stanford my day is very planned and does not leave a lot of room for a lot of spontaneity. Sometimes I block two hours for myself. I also block time to read or to go for a run. If its not in the calendar I'll have a hard time making time for those things.

Isn't it weird? I sometime feel that I am treating myself like a machine. Oil it well, push certain buttons and one gets great performance. It is as easy as that. I wonder whether thats actually the case though. I can see that this is actually counter-productive for certain (probably more creative) individuals, but maybe I don't give myself enough room for nothingness and for unplanned things. Maybe I should not worry about not getting enough sleep when I am out with friends and maybe I should not constantly think about that nagging conscience when I am haven't been working out lately. Yes, I might not get as buff as planned, but maybe I gain something in a different way.

Alright. I have to answer some emails and get a protein shake.

Cheers + bis bald,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

They Eat Humans at McKinsey

Some of the comments I got when making the choice about which consulting firm to join over the summer actually went into that direction. Consultants at Bain are best friends and party a lot. People at McKinsey are socially awkward and don't have friends. People at BCG are maybe a bit boring, fairly nerdy, but generally capable of human interaction.

After more than a month at The Firm I have to say that I haven't yet eaten human flesh or had someone take a healthy bite off my bicep. I have actually had some decent conversations with people that have had human contact before, showed signs of warmth and even offered help. I even drank alcohol with them. So I would say it is like a lot of things: pretty fun when you actually do it.

I want to make this article about simplifications. Why is it that we call people from McKinsey social outcasts and why do we think that people at Google are fun? I think its heuristic, its a mental short-cut to make sense of something that is really difficult to comprehend. Things such as corporate culture exist, yet they are very difficult to express and therefore often oversimplified. In order to make difficult things understandable we generalize, use strong language and examples. And it very often serves a purpose. At the same time it might lead one into the wrong direction if this is the only argument one has when making a decision.

When I thought about joining McKinsey I knew about the sometimes rather negative stereotypes. Other things were really drawing me towards the company such as the strong footprint in Africa, the size and brand recognition and the fact that many great friends at Stanford have actually worked there. Only looking at this one mental shortcut datapoint might have led to me making a different decision. I actually think some of those data points are positives for me. I felt that I was getting honest answers from McKinsey recruiting staff when I asked about the people working there. I was told that not everyone is cool and helpful, but once you've been there for a while you know who to work with and who to avoid. I prefer that over being told that everyone will be my new best friend.

Anyways. To conclude the blog post about which consulting firm to choose (which is a massive first world problem and I am hesitant to actually call it a problem) I'd like to quote a great person from Stanford.

"Tim, consulting firms are like red wine. People have strong opinions and talk a lot about the differences. But you will see that in the end, during the blind tasting, it all tastes the same and no one can tell the difference".

Cheers + bis bald,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Live to work or work to live?

I had a middle school teacher in Germany who told us that he merely goes to work in order to enjoy life when he goes home at 1:30pm (1:30pm - shit, why didn't I become a teacher?). He definitely taught like that and appeared fairly happy with this arrangement.

Right now all Stanford kids are off doing their internships, testing out hypotheses they have about certain jobs and discovering more and more about what they want to do after school. Very few of them say that they want to work in order to live. Usually work has a much more important place in their future lives. Having impact, changing the world for the better, working on a social cause, steering the ship of global business, creating a legacy etc etc etc.

I have been reflecting on this topic for a while now. In the end I will have to carve out characteristics according to which I ultimately decide for a certain job. Besides the potential to have impact there are more differentiating factors though: pay, vacation days, hours to work, big vs small team, big vs small company, flat vs hierarchical, specific vs general, non profit vs for profit, brand perception, travel.

For myself I have found out that another big factor is recognition. Yes, ultimately I want to make the world a better place and I want to impact many people and I want to leave a footprint that will be remembered even after my time. But I want others to see that. It would be very difficult for me to drive change without anyone ever recognizing it and without having someone to come up to me and tell me that I am doing a great job. I have always liked to be in the spotlight and on stage. I want that also at my work.

I find that thoughts and motivations like that are generally perceived as rather negative. Does it improve society if I get my share of attention? - No. But it makes me enjoy work and motivates me to continue driving that change everyone talks about.

To close, I want to say that even though my teacher might not have instilled great work ethic, he showed us a different side of life. Ultimately it is a fine line between private and work life. Both have to be balanced and give you satisfaction. I feel that if I cut back too much on one side it has impact on both. And usually impact for the worse.

Cheers + bis bald,

Monday, June 2, 2014

I Want to Leave Stanford!

I really hate ending things. I remember many last days of school before the break. Nervousness builds up gradually, you can't stop from checking your watch (or later: you phone) and you just want it to be over. Not because school was any worse on that last day (actually it was much better, because the grades were locked in and no one gave a sh**), but mainly because one was looking forward to something new and exciting. I am not afraid of endings and everything associated with it. I don't want time to stop, I actually want it to move faster.

I feel like that right now. I will be leaving for my summer internship on Wednesday morning (that means two more days in Palo Alto) and I can't wait to get onto that plane and have United Airlines fly me to London. And I am actually really conflicted about this feeling. I mean, I am having a great life right now. I have made tons of new friends that I won't see for three months and yet: I want to leave. My prospect is an unknown environment, long hours of work and once more living out of the suitcase. There is maybe a slight feeling of sadness, but my overwhelming emotion is nervousness and excitement that has been building up for over two weeks.

I guess I have always been like that. Somewhat restless. My fear though is that by looking forward to the future I forget to live in the here and now. I forget to value that conversation with a good friend or that pizza & wine mixer happening in half an hour. I am sure that in five years I would pay big bucks to have only one of those days back. And yet right now I am treating this day as a mere transition to something else and don't pay any attention. I should stop that!

Cheers + Bis Bald!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The "Influence Line". And Shellfish.

Imagine you are at work and have been working with a project team for two months. It is a pretty big group with twelve people and you have had full-day meetings every week. Some of those people are your friends and with some you only have a professional work relationship. Sounds familiar?

Well, now image that one day your boss comes to one of the meetings and announces to the group that every member has to create an influence ranking. To be more precise, every team member has to rank every other member as well as oneself. according to how much influence they have had on the group (And then, what actually constitutes influence?). A ranking then looks like this:

1. Jack
2. Karen
3. Chris
4. Deb
5. Joe
12. Jim

That doesn't sound so familiar to most of us.

Ok, and now image that after everyone has created their ranking you are back in your project room and and everyone is standing in the middle. One person takes his list and starts lining up the people from most influential to least influential according to his own ranking. All of this is done without talking.

Picture the process: "Joe points at Lilly and then points towards the end of the line."

After everyone has made their influence line the group comes together in a circle and talks about the experience.

That basically describes last Tuesday for me as the "Influence Line" is part of Touchy Feely. It gives fairly unbiased feedback about how others perceive me, whether my influence judgement overlaps with the others or whether everyone sees the group totally different.

This is just a snapshot of what Touchy Feely is like. It is very different from anything I have done so far. And still, I am not sure whether I like it. Also, I am not sure whether I have to like it. Maybe I can draw value from it without liking it.


But there are other external influences (see, there is coherence in my post) that currently impact my life. Mainly the sun and the knowledge that our first MBA year is almost over. To make use of both of these things we regularly come together again in the Schwab East courtyard. In order to justify those gatherings several clubs and individuals find reasons to bring everyone together. Somehow those reasons have all been connected to shellfish recently. I like it.

Cheers + bis bald,

GSB Lobster Bake

GSB Crawfish Boil

Sunday, April 20, 2014

GSB getting Touchy Feely

There are a lot of reason to be at Stanford. Some say it's being close to potential investors, other say it's because you can come to class with a tank top and yet others because they want to take classes with Condi.

A reason that always comes up though, is that Stanford helps you become a better person. Person could be substituted with entrepreneur, manager, social worker, consultant, PE guy, husband, wife, father, sibling. Well, in the end it's all just persons. But how is that actually done? Through a lot of things, but first and foremost through a flagship class. A class that has been taught for more than 60 years and that is always named when talking about the transformational Stanford experience.

Touchy Feely

Or "Interpersonal Dynamics"

The goal of this class is to make you more aware of yourself, to understand and articulate your emotions and to be willing to bring your true self to the table. It is like a leadership class, and like an OB class, and like a sociology class. And like therapy I guess.

I have Touchy Feely on Tuesdays from 3pm -10pm. First 3 hours lecture, then 4 hours T-Group. Let me describe T-Group for you:




It is unstructured conversation. And it can look different every time. And sometimes there is silence.

Basically you talk, and then you talk about how others feel when you talk, and then you talk about how you feel about what others feel when you talk. And so on. And in the end you realize that you are afraid of letting go of control. Or that you are afraid of taking risks. I am not there yet, but I have actually learned a fair bit already.

The class might actually be really helpful later on. One always talks and people always listen, so it might come in handy to understand why one says the things one says and how others feel about when one does this.

A more comprehensive overview about the class is probably this here.

Whats happened besides that? Well, a lot of class. But better classes than last quarter. So thumbs up for that.  I moved from big parties to smaller wine/cheese/gin tonic evenings. Thumbs up as well.

Oprah was on campus. Big deal for Americans. Smaller deal for the rest.

Oh and I am realizing that time actually moves really fast. And I need to sleep more. 5 hours are not enough. I realized this because my left eye lid started twitching. A fairly random thing to write I guess. Should be an indicator that its time to stop. Which I will do. Now!

Cheers + bis bald,

Oprah in what looked like a nightgown

Holi at Stanford

Beer Pong Leage started again

Fancy hors d'oeuvre in Schwab (Thanks Fi!)

Yeah, reading cases by the pool in April. I know. Pretty cool.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

MBA World Summit 2014 in Hong Kong!

Some months ago I received an email inviting me to apply for the first MBA World Summit 2014 in Hong Kong. The idea is to bring 60 MBAs from all over the world together to connect, exchange, network and generally have a good time. All expenses paid. During my spring break. In Hong Kong. Yeah right, I also thought this was too good to be true.

I applied, which basically meant writing 2 essays and doing a video interview, and was selected out of more than 2,000 applicants along with 10 other GSBers, several students from HBS, Columbia, LBS, INSEAD, IESE, HEC Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Milan etc. I also agreed to host a one-hour workshop about taking up a job with a big multi-nationals or a small start-up and what sacrifices each choice brings with it.

Right now I am sitting in a hostel in Hong Kong, ready to enjoy time by myself, to meet friends that are in town and to eat some Hong Kong street food. Reflecting on the past 3 days, some thoughts dominate my experiences. I once more realized how important networking is, not from a standpoint of then being able to free-ride on other people or to bypass application processes, but from being able to connect ideas and create a global network of people that are willing to help you and to make life easier for oneself. Starting with a night out in Lan Kwai Fong, many of those connections are going to be continued on Facebook, lead to having places to crash all over the world and will eventually have a tremendous impact on ones professional career.

Quarterly Crossing, the Germany-based company that organized the summit, is specialized in creating and maintaining such networks and tries to create a broader international footprint. Of course there was some recruiting from partner companies, but the main focus was to help the 60 of us grow together so that this might be the starting point for a long-lasting relationships. This was done by treating us to fancy drinks, dinners and top-quality social activities such as a boat cruise in the Hong Kong harbor. Quarterly Crossing plans to continue with the event over the net years and wants to develop it into on of the signature MBA events that crosses all schools, continents and backgrounds. For 2015, all of this year's participants are invited again. As soon as the date comes out, I will for sure block it in my calendar.

On a lighter note: As already said, several participants held workshop sessions about various topics which everyone could sign up for. My workshop generated the most interest, which is why I was awarded a trophy and since it was the first trophy ever awarded it was named after me. From now on, every MBA World Summit will award the "Tim Eisenmann Award" to the best contribution to the summit. Putting the "Tim Eisenmann Award" on my own CV might still not be the smartest thing to do though :-)

Alright, I am off to get some milk tea and fish balls.

Cheers + bis bald,

Boat Cruise in HKG Harbor
Night Out in LKF
Dinner at the Grand Hyatt
Dragon-i - The Hottest Club in Town
Weather could have been better
I wasn't kidding :-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why don't we go to the beach?

Somehow we don't take advantage of a lot of things that are around us. Many people live in big cities because of all the cultural opportunities, but rarely ever go to the opera. Others live out in the country because they really like hiking, but they don't even know in which box their hiking boots are in.

I was visited by my dear friend Basti last weekend and took him to class, showed him around campus and went to the beach with a bunch of friends. Especially the beach was a lot of fun and we all agreed that we have to do this more often. "Half Moon Bay" is only a 35min drive away and I have been only twice since I got here. I live right next to the ocean and I never go. Yes I am busy, Yes, I have classes, bla bla bla. Is it maybe that the things close to us lose excitement and get somehow shoved to the back of our mind? Or is it that one becomes so caught of in one's routine that doing something extraordinary on an ordinary day is somehow out of the question?

I will try to make it a habit to include my surroundings into my day a little more purposefully. I guess thats also how one gets to appreciate the area one is living in. I think I don't really make any effort to enjoy the things I have, but much rather think about what I don't have and what is ahead. I have been planning with spring break trip to Hong Kong, researched the best restaurants and which bus to take to and from the airport. On the other hand I have not yet been to the Farmer's Market in Palo Alto or any of the underground speakeasy's in San Francisco. I am paying so much money to live in this place, so I might as well take advantage of some of the opportunities.

Cheers + bis bald,

Beautiful Half Moon Bay

PS: Shout-out to my parents for being married for 25 years. You are my role models!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

So, what do you want to do after school?

This questions is part of the holy trinity of business school introductions. Besides "Where are you from" and "What have you been doing before school", "What do you want to do after school" has been answered numerous times by me and my classmates especially in the beginning of out time at Stanford.

Theres a little problem though. A lot of people come to business school because they want to be exposed to different industries or functions, might be looking for a career change or want figure out what ultimately gets them excited. Answering "What do you want to do after school" therefore becomes quite difficult and usually leads to "Well, I want to try out different things and then see what I like".

Funny enough the big Stanford admissions questions is: "What matters most to you and why" accompanied by a little "Where do you see yourself after business school". Its interesting to see that I, along many, many other classmates answered this question, got admitted and now say "Well, I want to try out different things and then see what I like" when asked about what to do after school.

I believe it is totally fine to not know what ones goal in life is and where one wants to devote all energy and resources to. Actually, I find thinking about this quite scary. I like to have options and I like to be able to take opportunities once they come along. A narrow focus on one specific topic makes me feel that I am actively shutting out a lot of other options. An MBA compared to another Masters Degree is basically the result of that fear. Getting an MBA means getting a very generalist education. Joining consulting kind of is the same deal.

I wonder whether I will at some point find that ONE thing that I want to do or whether I will continue to flip-flop. One can never try everything out and be 100% sure. I sometimes wonder whether that fear of commitment and that constant search for better options is a characteristic of our generation. I for sure don't only see it in professional life.

Cheers + bis bald,

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Should I have gone to Harvard?

We just had the 1st round admit weekend on campus and it was interesting to see many potential members of the class of 2016 evaluate their classmates, campus and faculty. I hosted a German admit (who has just paid his deposit and will be coming to the GSB - Way to go Daniel!) and was thinking more than usual about why coming to Stanford was the right choice for me, what it meant and also what I had to sacrifice.

Adding on to this, last week I was asked by a classmate who had also been accepted at Harvard if I sometimes think that I should have gone HBS. I think about it at least once a week and most likely much more often. Especially coming from Europe the HBS brand name carries so much more weight and is the Coca-Cola of education - something really everyone knows. As most human beings (some more, some less), I like to impress people. I find it satisfying to see that my parents and friends are proud of me. I could have had so much more of that had I gone to HBS especially talking to people that have only heard about both schools and never did any research. Still, I believe Stanford is the place where I can grow the most and where I am prepared to have maximum impact in whichever path I end up choosing.

Whenever I think about that a quote from our Dean of Admissions comes to my mind. Someone asked him the grandparents question:

"Derrick, my grandparents have no idea what Stanford is. I want them to be proud and I remember how excited they were when I got into Harvard."

Derrick's answer:

"You know it is really sad if your grandparents don't really know where you are going to school. But imagine, that one day your grandkids won't know where you went to school."

Stanford is a great place, but in some regions outside the US it does not yet have the reputation of Harvard. This will change over time though. Stanford is forward-looking, innovative and shapes the world like very few other places. Going to Stanford means taking pride in what is possible, not in what has been.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I've become famous - Interview with!

Tim Eisenmann: Stanford GSB Student, Blogger, and World Traveler

By - Jan 26, 08:15 AM Comments [0]
Stanford_MBA_TimHere’s a talk with Stanford Graduate School of Business student, Tim Eisenmann – a world traveler with a unique work history, set out to impact his surroundings and change the world! Read our interview below to hear about Tim’s experiences at Stanford, and then check out his blog, From PA to the World, for more info. Thank you Tim for sharing your story with us!
This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent job before you started b-school?
Tim: I was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany. Starting with my high school exchange to the US when I was 15 I have always put a lot of emphasis on changing the environment around me which has led to me living in Germany, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Poland and Rwanda.
Connecting people and facilitating transportation has always fascinated me, which was one of the reasons why I joined Lufthansa, the biggest European airline group, right after undergrad.
Most recently I was working on post merger integration issues and long-term sales strategy.
Accepted: On your blog you say that you’re searching for new inspirations for what to do in the future. Does that mean that you’re stepping away from aviation? Do you plan on entering a new industry? What do you plan on doing post MBA?
Tim: Honestly, I don’t fully know what I want to do. That’s one of the reasons I am at Stanford. Being with bright, motivated students from all over the world gives you exposure to a lot of different industries and functions. There are a few characteristics that my job after b-school needs to have though: international travel, a high performance team and the potential for large scale impact.
Stanford is doing a great job of providing opportunities in a lot of fields: be it through introductions to social entrepreneurs in Africa, meeting McKinsey partners for lunch or connecting you to VCs that might be interested in your start-up idea. I really feel that the world is you oyster in Palo Alto.
Accepted: Which other business schools had you considered? Why did you choose a U.S. program over one closer to home?
Tim: Education is free in Germany, so most of my friends questioned my decision to spend tons of money on an MBA from a US school. I still feel I am making the right choice though. With an MBA one buys a network, a brand name and generalist business skills. For me it was always clear that especially for the first two factors one has to get an MBA from a top school in the US, which is why I applied to HBS and the GSB.
Accepted: Why did you choose Stanford GSB? How would you say you’re a good fit for that program?
Tim: There really isn’t a “good fit” at Stanford. I feel that I am like no one else in my class, but still there is the desire to change the world we live in and to have a lasting impact that resonates with most of us in some way.
Once I had offers from HBS and the GSB I realized that most doors in my future would be opened and it boiled down to where I felt I could become a better manager and grow as a person.
Given the small class size, the collaborative atmosphere and the strong emphasis on leadership, I figured that the GSB was the right place for me. And the constant sunshine doesn’t hurt either.
Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?
Tim: I am taking a course called “Design for Sustainable Abundance” at the design school this quarter. The design school focuses on human centered approaches to problem solving through design thinking. All classes in the have MBAs, engineers, med school students and scientists work together on real life problems. In our case it is redesigning parts the food system to be more sustainable. We get 24/7 access to a playground for adults including a craft room, movable walls for sticky note brainstorming sessions and a microwave for late night ramen noodles.
Accepted: Can you talk about your internship in Kigali? And do you have an internship lined up for this coming summer yet?
Tim: After quitting my job at Lufthansa I felt like something totally different before b-school. Stanford connected me to a social entrepreneur (also a GSB grad) in Rwanda who tries to fight malnutrition by developing mushroom cultivation through an outgrower model in northern Rwanda. I got to work on the export to Uganda and Burundi, as well as on forming a Joint Venture with a Spanish partner to set up a lab for mushroom tissue replication. Yes, fairly random, but immensely exciting and a great learning experience to work with a small team in a challenging environment. If you want to learn more: Kigali Farms is always looking for motivated interns!
Regarding next summer, recruiting is already at full speed on campus. I am currently thinking about splitting my summer between two internships. One more traditional one doing management consulting in London or New York and the other one exploring more opportunities in the food processing sector in East Africa. Maybe not mushrooms, but mangos this time…
Accepted: Looks like you’re passionate about travel – how do you plan on fitting that into your future plan?
Tim: Over the course of the last years I have managed to each year spend at least 100h on a plane. I really enjoy having time for myself during the flight, then exploring new cultures and meeting new and old friends. Optimally, in the future I have a job that requires me to travel, but gives me the free time to actually explore the place that I am in. But with family in Germany, an interest in East Africa and a network of friends all around the world I am sure that I won’t ever experience a lack of travel opportunities.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Tim: Since I don’t really have the time any more to write individual emails to family and friends I thought a blog would be right medium to keep everyone up to date. After a while I realized that I don’t have 1000+ friends, so there have to be some others that read my blog. It is great to know that my experiences can maybe help applicants or admits to make the right decision for themselves. I can only encourage everyone to check out my blog and leave a comment in case of questions. I’ll promise to answer them, because if they teach us one thing at the GSB it is that people development is the key to success and I’d be happy to see a lot of you at Stanford in the next couple of years.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Stanford see:
Steer Your Way to A Stanford MBA, a free webinar.
- See more at:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Study Trip Wrap-Up and Coming Home

As you might have been able to guess, writing about the study trip is actually part of fulfilling our international requirement at the GSB. The school tries to make sure that we don't interpret those trips as vacation, but actually as an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of that learning is reflecting on the experiences via blogposts or essays. Well, I selected the blogposts.

Let me sum up the trip experiences:
(+) Met a lot of great people from my class
(+) Actually really got to know some people on a deeper level
(+) Learned about the Australian economy
(+) Made some meaningful airline executive connections
(+) Crossed off another continent

(-) Wasn't really challenged culturally (Australia is actually kind of like the US)
(-) Didn't get the time to venture out on my own
(-) Had only very few interactions with locals
(-) Spent much, much, much more money than I would have on a self-organized trip

After three more days (including Christmas) in Cairns it was time to say bye-bye to Down Under and the town with the countless bats and head back to California. Well, not exactly. Driving airfare down I decided to book a lot of my travel with AirAsia and include 3 stops on the way back: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Tokyo.

- Skiing in Hakuba and having sushi on the slopes
- Realizing that I visited 4 of the 10 most expensive cities worldwide on the trip (SIN, MEL, SYD, TYO)
- Having drinks at the Marina Bay Sands hotel, starting to dance and having the entire club follow us to the dance floor
- Staying at a classmates former housemates house in Tokyo (Thank, Li!)
- Being shown around Tokyo by another classmate and taking her to a Maid Cafe (if you know what that is you are really weird!)

I promise that the next post will actually be about business school again.

Until then
Cheers + bis bald,

Emperor's Palace in Tokyo

Japanese mid-skiing snack 
Me on the slopes in Hakuba
Hakuba's Happo-One skiing area

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Global Study Trip 3 - Cairns

After our stops in Melbourne and Sydney we headed towards the Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef to see what makes Australia one of the prime tourism spots worldwide. Besides coming closer together as a group while exploring the marine wildlife we also met with one of the most prominent thought leaders and activists in indigenous affairs in Australia: Noel Pearson.

Indigenous affairs have been handled very differently in Australia over the last centuries. Stories about for example the "stolen generation" have made it even to German classrooms where I remember heated discussions about how a government can put in place legislation so obviously harmful. It was interesting to see what kind of picture Pearson was painting compared to the CEOs we had met beforehand on our trip. Those CEOs were seeing the problems of Native Australians not really as a challenge for their businesses, but more of a PR vehicle to showcase their own corporate social responsibility. Pearson referenced a lot of political philosophy in his speech to us and it became obvious that he was an experienced speaker in front of big audiences. He was using his gestures and mimic much more than the business leaders we had met before. I don't think it is fair to compare Pearson's to MLK's style, but it actually seemed fairly similar.

If you are interested:

On a lighter note, when people hear Cairns they immediately think scuba diving and snorkeling. Activities I am not a huge fan of. Mostly because I am afraid of deep water and fish. Two things that are integral components of diving. Well, I snorkeled anyway. And I am still alive. But I didn't find my love for seeing fish and corals that close up.

Another interesting fact about Cairns is that there are a lot of bats all over town. Why? - I have not idea. But see for yourself in the pictures. It is actually quite scary at night and reminded all of us of Hitchcock's "Birds" movie.

Stay tuned for the wrap-up of the global study trip and my travels back to Stanford.

Cheers + bis bald,

Bats in Cairns
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef 
Boat ride back from the reef

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Global Study Trip 2 - Sydney

Hi there,

I know I am lagging behind with my posts a little bit. The new quarter has just started, consulting interviews are coming up and I have been coming back to campus with a cold.

Let me nevertheless briefly tell you about the second stop of my global study trip: Sydney.

Being much more urban than Melbourne, Sydney definitely had a big-city feel to it. Here we visited Westpac, Jawun, Saatchi and some start-ups.

I want to focus on our meeting with Gail Kelley, CEO of Westpac and according to Forbes the 8th most powerful women in the world in 2010. Gail told us her story of moving up the ranks from an ordinary bank teller to becoming CEO of one of Australia's largest banks. Having previously met with Jayne Hrdlicka, the CEO of Jetstar, it was interesting to see how those two women differ in their leaderships styles and their values. Gail seemed to have a lot more tenure, seemed calmer and less aggressive. One thing they both had in common was that they acknowledged the fact that being a women made it harder for them to thrive in their careers. It is sad, but at the same time shows the tremendous skill those two actually have. It might also be the reason why both of them mentioned leadership development as one of the key assets a manager can have. Because they might not always have been developed as well as their male counterparts they try to reverse that and create a better environment for that in their companies.

Besides the meetings we also saw the one place I was really excited about in Australia: The Sydney Opera House. I feel it is like the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge. Something one has seen so many times on photos or on TV. The building itself was nice, but nothing too special. I think the fact that it is so strongly connected to the image I have of Sydney is what made it interesting to see.

I am going to finish for now and try to write part 3 of the trip report in the upcoming days.

Cheers + bis bald,