Archive for November, 2011

Preparing For Final Exams

Today is the start of what will be a long week here at Northwestern.  As I’ve been mentioning in recent entries, this is one of the busiest times for first year students.  The holiday season is kicking off and people just got back from Thanksgiving Break. Recruiting season is also starting to pick up, which has first year Kellogg students at events this week and next. And last but not least, classes are wrapping up, and students are finally gearing up for their first set of final exams.

At long last, it’s that time of year again at Northwestern. People just got back in town from the holiday weekend and are gearing up for finals period. And if looking at the calendar isn’t good enough for you, then you can also just take a quick look at Facebook. See what many of your JD and MBA friends are talking about.  I have over the past few days, and the number of messages is definitely up as more people are procrastinating now than they have all quarter. And many of them are talking a lot about their last classes and first finals.

But this time of year is no surprise to my law school classmates. In fact, it’s what they’ve been waiting for ever since August when classes first started.  So they’ll spend the next two weeks catching up on reading cases. Making outlines. Talking through the issues with classmates. And taking practice final exams. All in anticipation of that breakthrough moment that will change everything. That giant piece of information that opens up the entire class for us. That gust of insight that gives us exactly what we need to ace the final exams.  Though unfortunately, it almost never happens that way.

On the other hand, in business school, the process all happens more gradually, as MBAs have to learn a lot more on the way to finals period. First years have more assignments to complete and more team discussions to have.  They also have to think about recruiting activities now, even during the final two weeks of the first quarter. So not only do they have to learn but their time is also more limited. So they spend less time learning and more time on other things during the final two weeks.

But no matter which school you belong to, you’ll definitely be busy. Studying and learning, one concept at a time.  And as you study, you hope to hit a tipping point where you start learning more information more rapidly. And then you’ll eventually finish your first final exam. Then another. Then another. And at some point, you’ll be finished.

As a prize, law students go take two weeks to relax and rest up before another grueling semester of 1L. MBAs on the other hand will be heading to Telluride, CO for Ski trip (CLICK HERE for last year’s article on ski trip) to celebrate finally finishing up.

Either way, most people at Kellogg and the law school have a lot of studying to do. And eventually a lot of celebrating to do.  Stay tuned to hear how things play out.

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 Business School No Comments

More Than Two Years of Blogging

There’s been a lot of buzz on the Internet about blogging the last couple of days. In one post, Fred Wilson of Union Square ventures recently reflected on his blogging experience over the past years. Not only did he mention that he’s written over 5,600 blog posts but he said he might even be coming up on 10,000 hours of writing. Just yesterday, Om Malik put up a similar post. In the post he discussed his experience blogging over the past ten years and some of the lessons he learned from his 11,000+ posts. Well … given those posts, I wanted to look back at the last few years that I’ve been blogging as well.

Looking back, I’ve been blogging about two and a half years now. Objectively, two and a half years is a long time by almost any account. It’s especially long when you go through 1L and the first year of business school during that same time period, as those are two of the most demanding time periods you can experience.

But despite being busy, I always saw blogging as something that was worthwhile. Not only was it something that was fun but it also seemed quite useful.  It was a way to organize my thoughts and keep track of events. A way to think about the lessons learned during pivotal periods in the JD-MBA program.  A way to continuously improve my writing, as Fred and Erick suggested. And most importantly, a way to give back by answering questions and talking about experiences that a lot of people were interested in.

I’m not at 5,600 blog posts like Fred or at 10,000 posts like Erick, but I still agree  that writing here has been tremendously beneficial. In addition to making me a faster writer, I’ve also gotten better at telling a story, being more concise, and checking the background facts among other things.. And I’ve also gotten even better after writing so much during law school last year.

As I look back on the number of posts I’ve had, I’ve posted every 2 to 3 days over the past two years. This year, I’ll also write more posts than last year, though only by a small margin. And over the last two years, I’ve had a fairly even distribution of posts over the different months. There also doesn’t seem to be any trend to which months get the most posts. In 2009, I posted most in July. In 2010, I posted most in January and June. And in 2011, I posted most in March and November.

Here is a graph of my posts from 2011.


Here is a graph of my posts from 2010.

Here is the trend for the number of words per post.  And there is a very clear trend for my posts to have fewer and fewer words. This could be happening for a number of reasons – my own time constraints, better at writing more concise posts, shorter attention span of readers, accident, or all of the above.

Given how often I post as a student, I frequently get asked whether I’ll continue blogging after school. I definitely intend to keep blogging and I’ve been thinking a lot about how I should reinvent my blog if I do. Some people have suggested incorporating video content. Others, suggest more Q&A. And others suggest focusing on my professional field once I graduate.  I don’t know how it will evolve. But what I do know is that I do plan to turn up the volume in the next few months. Maybe like Fred and Erick, I’ll even start posting daily.

Thanks for the inspiration gentlemen!

To see Fred’s post CLICK HERE

To see Erick’s post CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 27th, 2011 Business School 2 Comments

Applicant Question: Leadership Opportunities in Business School

In a recent email, I was contacted by one of my regular blog readers who is a potential applicant to MBA programs.  He asked me about the ways to get involved in activities while in business school. Specifically, he asked about how he might get involved in clubs, or organize study trips during the experience. In some respects this is a tough question because there are so many ways to get involved, so it’s hard to even begin to answer. But at Kellogg, people do get pretty involved, so I was happy to give him my take on things.

Before getting to the question, I’ll note that this is only one perspective, and others could have slightly different opinions on the matter.  After all, everyone has different levels of involvement at Kellogg and different abilities to handle multiple things at any given time. Likewise, I’d also say that I do my best to be one of the more active people on both campuses. So my propensity to get involved is high and my time to devote to any single campus is low. But that’s also typical of a lot of Kellogg students so I think I’ll provide a representative response. See below for the question. And below that for my response.



Hi Jeremy,

As I already told you, I follow your blog from time to time (and I like it).

I was wondering ‘What are the ways in which an MBA student can contribute to campus and the MBA community’? When I think of myself, I would like to be a club president of a management consulting club, start a new club or organize a study trip. Additionally, is there something that you as a student miss on campus and that can be run/done by a student initiative?

I would really like to hear your perspective since you are there (on campus).

Thanks a lot.





Hi (Name)

Thanks for reading my blog and for your question.

In business school, many people love to get involved in clubs and in on-campus activities. In fact, most people do. The running joke in MBA programs is that most people get involved too much in the beginning and end up becoming overextended, as many of us get involved in too many clubs, go to too many events, recruit for too many industries and sign up for too many social events. As a result, some students don’t always have time to do their best work.  But either way, the point is, that there is no shortage of things to get involved in. And even thought it can all be very tiring it’s usually worth it.

One way that people get involved is by taking part in clubs. And in business school there are a lot of clubs you can get involved in. At Kellogg, there are nearly 90 student clubs to get involved in. You can take part industry clubs (e.g. banking, finance, marketing), social clubs (wine club, food club, etc), arts and services clubs, and also cultural clubs (Indian business club, Hispanic Business club, etc). The list goes on.  In such cases, students tend to get involved during the first year, as participants or as first year directors and then take on more significant leadership roles in the second year. In many cases, those positions are appointed by last year’s team and in other cases there might be a vote amongst the current members. Likewise, in some cases you run on a slate of leaders and in other cases, you run on your own. It all depends on the club.

A second way that people get involved is by being part of student government, which at Kellogg is called the KSA (e.g. Kellogg Student Association). To do that, you usually take part in student body elections at Kellogg  either during the very beginning or in the spring quarter.  For many people this is also fulfilling. Not only is it a way to give back to the school but its also a way to get involved in some very interesting issues and interface with many people in the Kellogg administration.

In addition to clubs and elections, many people also organize trips in business school. At Kellogg two ways that people do that are through GIM or for KWEST. I did both. For m GIM trip, we went to Kenya – it was the nonprofit profit trip my year. In addition to Kenya, others went to other places all over the world. As a student you can either participate or lead the trip and get very different yet rewarding experiences either way. Likewise for KWEST, you can also have a rewarding experience. As an incoming student, you have the opportunity  take part in a KWEST trip as your first experience on campus. And as a second year, you have the opportunity to take part as a KWEST leader and take 20 incoming students all around the world.

In addition to these, there are dozens (if not more) of other ways to get involved, organize, and lead on Kellogg’s campus. From nonprofit activities (e.g. Kellogg Cares) to experienential learning classes (G-lab) to things beyond the Kellogg campus, such as at Northwestern and in Chicago. There really is no shortage of ways to get involved. And that’s even for spouses and families who can take part in the joint venture club, and other similar groups on campus.

However, to the last point, I will caveat my entire post by saying that those who are married and/or have families often have unique experiences and have other things that demand their time. So I suspect that some of them might answer this question differently than I would.

But assuming you do have time to participate then it applies to you. And if does apply, then here’s my opinion on many of these types of clubs and roles.  If you have the time and interest and are  able to get a lead role in an organization, then chances are you should take it. Landing the group will probably earn you at least a little respect from some of your colleagues, give you more self-confidence, and give you experience organizing. It will also give you something interesting to talk about in future interviews, not only for clubs but also for jobs and anything else you do on campus. That said, the title usually doesn’t really mean much.  Instead, it means more to be able to work with other students and find a way to have impact as a unit.

Good luck in your pursuits.

Saturday, November 26th, 2011 Business School, Careers 2 Comments

Applicant Question: Career Change from Sales and Startup to Private Wealth in Business School

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! This time of year, people are back at home spending time with friends and families.  Many of them are just relaxing. Others are students, taking a break from classes, before finals period. And there’s another group of people, that are using the break to apply to business school. They’re hoping next year that when they’re sitting at the table, they’ll be able to say that they’ll thankful for “getting in”. To make the a possibility for as many students as possible, I’ve been responding to lots of email questions this week. One question came from a reader that had a question about career changes in business school. 

In a recent email, I was contacted by someone I met during my online chat series. She asked me about career changes in business school. Specifically, about how to move into Private Wealth Management (PWM) from her current career track. She noted that she had moved away from the path that she had intended so she thought that PWM seemed like a longer shot. 

I’l note that I didn’t recruit for the Private Wealth Management industry here at Kellogg.  Likewise, I also didn’t recruit specifically in the finance industry. But I do know a fair number of people that did, and I do still have a few thoughts to share on the topic. See below for her question, and below that for my response.



Dear Jeremy,

Thank you so much for your time and for the suggestion. If its OK, I have one more formidable challenge in addressing my application. I am from an engineering background, with 3 years of experience in sales – financial products, insurance industry. I have a very good record in performance and was in the top 10 of the region consistently. However, due to a stalled career and little growth prospects… i got bored and due to lack of further personal and professional growth..clubbed with a mandatory topological relocation.. I took up the opportunity at a a Strategy and sales consultant…and have done pretty well here.

My challenge here is that my interest is in Private Wealth Management, that cropped from my exposure to financial products while with my earlier company. But however, my present industry is Advertising and marketing… so my biggest concern is how do I relate my goals and interest to my present job and validate my interest in PWM?? because the shift in industry and job role isn’t realy easy to connect to my goals. My apologies for the long mail– I just thought U should get a more or less clear idea about my get a good advice from you.

Any insightful suggestions would be much appreciated…

P.S: On a personal note, I’d also like to know what would u have done had u been in my shoes?? 🙂

Thanks you in advance!





No problem on the email. Happy to help however I can. So if I interpret correctly, you spent some time working in the sales and marketing space and currently work for a startup, but you want to go into PWM. after business school  Is that correct? If that’s the case, then even though you have a bit of work to do, the transition may not be as far fetched as you think. 

Before, I jump straight into the question, I’ll point out that your diverse background is certainly not a bad thing. In fact, having a diverse background is often times a strong plus. It shows you can succeed in lots of professional environments, that you can work well with all different types of people, and that you have variety of skills and interests that could translate across a number of employers. And one of those employers could very well be in the private wealth industry. 

In terms of the career change, there are usually two simple things you will eventually have to prove – that you can do the work itself and that you’re a good fit for the firm and industry.  Both things are very achievable but as you might suspect they also both take a bit of work.  Below, I’ll talk briefly about both. 

First, you’ll have to prove you have what it takes to do the job. For recruiting, PWM teams put an emphasis on sales skills, financial acumen/skills and understanding of the markets. It sounds like you’ll have a head start on sales/marketing part given your background, which is good news. Kellogg and most other top MBA programs also have great marketing classes that will also be very helpful.  In terms of the financial acumen, that’s something I bet you can pick up in business school as well. Not only will you have a chance to pick a lot of it up once you get to business school but it sounds like you also know a bit about financial products now, in your current role. In the mean time, it can’t hurt to continue to increase your knowledge in that area. Take an extra class. Read the WSJ a lot more. And study the industry. Keep in mind that you may be competing with people from the finance industry and with bankers for these jobs, so knowing as much as you can will be helpful.  And third, you should also study the markets in general.  From what I hear, everyone that interviews for PWM is asked about the markets. How are the markets performing? What’s happening today? And what insights you have for the future? So understanding that will be very important. 

After getting through that part, you’ll also have to make sure you’re a good cultural fit for the industry and specific firms you want to interview at. People at banks tend to work longer hours, like working with numbers, think very analytically, and often have a lot of energy. And PWM folks specifically also tend to have certain types of personalities. Usually very outgoing, collaborative, high energy, and people oriented.  Getting to know them during the recruiting process in the fall will be very important. Not only to show them that you can fit in but also that you would enjoy working in the environment and with their teams specifically. This is true in most industries on business school campuses, but in PWM, it’s definitely very important. 

But perhaps just as important as all of this is to keep in mind that people change careers all the time in business school. Some people switch between finance, startups, consulting, general management, and marketing. And not just comparing pre-MBA with post-MBA but also taking into account summer jobs. As such, most people can get a job in an unrelated industry from a top school, you’ll just have to prove focus and be sure to put in the hard work to make that happen.
That said, I’d also say that nowadays, it’s harder than ever to make drastic career switches. Not only are there less opportunities, given the economy but candidates in all industries are stronger than ever before. So you’ll have to work extra hard to make it happen. You’ll have to make sure you study finance, marketing, and the markets. For some people, they have to use the internship as a stepping stone, only to get their perfect job the next year during full time recruiting.  But if you put in the work, it’s definitely a real possibility. 

All of this infomratoin should fit very well into your essays. You just have to be sure to show focus and to tell the right story. Hope this helps.

Good luck. And Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 25th, 2011 Admissions, Business School, Careers 2 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving. Here’s What I’m Thankful For

It’s hard to believe but this is my last Thanksgiving as a student. Reflecting back on my time here at Northwestern as well as my undergrad days at Stanford, it’s hard not to recall how many great classes, great job opportunities, interesting professors and best of all great classmates I’ve had along the way. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I’ve been to have the experience. And that leads me to what I’m most thankful for this year.

Ever since I started my blog (and graduate school) a few years ago, I’ve received quite a few emails from readers.  Many of them wanted tips or advice for selecting programs. Others had specific admissions questions. Others were visiting campus and were looking for someone to speak to while they were here. And some simply wanted to say thanks for keeping up my site.

I read every one of those questions and did my best to respond to all of them, though admittedly I think I missed a few.  In the course of all of this, I’ve come to find that there are a lot of people that want to go to business school and to law school, but that there are very few seats at these places. After all, there are only 230 seats at the law school and only 600 at Kellogg despite over 7,000 applications. More importantly, there are exponentially more people all over the US and world that want to go to great undergraduate universities, but a large majority will never have the opportunity to attend a 4-year university.

This has all come to an apex today, as education has become THE hot button issue, given the rise in education costs and decreasing number of jobs available given the economy. Even though this has have led critics to critique the value of education, I’ve learned firsthand that getting an education is still an incredibly powerful tool. A tool you can use to not only change your circumstances but also find the success that many of us were never raised to even dream about having.

More than 3 years later, after seeing all the opportunities I’ve had access to school, those words are even more true.  And that leads me to a few of the things that I’m most thankful for this year:

I’m thankful for having the chance to get an education and the opportunity to be enrolled in a great graduate program today. This is especially true considering where everything started (Youngstown, OH), as my access and economic means were significantly limited.  It was certainly not something that always seemed possible.

I’m also thankful for the opportunities I’ve had access to as a result of being in school. Great clubs, great organizations and great job opportunities. My goal is to continue to do what I can to help others from my community create those same opportunities.

I’m also thankful for my parents who supported me and pushed me along to pursue a better education. Sometimes it seemed hard but when I was young my parents made sure that I stayed on track. In large part, because they wanted me to achieve the things they never had the chance to.

I’m also thankful for my great classmates, many of whom are some of my best friends today. When you’re going through the fire in school, it’s always great to have classmates and friends you can count on and enjoy the experience with.

I’m also thankful for the JD-MBAs here in my program. Not only a really smart group but also a group where every one of us undergoes the same process. We have to take extra classes. We all have limited bidding points and multiple sets of emails to manage. We all have to move cities multiple times. And worst of all, we all have to get on the shuttle every day in the final year.

And finally, I’m thankful for the Internet, where we can I share this message with lots of people.  Not only is the net revolutionizing modern communication but it’s also helping democratize access to information for those who need access the most.

In sum, I’m thankful for education. I don’t take it for granted, and you shouldn’t either. The jobs we have access to, earning potential we can achieve, and most importantly the role we have the opportunity to take on in society are all a privilege. So we should treat them as such. We should use them as a platform. A way to give back to those that helped us. And a way to improve access in our communities. For every person that got into a great school,  there are tens of thousands in the US and millions other nations that would love to same chance. The chance to have our seat in school. To take the exam that we complained about afterward. To go to the classes we thought about skipping.  So let’s show the world we are thankful and that we were the right people for the seats.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hopefully it’s filled with family, friends, and most of all with lots of “Thanks.”

Thursday, November 24th, 2011 Business School, Careers, Education, Law School 8 Comments

Applicant Question: What Qualities Does Kellogg Look For?

Every year, thousands of people apply to business school and apply to Kellogg. Senior managers looking to transition from one firm to another.  Former consultants and bankers looking to gain credentials to go back to their former firms. And recent graduates ready to gain access to more opportunities and take on the world. Despite their differences in backgrounds they do all share one commonality. They all want to figure out how to get in to business school, including Kellogg.

In a recent post on a person asked me about just that.  In short, they wanted to know what Kellogg loos for. Her full question was: “When you interview a first year candidate, what qualities do you specifically look for ? How do evaluate ‘fit’ for Kellogg?”

In part, this is a tough question because there are so many moving parts to an interview and so many possible answers here. And it was also tough because I had very limited time to answer the question, given I was on a chat forum. Maybe just two or three minutes. That said, I did have a few thought to share. See below for my response. And below that for her counter response.

And also be sure to check out and BeatTheGMAT’s Kellogg Wall for similar question on MBA admissions.


When you interview a first year candidate, what qualities do you specifically look for ? How do evaluate ‘fit’ for Kellogg?”



Great question. First, I’ll note that everyone’s interview is very different, so you can’t necessarily predict your interview experience. That said, there are a few things that Kellogg likely assesses candidates for. I’ll provide three here:

1) Culture. The Kellogg culture is vibrant, fun, and high energy. People also spend a lot of time working in teams here, so the ability to show cultural fit is key. While there’s not one specific way to do this, focus on being yourself, on demonstrating how you like to work in teams, and on being personable.

2) Communications skills. Because spends so much time in teams and focused on leadership development, people here tend to be very good at communication skills. So high energy, ability to tell a good story and convey a message, things that are not only important here at Kellogg but also professionally after school is over.

3) Being well-rounded. As a general management school, being well-rounded is also important. That means displaying a high number of interests and skills. A propensity to work on a number of different business issues rather than just being a finance person or a marketer. And the ability to work with a large number of people. Further, if you work hard during your day job but area blogger, singer, dancer or anything else, make sure to discuss those things. You’ll likely be better off.



Thanks Jeremy.. big fan of your blog.. I also hope to create a blog which is as organized as yours by next year..once I get thru one of my top choice Bschool..



Thanks for the follow up message. Blogging takes a lot of work, but for many is well worth the time. Feel free to let me know once you get started. I’d love to have a look.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 Admissions, Business School, Careers 1 Comment

When to start worrying about classes?

A week or two ago, a good friend had just received the results of her midterm exam. I don’t know what her final score was but she clearly didn’t do as well as she wanted.  She was wondering what she should do to make sure she does well in the class. She asked me, How long before I should start worrying? Should I start preparing for the final now? And does the midterm really matter? All good questions, especially because I don’t think there is a real answer that works for everyone.

First is the obvious answer. “You should NOT worry.”  Most people would tell you that in business school, grades aren’t all that important so worrying isn’t worth the effort. They’d ensure you that most of the time grades don’t make a difference, as recruiters often don’t ask about them. they often don’t come up in interviews, and they often don’t fit into any of the applications you might consider submitting.

Similarly, you’ll also hear that in business school people won’t put in as much work for the rest of the class as they might if they were in law school or a PhD program.  So because the competition might not be as stiff, you shouldn’t worry because you still have plenty of time to figure it out all out.

But putting all of that aside for a second, let’s assume that grades are important for you and that people will try.  Then, the next question that comes up is the one she actually asked. When, should she “worry”?

My first response is, You should NEVER be WORRYING.”  The psychologist’s argument would probably be  that worrying is a waste of time. That it’s not a useful way to improve performance. It also often doesn’t change the outcome in the end. And that instead, it makes you jittery and distracts from you from other important things you have to get done.

That said, my response my be similar to that. I’d say that you should do your best not to worry, but that you should be thinking about them, given there are only a few weeks left.  So figure out how to channel your energy appropriately.

In business school things are busy.  So you have to think about things early. For class, that means making sure you don’t keep falling behind. Getting your hands on all the handouts and printouts. Organizing the concepts not only to be printed but also in your head to better conceptualize the class. And thinking about if you need a tutor. This all before you even start learning anything.

After that, then you have to schedule time to spend reading and learning the material. Schedule time with a classmate or tutor. And schedule time to see the professor if needed. And then schedule time to learn it on your own again before the exam.

So given that, my answer is the same – don’t worry, because worrying will slow down the process. Especially, now you’ve got lots of other things to do before you can even study.

That said, I know some people that never “worried” or “started thinking”  about the content until the final week of the quarter.  And others until the final days of the quarter. And they still got A’s in the class. This happens a fair amount of the time in business school. But it’s not the most common case.

Either way, don’t worry. Just think about the timeline that works best for you, and take action accordingly.

Good luck.

Monday, November 21st, 2011 Admissions, Business School No Comments

Another Class on Entrepreneurship

An interest in entrepreneurship has led me to take another entrepreneurship class at Northwestern next term.  As it turns out, it’s one of the most popular courses is Northwestern. It’s Kellogg’s NUvention program, which is interdisciplinary class that brings together students from the Kellogg School, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied ScienceNorthwestern Law and the Feinberg School of Medicine. As you might imagine, this interdisciplinary class looks like it will turn out to be pretty interesting.

The premise of NUVention is to allow students to work with companies that are creating and launching viable businesses, so students can experience the entire entrepreneurial lifecycle.  Starting from ideation to concept, and moving to prototype and business plan, students have the chance to see what it means to create a real business. And the best part is that you work on them in diverse teams.

Teams from many of Northwestern’s programs come together for NUVention. We get to work with law students on patent research and other legal issues; engineering students on design and development; Kellogg students on market research and business plan development, and PhDs from other schools as well.

Personally, I’ll do be doing the NUVention Energy option, which means our project will be related to clean technology. There other two options are NUVention Medical and NUVention Web. As you might suspect, I had a really strong interest in the Web class, but unfortunately the timing of the class prohibited me from taking it.

My NUVention Energy class will take place next quarter. Just two weeks ago, I met the other six people that would be on my time. One other law student, two Kellogg students, two McCormick students, and one graduate student from the School of Arts and Sciences.  And then me,  joint JD-MBA student.

Before next quarter begins, we’ll all meet up to get to know each other better. In fact, I’m taking the lead on organizing that meet up as we speak.  At some point soon, we’ll also take on different roles for the team. Someone to work on legal issues. Someone to work on technology. Another person to run the business model. Another to work on sales and marketing. And then likely one project manager.

And in a ten week course, we’ll go from concept to business plan, and then present our findings to the company. Our project is about coming up with a business plan for a Chemical Agent Detection device, and it seems pretty interesting so far.

Stay tuned to hear more about how the class goes next quarter.

Saturday, November 19th, 2011 Business School 2 Comments

Minimum Viable Product. A Product Management Concept

The other day, I spoke with an alumni of Northwestern, and told him about an internet project I’m working on. I told him that I was looking for a designer and developer, and that I had big plans in mind with the project.  That I wanted it to change the world and to do it quickly.  He loved the idea. But he re-introduced me to a concept that’s big in the entrepreneurship community. The idea of making a Minimum Viable Product.

In the product development function, the Minimum Viable Product (also known as MVP) is a strategy some people in the tech industry think about when creating websites. It’s for people that want to put up fast sites while also testing the market quantitatively to see if the concept sticks.  The idea is that an MVP has just those features that you need to get the site up and running. It allows you deploy the site and get feedback from an initial set of viewers.  Those viewers understand that it’s testing mode, so they not only forgive errors, but some will try it again when you’ve iterated.  And in the end, that feedback will allow you to make updates and refine your targeted customers. It will also help you to avoid building products that customers do not want.”

Great concept!

But one question I had, was does this concept always apply? What about a product that’s meant to be a beautiful multimedia experience and not one where people come to buy products and services. That when you land on the site, you have a point of sale. That you either stay and experience the site or your bail, and spend your time elsewhere.

Let me explain. On one hand, you have companies like Groupon and Dropbox (where the term originated). These companies not only need great sites, but they also have things you come to use or purchase. These sites aren’t up just to provide an experience. Instead they provide an experience while you make your way to do something else. The call to action is to purchase something. On the other hand, you have sites that are made to give you an experience. Sites that tell stories. Sites that allow you to interact with people and with features. And on those sites the call to action is something different and less commercial.

And thus, the quest for creating a world class website can be tricky. You can create a masterpiece from day one and get a lot of initial viewers. But if it’s not what they are looking for in the marketplace because you’re still refining your technique, then it may turn out to be less useful than what you envisioned. In that case, using the MVP strategy is very useful. On the other hand, sometimes you just have to go for it. Defy convention. Make something big right away.  Because the look and feel of the site are more important. And because you need to get certain features up right away.  Project after project and website after website show that this also happens. The question is, which works for you?

I don’t know what the answer is in my case. Stay tuned to hear more about it, once I do.

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 Business School No Comments

Online MBA Admissions Chat with on Thursday

Hey everyone, I hope you had a great weekend.  I just wanted to write to tell you about a chat session that I am having with (BTG) this Thursday.  On Thursday at 11am CST, BTG will host a chat session with me, where I’ll discuss what it takes to get into Kellogg, the JD-MBA program and the law school. This will be part of an ongoing series of chats, where I’ll not only provide tips for applying but also share my experiences at Kellogg and the JD-MBA program.

If you’re interested in learning more about Northwestern or business school generally, I hope to join the call this Thursday. Likewise, you should also feel free to pass the information along to any others that might find the webinar useful. Friends that are considering business school, JD-MBA programs, or Kellogg. And if they are interested but can’t make this one, no big deal. This will be part of an ongoing series of chats that I’ll be taking part in every two weeks, which will happen over the course of the next few months.

Below in a blurb about the event. You can also CLICK HERE to see the website.


Jeremy is a current JD/MBA student at Kellogg and he’s happy to share more about  his experience with you! If you’re interested in learning more about Kellogg admissions, life at Kellogg or about the JD/MBA degree, then this is your chance to ask questions to someone who’s already made it. Jeremy also keeps a very popular blog, which we highly encourage you to check out! He often posts updates about life as a b-school student and a host of other very interesting topics.

Monday, November 14th, 2011 Business School 2 Comments

Charlie Rose Exclusive Interview With Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerber

Few companies can be legitimately claim to be the most popular company on the planet.  Well one company that can is Facebook, as the organization is not only big here in the US but also present all across the world. The worldwide recognition of Facebook has totally changed communication all over the world. People of all ages use Facebook in almost every country imaginable. They connect with people that live continenents away.  And they create conversations with people from all over the world.   Well, given Facebook’s prominence, the Facebook CEO and COO recently did an interview with Charlie Rose.

Just last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were interviewed by Charlie Rose on his show.  In the 54 minute special interview, Charlie Rose asked questions we’re all curious about and asked them to talke a little bit more about Facebook.

Sheryl and Mark have been in the media a lot these days. Personally, I like Sheryl. From what I’ve seen in interviews, she comes off as passionate about the industry and company and she also spends a lot of time thinking about social issues, such as women’s careers.  She also usually comes off as bright and accomplished, which is what you’d expect from the COO of a company like Facebook.

That said, it’s clear here, that Mark was handling most of the interview. That he took control of more of the tough questions. And that on more than one occasion, he made sure to add to responses after Sheryl.

It’s also clear that the two have very different styles. On one hand,  Sheryl comes off as energetic, has more of a “Capital Hill” personality, and goes out of her to way to display good camaraderie with Mark Zuckerberg. She also has good presence and clearly enjoys the idea of public speaking. On the other hand, Zuckerberg has a more dominant personality and took more control during the interview. It was also clear that he’s a bit more foreful and a bit less comfortable on the camera, though probably better here than he’s been in times past.

But one thing they did both had was a belief in the company mission. That Facebook’s desire to make the world more connected and open really came through during the entire discussion. Another takeaway from the interview was that Facebook’s strategy was more focused than competitors. That it wanted to do one thing well – connect people better –  whereas competitors often get spread too thin by doing too many things. And finally, I also noticed that they spent a lot of time discussing Facebook’s goal of being seen as more transparent. That it cared deeply about data privacy issues and wanted to ensure that everyone else knew about this value.

To see more of the dynamics between the two and to hear more about their thoughts on Facebook, see the video below.


Sunday, November 13th, 2011 Business School No Comments

Choosing Elective Classes for Next Term

After working hard during the first year curriculum at Kellogg, we all get a lot more choice in our class selection in the second year. We more options for classes and more independent studies and experiential courses at our fingertips. As you might imagine, class selection can be a difficult process. Not only are there a lot of classes to choose from but there are also pros and cons to every class you might be considering.  And it can be especially difficult for the JD-MBAs who not only have to choose classes but have to do it at both schools, where the timetables and bidding systems are entirely different. Well, now that we’re in the final few weeks of the term now, we are starting to think about choosing classes for next term.

At long last, it’s that time of year again. Time to think about what classes to take next quarter. A process that some undertake in a matter of minutes. But also a process that some people spend hours on. After all, we only have a limited number of elective classes, so people here want to be sure to make the most of them, depending on what their priorities are.

In the process, we’re all given access to surveys about how the different classes went in previous terms. Almost like a Zagat survey of restaurants, or US News report on MBA programs. The surveys provide ratings on the classes based on student feedback.  They also show previous bids to give you a sense of how many points the classes should go for.  At Kellogg, it’s all based on a survey we fill out at the end of the class, just before the final exam. The survey has 3o or 40 questions, which include ones about the professor, the class content, and the fairness of grading, And it uses a scale from 1 to 10.

At the law school, it’s a bit more qualitative. In addition to having a rating scale from 1 to 5, the survey also has a qualitative portion. This allows students to provide constructive (usually) written feedback about the class. And the material actually ends up being quite helpful as we select classes. I think the business school should consider adopting this system.

The most popular elective courses are Entrepreneurial Finance  (Rogers),  Managerial Leadership (Kraemer), Global Lab, Negotiations (Medvek), Financial Decisions (Raviv) and Management Communications (Van Camp).  Last year, I took Entrepreneurial Finance and thought the class was definitely good. Next quarter, I successfully bid on Management Communications, a class that aims to improve student skills in communication. In short, this is an experiential course where you have to deliver a speech every week in order to get better at communicating.

The challenge of picking the right classes is daunting. And for JD-MBAs it can take a herculean effort to get everything to work out in the end.  First you have to figure out what types of classes to take. At Kellogg, people take classes for a few different reasons. One reason is to gain knowledge in a specific area. That happens a lot with the finance and marketing classes. Another reason is because they want to work on more practical skills. That’s where classes like Negotiations and Communications comes in to play. Students also choose classes purely from interest; so they pick a topic they don’t know much about. And students also pick classes because they have top professors. It all stems from the motto, “Take the professor not the course.” This is what happens a lot of time in the most popular courses.

After you have a list of courses you want to consider taking, next you have to figure out how much to bid for them. If you didn’t bid a lot of points on the popular classes, then you had no shot of getting them. Entrepreneurial Finance has traditionally been one of the highest closing classes every year. Next quarter’s class went for just under 1300 points.  Global Lab went for higher than ever before at over 1450 points, and Negotiations went for over 1500 points, which might also be an all-time high.  The tricky part here is that everyone only has a limited number of points, so you can’t bid high for everything.

Then third, you have to balance all of that, with fitting everything into your schedule. So getting them on the right days at the right times. Which is especially tricky for JD-MBAs that have law school classes downtown but also Kellogg classes in Evanston. Further, we have to do that while also balancing graduation requirements at both schools rather than at just one.

In sum, picking classes is a big part of the MBA and JD-MBA experience. The number of classes is high and there are pros and cons with any class you might be considering.

It will be interesting to see how everyone’s schedules turn out for next term.

Saturday, November 12th, 2011 Business School No Comments

Marketing to the Masses. The 2011 Kellogg Marketing Competition

Convincing someone to to your product, especially when they have limited funds, is a tough proposition.  You have to come up with the right price. Appeal to the people in front of you. Have good ideas for promoting it. And last but not least have a quality product.  This week, a lot of Kellogg students are thinking about all those things and more, as they are gearing up for this year’s 2011 Annual Kellogg Marketing Competition.

At long last, the Annual Kellogg Marketing Competition is back for the new class. There’s been a lot of buzz about it this year, but I’m seeing a lot less of it as a second year as opposed to last year.  But that’s mostly due to the fact that I’m on campus less given I’m in the last year of the JD-MBA program here.

Either way, it seems like the Kellogg Marketing Competition is one of the more fun things here on campus. It’s also one of the events that the students love to participate in.

So that leaves us just with one question now then – What does it take to emerge victorious in the Kellogg marketing competition? While there isn’t necessarily a right answer, a few ideas do emerge. Having a really idea to begin with. Getting your idea out to more and more classmates. Showing the value proposition in ways that other teams might forget to address. And most importantly, sending the right message to students throughout the week.  And when you think about it, this is the goal of any mass marketer, like Kraft, P&G, and all the other companies that come to campus.

But that’s easier said that done, right? After all, people aren’t easily convinced. They aren’t easily persuaded to give their time and spend their own resources on something they’ve never used before.  Further, you have to compete with similar products that undergo the same process of market evaluation that you did. Especially on game day (e.g. during TG) when all the teams are competing side by side.  So in the end, your job is make decision on dozens, if not hundred of assumptions. Assumptions about the color, location of your product, and pitch that will ultimately get people to say “Yes”.

This is what happens in the week leading up to the marketing competition. Teams come up with a positioning strategy. The create a mini business plan. Put marketing materials up over the school. And they think about their target customer. In fact, I’d argue that the teams in the competition should do more of this last thing (e.g. customers). That is to say, instead of starting with the masses, start with a smaller number of people. A few students in your study group. A few students in your section. Or a few of your best friends. And test your pitch and product to see their reaction. And tweak it until it works.

And once they get the idea right for friends, then you scale. Get it out to more friends. Then to club members.  To your section. Then move to another section. Then to the class.  Then the competition. And those that do that best will probably emerge victorious.

I look forward to seeing who emerges in this year’s competition.

Thursday, November 10th, 2011 Business School No Comments

Job Offer Deadlines

The best CEOs once had to do it. Investment bankers and lawyers had to do it. JDs and MBAs who want to become leaders in organizations will also have to do it.  And over the next couple of weeks, a lot of people here at Northwestern Law and at Kellogg will be doing it. They’ll have to respond to outstanding job offers that they got over the summer or during the fall. Because if they don’t, the offers will explode.

Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking. “Lucky you! At least you have an offer to choose from. How could making that decision be so hard?” I get it. Your question makes sense.  After all, in today’s economy it’s harder to get a job than it’s ever been before. But for just one second, and think about how difficult it actually is to make the decision.

Most people come to MBA programs with one big goal — to get traction a certain industry and eventually to land the job of their dreams. The role they’ve always wanted. The position they decided to lay it all on the line for. In the process though, they came across other options. They faced disappointment. And they encountered changes of heart.

What’s most interesting about business school is that everyone goes through this process. It’s perfectly set up to happen that way. Things move fast. Jobs are competitive. And positions are put out on platters for everyone to be enticed.  It even happens in bad economies at top MBA programs.

On one side of the spectrum are the people who want to pursue all their interests. They want to see everything that’s out there. Meet more and more companies. Learn as much as they can about general business. And put all that together to come up with broad based set of companies to recruit for. So they do just that.

On the other side are those that are laser focused. They work on building a critical mass of knowledge, reaching out to more and more people in one firm, reading up on the company to find details that can help them stand out in the process, and most importantly finding resonance with the decision-making employees.

But both situations create a bit of difficulty. In the first case, students can get confused. They meet too many people. Dont have time to focus. And have interviews and offers in different industries. In the second case, people work so hard for one industry or one company, that they lose perspective. They forget about other great opportunities. Or work hard at something that never even pans out.  And in the end, both people can end up being more confused than before.

Nearly everyone experiences this to some degree in business school. We’re taught to dream big. Recruit at all the big firms. Go beyond the usual suspects. And leverage this one opportunity to do something different. And for most students, they come out successful. Some get the jobs of the dreams. Many get amazing jobs they never originally considered. And the majority get really great jobs by just about every measure, whether it was their first choice or not.

But perhaps more important than that, is that taking a step back, we’re all fortunate here because everyone is fortunate to face job offer deadlines.

Good luck with your job offer decisions.

Monday, November 7th, 2011 Business School, Careers No Comments

Getting a Job at a Start-Up

In business school, we all learn a lot about how to go through the recruiting process. How to create a resume. How to position ourselves in an interview. And how to do case studies. All relevant stuff.  But the standard process isn’t all that important when you’re talking about the start-up space; or at any non-traditional employer. So one question a lot of people at Kellogg have is how they can get a job at companies like these?

In recent blog posts, I’ve written a lot of articles about the campus visits of consulting firms, like BCG and McKinsey, banks like Morgan Stanley, marketing firms like P&G and Pepsi, and a host of other companies that people at Kellogg are interested in. And as the semester continues, more and more people seem to be attending these events and applying to these firms.

But in today’s age, an increasing number of smart people are also going to the tech and media industries. And today technology companies are coming to MBA campuses in hordes. In particular big firms like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other big names you’ve probably heard of.  Like the consulting firms and marketing shops, these companies come to campus not only for information sessions but also to host receptions, have atrium hours, provide free open bars, and do their best to lure students in. As such, the school and career center make sure that people have resources to recruit there. But that’s not necessarily the case for startups.

There world of start-ups is unlike most industries in business school. In terms of recruiting, there’s no database of companies. There are no lists of alumni. No formal list of questions to ask in interviews, or skills that you should emphasize when talking.  Instead, you have to figure out a lot of it on your own. Ironically, in the same way that you might if you were working at the small firm, you’d have to figure out what you need to be working on to stay competitive.

Given that process, the question that many people will have over the next few months then is, what do I have to do to get a job at a startup? And can I get one of those job from Kellogg? Or from another top MBA program?

While the answer to that question is yes; the caveat is that getting one of those jobs won’t be easy. Especially at a cool start-up. In some cases, getting the job might be harder than getting a job at a prestigious traditional employer.  So the questions is, what does it take to successfully navigate the start up recruiting process?

In general, it’s not a question I’m necessarily qualified to answer, but a few simple things come to mind right away. Learning to sell. Understanding the business models for small companies. Understanding technology, and specifically the technology that specific companies use. Knowing how to leverage video and multimedia. Understanding who the customer is. Understanding the added value of a product or service. And then, figuring out how to show a startup, who doesn’t have as much time to spend on recruiting, that you can actually do these things well.

But perhaps more important than all of this is that you also need to understand the process of recruiting for a start-up. After all, many startups and other small business aren’t really hiring or looking to fill an open job post.  They don’t have a job board, don’t have a required number of people, and don’t have slotted pay grades. As such, you have to learn to navigate the job process. So doing things like going to the right conferences, going to networking events, meeting people in the industry and staying informed on what’s happening.

And finally, you also have to learn how to wait patiently. Startups and smaller companies tend to recruit at the tail end of the year. So while all your friends are getting jobs at big companies, prestigious firms, and high paying industries, you’ll have to sit back, watch them enjoy the ride, lay the groundwork, and get ready to start hitting the ground harder midway through the year. In fact, many of my classmates and friends didn’t get jobs until the final weeks and days before the school year ended. So you have to be ready for that too.

In sum, getting a job at a startup is different. The timing, the process, and the skills needed. I’m no expert on the topic, but I do know that it’s something you should not take for granted.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 Business School, Careers 2 Comments

Join the conversation

Join the conversation



Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


Share your education story

Share your education story

Thank you Chicago for the nomination

Thank you Chicago for the nomination

Apply to Join MLT

Apply to Join MLT

Apply to Join NLC

Apply to Join NLC

Learn about the JD-MBA program

Learn about the JD-MBA program

Please Vote

Register To Vote

Twitter Feed


The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
November 2011
« Oct   Dec »
Get Adobe Flash player