Archive for March, 2012
There are a lot of things that we don’t know. Have you ever considered making a list of them? What about making a list of the ones you don’t know but could learn if you worked at it? And ones you could start learning today?
Here are a few examples:
- How to build a website
- How a Black-Scholes calculation works
- How to get a book published
- How to make groups of friends on Facebook
- How to change your tires/change your oil/change spark plugs on your car
- How to register a company with the Secretary of State
- How to create a business plan
- How to read an accounting statement
- How to create a microfilm
Never in history has it been easier to figure out the things you don’t know. It’s faster than ever to go on line. More people are writing about things than any time in history. And you can find more accurate things on Google than ever. Never a better time to start learning today.
Our educational system needs to be fixed. Everyone is thinking about it today. But now more than ever we need to do something about it. We need to rally around people who care and figure out a plan to take action. According to some of our early videos, I’ll share with you a few reasons why education matters to people around the world?
The skills and needs of today’s graduates are radically changing. Our society needs to think more about the way we prepare our next generation. And to start doing that, it is important to hear the many voices who fundamentally believe in the importance of education.
Here is why education matters to some people around.
- It’s really critical to achieving you life goals.
- It represents freedom from financial stress
- It gives people opportunities they never knew existed
- It’s a great way to accelerate your mind
- It allows you to go to the next level
- It gives you option to do whatever you want
- It allows you to do things can go down in history
We’re bad at figuring out this dilemma. And MBA admissions offices know it. That’s why the scenario comes up every year. And that’s why it comes up at some of the same schools. What scenario you ask? This one–You’re accepted to one top business school and you’re thrilled. It’s the place you’ve always dreamed of getting in for the last six months. On the other hand, another school gives you nearly a full ride. And tomorrow you have to decide.
First things first. Congratulations! You are in a great position to have both options. And you are lucky to be able to choose from two “top” MBA programs, especially in this economy. One with great professors, smart classmates and great career opportunities. And another with a more famous brand … and a daunting $100K price tag. The million dollar question (or perhaps $100k question) is this.
Which should you take?
In a recent question from one of my readers I got that exact question. But it’s no new question. It’s actually the third time I got the question this week. And fifth time in two weeks. But before I answer, let me take a second to explain why this is a harder question than you think.
$100,000 is a HUGE number, and in reality it doesn’t mean a whole lot to people just a few years out of undergrad. We don’t know what it means to be in debt for a years paying it off. We don’t know where we’ll live or what we’ll be doing after school. And many of us don’t know if we’ll have families in the next few years. So while it’s not a number that we play with, it often isn’t one we truly comprehend.
Secondly, the idea of compromise involving something that is $100K or $150k is hard to understand. Compromising on $5k or $10k maybe. But not over $100K. It just doesn’t make very much sense and can impact our self esteem depending on what choice we make. That’s what makes it hard.
Without further discussion, below is the question and below that is my response.
** Note I took out all school names to provide a more fair, honest, and thorough response
Subject: (Top School) brand vs. Full scholarship at (Lower Ranked School)
I was recently accepted at (Top School) and I’m extremely excited about the possibility of joining the (Top School) family! (Top School) is my top choice but I’ve been offered full scholarships elsewhere (Lower Ranks Schools X, Y, Z). I’ve been offered a 50% tuition scholarship at (School)
I want to make sure that I thoroughly evaluate each opportunity before making a final decision. As an MLT fellow I am surrounded by brilliant fellows who have motivated me to achieve both personally and professionally. I would like a similar MBA experience and from my perspective most top 15 can provide that. I’m interested in pursuing a career in management consulting or health system management post MBA. My long term goal is to pursue an entrepreneurial ambition.
I would like your opinion on how school selection could potentially impact my career trajectory and professional network. I understand that certain employers emphasize MBA brand over others. I also understand that being obligated to pay high student loans may stifle my ability to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Do you think it’s worth the extra money to attend a school like (Top School) vs. (School X or Y)?
Thanks for your time and advice!
Thanks for reading my blog, and for reaching out with your question about the MBA application process. It’s funny how this exact question comes up every single year. In fact, it came up a couple of different times over the past two weeks.
As you might imagine, this question comes up every single year. The combination of schools changes, though not dramatically but the question remains the same. Here is what I think.
In short, all comes down to what you value most. And applicants tend to value different things. Some of them value ranking, others prestige, others location, others classmates, others potential job opportunities, and some don’t know what they value. My message as an MBA admissions advisor is usually aimed at the people in that last category, and I try to catch them far before they ever apply to business school so I can help them figure out what they value most. The message is that you have to know what you value early. Because schools will throw money at you, you’ll meet interesting classmates, get exposed to new opportunities, and you won’t have a sense of what you really wanted in the first place.
The problem is that most people don’t know what they value so they start to ask around and get answers. The problem is they ask too many people and the answers are not only diverse but also confusing. In many cases, they look like the following:
- Most alum of (Top School) will tell you that there is a material difference. Especially if they made the same decision. So they’ll tell you to go to their school
- Most alum of School X or Y would say otherwise, especially if they made the same decision. They’ll find reasons you should save the money and go with their school
- Asking someone online (like me) I should theoretically tell you to choose My School which is Kellogg or the school closest in culture to mine
- Many very senior leaders will likely tell you to choose School because they might value the brand of the school. Especially if they recruit at that program.
- Mathematicians would probably do the math compounded over 30 years and prove that the money is not actually a large factor, depending on the industry.
- People who have worked their butts of to succeed will tell you it doesn’t matter, because hard work is what makes the difference, not school name.
- People who have worked really hard but not seen the fruits of their labor will tell you to pick the higher ranked school because that is what will make the difference.
- CEOs will tell you that a degree can really help but they’ve met low performers from all schools.
- Highly successful people from certain disadvantaged communities will tell you pick the best school and dont consider a program that is not highly ranked.
- And people who feel they weren’t given fair chances in their career will tell you to 100% choose the higher ranked School.
- If Steve Jobs were alive, he’d probably tell you that you don’t need an MBA.
- And in terms of Kellogg, one VERY highly esteemed professor always tells people from certain communities that you should 100% take the (Top School) because the network and opportunity is so much better.
- In many cases, I’d probably give similar advice, though that would very depend on the person, on what they told me before my advice.
Like I said, all the answers will confuse you.
In general, my gut is that a good number of people in your shoes choose (Top School) because of what I said in my intro. The stakes feel high, and you don’t want to compromise on such an important decision. But not every one chooses this. Lots don’t actually. And while some may regret it, others are happy with their choice.
In the end, it’s something only you can decide, based on past experiences, needs, concerns, hopes, thoughts about fit, career aspirations, and value of prestige. Things you should evaluate far before having the decision, so you are prepared to decide once you have to.
But if you haven’t thought about it enough before the decisions, one piece of advice, be careful asking too many people, because you might just get a broad array of responses like the ones above. Stick to the people that know you best and are looking out for your best interest.
For another perspective, check out this interesting thread on BTG about one person’s choice between Kellogg and Ross. http://www.beatthegmat.
What do you think we should do about the education crisis today? Is college worth the value? What about an MBA or law degree? My readers ask me these questions every single day, and I respond to each and every one of them. This time here it’s my turn to ask the question. WHY DOES EDUCATION MATTER TO YOU?
This is the question we will soon being asking the world. Staring next week in our Education Matters campaign.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve gone out personally and asked over 100 people this very question. We have videos and/or written stories from most of them. We’ll publish these stories in one short week, totally free to read, to share and most importantly to use to start the conversation.
Don’t be fooled by this 90 second video. It took more work than you think to get it to you, so I’m encouraging you to take a few minutes to check it out. And next week, we’ll share all the videos and written pieces,. And I’ll ask all of you personally to share your education stories with our site.
Think of us like the LGBT ItGetsBetter Project, except we are focused on Education. We want to tell the world that education DOES matter.
At the Education Matters Project, we believe that our future belongs to a generation that is passionate about learning and believes that education DOES matter. See below for a few early voices from our movement.
(Video includes 2 former NFL players, 1 Rose Bowl NCAA coach, 3 Teach for America Corp alumni, 3 MLT Fellows, 1 gentleman who ran for Congress, 2 Education Pioneers alumni, and a couple of people with REALLY great stories of overcoming the odds.)
–This post is courtesy of Blogger Seth Godin. CLICK HERE to go to his blog.
Too many MBAs are sent into the world with bravado and enthusiasm and confidence.
The problem is that they also lack guts.
Guts is the willingness to lose. To be proven wrong, or to fail.
No one taught them guts in school. So much money at stake, so much focus on the numbers and on moving up the ladder, it never occurs to anyone to talk about the value of failure, of smart risk, of taking a leap when there are no guarantees.
It’s easy to be confident when you have everything aligned, when the moment is perfect. It’s also not particularly useful.
People don’t like deadlines. Deadlines mean you have to finish something you started. That you have to make a decision. And that you are forced to give a response. But the truth is that deadlines often work really well. If the person or company setting the deadline has prominence, then everyone will listen. Nobody will want to miss out. But sometimes deadlines have unintended consequences.
I’ve seen it from experience. Deadlines make a lot of people turn in a bad product just be finished. This happens all the time in business school where the notion “done is better than perfect” tends to be the norm.
Other times, people “plan” to start right before the deadline. So in no case will they spend enough time on it, but instead “just enough” time. So in this case having a deadline limits their time spent working.
And some people always just finish after the deadline. No matter when it is and no matter how many extensions you give, they will probably finish right after the time you set. This is happening to me right now with a video I am getting edited. .
So I propose the idea that maybe the smartest thing you can do is add a 48 hour buffer to the back end of the deadline. That way, it accounts for a person being late. It allows you to fix up things that are quickly turned in. And it allows for things like technologyical error that may have occured.
Just keep in mind, that some people miss their deadlines by much more than 48 hours. And sometimes the work to be done after takes longer than that as well.
The online world has compounded the need for speed. Just ask companies like Apple and Amazon who do business faster than the blink of an eye. They respond to customer complaints, provide provide top notch customer service, and put the right products in front of you. And you don’t even have to ask. But there are still some companies that don’t do that. Especially in the legal industry.
In the legal industry, things don’t happen at quite the same speed. In fact, at times it’s the exact opposite. They don’t respond to emails as quickly. They don’t provide the same timelines. And law firms are more reactive than prospective.
I’ve heard it put this way: Lawyers don’t tend to pay attention to such things when they’re deciding how to manage their firms. That’s because law firms have a “profession” instead of a business.
From experience, I’ve seen that many law schools spend hardly any time teaching business topics. And I don’t just mean accounting and M&A but I also mean typical things like client management. Things that nearly every MBA picked up before business school and still refined while a grad student.
In some ways, one firm we are using has given us this same experience. Even though the firm that was very enthusiastic about working on our new startup, it has been a lot less responsive not just to our timing but also business demands. I suppose they’re probably attending to a higher paying client, which in some ways makes sense. But in other ways, if our startup gets big, I can tell you that we may just take our business elsewhere.
I bet companies like Apple would not be operating the same way.
Just spreading the word about a video I found online. It comes from the Happiness Project, which is a memoir of successful lawyer who spent a full year learning how to be happier. In addition to coming up with a #1 New York Times bestseller it also recounts the author’s daily adventures and videos in pursuit of happiness. One lesson was on something a lot of MBAs are thinking about right now, as graduation approaches and people are making job decisions about what to do next. Work life balance.
Here is one video from the project, entitled “The days are long but the years are short.” This videos refers to the idea of a family, which I’m sure will resonate with many of you. But either way, the concept can be applied much more broadly.
There are plenty of reasons to please people around you, especially at work. You want your boss to be happy with your work. You want classmates and colleagues to enjoy working with you. You want people you’ve met to like you and maybe become friends. And you want people around you to generally think you are a good person. But I propose the idea that you should NOT try to please everyone.
Trying to please everyone is natural. Because we’re rated that way at work. We get 360 feedback in our professional circles. And perhaps most importantly, because it feel good. Personally, I’m guilty of doing this exact same thing.
On the other hand, pleasing everyone takes a lot of time and energy. It requires extra emails and discussions. Necessitates lots of extra thinking. And most importantly, can make you more confused than ever about your original intentions and mission.
Here is one example that will explain quite clearly.
The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey
A MAN and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?” 1
So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.” 2
So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.” 3
Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?” 4
The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned. 5
“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:
“PLEASE ALL, AND YOU WILL PLEASE NONE.”
Don’t get my wrong, learning to please people can at times be an important skill. But at times, it can also be dehabilitating.
** Thanks to Michelle Millar for sending me this fable
I’m not surprised that MBA applicants MLT are feeling better than ever. Not only is MLT getting better and better ever year, but the crop of students is also getting better. The students are more driven than ever. The coaches are excited to work with them. And John Rice has as good of advice as ever. And all those things came to pass this weekend at MLT’s Kick off conference in Houston.
At long last, the newest class of MLT’s MBA Prep Program was finally welcomed in person at the 2012 kick-off event. Just like two years ago, the event took place at Rice University, and the good news was that I was able to get a sneak peak at this year’s new class.
I flew out on Friday for the conference and spoke to a number of fellows and alumni this weekend. I spent time with Michael Pages, a friend from my MLT fellowship class of 2009, we spoke with a good number of people at lunch and between sessions. I also worked with a small group of MLT alum on Saturday, to discuss application myths and took part in a Q&A panel.
Even though I’ve been out of the program for a few years, it still feels great to come back and meet the new Fellows. Most were anxious. Some were nervous. And all of them quite excited. And I’m sure they will all do well in the MBA application process this year.
Best of luck to the new Fellows in the program.
And best of luck to MLT with your new set of fellows this year.
Just a quick post to spread the word that our first LOFT training in Chicago: the Chicago LOFT STEM Leadership Symposium. I wanted to be sure to invite all my readers to this FREE event. In past cases, this event has filled up quickly but we’d love to have all of you attend that are available on Thursday 4/5 at 530pm.
Our goal is to have 75 student participants and the event is open to high school, college, and young professionals interested in learning about STEM careers. Although our focus in Latinos, we are very open to multicultural participants as well. So please feel free to spread the word for this event with your professional networks in Chicago.
As a Board Advisor for LOFT I will be at the event. So hopefully I will see you there. See below for more information about the event.
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
Student Center West
Thompson Rooms A& B, 2nd Floor Lobby
828 S. Wolcott Ave.
Chicago, IL 60612
Thursday, April 5th, 2012
5:30pm – 8:30pm
This is an exciting opportunity for students in high school, college, and young professionals to network with Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professionals from Fortune 500 companies and learn about the diverse career opportunities available within the STEM Industry.
Come prepared to engage in:
- A dynamic and exclusive Leadership Training led by the U.S. Army. This Leadership training is designed to help student leaders define their role within their respective organizations, and encourage them to seek out leadership roles in their schools and communities.
- An insightful panel of STEM professionals showcasing their different careers paths, and the different resources and opportunities available for Latinos to enter the STEM fields.
- An opportunity to Network with STEM professionals and other emerging Latino leaders interested in STEM.
- Sponsor Give Aways/Raffle: All attendees will enter a raffle to win a free Round trip Southwest ticket to any Southwest destination of your choice. The winner will be announced during the coffee break. Additional sponsor give aways will also take place.
There is no cost to register for the event.
Dress code: business casual.
Food and refreshments will be provided.
- 5:30 – 6:00 pm Registration & Welcome Reception
- 6:00 – 6:10 pm Opening remarks
- 6:10 – 6:40 pm Army Leadership Presentation
- 6:40 – 6:55 pm Coffee Break, Career Table Networking
- 6:55 – 7:55 pm STEM Panel Presentation
- 7:55 – 8:00 pm Participant Survey
- 8:00 – 8:02 pm Closing remarks
- 8:02 – 8:30 pm Networking, Event Closes
- The U.S. Army
- CVS Caremark Workforce Initiatives
- Southwest Airlines
- University of Phoenix
Contact: Jessica Barajas at Jessica@hispanicheritage.org.
In business school, people make long checklists. They have things they need to accomplish. Errands they have to run. And projects they have to finish. As a result, most people get in the habit of learning how to get things done. But sometimes it’s not enough just to get things done and hurry up to cross other things off. Instead I propose the idea that it is important to finish strong.
Finishing strong is one of the most important things you can do. Think about it. In golf, it doesn’t matter how well you drive the ball but only if you make the shot in the end. They saying goes, You drive for show and put for dough. In basketball, you can’t just blow by your man at the three point line, but you also have to score the ball to get credit.
The theory also holds in school. In law school, it doesn’t matter how well you knew the material during class for the first 15 weeks of the semester but it matters how well you execute on the final exam. Likewise in business school what matters isn’t the grade you got in class or how many people you met at the networking event, but to get a job you have to hit a homerun in the job interview.
I propose that the same thing holds true in business. That it doesn’t matter how many manufacturers, contractors and distributors you had work on your product. And sometimes, it doesn’t even matter how many top partners you had. But if your website doesn’t work or you put your product on the wrong shelf, you may just never make the sale.
So, are you sure you’re finished already?
… my favorite blogger. Forget the fact that he’s a best selling author and that he’s struck it rich with his digital media startups. And forget the fact that he is fellow alum of Stanford, and consistently at the top of the Ad Age Power 150. More important than his credentials is that he initiates some of the most insightful messages anywhere
Once a day, Seth write at least one post on marketing and brands, at least on the surface. But more important than that is that his underlying messages are as good as they get. He provides insight not just on the message but also on us and how we take in information. He challenges conventional assumptions. And he forces us to expand our imagination.
Imagine the person walking in New York city, where the lights are blinking and the subtle marketing messages are coming at you from all angles. Most of us can see them but have a tough time articulating them, let alone writing them down. Seth’s blog is good because his is good at writing those assumptions down. He can write what we think.
In one interview, Godin wrote “I’m writing to do justice to the things I notice, to the ideas in my head.”
In another interview he says “Your ability to think creatively is of far greater value to you, than any piece of tech equipment.”
In my own opinion, what makes him good is that he uses his creativity to say something new. That he comes up with new ideas, rather than responds to ideas being talked about already.
MBAs and JDs take notice. Not only is it okay but far often it’s much better, to say something new and be creative. Something I don’t see enough of in graduate school.
If you haven’t seen his blog, you are missing out.
This year is a big year for going viral. I’ve talked about it many times before, but this year, I think ideas are going to spred faster than ever. As such I wanted to pass along a couple of those ideas that are getting eyeballs on the web today. One that all of you have probably heard of by now. And the other by Seth Godin, my favorite blogger.
Viral videos aren’t anything new nowadays. Over the past year we’ve seen things like It Gets Better and SOPA really taking off. I like the It Gets Better movement because it was grassroots. Started by an individual that cared. And didn’t cost much money to get started. And it all started by a single blogger/author that wanted to try something new.
Today, the Kony video is one of the fastest-spreading Internet videos. Unlike It Gets Better, Kony is not a series of short videos. Instead, the Kony video is REALLY long, which is different when compared to most viral movements, where the content is shortened and more digestible. I wonder if the success of this video will lead others to (mistakenly) try the same.
A second Internet thing getting a lot of attention is an e-book Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin. Not nearly spreading with the same immediate force, but according to his blog it is getting tens of thousands of new readers every day. Perhaps Seth Godin should have made a video like Kony. Or maybe over the test of time, he’ll actually get more traction since he can keep giving it out for some time.
The reason I like Stop Stealing Dreams is because it’s all about education. Something we are passionate about.
It will be interesting to see what things go viral over the next few weeks and months. We’d love it if you helped us take the Education Matters Project viral. We’ll be up in just a few weeks (late March), so check back, take a look at our grassroots website once it’s up, and please contribute your stories, comments and ideas.
There’s never been a better time to show the Education Matters, so we hope you will support the cause.
Persistence isn’t doing the exact same thing over and over. That’s easy. You could do that without even thinking about it. Instead, persistence is pursuing your Wildly Important Goal over and over, even when people tell you that you can’t do it. Even when business plan competitions tell you that your idea won’t work. Even when you gave it your all and a naysayer told you that your all wasn’t good enough.
Having persistence is not easy. In fact, it might be the hardest thing you could ever do. But sometimes you have to do it. Especially if you believe in the work that you are doing. Persistence is what happens when you have a goal you believe in, and you do everything you can to make it work. To prove to the naysayers that they were wrong.
I have persistence right now. What about you?
If not, maybe this video will inspire you.
In business school we learn a lot about targeting. We think about our target customers: where they live, what they like, and what they want. And we consider ways we can get them to buy our product. We also think a lot about things like positioning statements, primary demand, and demand stimulation to optimize our launch strategy. Only one problem. After all this analysis, how do we know that our product will be adopted by customers in the market?
At Kellogg, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to sell our products in the market. That is to say, how to sell the right PRODUCT, in the right PLACE, at the right TIME. So we do a lot of research, analyze the people, run numbers on market size, and think a lot about what it is they want. Deep down at the core.
But there’s one fundamental problem with this. Especially when you’re looking at developing counties. The problem is that more often than not, we have no idea what the customer wants. We don’t know what type of detergent a mother might want in Brazil. We don’t know what type of clothing they might want in Bali. In fact, we don’t even know what types of television shows people prefer to watch in the US.
The problem is that there is a big disconnect between the people that make these marketing decisions and the consumers. Because MBAs and law students are NOT the average person. In large part our lives are different, we have the great privilege of going to schools like Northwestern and living in developed cities like Chicago.
Think about it. While MBAs from top schools might watch 1 hour of tv per day at most, the average person leaves the TV on for more than 8 hours. While I have not eaten fast food in over 5 years, the average person eats it almost every day. And while job prospects out of our schools are in the six figure range, the average income for an entire family is under $50K in the US, and much lower all around the world.
The best thing I’ve ever learned in business school, comes from my Marketing Professor Julie Hennessy. She told us over and over: “You are not normal.” You don’t know what the customer wants. Your job as a business person is to figure it out.
Hi everyone, hope you are well. Just a quick post to spread the word about a new Beat The GMAT scholarship that launched just a few hours ago today. BeatTheGMAT is the largest social network for MBA applicants in the world, and the team out in Silicon Valley gave me news that now they are offering scholarships for appliants that are applying to business school.
Having spoken with the guys at the company a number of times, I now that giving back and helping others is a large part of the BeatTheGMAT mission. I can also attest that the guys there are really smart. So I think it’s great that they have come out with this scholarship program, and I highly recommend that anyone applying to business school also consider applying to this program.
See below for a blurb about the scholarship from BeatTheGMAT. .
And CLICK HERE to read the press release on the BeatTheGMAT website.
Today Beat The GMAT launched it’s 7th annual Beat The GMAT Scholarship. This is the seventh year of our scholarship program, and this year we are distributing six scholarships worth over $11,000. Each scholarship package includes: a GMAT course, an MBA admissions package, and a GMAT test registration voucher.
Deadline to apply is April 23, 2012. More info available at: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/scholarship
About Beat The GMAT
Founded in 2005, Beat The GMAT is the largest social network in the world for MBA applicants, serving 2 million+ people in the last year. The website features many free resources for GMAT prep, as well as a rich applicant network through MBA Watch.
How do you explain why some people are able to achieve things that seem impossible? Why is Apple considered to be the most innovative company on the planet, year after year? And why is is that we will buy almost anything from them in spite of the price? And why is it that the Wright Brothers figured out the problem of powered flight, when more qualified and funded teams were competing directly against them? In one recent TED Talks, Simon Sinek gives his thoughts on why that is.
A few days ago I discovered a great TED Talks video that helped us answer a few of these questions. Given by Simon Senek, he discussed a pattern that he found in a few great leaders. The talk is good. The idea is simple. And the concept innovative. And that concept is called is called the “Golden Circle”
For Simon, the circle looks like this: “Why”, in the center, surrounded by “How”, surrounded by a larger circle, “What”.
Sinek uses this circle to explain why some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. He says that,
“Everybody knows “what” they do 100%. Some know how they do it. But very very few people or organizations know WHY they do it. And I don’t mean to make a profit, that’s the result. It’s the “why”, why do you do it, why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should people care.”
And he argues that, “Consumers don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
And given that, the goal is not just to hire people who need a job, but who believe what you believe. Who do it for the same reasons you do. The WHY.
He went on to discuss to discuss the Wright Brothers and how neither Orville or Wilber had a college degree and how they had fierce competition that was more qualified and more funded.
In the end, the people who believed in the dream (the WHY), worked with blood and sweat and tears, the others, just for the paycheck. And that’s what made the difference.
Today, I challenge everyone (including myself), especially those in business school and in law school, to think a little less about the jobs we want and salaries we’ll make (the WHAT) and think a little more about why we take them (the WHY). To consider our deepest reasons for doing things and do better to couple that with the choices we make. And maybe then, we will be able to put our deep passions to use and unlock our greatest potential upon graduation.
Have you ever thought about what it means to be intelligent? Have you ever wondered why some people achieve such incredible things? And why some have the unique ability to do so many things well. Well, a lot of it is the ability to see the big picture. And the ability to zoom out. At least that’s what Steve Jobs said in an interview many years ago as he was growing Apple into the empire it is today.
Steve Jobs said, a lot of success is the ability to zoom out. Like you’re in a city and you can look at the whole thing from about the 80th floor. And you can look down at the city. And while other people are trying to figure out how to get to point A to point B, reading their maps and not looking up and paying attention, you on the other hand, are looking around and can see it all out in front of you. You can make connections that just seem obvious because you can see the whole thing.
In business school, we talk a lot about the big picture and about vision. But in practice, I see a lot of people scrambling around working on execution. Thinking about details. And forgetting the bigger picture. But at least people think about it sometimes.
In law school, it’s entirely about the details. Making sure citations are perfect. Catching the nuances of a case. And making air tight arguments in your briefs and memos.
In business school and in law school, it’s hard to STOP, take a step back, and head up the elevator. Let alone to the 80th floor. But I propose that you do you best to try. After all, it is something just about every CEO talks about, including the reigning CEO of the decade (Steve Jobs). It’s what they do as they juggle dozens, if not hundreds of decisions. And as they try to look around for the next game-changing product and innovation to their company strategy.
So, what are you doing to improve your ability to zoom out?
Today, everyone in business school is talking about sustainability. In fact, it’s the staple question for any social entrepreneur in front of a funder. Is your business plan sustainable? And are your revenues sustainable? In many ways I get it. It’s safe to fund social businesses that won’t rely on your funding next year. But I also wonder how much weight people should actually be putting on sustainability. Instead I propose let’s look at a few things that are not sustainable to take action.
Imagine the school system on the south side of Chicago. Some of these failed school systems are totally unsustainable and need our attention. And if we don’t start working on them, the persistance rates will never get higher and the growing divide between rich and poor will accelerate faster than it is today.
Likewise, what about food portion size in the US and the resulting unsustainable weight issues of US citizens? This is a big one. Weight gain is a major factor in the development of diabetes, cancer and many other issues. When will we put a stop to this?
And what about the obvious one – global warming. Not only have the temperatures been rising for years but things like air pollution and carbon levels are radically changing. And if we keep up at the pace we’re on now, many people argue that the world be in severe trouble.
While you might debate me on some of the stats, you can’t argue that the trends are UNsustainable. So rather than spend 100% of the time discussing sustainable business plans, I’d be curious to hear more from mission-based organizations that want to work on these unsustainable trends. The cost of ignoring them is way too high.