Archive for March, 2013

2013 World Scholars Gala knows that #EducationMatters

ChicagoGalaLater today, on Saturday March 30, 2013, I’ll join people from all over Chicago in a wonderful event to support one of the most important issues in Chicago today – education.  This evening the event is the Village Leadership Academy Gala.

The 2013 World Scholars Program Gala takes place tonight, March 30th in Chicago.  I’ll be attending with good friend and education extraordinaire, Marquis Parker  who has access to the event as a VP at Aon, as well as a few other  friends and colleagues, including Louis Dobson, SVP at Aon. Most people will bring a special guest to the event.

With the education being such a major issue in Chicago, there’s never been a better time to bring everyone together in the same room. To discuss the issues.  Learn about this organization. And to not only to enjoy the evening but also to eventually work together to have a bigger voice in the education movement today.

There’s never been a more pivotal time to move our country forward through eduction.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the World Scholars Program.

Click here to learn more about our #EducationMatters campaign and HERE to read the education mission.


Saturday, March 30th, 2013 Education, Networking No Comments

Two mistakes MBAs (and all people) make

mistakeThe first mistake is falling in love with the status quo. Investing too much time and energy to keep things like they are right now.  Even when new opportunity is in front of them.

The second mistake is just the opposite–trying to create opportunity too quickly. Pushing too hard.  And forcing the issue too quickly. Even when there is plenty of time to take a step back and be patient.

MBAs and lawyers are often guilty of the first.  They get good jobs, with high incomes and do what they can to keep them.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of the second. They have the perfect idea or find a partner they like. But they don’t take a step back, think their decisions through and bring the others down the path with them, slowly but surely.   (Have you ever read the Tivo case study?)

Most of us have seen the downside of these mistakes, both personally and professionally.  But ironically we continue to make again and again.

Friday, March 29th, 2013 Business School, Careers 1 Comment

When the going gets tough …

work-hardthen work harder. Especially if it’s something that was worth the effort when you got started.

It goes against conventional wisdom because most people want to take the easy route. They want to work on things that come natural. And are afraid to spend time on projects and people when things don’t go seamlessly.

But those who are wildly successful always take routes that are uncertain. They are the first in their families to go to college. Entrepreneurs that come up with new ideas. And non-profit leaders who lay it all on the line to change the system. The are people who not only had things get really tough for them, but also persisted through when things did not go seamlessly.

Sometimes, one of the worse decisions people can make is to give up on something or someone when it gets hard, when the hours get long and when they get frustrated.  In the same amount of time you spend thinking, reconsidering, giving up, and trying your hand at something else, you can also buckle down when the going gets tough.  More often than not, it’s probably worth it in the end.

One of my favorite quotes:

Fierce frustration is a precondition for a tremendous triumph.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 Business School No Comments

A Good Plan Today …

Planis usually better than the perfect plan tomorrow.

Think about it. How many times has your perfect plan been ruined because something unexpected came up  or work kept you later than you hoped. Probably a lot.  So why do so many people still wait until tomorrow  with their perfect plan of how things will work out?

Sometimes being more informed, getting more news and having more time to plan isn’t worth the effort. It doesn’t help as much as you think and sometimes things come up and you’re plan is ruined.

More often than not it’s better to just get started today. Especially if your plan is already good.

Of course, there are exceptions: you’re grad school application, the book you want to publish or the planning of your wedding. The more perfect those are the better off you are.

But otherwise, you might just want to get started on your good plan today.

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Try to stress less

NoStressHigh performing people are stressed out. A lot. We get stressed about our jobs (especially lawyers), exams, grad school applications, relationships, and almost every time the bus to work runs late.  But we should probably try to stress about it less.

But that’s easier said than done. Our stress rises when the due date gets closer or when we have to speak in front of a group of people. It also rises when we interact with others, especially if they are people whose opinion we care about.  We do what we can to avoid it.  Some people avoid speeches and stop talking altogether.  Others start talking too much.

But there is a lot of evidence that shows that stress is counterproductive.

One study showed that when the stakes don’t feel as high in the classroom, students almost always perform significantly better. Especially those from families with less priviledge.  A workplace survey showed that people that stress less tend to have a better reputation among peers than those that stress too much.  We all know from that stress doesn’t help relationships much. It also won’t change whether or not you’re admitted to grad school after you submitted your applicaton.  And when our 645am bus is late, no need to stress about that either. We might get lucky and strike up a 20 minute conversation with someone we’re glad had the chance to meet.

In short, that project you’re working on, the upcomng exam, or the bus that you are waiting for…  try to stress a bit less. It might make things work better in the end.

Easier said than done. But worth a shot.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 Leadership No Comments

Putting Yourself in Someone Elses Shoes

empathyPutting yourself in someone else’s shoes takes serious effort. That’s why most of us don’t do it.

The person who works at a call center that we’re arguing about our cell phone bill with.  They don’t have anything to do with the extra fees we were charged. Neither do they usually have any power to change your bill.  But we still take our anger out on them instead of understanding what it’s like to be on that side of the call.

The new cashier at Trader Joes, who doesn’t check you out as fast as the other lines. We think she’s just taking her time, but in reality she just started two weeks ago, and now it’s rush hour and she’s feeling stressed out.  But we get impatient, look for an opportunity to switch lines at the last second, and we don’t smile when we finally get to the front.

The person who passess over your resume. We didn’t realize he had to look through 10,000 resumes and pick not just the best one, but also one that fits in with the company rules. In one case, I’ve seen the best candidate by far turned down because she lived a certain distance away, which had nothing to do with her qualifications. Yet we call the HR representative irrational and not good at their job.

The homeless person we pass on the street every day (there are a lot in Chicago).  Many times we think, why can’t this person just find a job instead of asking me for money everyday. But maybe maybe they were laid off in the recession or have a long-term disability and now can’t support themselves.  And maybe he is an injured war vet who never had got a job due to a disability after being sent back to the US.  We don’t imagine how helpless or emabarrassed he must feel.

And new colleagues or friends that we disagree with. People who not only see the world differently but who also don’t know how you see the world because you don’t really know them well.  We get upset quickly when we don’t like their tone and when things don’t turn out as planned.  But more often than not, it all hinges on a misunderstanding, not the thoughtlessness we accuse them of.  This is even more true with significant others when there is more emotion attached.

If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you will understand what it is like to be them. To see the world how they see it and understand their worries and anxieties.  But when we do that, we also run the risk of being told NO, figuring out we were wrong, or being forced to compromise our own views. That’s why most of us don’t do it.

In a world of too many options and too little time, it’s easier than ever to ignore other people’s views and stick with your own.

But that doesn’t make it the best approach.

Sunday, March 17th, 2013 Business School 1 Comment

The Connections We Find

meetIn just a couple of years the Internet has changed what is possible. We’ve gone from a world that is largely disconnected to one that connects in less than an instant and have created systems that allow us to actively engage the people we connect with.

MBA programs have long been good at emphasizing the importance of connecting. Connecting with classmates, professors, employers and alumni. But now, it’s easier than ever to find someone’s information, reach out to them, and tell them how you are connected.

In fact, this happened to me and my dad just two days ago.

A few days ago, my father’s company brought in a new CEO.  The CEO was out around the US looking at the locations and a few days ago he was out where my dad works. My dad is known at every company he’s been at for being very social and friendly, and the top guys welcome him with open arms, even though they do not work together.

Well, on the day the CEO came, my dad met the new CEO of the company. He said they had a good exchange and he had a good feeling about the new CEO. Not only was he capable but also nice and extraordinarily friendly.  The day after we met my dad called me up and told me the story. I did not know it at the time, but as it turns out, the CEO went to Kellogg many years ago.  When I found out, I couldn’t believe it. Without further ado, I looked him up on LinkedIn as well as the company website, and it was true. He had a Kellogg MBA. In fact, a few folks from the company did.

After that I look up his contact info on the alumni database and sent an email just minutes ago.  Like I said, it’s easier than ever to find new connections today.

Stay tuned to see where this connection goes.

3/17 Update:

I recently received a return email from the Kellogg alum.  We will be working to set up a time to grab coffee two or so weeks from now once his calendar clears.  This is good news but definitely not a surprise. Kellogg alumni are incredibly friendly and understand the value of staying connected.

Stay tuned for future updates.

Saturday, March 16th, 2013 Networking No Comments

Most Important Work

ImportantWorkIn the midst of all the chaos in the world today, it’s more important than ever to focus on the most important work.

Unfortuantely, today’s world makes this more challenging. Not only are there more soundbites to filter than ever but we also don’t always know what work is most important. Is it our upcoming exam in two months? The numbers we have to crunch? The deal we have to close?  The memo we have to write? Or something completely unrelated to our jobs?

I don’t know if anyone has the perfect answer. But here’s one rule that sometimes works for me.

The most important work is the work where it does not matter who gets the credit.  As long as it gets finished.


Thursday, March 14th, 2013 Careers, Leadership No Comments

Importance of Clear Communication (Trust Fall Fail Video)

TrustFallFailMost of us know the importance of communication. But sometimes, it’s more important than many of us think.

In today’s world, those who are the most eloquent are often considered to be the best communicators. But sometimes, it is not enough to speak eloquently. Sometimes you also have to make sure that you are clear and that the other person can not just hear you but also understand you.

See one video example below. Here, the communication was not quite clear enough because one person did not understand. In the end, we learn that even simple things can go wrong when communication is bad.

Monday, March 11th, 2013 Business School No Comments

Leaders versus People Who Lead

LeadersIn business, there are leaders and there are people who lead.  Often times, we don’t recognize the difference at our companies because it can seem subtle.

At our companies, leaders are people that hold a position of power or authority–usually your bosses and managers.  Sometimes authority is real because of their tenure or position at a company but other times it’s implied, because the leader’s skill or ability makes her an invaluable employee at her company.

On the other hand, there are also people who lead. These are the people who inspire us not just because of skill but because of their commitment and values.  They may not always have the best title or make the most money but they have more passion and more ideas for change.

More often than not we follow leaders because we have to.  Not only is that what everyone else does but it’s also helpful for our careers.

But we follow people who lead because we want to. Because they inspire us to be more and do better.

Perhaps not as subtle as you originally thought.

Sunday, March 10th, 2013 Business School No Comments

Azella Perryman’s New (Post) MBA Blog

AzellaOn my blog, I write a lot about interesting people that come from top universities and MBA programs.  When I can, I like to write as much as I can about my fellow Stanford alum and fellow bloggers.   Well, another person I know is named Azella Perryman.  Azella is not only a friend of mine from Stanford but she also graduated from business school, and recently started a blog of her own.

According to Azella’s web-page, it’s shaping up to be a busy month. But that’s to be expected since Azella is two years out of her MBA program and has been hard at work for a while now. But it looks like Azella is also spending a lot of time reflecting, not just about the job she has now but also about her career and MBA path in general.

In my view, top MBA programs need more people just like Azella.  Who understand that business school is not only about your next career move but also about reflection on your career in general. The goods, bads and everything in between.

But don’t take it from me, take it from Azella and check out her most recent BLOG POST  (10 Things I Wish I knew About Getting an MBA).

Azella, best of luck with your new BLOG.  Keep me posted on your progress, and let us know how we can spread the word!

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Thursday, March 7th, 2013 Business School, Careers, Other Blogs No Comments

Imagining failure and success

ImaginationOur imaginations are extraordinarily active. Sometimes we think about the good that will happen but far more often we imagine the reverse.

One of my favorite authors once said, “Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance. If you tell yourself the worst possible outcome, you’ll soon come to believe it.”

Not getting in to the program we dream of. Not passing a difficult test. The mistakes we’ll make in our next big speech. Or things not working out with that special someone. It’s easy to think about and even expect things to go wrong. But it’s far more difficult to do the reverse. To put our worry aside. To channel anxiety into excitement. To have hope that things can be better tomorrow than they were before.

When you are anxious and think about why things won’t work, it probably increases the odds it won’t work. Even if it should work out for the best. On the other hand, when you imagine success instead of failure, you’ll be far more likely to actually succeed than you would be if you didn’t.

In short, thinking about failure is a bad use of time, and will probably make you fail more often.

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 Leadership No Comments

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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.


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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.
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