Running a campaign can be (to some degree) self-taught

Learning how to execute a campaign is a skill that certainly be taught. In classrooms, you learn the basics. At conferences you learn the strategies. And by working on real campaigns, you learn what actually works in the real world.  And so in many cases, it’s easier to get started if you’re taught. But might there be a benefit to learning more informally?

In business school we think about campaigns all the time. How to create a marketing campaign for products. How to start spreading the word for a big conference. And how to build buzz for clubs and organizations on campus.

In law school the same things happen. Students think long and hard about how to get momentum. How to start the process to change the things you care about. And how to organize and structure thoughts to make a good argument – to have a case.

But maybe that stuff is not good enough for a world class campaign?  Because to do that, you need the ability to connect the dots from start to finish. To change course of events, not just for your campaign but also considering other campaigns around you. And to understand the emotions of the people, not just the mechanics behind the process.

Perhaps the ability to do that can only come from learning from the ground up. From creating yourself.

Not from a teacher. Not from books. And not from a place without the same level of emotion.

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 Business School, Careers No Comments

Nominated for Clear Admit Top MBA Blog

ClearAdmit’s has become the standard in the MBA blogging world. Not only do they have one of the biggest hub of blogs aggregated but they are also useful for spotlighting where to find more information about business school. Well, just a few days ago, I found that I was nominated again for the Best of Blogging awards for 2011-2012.

For those embarking on the MBA application process or career process in general, I’d love it if you kept visiting and asking questions.  Unlike most bloggers before me, I have no plans to slow down here on Instead, I plan to pick up the pace over the next few weeks and months.

Stay tuned for more great posts to come.

Good luck to everyone on the ballot.

And CLICK HERE to vote for me.

Monday, April 16th, 2012 Business School, Education 1 Comment

The Education Matters Project Joins Rosario Dawson and Voto Latino at Power Summit

Just a few hours from now, more than more than 300 participants will come together in downtown Los Angeles California in an event that most will consider an amazing opportunity. A chance where many of the attendees will not only leave the weekend with new friends and new ideas, but many will also leave with inspiration and hope to take action in their communities.

The Voto Latino conference that is taking place this weekend in Southern California. So I’m spending the weekend out in Los Angeles, CA along with the Education Matters Project to speak on a panel at Voto Latino’s Power Summit. As the 2012 election campaign season is under way, VotoLatino is launching their first annual conference to give participants the skills they need to organize.

Organized by Rosario Dawson and Maria Theresa Kumar VotoLatino’s goal is to empowers American Latinos to claim a better future by voting and bringing their voices into the political process.

This two-day event at the University of Southern California’s Davidson Conference Center will educate, engage and empower young Latinos from across the country to create positive change in their communities. Leaders will receive training from public officials, artists, grassroots organizers, and business leaders in new media, public speaking, activism and community organizing. Participants will also be the first to preview our new technology that will revolutionize the voter registration process.

With the election campaign in full force, there’s never been a better time to bring everyone together to discuss voting, having a voice and the education matters campaign.

Saturday, April 14th, 2012 Diversity, Education No Comments

Few More Days

Bringing forward a new idea or technology is not easy. Especially one that you are passionate about. And one where so many of the details make a difference.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on just that. We’ve gone out personally and asked a large number of people why they care about education? And today, we are organizing their responses to you exactly what they said.

Today, we have videos and written stories from people all over the country. And people from all different backgrounds. And now we’re just days away from having a live website, where you cannot only view and read stories but also share your story with the world.

There’s never been a better time to stand up and tell the world why education matters to you?

Stay tuned for our new site where you can do just that.

Friday, April 13th, 2012 Education No Comments

Data on the Size of the Achievement Gap in the US. EVERYONE should see this

America has long been seen as the land of opportunity. The place where you can achieve anything. The country where your starting point does not have to dictate your end point. The environment, where if you work, you can reach for the stars.  In many ways, this is true. In fact, I’ve seen it happen many times over. On the other hand, the numbers also tell another story.

Just a few days ago I came across a great presentation by the Education Trust, where they summarized the lessons learn in schools districts studied in New York. Here are some of the lessons:

Over past 30 years, earnings among the lowest income families have declined—while biggest increases have occurred at the top

U.S. has the fourth-highest income inequality among OECD nations

 Median Wealth of White Families is (A) 20 X that of African Americans (B)   18 X that of Latinos

High school math achievement flat over time

High School gaps between groups are mostly wider today than in late eighties, early nineties

No matter how you cut the data, our students aren’t doing well compared to their peers in other countries

Only place we rank high? –> Inequality

Students in Poor Schools Receive ‘A’s for Work That Would Earn ‘Cs’ in Affluent Schools

African American, Latino & Native American high school graduates are less likely to have been enrolled in a full college prep track

More Classes in High-Poverty, High-Minority Schools Taught By Out-of-Field Teachers

CLICK HERE to read the document in its entirety

And special thanks to Rohit Agarwal for finding this great resource and sending it along to us.

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 Education No Comments

Writing it down

Have you ever had an idea that you knew was good, but forgot about it later in the day. What about an email you wanted to send or call you wanted to make, to make progress on an idea you were working on. It’s happened to me and I’m willing to bet it’s happened to you too. But one way you can avoid missing big ideas is by simply writing them down.

This post comes to me ironically because it happened to me yesterday. I had a great idea for a blog post. I came up with it on my way to the gym. Thought about the concept during my workout and was ready to write something great when I got back. But just when I got home an hour later, I realized that I couldn’t remember it anymore. And it’s been bugging me all day today.

Every time this happens, it reinforces the idea that writing down your idea can be powerful. Even if it’s just a rough note to help you remember. Today, we’re busier than we’ve ever been before. We’re also inundated with more content, more people and more noise than any time in history. In some cases writing down an idea or a reminder will be the only way you will remember.

And while right now you might feel like going out of your way to do this isn’t worth the effort, the one time you have a great idea that you forget just hours later, I guarantee you won’t feel the same.

Monday, April 9th, 2012 Business School, Careers No Comments

Easter Sunday

I’m not surprised that Easter Sunday comes in early April. It’s the beginning of spring time, the flowers are starting to bloom and the sun is finally starting to come out again after being cold for months. As a result, it always feels like a time of recharging for the rest of the year, which is exactly what the Easter season symbolizes.

Today, many people around the world wil recognize Easter in some form. Some will head to church service or mass. Others will celebrate Passover with their families. And others will just go out for a walk, some around Evanston and others to the city to enjoy the Sunday morning. Many with the mission of celebrating this rebirth and renewal.

Personally, I’m taking an early morning walk today, to get outside and see Evanston. Then I’ll stop by the store and head to the gym. And then I’ll stop by two brunches to enjoy the morning with friends and family.

First, I’ll head over to a brunch sermon with the Kellogg BMA family who will celebrate the holiday at Dean Rogers place. The gathering will start around 11am and should go for about two hours. One of our very own Kellogg MBA members will deliver a brief message to the group.

After that, I will join the Kellogg Christian Fellowship (KCF) at a brunch event today.  KCF is teaming up with Catholics@Kellogg for brunch at the Celtic Knot. We will have the entire section for our gathering to enjoy fellowship with other likeminded people.

For many people at these events, and around the rest of the city, it should be a good time of rebirth, recharging and renewal, not just in the physical sense but also the spiritual sense.

To those who are going to church today, including my parents, Happy Easter. To those who will head over to mass, hopefully you enjoy that too. And to those who have been celebrating Passover this weekend, including both of my roommates, “Chag Sameach”.  To everyone else, I hope you feel renewed on this spring day.

Sunday, April 8th, 2012 Business School, Education 2 Comments

Neither failure nor success

You can fail. You can succeed. And you can do neither. Those are usually the three options. Many people do one of the three and most do some combination of the three.

It’s funny how it works. You can fail over and over again. No matter how hard you try.  But one day, it all changes. You succeed and things change. And sometimes all you need is just one HUGE success to build a really big career.

Like going 0 for 5 in law school applications but finally getting a BIG acceptance to your top school. Or like striking out with all your investors but then, one of them finally decides to invest after all.

If this is true, then the “neither” is the worst category. Because if you spend your time doing “neither”, then you won’t have a chance for success.  You’ll never have a shot at that HUGE success that you get if you can just survive the failing.

The interesting thing is that we all know this. But we still avoid failure at all costs.

Saturday, April 7th, 2012 Careers No Comments

Job Opportunity: Building Excellent Schools Seeks Chief of School Network

As you know, I often use my site to spread news about great organizations. Organizations that not only do well but that also do good. Ones that are doing what they can to make a dent in the world. And ones that value some of the same things I do.

A good friend of mine s recently passed the word about a job opportunity from a friend of mine and thought some of you might be interested. While I don’t typically use my site to post job opportunities or promotional reasons, I do like to use it to help non-profits, especially ones that I have some connection to. In this case, that organization is Building Excellent Schools.

See below for a description. See below that for more on the job role.  And drop me a line if you are interested in connecting with the school.

Building Excellent Schools (BES) is a trailblazing nonprofit that raises the quality of urban charter schools by supporting entrepreneurial individuals to design, found, lead, and sustain schools in underserved communities.

Building Excellent Schools (BES) is a trailblazing nonprofit that raises the quality of urban charter schools by supporting entrepreneurial individuals to design, found, lead, and sustain schools in underserved communities. The BES Fellowship, launched in 2001, has resulted in the incubation and establishment of 56 schools in 20 cities across the country that are closing the achievement gap and serving as national models of superior performance. BES seeks a one-of-a-kind visionary leader with a startup sensibility to lead this elite cadre of the highest-performing schools founded by Building Excellent Schools Fellows.The Chief of the Excellent Schools Network (ESN) embodies the core and essence of the Network, displaying the fearlessness, stamina, initiative, and purposeful vision to leverage brilliantly the recognized success of Building Excellent Schools. S/he works relentlessly and tirelessly to push BES Schools to achieve greater results, to help them grow, and to support an ongoing educational revolution for more of America’s poorest students.The Chief of the Excellent Schools Network reports to the Chief Operating Officer of Building Excellent Schools. Chief responsibilities and deliverables include:

  • Drive superior outcomes for children through sharing of best practices; – Build the capacity of emerging leaders in BES schools for successful replications and sustainable leadership through growth and transition;
  • Support increases in the supply of outstanding schools through the growth and replication of select charter schools, using a simple “slow growth” approach that maximizes expansion without compromising quality;
  • Articulate and amplify ESN’s voice and impact on the national conversation on quality and access to education; and
  • Champion and embolden school leaders to be voices for change;
  • Build a unified culture among ESN members that inspires all to achieve the highest levels of distinction in their schools and to be active participants in broader education reform and advocacy efforts.

Ideal candidates possess, above all, an ardent and demonstrated commitment to the mission of Building Excellent Schools and the ESN.  S/he has at least 7 years of relevant professional experience, preferably including teaching and/or management experience in a high performing school. Management experience in a youth and/or education organization, preferably related to the growth of quality charter schools, is highly desirable, as is a demonstrated ability to lead an organization or group, preferably from the incubation or startup stage through times of significant opportunity and rapid growth.  A commanding and comfortable presence while leading conversations with internal and external stakeholders, including preeminent school leaders, national funders, and board members of the ESN members is a must. Robust communication skills and an ability to unify geographically separated groups are also essential.

Additional information about Building Excellent Schools can be found at

A full position description and application instructions may be found at:

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 Education, Job Opportunities No Comments

Black Hole Of Emails

In business school, we live by our email accounts. We get emails all day, every day. Sometimes from professors and faculty. Other times from clubs and group members. And sometimes from friends and classmates on campus organizing social events. As a result, sometimes it can be really hard to get to all of you emails. And forget it if you’re in a joint program with two email accounts.

I have never ever been so behind on email as I was right before spring break. I can’t tell you the ratio but I’m sure I missed a big % of the emails I was getting. And another 20%, I quickly scanned, read and couldn’t fully respond to or comprehend.

Being in the joint JD/MBA program makes things a bit harder, with two sets of classes, two listserves and two friends from both schools. Likewise, having a blog, helping people with admissions questions and now starting a new website and company complicates things even worse.

To all my blog readers out there, I think I caught up with most of you but if it turns out i missed your email, please send me one again. I’d love to hear from you, especially all you long time readers.

And if you’re interested in participating in our new education campaign, the Education Matters Project, I’d love to hear from all of you as well.

I spend quite a bit of time managing my Inboxes. I could only imagine the life of a Fortune 500 CEO or politician who solicits feedback from their customers and constituents.

On the other hand, maybe once you start missing some emails, it all feels the same. Whether politician or blogger.

Someone has said, “Once you’re in water over your head, it doesn’t matter how deep it is.”

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 Business School No Comments

School is Expensive

Just today, we attended a financial aid information session at the law school. Every year financial office can give their obligatory talk about how student loans. During the session, we all pulled out our loan papers and saw how much debt we had to pay back. The average amount … well let’s just say it was a lot of money. Enough to scare just about everyone into being happy they decided to take big law jobs upon graduation.

The interesting part of the whole scenario is that we feel this way, even though most of us have REALLY great jobs to walk into in the fall.  MBAs that go into banking and consulting firms Law students into high paying law firm roles.  Jobs that not only pay six figures but also provide lifestyles that the average person never even dreams of. But in spite of that, we’re still all a bit nervous about the big $100K+ number at the bottom of our loan forms.

But imagine the student that attends an expensive grad school program but doesn’t have the options we have. Imagine the student that comes out with $100K in loans but only makes $40K per year. Or the student that also comes into grad school with $100K in loans form undergrad Or worse yet, the student with six figure loans who can’t find a job.

The school systems makes it very difficult for some students to get started after graduation. For most of us, it is nearly impossible to pursue our real interests – the ones we talked about in our applications.  And for almost everyone, it also makes it really scary.

Education Matters and we have to do something about this.


** See below for a short blurb about school being expensive from Seth Godin’s recent manifesto: Stop Stealing Dreams


It’s also not very good at doing what we need it to do. We’re not going to be able to make it much cheaper, so let’s figure out how to make it a lot better.

Not better at what it already does. Better at educating people to do what needs to be done.

Do you need a competent call-center employee? School is good at creating them, but it’s awfully expensive. Do we really need more compliant phone operators, and at such a high cost?

Given the time and money being invested, what I want to know, what every parent and every taxpayer and every student should want to know, is: Is this the right plan? Is this the best way to produce the culture and economy we say we want?

What is school for?

If you’re not asking that, you’re wasting time and money.

Here’s a hint: learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.

Monday, April 2nd, 2012 Business School, Education, Law School No Comments

Things you don’t know

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.


Saturday, March 31st, 2012 Education No Comments

Early Voices from the Education Matters Project (Video)

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


Thursday, March 29th, 2012 Diversity, Education 2 Comments

#AskJeremy (Applicant Question): MBA Admissions Decisions Involving Money

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)

Message Body:

Hi Jeremy,

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!



Hey (NAME)

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. CEOs will tell you that a degree can really help but they’ve met low performers from all schools.
  9. Highly successful people from certain disadvantaged communities will tell you pick the best school and dont consider a program that is not highly ranked.
  10. And people who feel they weren’t given fair chances in their career will tell you to 100% choose the higher ranked School.
  11. If Steve Jobs were alive, he’d probably tell you that you don’t need an MBA.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.  Both sides of the argument make sense. Ross offers a bit more money. Kellogg offers the applicant something more closely aligned with their career goals. And both offer a great opportunity at success.

Good luck.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 Admissions, Business School, Careers No Comments

The Education Matters Project Promo Video is Ready

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.)

Monday, March 26th, 2012 Careers, Education No Comments

Confidence Without Guts -By Seth Godin

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic recently.  But I couldn’t have said it better myself. So check out this post written by the one and only Seth Godin.



–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.

Saturday, March 24th, 2012 Business School, Careers No Comments

Adding Buffer Time

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.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012 Business School, Careers No Comments

No Business Like Slow Business

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.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 Careers No Comments

The days are long but the years are short

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.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 Business School No Comments

(Not) Trying to please everyone

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:


 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

Sunday, March 18th, 2012 Business School 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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