2012 MLT MBA Prep Kick-Off Conference

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.

Saturday, March 17th, 2012 Admissions, Business School, Diversity 2 Comments

Invitation to the Chicago LOFT STEM Symposium on 4/5

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.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP promptly at http://bit.ly/x7zcaj and email your resume to resume@loftinstitute.org.  Attendees will receive an event confirmation post registration.

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
Participating sponsors
  • The U.S. Army
  • CVS Caremark Workforce Initiatives
  • Southwest Airlines
  • University of Phoenix

Contact: Jessica Barajas at Jessica@hispanicheritage.org.

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 Careers, Diversity No Comments

Finishing Strong

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?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 Business School No Comments

Seth Godin is ..

… 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.

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 Business School, Careers, Other Blogs No Comments

Going Viral

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.

Monday, March 12th, 2012 Careers, Education No Comments


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.

Saturday, March 10th, 2012 Careers No Comments

You are not Normal

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.

Friday, March 9th, 2012 Business School, Careers No Comments

Beat The GMAT Scholarship for MBA Applicants

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.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 Admissions, Business School 3 Comments

Consumers don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it.

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.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 Business School No Comments

The Ability to Zoom Out

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?

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 Business School, Careers No Comments


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.

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 Business School No Comments

Entrepreneurship Lessons from Carter Cast

When students think about their post-MBA careers, they can go one of two ways. They can follow tradition and take really great jobs that people take every year. Or they can pursue something less traditional. On one hand, there’s merit to getting a job that provides structure and pays well, especially for some people.  On the other hand, there’s also merit to pursuing the entrepreneurial route. Not only is it a great learning experience but it’s always the best way to build skills while working on something you are passionate about. At least that’s what Carter Cast, former CEO of Walmart.com told me this morning.

Just minutes ago, I got done chatting with entrepreneurial guru Carter Cast. Carter came to Kellogg just months ago to help ramp up its entrepreneurial program. Like me, Carter is a Cardinal Wildcat – more specifically, a Stanford and Northwestern (Kellogg) alum. And so I had the chance to tell him more about what we’re working on, and he gave me a few great pieces of advice.

“Understand your purpose” Carter said. Know what your true north is and keep working towards it, even when you have to change the business model a bit.  He said this as I talked about how my business model was changing. No longer were we focusing on what we did when we had the idea, but our ideas are really different now.

He also said, “Be true to who you are.” Understand your skills and make sure they compliment where you want to go. He gave a story how he used to want to be an olympic swimmer and basketball player. But he came to find that swimming required training his upper body and basketball his lower body. So they were not complimentary, no matter how much passion he had. And that made success more difficult.

Carter also revealed the impact he wanted to make at Northwestern. That it was not just about getting a “leadership” title and being named Director of Kellogg’s Entrepreneurship Center but instead that he came here to teach people about entrepreneurial leadership.  He wanted to help emerging entrepreneurs to go out on the ledge.  In fact, the best advice he said, was “Who  cares if people don’t believe in your idea? Do it anyways?” He went on to suggest that we should learn from them when they challenge you but forget about them after talking.

Thanks again Carter for the great lessons. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences. And to staying in touch as we launch our website.

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 Careers, Leadership No Comments

Cory Booker: 2012 State of the City Address

Few politicians today are riding the wave that Cory Booker is. He’s doing great things not just in Newark but all over the US, all on a mission for change. His mission includes increasing economic opportunity for people in Newark, improving schools not just in New Jersey but all across the US, and improving the quality of life for children and families.

While there is still quite a bit of work to be done, Newark became a catalyst for change in the United States. And leading that change is Mr. Booker himself. A hungry and capable politician. A man with a big vision. And a pretty big following – 60,000 Facebook fans and 1.12M Twitter Followers just to start.

But don’t take it from me, take it from Cory himself, who says, ”

In 2011 we marked a groundbreaking year in Newark and, despite the global economic decline, we welcomed more businesses, enhanced programs for our residents and significant advancements into our City. While 2012 may present some challenges, we will approach these challenges in the same way we have in the past — through efficient governing and innovative solutions that benefit our residents and our City.”

Tonight (Thursday, March 1st)  you can tune in and hear more of what he has to say on corybooker.com. Booker will give his sixth State of the City Address from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Given his recent momentum in the political world, not to mention his selection as Stanford’s 2012 commencement speaker, it should be interesting to hear what his plans are for 2012.

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 Leadership No Comments

Happy Leap Day

One time every four years, we get an extra day. But it only happens once. Most times we forget that it’s coming, and it usually comes in the middle of the week. The question is, what are we going to do with the extra day this year. How can we use it to change the world for the better.

This year, Leap Year comes on a Wednesday. At Kellogg, that means we don’t actually have classes.  This means Kellogg students have a profound opportunity to engage more than usual. Contribute to a cause they are passionate about. Do something different. Try something they cannot do on March 1.

In the law school, it’s just another day of the week. But it doesn’t have to be. Students could make time to make it more. Especially 3Ls who skip more classes than they’d publicly admit anyways.

So today, just once this year, perhaps we should find a way to do something unique. To:

Work on something creative, care about someone else, volunteer, engage more, speak up, stand up for what’s right, contribute to a cause, create something new, and perhaps stop doing what’s typical and become inspired (Yes, I am talking to you JDs and MBAs).

Today, I’ll be working on how to show the world that Education Matters.  Anyone with me?

After all, it’s only for a day. And we’re already five hours in.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 Business School, Careers 1 Comment

Recruit for Careers You (Don’t) Know

One of the worst pieces of advise I’ve seen is a recruiter discourage someone that is an expert in one field from pursuing another field. The banker that wants to go into brand management. The artist that wants to be a consultant.  The juggler that wants to go into investment banking (yes, I’ve seen this at Kellogg). Or the tech entrepreneur that wants to run for office. In my view, the theory is that people should recruit for careers that are closely aligned with is not always good advice.

On one hand, the advice does make sense. If you have a relevant background, the firms will value you. They’ll appreciate certain skills you have. Understand you might need less training for the job. And have some certainty that you can figure out how to fit in. That can make recruiting easy and in some cases a successful journey for you.

On the other hand, they are also forgetting that a job similar to that is what took you away from work to graduate school. It’s a job that has dozens of people with your “relevant” background and will compete with you; but far fewer who think differently. And far fewer than that who are “daring.” Who dare to go into a brand new profession where the odds of success are much lower but reward might be higher.

Personally, I like the person who takes the latter option. And if he/she is smart, he/she will learn on the job. After all, we all were at a point when we need nothing about our jobs.  But we read up, found mentors, practiced solving problems and became better.  Now imagine doing that with a set of expert skills from another industry. You would be quite unique.

The result of doing something you’ve always done, is having an very high proficiency.

The result of doing something different, can sometimes be gamechanging.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 Business School No Comments

Jeremy Lin and Wildly Important Goals

Today, Jeremy Lin is on top of the world. He’s starting NBA games, television coverage, ESPN magazine, invitations to all the top events in New York City, and more fame and status than ever thought possible. It  all adds up to a life that seems perfect. One that hopefully continues for the entire season. One that could end up getting him a very large contract at the end of the NBA season. And perhaps most importantly, one that could end up inspiring millions of people about achieving Wildly Important Goals more than ever before.

The definition of a goal is: (1) the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim and (2) the terminal point in a race. We all have goals we want to achieve. We all have terminal points and results that we want to happen. This article from the New York Times talks about Lin’s goals and how he decided to work to achieve them.

One of my favorite quotes from the article says, “Jeremy Lin’s rise did not begin, as the world perceived it, with a 25-point explosion at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 4. It began with lonely 9 a.m. workouts in downtown Oakland in the fall of 2010; with shooting drills last summer on a backyard court in Burlingame, Calif.; and with muscle-building sessions at a Menlo Park fitness center.”

Jeremy Lin wanted more than the status quo. He wanted to take advantage of the opportunity when it came. He wanted to work hard when nobody believed in him. Another quote says, “Quite simply, the Jeremy Lin who revived the Knicks, stunned the N.B.A. and charmed the world — the one who is averaging 22.4 points and 8.8 assists as a starter — is not the Jeremy Lin who went undrafted out of Harvard in June 2010. He is not even the same Jeremy Lin who was cut by the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 9.”

In short, Jeremy Lin’s story is one of having a Wildly Important Goal, and then doing everything he could to make it happen. “Beyond the mystique and the mania lies a more basic story — of perseverance, hard work and self-belief.”  If you love what you’re doing and work incessantly to achieve it, then prepare to see it come to pass. If you are able to dream of the impossible, it just might happen.

CLICK HERE to read the article in its entirety.



Saturday, February 25th, 2012 Business School, Leadership No Comments

What’s the last thing you bought in an elevator?

Good question. I don’t remember the last time I bought anything in an elevator. In fact, I don’t think I ever have. After all, not only am I not in the market to buy when I’m going for the ride, but even if I were, I wouldn’t have enough time to make a decision, especially on big ticket items.  You only get a few seconds from the time you get on to the time you get off. So if that’s the case, then why do we practice elevator pitches? And specifically, why do people spend so much time on big ticket items?

In business school, we spend a lot of time thinking about our elevator pitches. What to say to the CEO if we see them. How to give a quick pitch to investors. And how to close the deal should we get the chance.

In my view, the purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale. It’s not even to  give a description of you or your project/product. Not only will you probably not finish it on the “ride” (or during the time) but the person in the elevator probably won’t have time to hear you.

Instead, I propose that the purpose of an elevator pitch is something more nuanced. That it is to describe what you are working on in a way that  is compelling. To convince the person you’re with that they NEED to hear more. That they have to meet you again to hear the rest.

So I’ll ask one more time: What’s the last thing you bought in an elevator?

Now that you understand, maybe you should change your “elevator” pitch.

Friday, February 24th, 2012 Business School No Comments

Proceed or Pivot?

There’s a new word in the startup world today. That word is catching fire like burning sticks in a hot field. A it’s being thrown around more than any other word I’ve heard all year. And not just in business school but also more broadly now. In fact I even heard an undergrad senior use it today. Drum roll please … that word is. That word is Pivot.

So what does the word, Pivot, mean in the startup world? In short, it means to change direction. More specifically, to make a structured course correction with a business idea, and then to test a new hypothesis or new business model to see if it works better.

You usually pivot because you’re current idea isn’t working. Or because you got bad customer feedback. Or because someone else beat you to the punch with the old idea.

When this happens entrepreneurs ask, are we going the right direction? Is there still a market? Should we continue and persist with our old idea? Or do we need to change? And if they change (in a semi-organized way), then that is a pivot.

In my NUvention class, the word pivot comes up in every single class. Multiple times.  Annoyingly so actually.  But the idea in class is that we are continuously learning. And that the more we learn about the industry and our product, the more we can refine our idea and make it more compelling and that could take us in a new direction.

My NUvention project team decided to take a pretty large pivot when we changed products early in the class. It was a lot of work up front because we had to analyze a new market, find new customers, and talk to a lot more people. But things are going a lot faster now.

But if you think that sounds like a lot of work, it may have even been worse if we didn’t change (or dare I say, Pivot).   If there’s one things I’ve learned, is that’s there’s no worse thing you can do than to make the ill-informed decision to continue onwards, when the goal at hand cannot be attained.

For the current company/project I’m working on, we’re doing a small pivot. And we think it’s far more compelling.  Stay tuned to see if I am right or not.

What about you?  Proceed or Pivot.  Which one do you choose?


Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 Business School 3 Comments

How Did You Do?

Just last week, the dishwasher stopped working as well as it used to.  Now we have to clean dishes a lot better before putting them in. And a few weeks ago, the same thing happened to the dryer. Sometimes we have to put clothes in two times before they dry now.  And it’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen in the building. I don’t know why it’s happening exactly, maybe it is because they are old. But either way, one thing is for sure. I bet the janitor who fixed them has no idea.

Like I said, I bet the janitor who put these appliances in has no idea what happened. My guess is that despite the complaints he will continue to confidently take the same steps in every apartment here. And that makes sense right? After all he has no idea that they stopped working. We didn’t tell him. And he didn’t ask.

I propose that this same phenomenon happens in business school. MBAs do homework assignments but often don’t know how they did after they finish. Professors don’t “clearly” tell us and we certainly aren’t in a rush to ask. It happens a lot in group assignments too, as one person from the team often gets the homework back in their mailbox, and the rest of the group forgets to ask what grade the group got. And by forgets, I mean they often don’t care to ask.

It happens all the time in classes with problem sets, especially when those assignments are a small part of your grade. TAs put the graded homework in your mailbox and you never check your grade. It happens with midterms and finals too. Sometimes they sit there for weeks before you pick them up. Often times until the following quarter when things slow down.

And perhaps it makes sense. We’re all busy people. And it feels really good to finish and to get through the hard problems. So why ruin that feeling with the possibility of a poor grade?

Perhaps this is why consultants don’t always follow up after they are done consulting for a client.  They get busy with other clients. Then they forget. And in some cases, they probably don’t want bad feedback.

On the other hand, this never happens to lawyers. One difference between lawyers and MBAs, is that law students always check their grades. And lawyers always ask clients how things went and if there is more work to be done.

Interesting dynamic.

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 Business School, Law School No Comments


In business school, people talk a lot about their goals. Goals for classes. Goals for their careers. And goals for life after Kellogg. And it’s often the case that we assume our classmates have the same goals we do. That they’ll  end up in similar types of jobs and work in the same types of industries. But sometimes there are people that want to do something different, and do what they love. They find something they are so passionate about that they skip all the MBA opportunities to go after.

There’s no doubt that most of us have some level of drive and passion. After all, we would have never made it this far without it. We would have never made it through all the classes, got through all the interviews, and figured out how to be successful.

But for most of us, we speed up in the face of competition. In law school we ask, “how’d the rest of the class do?” In business school, we ask people how many cases they’ve done. We listen for someone breathing down our necks. And we discover that those breadths scare us to work hard and perform at our best. So we leverage it to do better. And sometimes even rely on it.

On the other hand, relying on that stuff can be exhausting.  And more importantly, relying on it means you’ve surrendered the ability to be a leader and an entrepreneur.

I propose that passion to achieve should not come competition but instead from Finding A Way. From moving forward when no one else sees a path–and holding back when the herd isn’t going where you want to go.

The great thing about passion is that it makes you do that.

Sunday, February 19th, 2012 Careers 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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