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Too early > Too late

September 21st, 2012 No comments

Doing something too early is almost always better than doing it too late. Likewise, doing something too late is usually the best way to miss out on something great. Think about it.

We all wish we could do things at exactly the perfect time. Launch a new business right when the world needs your product. Get a job at a new company one year before it went public. Start a movement online when everyone was paying attention. Getting in touch with someone the moment they were thinking about you too.

But I’ve seen it time and time again, where just the opposite happens. People wait, and then they look back with regret because they waited too long. A lawyer waited for the perfect time to respond to a client and the client was not happy it took so long. An entrepreneur sat around on their idea and someone else came up with it first. Someone wanted to inquire about a job, but someone else got hired before you.

I hear people say this all the time, “I am not ready. I’m not sure about this. Or the timing isn’t perfect yet.”  All valid points … but all sure fire ways to be too late and miss out.

Being early has it’s price too. Sometimes you lose a little time. Sometimes there is more uncertainty. And usually the cost is higher to make it happen. But that’s okay if you are on to something big. Because the value is higher too when it all works out.

In short, there’s a small price to pay for being too early, but there can be a HUGE price to pay for being too late.

So what are you waiting for? Go.

——

One of my favorite quotes:

A good plan today is better than the perfect plan tomorrow - George Patton

 

Take the follow

September 19th, 2012 No comments

The word leadership is significantly overused in business school (and in MBA applications).  Not only is the concept ingrained in many people’s minds but too many people falsely assume they have what it takes to take the lead.

In business school, too many people try to lead. Sometimes, they they do it when they don’t have enough experience. And other times, someone else is far better suited to lead.

In many cases it may make more sense to follow. To let someone else take the reins, make a decision, and be accountable.

Being a leader when you don’t have the experience can take a team down the wrong path. And leading when you don’t have passion is not only hard but it’s impossible when the going gets tough.

I propose that the best leaders understand the importance of passion and they are skilled at stopping to take the follow. They have the guts to put their egos down, to think about what’s best for the team and to help out where they can. And in the end, not only is it best for them but also for everyone involved.

 

 

#AskJeremy: Ask me anything at Kellogg MBA Info Session on Monday, October 1, 2012

September 18th, 2012 No comments

For the first time this application season, I’m joining Kellogg at a public MBA admissions event. Given my work hours over the coming months, I’m not sure I’ll make all of them. So I hope you’ll consider coming to this one.

College and graduate admissions season is one of my favorite times of year.  Applicants are not only visiting campuses, sitting in on the classes and going to info sessions but many are also writing me with questions from all across the world. All in hopes to find a golden ticket into top programs. Well, for people applying to MBA programs, Kellogg School of Management is holding an info session in early October.  I’m going and would love to meet all of you there.

The event will be held in downtown Chicago at 555 West Monroe, on Monday, October 1, 2012.

In general, these events are a great chance to mingle with potential MBA students and also a great chance to meet admissions officers and learn more about the school.

Meanwhile, I’ll be there and you can ask me anything–the good and the bad–about Kellogg and any top MBA program.

CLICK HERE to register.

And feel free to contact me personally if you’ll be attending.

See you in a two weeks.

#AskJeremy

The look of an MBA student

September 17th, 2012 2 comments

What does an MBA student from a top 5 program look like? How do they act and what things have they done? How can I be just like them?

I’ve met MBA students from schools all over the US, who come from every profession. I’ve met early career MBAs fresh out of college and older ones who had big jobs before coming.

And I can tell you this: many of them don’t have much in common. They don’t share gender, job title or income level. They didn’t go to the same college, take the same classes or have the same goals.

Ironically, one thing you’ll notice about MBA applicants is that they all seem to be trying to be the same person. Take the same classes, tell the same stories, talk about the same experiences and submit the same applications. All in hopes to be accepted to their dream schools.

You see the disconnect in all of this, right?

This is bad news is that if you’ve got the wrong genes you are NOT going to make it to the NBA or to the NFL (although I have one friend who figured out how–despite his scrawny stature he still made it all the way). But the good news is that if you want to go to the best business school in the world, become a better leader, and change the way business is done–you can.  Because neither your genes nor your job will get your in or keep you out.

Actually, MBAs do have one thing in common. Every MBA made the decision to apply to school and then worked hard to make sure they got in.

 

The F Word (“Fear”)

September 13th, 2012 No comments

 … is one of the most power words today. For you. For me. For all of us. Not only does it keeps us from being our best but it haunts us so much that we don’t go after the things that we really want. Or we hide away awaiting the results of something we don’t think we’ve achieved. And the word is …. FEAR!

I’ve encountered thousands of people that battle with fear. They have great ideas but don’t make them happen. They fear being criticized, they fear the idea not working and they fear it’s going to be harder than expected. And they fear it’s not going to work out in the end.

Fear is an incredibly strong emotion–no doubt about it. But fear is also what holds us back. We don’t pursue our goals, personally or professionally. It’s what STOPS YOU from going with an idea at work. STOPS ME from writing a controversial blog post. And stops both of us from taking a risk with someone you like. Because we don’t want to get rejected.

On the other hand, the greatest people are those that can overcome the fear. CEOs that don’t fear losing a job. Athletes that don’t fear getting hammered by the media for missing a shot. And investors that aren’t afraid to lose money on a brilliant new idea.

Easier said than done? Of course it is. After all, I hate rejection as much as anyone. And it’s incredibly easy to not take a chance, or to hide away, because of it. Especially when the stakes are high.

On the other hand, fear of failure can also be overrated. Because less people will care than you think. Millions of smart people have failed before. And sometimes, your idea might just work out in the end.

It’s time both you and me took this advice more often.

“The greatest risk in life is not taking one.”  -Old Commercial from AIG

 

** Here is an except from Tribes, where Seth Godin coined this phrase the F word

Last impressions

September 11th, 2012 No comments

First impressions are critical. When you interview for a job. Meet new potential clients. A someone out on a date. You never get to make a good first impression again.

A few months ago, I opened up a new account at my bank. The first interaction was great. The employees were helpful and nice. They got me through the process quickly, and even gave me a discount.

At the moment I was happy, but over time the experience has taught me that last interactions might be far more important.

After they finished this job, their service has been worse. They’ve charged me with fees they didn’t explain And last week, it took two hours just to get a few cancelled checks. I was transferred between three departments, all on VOIP lines in South America that were hardly working.

The interaction was terrible. And this is what will stick in my memory. The last interaction. In my experience, it can make or break everything.

Good last impressions are great too. When the Dean of your school sent a personal message over the weekend to help with an important problem. When my realtor left me free cookies on two occasions after closing my condo. When I got a call from someone I was waiting to hear from (sorry readers, no links here!!!)

The good news is that just yesterday, the bank helped me get $120.00 back that was fraudulently taken from my account. And it only took 15 minutes. I was thrilled. Can my bad feelings be changing? Maybe not entirely, but the last impression helped.

In today’s disconnected internet-driven world, last impressions are more important than ever.  So what last impression are you going to leave today?

Worth your time

September 10th, 2012 No comments

One reason people choose to do something is because you get a paycheck to do it. In fact, it’s the one reason most people do things. It makes sense in today’s world, where jobs are harder to get than ever before. But what’s too bad is that for a large number of my coworkers, it’s the only reason they  do things.

Some things are worth your time whether you get paid or not. I know people all across the US that are doing things they don’t get paid for. Running for office, volunteering in high impact roles, joining the presidential campaign, starting a movement, building a nonprofit, and joining dance teams. All for very little pay.

Likewise, some things are worth your time, even if you have to wait to see the benefits. Going back to graduate school, even though you won’t get paid for two or three years. Spending time getting to know someone who you can’t see as much as you’d like. Starting a movement for a cause, even though you’re only inspiring a single person at a time.

Now that you’re thinking about this question, what are you going to do this week? Invest all of your time in something that’s worth your time? Or waste it pursuing something else?

It’s a good question to think about every Monday morning.

Is it time to quit?

September 9th, 2012 2 comments

You were the best before, but today the rest of the people are catching up. The work used to be easy but now you’re struggling more than ever. She used to return your calls the same day but now she doesn’t.

Quitting clearly isn’t the advice your parents gave you. If you asked them again now, they’d probably say, keep working at it. Persistence pays off. You can do anything you put your mind to.

But in a recent book I read by Seth Godin, there’s also the perspective that quitting is a good thing. Because no one will ever become the best at anything unless they are good at quitting.

When a startup won’t work, you have to learn to quit the strategy and adapt to something else. This is known as pivoting

When your project won’t get traction and you can’t find funding. If you keep working, then you forego the time and energy to work on other projects that might be better.

And when someone won’t call you back. Quitting frees you up to stop worrying. To find other things to do. To stop thinking about them so much – even though it’s easier said than done.

On the other hand, this doesn’t hold true all the time.

Data show that salespeople have to keep going — and not quit — if they ever expect to make a sale. The average salesperson gives us after 5 sales but data show for big purchases that it takes seven calls to make them commit.

Likewise, we’ve all heard of stories of entrepreneurs who only made it through because they outworked everyone else.

And of love stories, where one person had no interest in the beginning but where persistence paid off.

So perhaps the most important decision you can make is to figure out if you should keep trying, keep trying to sell your product and keep calling. I’m making some of these same decisions right now. Maybe you should be too.

“Never Quit”.

What a spectacularly bad piece of advice. I think the advice giver meant to say “Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment”.

Now that’s good advice.

-Seth Godin

Most law school applicants

September 4th, 2012 No comments

… apply to law school the same way. They have very similar backgrounds, few years of work experience, focus way more on the LSAT than anything else, and end up choosing the highest ranked school that lets them in. Most of these applicants are smart, no doubt about it. But here is the problem.

 

Most law school applicants get low LSAT scores at least once, and then become afraid to take the test again. Many never take it a second time.

Most law school applicants spend so much time on the LSAT that they forget about the importance of having a good story

Most law school applicants write lofty essays about making a difference in the world, but nearly every single one wants to work at a big law firm by the end of their first year

Most law school applicants are hyper-competitive and don’t do a good a job working together

Most law school applicants apply to law school with very little ‘real’ work experience but don’t realize this is the case

Most law school applicants are more argumentative than collaborative

Most law school applicants are caught off guard during 1L

Most law school applicants haven’t developed certain professional leadership skills

Most law school applicants get rejected from more schools than they get in to

 

The good news is that if you are reading this post RIGHT NOW, then you do not have to be like most law school applicants

It’s the small things

September 2nd, 2012 No comments

For the majority of us, it’s not the big things. Instead, it’s the small things that can make all the difference.Think about it.

Every time you are making progress on a big project at work but take a 10-second break to check email. No big deal right? Well, if you do that 100 times a day (most people do), that adds up not only to be a significant amount of time but also a significant distraction.

Likewise, drink a coffee every single day in the morning before work? Or a soda at lunch every day instead of water? A little drink never hurt anyone right? But a year later, what if you add them up side by side against a wall. Over 300 drinks would look at lot bigger now.

On the other hand, when you’re in a race to the finish line in middle of a huge project an extra hour can make all the difference. When you’re struggling through a tough project at work or school, a text message from a your mom saying “you can do it” can light up your mood. And we all know this to be true: even a 15-minute call from that special someone you like can change your entire day for the better.

All of us might be better off if we found a way to keep tabs on these little events.

If we lined up all our emails or coffee against the wall, seeing how many were there might be enough to change your mind.

On the other hand, if you just thought for a second about just how helpful an extra hour or a 15 minute call was, we’d do the same for others.

Deadline: Organizer for Emanuel Pleitez for LA

September 1st, 2012 No comments

The deadline to work with my friend Emanuel Pleitez for his campaign for Mayor is On Monday. Please remind any students, recent grads or socially-minded professionals you know to consider it.

The application deadline is Monday, September 3, so if you are interested, please be sure to submit your resume to michael@pleitezforla.com and register: HERE

Fellows would join an amazing team already on the ground of alumni from schools all over the country, including Stanford, Harvard, UT Austin, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, Michigan, USC, Seattle, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Cal State Long Beach, Princeton, Yale, UPenn, West Chester, Cornell among others.

Let me know if you decide to apply or want to be connected to the campaign.

See recent press on the campaign below

LA Times
Fox News
La Opinion (Spanish)

Most MBA Applicants …

August 30th, 2012 No comments

… apply to business school the same way. They have very similar backgrounds, use the same stories, focus on the same parts of the applications and hope to get into the same schools. Most MBA applicants are smart but here is the problem

 

Most MBA applicants apply to the same business schools and dont think as much about fit

Most MBA applicants write about making a difference but won’t consider a job in that field post-business school

Most MBA applicants are more eager to get high paying jobs than to do what they are passionate about

Most MBA applicants are persuaded heavily by money when it comes to choosing school and careers

Most MBA applicants don’t focus enough on the essays and overall story when applying

Most MBA applicants talk a lot about leadership roles in their applications instead of leadership experiences

Most MBA applicants aren’t afraid to embellish if it will help get them into school

Most MBA applicants don’t write a clear compelling story about who they are in their application

Most MBA applicants get rejected from more than one school

 

Fortunately, if you like reading my blog (and not blogs about “odds” of getting in), then you’re probably not like most MBA applicants

 

One in a million

August 29th, 2012 No comments

… is a dangerous concept. It describes the one thing that we think we want more than anything else. Sometimes it’s a job. Other times it’s getting into school or meeting that special someone. But sometimes can counting on  one in a million can be a dangerous thing?

The chances of a high school student eventually playing basketball in the NBA? One in a million (probably worse).

The chances of a person becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 Company: the same odds.

On the positive side, it gives you a WIG to pursue and allows you to go after something you believe in and to give it your all.

On the other hand, many would say that  one in a million doesn’t even exist. That multiple jobs that could be your dream job and multiple soul mates are out there–not just one. Further, it’s dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket. You might get nervous when game time comes, have trouble performing, and miss out on other opportunities all because you thought there was only was that was meant for you.

In the end the consistent and extremely focused pursuit of a specific goal is dangerous. It makes sense, when the work you do will also prepare you to succeed in other outcomes. So if you’re taking steps to become a CEO and your school, practice, and skill helps you become a great entrepreneur or Managing Partner, then perfect.

On the other hand, if you ou put all your eggs in one basket and live a life in relentless pursuit of a singular outcome that leaves you no other options if you fail, then maybe you should think twice. If your happiness depends on just one NBA draft five years from now, then that’s giving a whole lot of power to a single event not in your control.

On the other hand, I believe that some things are worth going after: jobs, schools, careers and significant others. So I propose that the closer you are to having a One in a Million, the more you have to stack the deck more and make the game shorter.

(Good) Habits > Diets

August 27th, 2012 5 comments

Quick fix diets NEVER work.  They don’t work for losing weight. They won’t help you get a quick promotion at work.  And they certainly don’t work for quitting bad habits.

I know what you’re thinking. That sounds funny — every person I know has tried at diet at some point.  Well, me too. Four people in my family are on diets right now. And they’ve all lost a lot of weight. So let me tell you why it won’t work for any of them.

The reason they don’t work is because the diet has nothing to do with what they’re actually trying to do. The aim of a fad diet is to change the outcome not to change habits. And before long, weight loss (e.g. the outcome) will plateau because you can only lose so much weight. Then they’ll return to eating junk food again when they don’t see immediate results.

You see it happen all year long. Every New Years eve thousands of people spend hundreds of dollars on 30 day diet programs. They purchase memberships at fancy fitness centers so they can squeeze into the new swimsuit in a few weeks. They stop eating for a month so they can look good at their wedding and fit in their wedding dress. They buy special gum as a quick fix to stop smoking in two weeks. They work harder than ever for one month hoping to get that quick promotion. But in the end, they crash. The diet not only doesn’t work but often times it also backfires and you’re worse off than when you started.

But (good) habits are what matter.  Habits are what build great careers. Habits are what make Olympic athletes. Habits are what can make you a morning person even when you’re not.  And habits are what will help you not only lose weight but also keep it off.

Habits make you better tomorrow than you were today. That’s because the key to becoming world class at anything is consistency not a quick fix.

The only way to stay in shape is to go to the gym every morning.

The best way to get promoted is to stay an extra hour at work every day, all year long.

They only way to become a world class blogger is  to write every day.

If you want to become a better free throw shooter, you have to shoot 100 free throws every day this season.

And if you want to win an Olympic gold medal, time to start your training regiment today.

In the end, the secret isn’t some fancy technique or quick-fix solution. Instead, the secret is doing it consistently over time. To lay one brick at a time, which will eventually turn into a wall.

In short: (good) habits > diets.

Fifteen more minutes

August 24th, 2012 No comments

I am leaving on a trip Sunday morning, and the mere thought of going to the airport got me thinking. It got me thinking about the power of 15 more minutes. Let me explain.

There are two ways most of us generally travel.

The first is what most of us do. You think about your flight time, map out your trip to the airport and then leave on time. Along the way, you do your best to avoid traffic, repeatedly checking your smart phone to make sure you’re on track. But by the time you walk inside, you’re five minutes behind. You consider cutting the security line but you don’t … losing more time than you thought.  By the time you get through security you realize you’ve another five minutes, maybe even ten. So you take throw your computer inside a different part of your bag, get repacked as fast as you can and pick up the pace. Many of us can’t get that food we were craving, some of us are forced to start jogging, hoping … praying the doors haven’t shut. In the end, you barely made your flight.

The second way is to leave for the airport 15 minutes earlier. We don’t rush because it feels so early. You don’t spend time checking your clock and never once did you consider jogging, let alone running.

If you travel the first way, you’re sure to get stressed out. Sure you’ll maximize your time but you’ll also maximize chances of missing your flight, sweating by the time you get to your seat and not having enough space for your carry-on.

If you travel the second way, you don’t stress. There’s no chance of missing your flight. And if you want it, you can grab a bite on the way.

So what’s the lesson you ask? It’s probably different for everyone. But here are three:

  1. First, is the importance of buffer time. Even just a little can change your entire day.
  2. Second, the easiest thing to do is to do what we’re supposed to – in this case leave on time. But sometimes doing a little extra can make the difference.
  3. Finally, the easiest way to deal with chaos and all the stress that comes with it, might just be to avoid it altogether.

So the next time you have a flight … or better yet … any important appointment, meeting, due date or deadline, consider getting started just a little earlier.  In most cases, option #1 will be the most tempting but option #2 will be better.

Hurry up and wait …

August 23rd, 2012 2 comments

is a classic thing that happens to most of us. It happens when for part of the time you are working as hard as you can to get something done, but then once you finish, you have to stop and have to wait wondering if hurrying was ever worth it.

Think about it.

Movie crews hurry to finish setting up but then they wait for the director to finish the scene before scrambling for the next scene. Authors hurry to finish their books and blog posts, but then wait for someone to comment on it or give you a book deal.  We hurry and sign the contract, then wait for the lawyers to send their comments and revisions. And government officials — they are even worse than lawyers. You write a memo or brief as fast as you can to give to your superior, just to turn around and wait for hours just to be able to have a meeting with them.

But it’s not just a business concept. It also happens in our personal lives.

We apply to MBA programs or take the Bar exam, expending every bit of energy we have. But then we wait for months to get the result back. Or we call a girl that we like, leave a voicemail and sit around waiting for her to call us back, wasting hours in the meantime.

And in the end, many of us spend as much of our time waiting as we do working.

I propose that the best way to fill up that waiting time is to work on something else. Build in time for new projects. Set up time to revise old ones. And work on things you care about.  Not only does it help to pass the time, but it means you are continuing to work on your craft and getting better at things you care about.

And more importantly, for some of us, it helps you take your mind off of the stakes of what you’re waiting for.

Thunderstorms of noise

August 21st, 2012 No comments

Over the past two weeks, we’ve had at least two thunderstorms in Chicago. And loud ones. A new friend of mine in Dallas also told me about thunderstorms they were having. Her comment got me thinking about all the noise around us today.

Today, the noisiest storms that we hear don’t come from the sky. Instead, they come from all the soundbites raining down on us every single day.  As the amount of inputs go up — more emails, calls, texts and ideas –more people are fighting for your attention.

This is especially true as our lives are becoming busier. Work weeks are increasing. Some of us have two jobs. And we’re all getting more Facebook friends and Twitter followers than ever.

One way to get past this is to simply ignore all the noise. Turn off your phone. Don’t reply to all the emails. Don’t sign in on Facebook. But I get it–that’s easier said than done.

Perhaps a better way to do it is to decrease the noise and increase human contact. Find your goods friends and people that you want to know better and interact more with them. And over time do more of that, while turning down the volume for the noise.

In the end, the experience you have with someone you trust and like is far more important than random messages on the screen. Especially as some messages that weren’t even meant for you in the first place.  Today’s huge surplus of electronic messages means that human interactions are less frequent but more important than ever.

So the next time you need advice, call your friend don’t email them.

And the next time you’re thinking about texting someone you like, try calling instead. He/she will appreciate it more.

Your friends’ friends

August 18th, 2012 No comments

I recently got back from a pre-wedding celebration outside of the US. Not only was the trip fantastic but I also really connected with the people I met on the trip. The whole thing reminded of something really important.

One thing I learned on the trip was the importance of your friends’ friends. Think about: your friends are usually your friends because you have some common interest, either professionally or personally. It’s usually both.

But if you think a bit more, you’d realize that your friend could say the same thing about his or her other friends. This means that it is probably that this person’s friends also have similar interests to you. And in some cases, you’ll have a whole lot in common. Similar interests. Similar stories. And similar criteria for making good friends.

So in some cases, your friends’ friends could make great friends for you too.

In my own recent experience on this trip, I found this to be true. Not only did I like every single person on the trip but I also fond a lot in common with them, despite our differences in location. We had similar friends in common. Went to similar schools. Had similar beliefs not only about careers but also about other non-professional issues.

And when they all came to Chicago this weekend, it was like the trip before never ended. We connected when we saw each other. We caught up on the past few weeks. And at the end of the night we all split off to reconnect again .

And that’s precisely why I’ll be meeting up with two of them again when I travel to the east coast in about a week.

So I propose the idea that it’s important to connect with some of your friends’ friends.

On one hand, you never know who you might meet. On the other hand, you always know that the chances are high that you might have a lot in common.

Talking things through

August 16th, 2012 No comments

One of the best ways to thing through decisions is to talk things through. It might sound simple but it can be powerful. Especially if you talk to someone that knows you well or to someone that knows more than you about the decision you are making.

Think about it:

It will force you to talk about a decision you may be avoiding.

It’s almost certainly going to get you thinking about new information you failed to consider.

You’ll definitely gain new perspective on the things, ideally from someone much more knowledgeable than you.

The more proactively you think about the issues before, the more likely you’ll come up with something insightful.

Sometimes, the person across the table might be the smartest person you know, but the real benefit still doesn’t even come from hearing them. Instead it comes from talking with them, telling them about your decision, confiding in them and seeing how they think about the problem.

Because in the end, there’s usually not a single answer to the question. So the smartest people aren’t racing to find the one and only-one right answer. Instead they have the courage to admit what they don’t know, understand that their mentors or colleagues might not know it either, but that they can help them look at the landscape of choices and think about the options ahead.

So the next time you’re deciding about career options, graduate school, or anything else, try talking things through.

You’ll be surprised at what you can come up with.

Doing the things you need

August 15th, 2012 No comments

In today’s hyperactive Internet driven culture, it’s easier than ever to do anything – log on the net, check email, message your friends, get interrupted with work—except the things you really need.

Like figuring out your schedule.

Making a touch decision.

Persisting through to speak to a live person.

Ten thousand things can get in the way of doing these things, every single day. And if you’re not in the mode of being productive, it’s hard. And these distractions can set you back hours, if not more.

But the things you need are the most valuable. They can’t be bought on Amazon, can’t be given to your assistant, and can’t be put off much longer.

How do we get some of these things done sooner?

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