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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

 

Flip-flopping on majors


A couple of months ago, I was sure I wanted to go for a dual Finance/Marketing major. At the time, I approached the Finance decision from a "this will be good for me" perspective, which -- let's face it -- isn't always a recipe for fulfillment and excitement. Conversely, I thought a Marketing major would balance that out with all of its cushy right-brained goodness. It didn't hurt that Wharton is considered to be #1 in Finance and perceived to be very strong in Marketing.

As naive as the above rationale may sound, I did actually give it a lot of thought. But in the end, my heart was not in it. I think Wharton has an amazing Finance program, and it's likely invaluable to anyone with a real interest in a Finance-related career. But looking back, the core Finance course last year was totally sufficient for my needs and interests. After taking Advanced Corporate Finance this semester, I've realized I'm overshooting my needs with a Finance major. I guess there is something about deconstructing valuation techniques for multi-billion dollar leveraged buyouts that causes one to ask oneself really philosophical questions about the purpose of life and whether or not one is alone in the universe.

Then I questioned the idea of doing a Marketing major. Looking through a lot of the course descriptions, I realized that this major too would overshoot my needs. I've taken a couple of great marketing classes this semester (Marketing Strategy and Pricing Policy) but the remaining requirements struck me as too specialized for my generalist leanings.

So I went back to Strategic Management, which fits my true interests and, incidentally, was what I wanted to begin with. Thankfully, I was able to pick up Siggelkow for the required strategy class, and he's reputed to be one of the best case teachers at Wharton and protégé (or is that consiglieri?) of Strategy godfather Michael Porter.

The best advice I ever got about picking a major was this: find the teachers you want and the classes you're most interested in, and piece together a major out of them. That being said, here's the roster for next semester:

MGMT 701 - Strategic Control and Planning (Siggelkow)
MGMT 782 - Strategic Implementation (Hrebiniak)
MGMT 691 - Negotiations (Zelleke)
MGMT 811 - Entrepreneurship through Acquisitions (Chalfin)
MKTG 753 - New Product Management (Meyer)
OPIM 666 - Industry Structure and Competitive Strategy (Clemons)


posted by Ryan : 8:57 AM | permalink

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

 

Being "Type B" in a "Type A" world


One professor last year made a statement in class saying that we were all Type A's or else we wouldn't be at Wharton. One thing I've noticed about business school is how many "Type A" personalities there appear to be. Out of the classroom, everyone seems to be oversubscribed and on their way to some other place. Inside the classroom, many are confident (if not anxious) enough to make sweeping, opinionated statements about matters for which there may be considerable uncertainty or little data. Not to mention the mentality on the recruiting front. Got an offer from Bain? Not good enough. Gotta try for McKinsey. And that will just be a back-of-the-pocket offer, just in case those real estate investments and startup ideas don't pan out.

From one Type B to another (assuming there are any of you out there), here is some advice. There are situations where, as an easygoing Type B, you may find yourself in the midst of a hot debate where you, quite frankly, are indifferent between two options. Why are you indifferent? Because you think there is either too much uncertainty to make a decision, or you simply feel that things will turn out fine either way. One trap to fall into is to be passive (i.e., say nothing). This is a tempting option: just let the Type A's duke it out. The problem is that passivity often leads to loss of credibility. The other trap would be to do the opposite: become aggressive and attempt a Type A transformation by arbitrarily picking a side and becoming opinionated and/or insistent on a course of action. That bombs quickly too. And it's disingenuous to defend something that you don't believe in to start with.

I think the better course of action for us Type B's is to learn to be more assertive (the happy medium between passivity and aggressiveness). We can still speak up, but maybe in a role of mediation or facilitation. That may involve getting both sides to agree on common goals, prompt further discussion by calling out the uncertainty of the situation, or challenge others about their strong feelings.

Admittedly, the Type A vs. Type B categorization, as any broad personality categorization scheme, is a huge oversimplification. We all have some of both types in us. And I don't believe Wharton is all Type A's, although they certainly may attract more visibility. What I think needs to be recognized, however, is that both sets of attributes are needed in the business world. Us Type B's can be ourselves and add value if we remember to be assertive.

posted by Ryan : 9:13 AM | permalink

Monday, November 08, 2004

 

A movie worth seeing


Wrote a review of the movie "Ray" for the WJ. I'll give you the short version of the review right here: it's a great movie, go see it.

posted by Ryan : 1:20 AM | permalink

Sunday, November 07, 2004

 

BitTorrent


It's funny sometimes how long the press takes to catch on to technology trends. BitTorrent has been around for a while and can't be beat compared with P2P programs like Kazaa that depend on people sharing lots of files. BitTorrent communities rely on stuff that's generally current and new, and they are best used for things like catching TV shows you've missed.

posted by Ryan : 1:52 PM | permalink

Thursday, November 04, 2004

 

Word



I didn't think I shared anything in common with P. Diddy (apart from a love of fine watches) but, as it turns out, we share the same desire:
"It's been a great year but it's been hard work. I'm gonna lay down for a week, watch TV, eat a turkey sandwich ... (and) watch old reruns of `Good Times.'"

He took the words right out of my mouth.

posted by Ryan : 6:56 AM | permalink

Monday, November 01, 2004

 

Dream guitar


I am in Advanced Corporate Finance class now, half-listening to a lecture on Black-Scholes and Option Pricing Theory... but I cannot stop thinking about my forthcoming birthday present from the Mrs. It's the guitar I've always dreamed about, the Gibson Les Paul in Heritage Cherry Sunburst. It's tough to think about much else... I've even lost interest in the election. When you are playing a Les Paul, it doesn't matter who is president, does it?

posted by Ryan : 7:45 AM | permalink

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