Random Post: MBA: Incremental Value
RSS 2.0
  • Home
  • About
  • MBA Guide
  • Print Ad Blog

    Business and Bowling

    October 9th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 2/6/2013 6:26 PM

    One of the things that you hear a lot about when looking at schools is fit. What is the class dynamic like? Do you actually get to meet everyone in your class or is it just limited to a section? All of these are great questions and things one really needs to think about, both for an MBA but also for a full time offer.

    If you’ve done much research on Johnson, you know that it is a very close knit community. Students really do hang out with one another, both in and outside of the career path they are looking at. While there are many examples I can give, perhaps the biggest is the bowling league.

    The bowling alley is 16 lanes, 4 people per team, and two time slots every Friday. Some quick math tells you that that’s 128 people involved. Then, since there are always scheduling conflicts each 4 person team actually has about 6 people (mine has 8). So that’s about 192 people. Add to that people that come and are not even on a team, and you easily have over 200 people coming out to bowl every Friday during the Spring semester.

    That makes it roughly 1/3 of the student body is out together having a great time.

    Think about that! One out of every 3 people in the whole school come out together every week. That is something special. That is what we mean when we talk about the Johnson community.

    Side note: the average score is probably around or less than 100, so bowling skill is not required.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    How to Win an Internship

    September 25th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 12/5/2012 8:26 PM  

    I promised that I would post about my experience with the Accenture Innovation Challenge and I will deliver on that promise! In good executive summary form, I’ll start with the results. We won!

    Background: This was the first year Accenture did a case competition on their 9 advanced degree recruiting campuses, including Stern, Booth, Ross, and Wharton. There are a few things that make this competition different than other competitions.

    1) Structure – 80 teams applied, 50 teams presented on-campus, 17 semi-finalist teams (2 per campus) were selected for a PowerPoint only round and short video, 3 were selected as finalists to present at the client and one is the winner.

    2) Case Problem – The solution you present, you must be able to implement. I don’t mean Accenture, I mean you. In the final rounds the presentations were to the CEO and senior staff of the nonprofit we were working with (in addition to very senior Accenture practitioners). The winning proposal is then scoped by Accenture and the winning team will have the chance to help implement.

    3) Reward – Most competitions have cash or interview rewards for winning (and also typically fewer total teams competing). Accenture offered a guaranteedinternship to the winning team. Not an interview, an internship.

    The Challenge: I’m not sure how much I can or can’t say about the challenge itself, but I will say it was for an extremely fun Washington, DC based nonprofit. We were trying to help them increase the number of projects volunteers completed annually. It was a very interesting challenge and there were a few things that I feel made our team successful.

    Teamwork: I can’t say this enough – the team I was a part of functioned at an extremely high level. We were able to have open conversation, get solid feedback, let go of our own ideas, embrace ideas of others, circle back to issues and ideas as needed but not run in circles, seriously commit to the project yet keep it fun, and many other traits. Each person brought their own strengths and the team just got stuff done. Even the most talented team will fail if they don’t have the proper chemistry and my team definitely had chemistry.

    Preparation: We prepared for this. A lot. I would estimate that each round was 30+ hours of work per team member. At each stage we refined our concept and changed things based on feedback we received. This includes the final round where we had a call with the client and we decided to rework half of our entire concept. The call was Friday at 4. The new deck was done by Monday afternoon and turned in Tuesday night. We practiced presenting our sections, gave feedback on how to work the slide, what points to hit, what words/themes were needed to frame the ideas. Johnson faculty made time to coach us on our presentation style. We also did individual practice and then came together as a group so we wouldn’t burn out. Our preparation enabled us to present our sections to the client rather than at the client – a key difference that shows just how much we cared about our solution AND the client.

    Risks: No analysis is complete without risks and mitigation strategies. We all took risks to win this. We missed class and a quiz to participate in the finals and we knew our grades were going to be impacted. The weekend we spent doing the final deck (after that Friday call) also contained a statistics mid-term so we didn’t study as much as we could have. There were other things that are hard to measure: stress, networking, recruiting, relationships, or even just sleep. These were real risks for us which we decided to mitigate by winning 😉 Joking aside, we spent time saying what we could commit. We all knew when people had stopping times. We needed to be sensitive to those things. This was important to mitigate some of the risks and critical to our success.

    That’s my summary of the Accenture Innovation Challenge. Good luck to those of you partaking next year!

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Thankful for Success!

    September 11th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 11/26/2012 3:27 PM  

    Things are busy. I feel like I need to start every post saying that so you are not surprised when you are in the thick of your MBA. You can’t say “nobody told me there would be so many opportunities”. The thing is, that’s what they are: opportunities. They are all over the place and it is up to you to pick which ones you will seize and which ones you will pass by.

    I set my sights on a few things this semester and have been extremely humbled by just how well things have turned out. It started a few weeks ago when I won the election for the Facilities Chair with the Johnson Student Council. My platform is that I want to have a bunch of small wins we can see the benefit of now while also making sure student voices are heard in strategic planning. When you see awesome signs for room locations you’ll know I’ve accomplished a core part of my platform.

    The next victory was winning the co-VP of Education position (along with Matt De Paolo) for the Consulting Club. It was awesome that so many people showed interest in the position, and I consider myself lucky to have been elected. It will be a lot of work, 20-40 hours a week next year, but I learned so much from the co-VPs this year that I really wanted to find a way to give back. They did a fantastic job with case preparation as well as general recruiting tips & etiquette. My goal is to somehow fill their massive shoes and help the class of 2015 as much as they helped my class.

    Next up was a series of wins that I will write a whole post about. The short story is that I had an amazing team that won several rounds of competition and, ultimately, we won the first Accenture Innovation Challenge case competition (over about 80 teams). For a bit more detail, read on! There are various case competitions people can sign up for (which Johnson has been dominating). A few are on campus. Accenture decided to produce their very own case competition this year at their core recruiting schools. After two rounds, 3 (of 80) were picked as finalists. We were flown to Washington, DC to present to the CEO & senior members of the organization as well as national and global heads from Accenture. The prize was an internship – a HUGE deal, not only because getting an internship is such a focus, but because most case competitions have cash prizes or guaranteed interviews.

    The same day that we won that competition it was revealed that Johnson had climbed the BusinessWeek rankings to #7. The mood was electric around Sage! What a great time to be here.

    That said, I needed a break and the Thanksgiving break provided exactly that. Sure, I should have been catching up on school work. I didn’t. That will make this a tough week of catch-up, but when you need to recharge, you need to take time and come back full-strength.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Journey Through the Core

    August 28th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 10/28/2012 11:39 PM 

    It finally happened for me.  After working so hard during the first quarter of classes and having the occasional “when will I ever use this” thoughts, I was listening to some conversations in class and realized just how much I had learned since August 4.

    Sometimes it is hard to appreciate it when you are right in the middle of the class or pounding out an analysis of a case, but when you take a step back and think about all of the connections you just made, it’s amazing. It’s a capital lease, not operating, so it has a different impact on the depreciation structure (accounting) and how I value the company using a DCF analysis (finance). The shift in long run average total cost in an industry (econ) will change the supply curve, cause firms to exit, and, therefore, alter the competitive forces of the remaining firms (strategy).

    If you don’t know what that means, fear not. They will teach you. That’s what our professors are there for. The point is that everything really is connected. Knowing these connections starts to change the way you think about issues. It also makes the material that much more interesting. You can see, in short order, the use of the knowledge you gained just a few weeks prior.

    The part that is fantastic is that it’s all planned. The faculty that teach the core 1st year classes meet on a weekly basis and discuss what is going on in each of their sections.  They seek feedback from other faculty members to make sure that not only do they use material and references across the courses, but they make changes to support one another. When reviewing a quiz, we have even been explicitly told that the question was included because another faculty member wanted the point stressed because of what they were planning to do in future coursework.

    This is what we mean when we say Johnson is collaborative. It is not just a saying. It’s not just for your team or even just the student body. It is a reflection of Johnson’s approach to learning and makes learning here such a rich experience.

    With that, Happy Halloween from Sage!


    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Exams With Faculty That care

    August 14th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 10/5/2012 8:06 PM  

    Exam weekend is here! The core class line-up is Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday.  It is a marathon of study time, practice exams, group session, TA and Professor led reviews, and – when one can find time – some sleep.

    As you can imagine, this could be a very stressful time for the students, and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t. That said, there are tons of examples of the true Johnson spirit shining through. I want to just share a few with you so you can appreciate the awesome atmosphere that this school creates.

    I could write a whole post (and should) on how much the 2nd year students help out the 1st year students. It is part of what Johnson is. This weekend they are sponsoring extra snacks for us in the atrium to keep us fueled up for our exams.

    The people love to learn. We just had a re-screening of the presidential debate that was very well attended despite the looming exams. The main focus was two professors of economics that were taking Q&A and giving their opinion and insights on some of the comments.

    Extended office hours and review sessions were all around. There was help from the faculty of the school, if that’s who you wanted to talk to

    The students themselves organized into groups and had open study sessions that people can pop in and out of.  In fact, there was even a Facebook group that was started specifically for the exams so that people could post questions with a virtual study group.

    Back to the faculty, they provided all sorts of study materials to make sure we could prepare for the exams. Sure, there are a bunch of curve balls on the day of, but just knowing that the system is in place to support us is very reassuring.

    The last thing that I’ll say is the coordination for the semester.  Sure there are conflicts – all of them can’t be avoided, but the entire school is VERY good at planning things out. And not just for social and professional events, but for course deliverables as well. On top of that they take feedback and then take action on it.

    In short, it is a very busy time here at Johnson and I couldn’t be happier that I’m in the middle of it.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Eric Schmidt and Homecoming at Cornell

    July 31st, 2014

    Originally Posted:9/24/2012 8:48 PM

    As you can imagine every now and then people need a break to have some fun, and Johnson never comes up short in that respect.  From the weekly socials in the Atrium to the daily coffee breaks, there is always opportunity to step away from the books for a moment (even though you may end up talking about it anyway, at least you’re up and moving around.

    Here is a quick snapshot of a few of the big events from the last week, Cornell’s homecoming!

    To start things off there was a fantastic lecture by Eric Schmidt.  The event that I went to (pictured below, from the 3rd row) was a 30 minute talk with Q&A. Some very lucky members of my class actually had a much longer conversation with him as he presented in one of the classes at Johnson. I wasn’t there, but I heard that it was fantastic.


    Next up was the homecoming tailgate that Johnson and the alumni association hosted. While it rained a bit in the morning, since we had a full tent it didn’t stop the party!


    Next up the actual football game! We pretty much dominated from early on, which made it a lot of fun to watch.  All sorts of free Cornell gear was distributed and people were having a great time.  I do have to admit that I didn’t stay the whole time though because I had other things to do….


    Those other things happened to be supporting the Johnson Rugby team!  This match was just versus another Cornell team, but a week or two ago they played NYU and dominated.

    Back to the books now – we have finals for the first set of our core classes starting next week and a few other projects in the mean time.  Like I said, always stuff to do here in Ithaca, but there’s also always stuff to get back to.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Sharing My MBA Adventure

    July 17th, 2014

    Originally Posted: 9/16/2012 3:40 PM 

    Hello prospective students, friends, classmates, alumni, and other visitors. My name is David Schuette, Class of 2014, and I’m excited to share my experiences at Johnson with you via this blog.  To start things off, here is a brief introduction of who I am and my background.

    I originally hail from Wisconsin in a town about 3 hours north of Chicago. I lived there all through grade school and attended the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, where I majored in operations management and minored in math.  My first position was with Lands’ End, a major cataloger-turned-ecommerce retailer, where I worked on their digital analytics team.  My focus was on website testing & optimization but I also played a large role in serving internal clients from merchandising to usability.  After three years I took a position in Rochester, New York with a direct and digital agency called Catalyst.  There my time was spent growing their digital analytics practice which included everything from crafting digital strategy to providing strategic guidance on implementation to analyzing campaign performance and optimizing allocation of digital media spend.  After two years there, it was with great excitement that I started my MBA with Johnson at Cornell.

    With a fantastic orientation wrapping up a few weeks ago and classes going strong, it’s been impressive to see just how well orchestrated the orientation was. It was a lot of information, but it was spaced and presented in such a way that made it easy to digest. That, along with a great group of classmates, has made this transition back to a full-time student about as seamless as I could have expected.

    But I’m not all work! Life is worth living. I’ll close with a little bit more about me. In my (limited) free time I really enjoy playing board games (Settlers of Catan, etc.), writing for my personal blog, reading, running and spending time with my wife.

    Fun Fact #1: My wife and I were married the day before orientation and we drove 5 hours directly to Sage Hall to pick up my orientation packet – “Just Married” car decorations and all.

    Part of a series of my re-postings of my blog for the “Life @ Johnson” section of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University MBA program website.

    Happiness: In Money and Life

    October 8th, 2013

    You may have read the article which reports that Gallop found 70% of Americans are disengaged from their job. That’s too bad. But I would challenge the conclusion of the article which is essentially to do what you love and the money will follow or, to quote them:

    “The best performers do so much extra study and work that they become experts, and often becomes wealthy as a result”

    I think the key here is the under-emphasized “often”. Without any hard data, I would argue that while people that have earned their wealth are generally passionate about what they do, the inverse is not true. The article even vaguely hints at it when it says

    “Start by identifying your natural talents, abilities and interests; develop them; and use them to solve problems that people are willing to pay you for.”

    The key from this quote is “people are willing to pay you for”. The fact is: what you are passionate about might be something nobody wants to hear about, much less pay you for. Or it might be so specific that there is simply not enough people out there to actually pay you.

    Now, you might launch into a counter argument about how money isn’t everything, and I would agree with that. Money isn’t everything, but money is a component of happiness and that cannot be overlooked. People will often make the comparison that people go to a job they hate just to make ends meet (which is a whole different issue that when you have a family you can’t just go off and do what you’re passionate about and hope money will come in – your family needs to eat tonight), but people often fail to make the very reasonable reverse argument. People will go to a job they love and come home to a place they hate.

    Whenever people ask for my advice about what to do and how to balance their passion with work I tell them to pick their life goal. Don’t go after a career that will be perfect for you, but won’t pay the bills. Don’t take a job just for the money and hate your work. Do pick a job that you can reasonably enjoy and which provides for a life at home which makes you happy.

    There is no single formula that works. For instance, if you are all about deferred gratification and can work a job you hate but retire at 40, and that’s how you’re going to be happy with your life. Go for it. If you are an optimist and think your passion will make you money no matter what, and trying and failing would be better than not trying at all – a la Gary Vaynerchuk – do it.

    Ultimately, either is consistent with my philosophy to pick the life you want and go for it. So if you’re part of the 70% that are disengaged with your job, but consider that a fair trade-off for the stability and lifestyle it provides, I’m happy for you. Follow your life goal, with laser focus, readjust when necessary, and be happy.

    How happy are you?

    This has been a Thought From the Cake Scraps.


    What is the Opportunity Cost?

    May 24th, 2013

    Opportunity cost – the cost of what you give up in order to do something else. It is something that is pounded into you in an MBA program.  The question of “what else could be done with this time or money” constantly comes up. A great project will be passed on simply because there is an even better project to fund and a business cannot do all of the projects at once. Trying to do so will, most likely, lead to failure of many or all of the projects.

    This concept of opportunity cost truly is an important concept. It is important to realize that choosing to do thing A means that you won’t be able to do thing B. It’s not good or bad; that’s just how it is. The problem that I’ve run into recently is that I’ve become more aware that every decision actually does have an opportunity cost. While this seems simple enough on the surface, it’s actually a bit of a problem. Thinking about what the alternatives might be isn’t all that productive for small decisions. Furthermore, the reality is that it’s not possible to know all of the ramifications of the actions you take.

    With this realization, I have had to become comfortable with once again not thinking of the opportunity cost of small decisions. It simply isn’t worth it.

    For example, like any good MBA I keep up on the news of the day. I enjoy getting the WSJ every day – paper delivery – as well as following headlines on various news sites. I’m also a sucker for a good magazine offer (tip: pay with check to avoid auto-renewal and just let it lapse). My RSS feeds are a wonderful source of consolidation, despite what Google thinks. There was a time when I could follow many of these things and still have time left over. As you know, that’s no longer the case and likely won’t be again. This is where opportunity cost comes into play.

    Previously, I would worry about missing a day of news, an item in RSS, or not reading magazines cover to cover. My overarching thought was “what if I miss something?!” I had to let it go. There simply wasn’t enough time to catch up – I would just get further behind. And as items would build up, the task would grow ever more insurmountable and the gap would grow. Now I use an elimination strategy and don’t worry about it.

    If I have not read the prior magazine when the next one arrives, the old one is recycled. Same with the paper. For RSS I simply allocate myself a certain amount of time to read. When time is up, I consider everything as read and start a blank slate. This has been a huge benefit for me because I feel so much more in control. When my WSJ subscription lapsed for a month, I just didn’t read WSJ for that month. Was I a little less informed on certain things? Of course, but not completely out of the loop. And so I continue to streamline and manage my time.

    Worrying about what I might miss if I don’t spend the time reading all of these articles isn’t worth the stress. The opportunity cost isn’t as high as I thought it was.

    As I continued to heighten my awareness of how I was making decisions, I discovered there was more in my life that could use the same treatment. Yes, a run to the store will take 30 minutes or an hour. Yes, that is time that I can’t do something else. Do I still find it a bit annoying that I have to go? Yes, but I have stopped obsessing about it. On the other hand, the reason I don’t have to obsess about it is because I’ve made cuts in other areas. I barely watch TV and it takes a act of nature to entice me to see a movie because it is so hard for me to enjoy watching video when I could be doing something else. But then, there are societal costs for not being able to make conversation about these things.

    The first semester of my MBA program definitely put me into hyper-aware mode on how I was spending my time. Looking for all of the opportunity costs was productive until it was a source of stress. With the second semester finished it is clear that for some things, the opportunity cost just isn’t worth it.

    What is your largest opportunity cost?

    This has been a Thought From the Cake Scraps.

    My New Gold – 15 Minutes

    October 6th, 2012

    It doesn’t seem that long, does it? Just 15 minutes. 900 seconds and then it’s gone.

    In my pre-MBA life that usually wasn’t all that big of a deal to get distracted for that long. Maybe it was a break to surf the Internet, play some games on my mobile device or read the paper.  That life appears to have gone by the wayside, or at least it needs to for me to continue to keep up with the pace of my life.

    What I’ve found is that during my day I actually have many breaks of just a few minutes, anywhere from 5 to let’s say 15.  Because it was in between classes, I would just chat with friends or jump on my phone to play a game. That is simply no longer the case.  I still make time for friends, but the rest of those breaks I have started cramming stuff into the gaps.

    The WSJ comes to my door step every day and I pack it in my backpack and jump on the bus. For me the bus ride is a bust because I get ill in about 30 seconds of trying to read, so it’s a good thing the ride is short. Once I’m on solid ground not a minute is wasted. A 5 minute break is long enough to skim the section of the WSJ that I don’t have much interest in. 10 minutes will take me through most of the sections and 15 plenty for the entire paper.

    My Series 9 Ultrabook is also one of the best purchases I have ever made. The ability to carry it anywhere and then flip it open and have a fully functioning computer at my fingertips in seconds is so helpful, I can’t begin to describe it. I have 6 different PowerPoint decks open right now along with probably 8 or more other programs. In just a few minutes I can respond to a few emails, update some PP slides I’m working on, or make some notes after a quick coffee chat with a recruiter.

    I could also run and check my mail box, grab a cup of coffee, get a quick snack from the (over-priced) cafe, switch out my books in my locker, change into business formal clothing for a briefing, change back into street clothing afterwards, read a few pages from the homework, do a practice problem or two. The list goes on, but I have learned that each and every second counts, so I need to use it.

    Another thing I could do is bang out a blog post.

    What do you do with your 15 minute gaps?

    This has been a Thought From the Cake Scraps.