Thanksgiving

The holiday season is my favourite time of year.  I have a romanticised version in my head that the best of humanity comes out during this season: Sinatra over the sound waves, ‘Hi’s from strangers and friends, and generousity seen only during one month of the year.   Unfortunately, I’ve also seen some gnarly pictures of stampedes (Black Friday is at work), but my mind chooses remember the romance of the season.

I am thankful for three things:

1. Time

I’ve been blessed with the easy things in life, and now have the time to explore.  In the meta sense, I get to explore how I can play a part in disrupting the world for good; in the micro sense, the Thanksgiving break gives me time away from the MBA to think, relax and read.  With this time I read “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell.  He outlines amazingly how the underdogs come to win in many situations by overcoming their disadvantages, playing to their strengths and capitalizing on the weakness of those who should have won.

2. People

I get to meet amazing people every day.  I wake up to an amazing person every morning, go to school with a diverse group of experiences, learn from world class experts and listen to the most successful people in practice.

3. A natural curiousity

As I was reading David and Goliath, I reflected one of my favourite childhood books called “A 100 fantastic facts”.  I decided when I was young to commit these to memory and though I now have no recollection of what’s in there, I remember each fact sparking a research process that allowed me to chase my curiousity.   I then reflected on some of my internet searches this weekend: dyslexia, Rose Bryne, hobbies for a 14 yr old (my brother in law), Huguenots, Automatic millionaire, Logitech G5 mouse, Star Wars Millenium Falcon lego price, makani power, bodega bay and grandview house prices.  A huge spread of interests which I love to keep pursuing.

It means I get to discover a lot of things: Dyslexia is widespread amongst entrepreneurs and innovators (I have it too!); Rose Bryne is Aussie – which means I can be proud!; the Huguenots are pacifists though they have an amazing history for standing up to stupidity – the Nazis for one; my favourite Logitech G5 mouse is getting more and more expensive – just like my Star Wars lego collection; makani power has an amazing invention for harnessing wind energy and one day I’d like to own a house in America.

Reminiscing on a half

My first seven weeks have been a whirlwind of learning, fun and extraordinary life.  I reflect on two learnings currently salient.

Professors are insane

So the lecturers are at a top business school for a reason.  They’ve come from amazing places and for some reason have ended up teaching dim witted neophytes for punishment.

My favourite lecture to date was a Private Equity case walkthrough with Peter Goodson – yep, the CD&R one.  There’s a certain lack of care for what others think about you once you’re in his world and the honesty appeals to the core Australian within – just say it as it is.  Super impressive teacher and backed by a litany of successful experience.

Then there’s the microeconomics professor who previously worked for Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.  He looks like any professor does then when pressed produces casual photos of the President and him chilling at the White House.  No big deal.

Also, proudly for Berkeley, the next Head of the Federal Reserve will be a proud Berkeley-an.  Yep, we don’t get this kind of calibre back home.

These wins help make up for the football team’s record of 1 win and 10 million losses.

 

 MBAs are just people, and sometimes not that good

One activity which  takes up a more time than initially expected is running bplan – Berkeley’s startup competition.  As part of that, we try to connect up diversified teams amongst the various schools at Berkeley, e.g. engineering and business.  However, we’ve recently found that business students have a less than ideal reputation with the engineers – something we’re working to reverse.

By walking a few miles in the engineers shoes, it’s easy to understand their point of view.  These guys are pushing the boundaries of knowledge in machine learning, voice recognition, search algorithms and robotics.  In contrast, I’ve mainly been pushing boxes around a slide (though amazingly beautiful and insightful thoughts, I might add :).  These guys who have a modicum of business sense probably don’t need an MBA, and especially the kind of Type A personality that the MBA programs tend to attract.

 

Till next time…

O-Week closes

I wasn’t quire sure what to expect from O-week.  I figured it would be slightly different than my undergrad version with 4am wake-ups, shavings and aerobic performances whilst being doused with cold water.  Those were the good old days.

Instead, I got to experience amazing speakers, do the aussie cheer, and party hard.

1. The speakers were amazing:

  • DaNae started Indiegogo and pushed us to seek our calling
  • Barbara from BoA awed me with her tenacity and ability to maintain a strong network
  • Tom Kelley introduced vuja de – seeing your routine with new eyes
  • Guy Kawasaki taught me to man up, say yes, give first and be succinct

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2. As part of the program, we’ve been assigned to cohorts and I’ve had the fortune of being placed in Oski.  Fortune because the cheer reminds me of home “Oski, Oski, Oski – Oi, Oi, Oi”  We haven’t won much yet, and our wins have no correlation: trivia, flag football and twister

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3. Oh, the parties have been good.  A quick trip to “Saddle Rack” allowed me to quickly dip my toes in country-esque nights out.  The mechanical bull was a highlight.  We’ve also managed to squeeze in some good nights out at local pubs and an 80s party which I enjoyed more than I had anticipated.  You can’t say no to a free photo booth.

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Overall a blast – they say Berkeley purposes chooses its people to form a particular culture. Oweek has definitely been the place to see that – here’s to the next 2 years.

P.S. Here’s to XAUUSD, which appears to be back on the climb after a few hiccups.

Humbled

It’s not yet O-week and I am extremely fascinated and humbled by the breadth of the cohort.  It’s diversity beyond the obvious with all kinds of weird and wonderful lives.  We’ve got the common consultants and bankers but then you suddenly speak to the super interesting:  an olympic athlete, someone who owned their own farm, people who have served with the Red Cross in Tajikstan and military stories to woo any patriot.

Here’s to an amazing set of people!

makemysuit

I maintain an entrepreneurial itch I need to scratch, so I  started a little outfit that sells tailor made suits.  makemysuit is the fruition of a dream to dress the modern gentleman and make sure Australians look dapper.

The tailor made suit experience that I would want:
– for the same prices as traditional retail
– perfectly made to fit your body
– free customisations, alterations and shipping

My favourite part to date – word of mouth remains our greatest channel for sales

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One of our great looking suits!

 

My next journey begins

I’ve just finished two and a half years at The Boston Consulting Group based in Sydney and loved nearly every moment of it thinking about the most important problems for some of Australia’s largest organisations.

I’m about to begin the next step to chase an MBA at UC Berkeley.  I’m extremely excited to be at one of America’s top schools and soak in the world of technology and entrepreneurship.  It’s allowing me to meet super cool people with big ideas and hopefully allow me to become a better business shaper.

I’m beginning this journey to let my future self learn from my present self:
– to better understand my thinking in my past
– teach myself to write
– reminisce on some good times