Fringe benefits

1217219024_84e74c1d3aSometimes the big things in life come with unexpected smaller side-effects. Take my job, located in between Southwark and London Bridge. It’s a great location, close to the river, but most of all, close to Borough Market which is an unintended, but very welcome side effect. Every Friday I roam the market at lunchtime (or preferably slightly later when it’s less busy). I know there’s a lot that true-blue foodies can say about Borough Market (it’s expensive, it’s snobbish at times, overcrowded with tourists at times), but I still love it passionately. I love the sights and sounds, the wonderful products (Polish sausages, chocolate and real truffles, more butter you can swing a stick at, meat (it’s the rabbit season at the mo’), scallops, tomatoes, garlic, jams, and of course my usual lunch: German Bratwurst (with curry gewurz ketchup in my case, reminds me of home), and a ton more foodie-goodies I’m forgetting to mention. Reading a book this morning (Lewis Hyde’s The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World) where the author talks about the gift economy reminded me of another reason why I love the market: because every purchase is a little bit of a gift. It’s much more human buying something off a vendor of the market than in the anonymous supermarket. You chat, you talk about the produce, you banter, and occasionally you haggle. Try that at Tesco. Buying something off the market feels like a gift, not a chore. It’s something you want to do, rarely something you need to do. Which as soon as I wrote it down made me feel snobbish. I give up, no more excuses or explanations. I just love the place.

Another book which was delivered by my friendly Amazon delivery guy was A Technique for Producing Ideas, which yielded some useful advice for people working in advertising, which I think has a relevance far beyond advertising too:
‘This then is the whole process or method by which ideas are produced:
First, the gathering of raw materials — both the materials of your immediate problem and he materials which come from a constant enrichment of your store of general knowledge.
Second, the working over of these materials in your mind.
Third, the incubating stage, where you let something beside the conscious mind do the work of synthesis.
Fourth, the actual birth of the Idea — the ‘Eureka! I have it!’ stage.
And fifth, the final shaping and development of the idea to practical usefulness.

The principle of constantly expanding your experience, both personally and vicariously, does matter tremendously in any idea-producing job.’

[note: the above image is of my friendly Bratwurst guy, but not at Borough, he’s at the Covent Garden Night Market which was held in August.]

This could very well be

the second nicest cheesecake I’ve ever had (it’s the swiss mountain one, available here, made by this company). The best is still my mum’s. Nothing beats her cheesecake. Or appeltaart (Dutch apple pie).

The student ambassadors were treated to dinner last night by the admissions office. Admits Weekend 2007 is coming up fast and we’re getting ready to receive the MBA2009 class on campus on June 1st, 2nd and 3rd: the first year student ambassadors and the admissions office are running around like mad trying to get everything organized, this year I’m taking a back seat in organizing, although I’ll definitely be there on the weekend itself (come up and say hi if you’re coming!) running around like a headless chicken.

In the meantime I’m still working hard on my 2YP, it’s kinda coming together now, later than I’d hoped, but better late than never. Special mention goes out to my very good friend H who helped me with the model, without you I’d still be stuck :-)

Spotted in the supermarket

Afb0363Chicken-feet. I’m not quite sure what to do with them though, I mean, I don’t have any recipes and couldn’t think of any, so I didn’t buy ‘em. But they were definitely worthy of a picture.

Last night I discovered that I’d only picked up the first half of the casepack that I need for my Entrepreneurial Finance course (which is going pretty well and is very interesting), so I trekked to the NYU bookstore again today. And discovered that I probably needed a couple more books for other courses (why they don’t have a checklist in the bookstore that you can tick off??), so there went another $240, which bought me a casepack, a CD rom, and 3 books (one book was a whopping $145, maybe I should reconsider my career choice and become a textbook writer!). One book that looks promising is ‘Truth, Lies and Advertising. The Art of Account Planning‘ by Jon Steel, which is supposed to be one of the best books in this field. I’ll keep you posted as I read it.

Summer has only just ended (weather wise, we’re still in summer in New York), and I’m already working on what I’ll be doing fulltime. I’m still undecided yet if I want to pursue an idea that I have for my own business, or if I want to go work for a company. Both have its own charms and I can’t decide between them, yet. But it can’t hurt to get my CV into shape, and keeping my eyes open for an opportunity.

Look what we found!

What a weird day today. A year ago today, 52 people got killed in the 7/7 bombings in London. I remember that day very vividly, it was just so surreal. And this morning on the tube, it was eery. The free newspaper, Metro, had photos of dead people on the cover, and people were reading that ON the Tube. Again I was struck by the senseless-ness of it all. And how short life is sometimes. My thoughts are with the victims’ families and all those affected by this tragedy.

Product_09Life moves on and next thing I know, my thoughts are filled with trivia again. For my internship, I had to go out today and buy loads of stuff to use
as stimulus in a workshop next week. My kinda job, getting paid to
shop! As I was browsing a supermarket (that was more for lunch by the
way, but I figured it might be interesting to see if they had some
stuff I could use), I saw these sauces by a company called ‘Look What We Found‘.
I love the name, the sauces looked awesome, aren’t too pricey (£3.99
per pack), and I think the packaging is brilliantly done. Plus they have that word-of-mouth quality, something your friends would say (‘oh, look what i’ve found!’). Next
dinnerparty, I’m going to have to give them a testdrive.

Oh, I wish the British Postal Service implements this soon!!! No more email, all my correspondence would go through snail mail ;-)

I subscribe to about 200 feeds on Bloglines, so there’s always something interesting to read. Sometimes, though, stories come in that leave me shaking my head. Here are some examples.

There’s this one, on the Church of the Customer blog, a post about how big companies sometimes COMPLETELY be utter idiots when it comes to blogs and Web2.0 technology. A blogger writes about an upcoming film in a positive way, generating buzz, posts a picture and then gets summoned to take the image dwn by the company. Hello… wake up call. This guy was doing you a favor. Without you having to pay or prompt him. Because he’s a fan, an evangelist. And then you slap him in the face? Ouch.

Who knew that good old GE was into developing Web2.0 applications? Well, I suspect they’re not, but they have created this awesome online collaboration tool. You can use it with others to work on designs, and it is incredibly nifty, my favourite feature being the chat function that goes with it. This means you can chat at the same time you’re creating something on the workscreen. Try it out, preferably with a friend so you can see the full thing in action. Doodling… I love it! Now, if they only add functionality so you can import images, that would make this a supertool.

About as much fun as you can have with your clothes on

Afb0063Today I went to the Taste of London, right next door in Regent’s Park. According to the website it’s a fair where
" 40 of London’s most prestigious restaurants gather in Regent’s Park to prepare and serve a stunning selection of signature dishes" and d**n it was good!!! I reckon this is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on! The sun was out in full force, the samples plentiful and the food lusciously, mouthwateringly good. The way it works is: you buy entrance for the afternoon or evening session (£15 this year) and then you buy Crowns (50p each), which you use to pay for your food. It’s a great way to taste some great food for relatively cheap.

Afb0004Some of London’s most celebrated chefs were there and we ate from Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche (chef himself was there and he had the most friendly and smiley face), Georgio Locatelli’s Refettorio (very yummy spaghetti, served by a guy whose smile lit up my day), Angela Hartnett at the Connaught, Marcus Wareing at the Savoy Grill and Tom Aikens and Hush. And boy, was it good… I nearly nibbled my fingers off with the food! The picture top left of this post is Marcus Wareing’s ‘Trifle with a mini Madeleine’ (ever since I went to Paris I have a soft spot for Madeleines, they are so yummy). I forgot to take pictures of Angela Hartnett’s Vanilla Mille Feuille with Roasted Peaches cause it was just so good I ate it before I realised I forgot to take a picture. Same for the Mars Bar cheesecake with cinnamon creme fraiche that Hush served, I’m a sucker for cheesecake, and although I couldn’t really taste the Mars, it was a really nice cheesecake, dense and moist and rich.

Afb0094We popped into the tent where the World Cheese Awards were held (see picture left), which had more cheese than I’ve ever seen in one place. One of my favourite parts was strolling round the terrain to have a look at the different exhibitors (roughly 50 of those were there), my favourites included Rachel’s Organic (where I couldn’t resist and stocked up on some yummy yoghurt), Melt Chocolates and Ear to Ear popcorn (I tasted a couple, and liked the caramel best, with Bombay spice in second place and Cheddar in third. Can you tell I’m taking this food thing quite seriously ;-)? ). I can’t wait to be earning money again so I can try a full meal at the restaurants that were featured!

And the winner is (part 2)…

Clear Admit BoB I never win anything, nor the lottery (but maybe that’s cause I don’t play ;-), nor any contest, prize-draw or survey prize. But I won something yesterday: a Best of Blogging award (and it looks kinda like an Oscar to me!), for being one of the best 10 MBA student blogs around (and a special mention for being the most useful resource for applicants…). Clear Admit, a ‘educational counseling service’, have a very informational blog with useful tips for applicants, and a wiki (something that I’m really interested in, and I think it’s cool they have one). It was kinda weird not blogging about this competition or company before, but I felt I didn’t want to influence the vote.

The Guardian has dubbed this week Food Week and every day they’re running different food related stories. Today they’ve put together a list (or better said: they asked for comments from readers on their blog and then picked a list of 50, what a great way to do research!) of 50 Healthy Fast Food joints in the UK. Seeing that most of the MBA students go through phases of unhealthy fast food eating (ah, let’s face it, some students never leave this phase) I thought I’d put it in here. Might come in useful.

[edit 1: completely forgot. I’m such an idiot sometimes. Congrats to all the other BoB prizewinners!]

A little sunshine…

A little sunshine, some nice tea and a whole lot of good conversation. What a perfect day to celebrate the first real day of Spring in London! Today was the first day that I walked around without a coat on this year, and it was soooo lovely. I spent the afternoon having tea with a friend in Hampstead, catching up and doing some shopping. She showed me around Hampstead and I’ve fallen in love with the place. It feels so villag-y, and it’s got so many good shops! One of my favourite’s is Rosslyn Delicatessen, which stocks one of my favourite cheeses ever: Rambol. Brings back fond memories of working at a project in the Netherlands with the national gastransport company, going out once a week for sandwiches, and my absolute favourite (best sandwich I ever had in my life) was made with Rambol. Needless to say I splurged (well, sort of) and bought a small piece. The picture top left was taken in their store, I believe these are American sauces (they’ve got quite a large section with American food).

Lately I’ve been listening to a number of podcasts (this branch of internet-sport seems to be growing up a little bit) and one of my favourites are the talks given by entrepreneurs at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. This program has set up Stanford Educator’s Corner, with a motherload of video, podcasts and other material related to entrepreneurship. Well worth a visit if entrepreneurship is your thing (it’s even got a video featuring LBS Entrepreneurship prof John Bates).

I’ve just finished reading Naked Conversations, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (see for the accompanying blog here, and for a list of all the blogs mentioned in the book here). On a whim yesterday I decided to check out all the books that the London Business School library has in stock on blogging, 3 in total and this was the first I read. I really liked it, it gives great examples about how blogging is used in business, how it could be used, and how it should not be used. Great stuff if you’re interested in blogging (I’m not sure how many people at LBS are, though, I was the first one to check out the book… but then again, it appeared in 2006, so it could have just be put on the shelf).

Snake Vodka

I knew there was something missing in my life. And I’m not talking about a rich husband, my dream internship or straight A’s in b-school (although heaven knows I would love to have all/one/a combination of these too!). No, the thing that is missing from my life is snake vodka. And it’s sold at where else but Selfridges. Which has also started selling the most expensive sandwich in London, about which I blogged here, at 85 pounds a piece. You gotta love a shop that sells snake vodka (if you look carefully you can see the snake in the bottle on the photo) and 85 quid sandwiches. I wonder if that combination works well, alcoholic snake with wagyu beef?

I’m happy to report I got in to the Richard Branson lecture and will post a report on this blog.

The one course that so far has really got my juices flowing this term is Understanding Entrepreneurial Management. After some trials and tribulations regarding defecting team members I’m happy to report I’ve definitely got my team together and we’re pursuing an idea which I think is interesting, although I feel it’s too soon to disclose it here yet. But in due course I probably will. We’re trying to develop an idea to the point where you can make it into a business plan, and I was pretty optimistic, til this morning in the shower (how come my ideas always come to me in the shower?) I thought of a problem that might undermine the cashflows. So maybe I should’ve paid more attention in Finance!

For our UEM projects, I’m setting up a digital meeting place, and 37signals have got just the set of tools I need. For a previous project I’ve used their Basecamp, an online project management tool, and for this one I’m thinking of using the Campfire application, which offers a web-based group chat room and room to upload files. For my own to do lists I use their Backpack application, which came in especially handy when trying to organize information for moving to the UK. The best thing is that you can share pages, so for instance my housemates and me shared a page of flats we liked the look off and addresses of estate agents before we starting flathunting; everyone could read the page and contribute, without it having to be sent round in an email again and again. This is what online applications should do: be useful, well designed and easy to use.