LBS visit: creativity, business and a great view

This must be writer’s block. I’ve been looking at this blank screen for a while now, and there’s a million things I want to say about my visit to LBS last week, but somehow only flashes are coming out and I’m finding it hard to write coherent sentences. I’m probably too tired. What follows is thus a sketchy, impressionistic view of my experiences.
It was the second time I visited the school and I keep on being impressed by the buildings and the surroundings. The night I was there, there were at least events going on and Gordon Brown visited the school, which also caused a bit of a stir. The ‘starting and sustaining a creative business’ event was inspiring and interesting, good panel (including a film producer, the guy who set up the Extreme Sports Channel, a guy who headed on of Britain’s most influential marketing and branding firms, the guy that founded Skint Record label (and/or its parent company?) –> none by the way had any formal business training ;-) and I could just feel the sparks flying inside my head as they were talking about how they got started, what lessons they learnt and although they themselves had little business knowledge, they unanimously agreed that every start-up could use someone who knew business. I also attended a class with a current student and I really liked that too. I really got a good feel for what the school was like, good sides and lesser sides. Definitely recommended for future MBA’s.

The whole experience of being at business school got me thinking though about the paradox of humility vs. ego. In order to learn, you need to be humble and accept that you do not know it all, otherwise there’s no point in learning. [Editor’s note: writer of this blog is one of these people who actually get an MBA in part because of the factual knowledge she will learn] But on the other hand, without ego, there would be no business-school. You have to be convinced of your own abilities to lead to be there, otherwise you wouldn’t have applied. I’m convinced that leadership is also about humility, recognizing that you do NOT know it all nor do you need to, and ego, being absolutely convinced that your vision is right. I’m not quite sure where this is going, it needs some more musing, but maybe writing this down will help me get somewhere meaningful with this.

[edited: I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do after my MBA (yes I know I haven’t started yet) and what it feels like is that it’s coming down to my heart or my head, be sensible and stay in consulting or follow my heart and try and do something about which I feel passionate (sometimes I just wish I could be passionate about banking…. ;-). And of course, there’s an article I found on this, by Marshall Goldsmith on the fastcompany website.]
[edit number two: also in Fastcompany, an article about the 25 Top Women Business Builders. Great stuff, I am all for great female role models!]

[edit number three: on the LBS website, there’s a short newsflash-item on the Creative Entrepreneurship-do I attended, see this link]

A day in a life

Read this first if you’re thinking of working in IT/management consultancy.
0630 am Alarm goes off;

0640 am Alarm goes off a second time;

0700 am Wake up with the BBC Worldservice news;

0723 am True to the patented JIT ironing system (Just In Time) I quickly iron what I’m going to wear today;

0730 am Jump in my car, hook up the mobile phone, drive to work, make plans for the day, have breakfast, check out chauffeur-driven cars and wonder what side of the car I’d sit on if I were them (right hand side seems to be the side of choice);

0900 am Although the drive can be done in an hour, I never make it in hour (except on Friday morning);

0901 am Now the day really starts, I have to make a choice, light-coloured dishwater or darker-coloured dishwater, although the choice on the machine reads ‘tea’ and ‘coffee’…

0930 am Just spent the last half hour checking my email, phoning a number of colleagues (that’s the beauty of the project work I do, my colleagues are scattered all over the country), when the first ‘emergency’ of the day comes in and life gets hectic;

1130 am Emergency solved, more email from colleagues and clients, more phonecalls from clients, quickly send my boss the latest status, make sure the temp still has work, prepare the 1 pm meeting;

1205 pm Stroll to the canteen and decide if the soup looks appetizing enough to eat (usually it doesn’t);

1230 pm Help a colleague do some lastminute stuff he needs to do;

0100 pm Help the same colleague carry truckloads of files to his car and at the same time meet my one o’clock;
0400 pm It was a productive meeting, but whilst the client can go home, I now have to do all the paperwork. Mind you, little of what was on my regular to do list today has been accomplished due to the emergency this morning. I try and do as much a possible from to do list, and make sure that everyone knows what they need to do for the next two days (I’ve got two days off);

0553 pm My brother calls, we chat for a bit and then I decide to call it a day for today;

0559 pm Say goodbye to the guys from a big IT/mngmt consultancy who share the building with us and NEVER leave before 8;

0600 pm Bugger. Just realised that I left too late or too early, at 0630 pm the bridge I have to cross opens for 10 minutes which always causes a huge traffic jam. Ah well, that’ll give me extra time to phone some colleagues to talk about the day, and I still need to return some personal calls;

0745 pm Home. Cook.
Hang up laundry. Water my balcony flowers. Eat. Blog. Read. Sleep.

All in all a pretty laidback day today: only one meeting which was on site, projectmanager wasn’t on site, and I didn’t have to do overtime. I wish every day was like this ;-)
So, what do we learn from this?
a) I should get up earlier in order to avoid traffic
b) As a consultant, your workday doesn’t really start until the client goes home
c) If you’re not careful, you’re still there at un-decent hours, the work can really suck you in but is never ever done
d) If in doubt, pick ‘tea’, it’s usually marginally better than ‘coffee’….

Why I blog

Every self-respecting blog seems to have one, a post about why the blogger blogs. It’s my turn now. So why do I blog? I’m not a natural writer, more of a talker/chatter-type of person. I do not think I have anything much of use or interest to say on the whole (mankind will not likely be eternally grateful for my taking up my space in cyberspace). My blog does not offer the holy grail to getting an MBA. So why do it? I started out blogging ‘in the shadows’, I would make occasional entries but they were not intended to be read by anyone but me. I figured it’d be nice to record part of this journey for myself. Add to that the fact that I’m an inveterate article-clipper (virtual and paper), a true information junkie and I wanted a place to store some of my links.
After a while though, the nature of how I felt about my own blog started to change. You see, I don’t know anyone else in person that has got an MBA or is thinking of doing one. Especially not abroad and fulltime. So for the first part, it was quite a lonely road, and by blogging it somehow seemed less lonely. I’ve ‘met’ fellow bloggers, read their blogs and ‘talked’ to them, got advice from others in the blogging community and learned from them. In my own way, this blog is about me trying to make my MBA world a less lonely place (and it’s worked, shout out to everyone who’s been so kind to me, you guys know who you are!!!), a vent for my feelings about what’s happening, and a place to record links and articles of interest.
There you have it, my excuse to blog.
As always, my entry wouldn’t be complete without a few links of interest:
* Email might affect your IQ, read this article in the Guardian about it (and take the test);
* The Times ran a story on the boss of the Royal Opera,  which also announced 10 pound tickets for students;
* Read all about it: the stress epidemic that’s haunting our modern life (what shocked me was reading about cats being on antidepressants…. where has this world gotten too!);
* One of my favourite shows is ‘What not to wear’, and now there’s a WNTW do it yourself Style Barometer.

And the winner is…

well, me, of course!!!! I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist (I’ve had a long hard day at work, you’ll have to excuse the pitiful attempt at humour).

After a lot of soul-searching, whining to everyone who wanted to listen to it and looking at it from every angle, I’ve made a decision about which school to attend. And the winner is: …..[drumroll please] ………….. LBS !!! Which means I’ll cancel the Wharton waitlist spot.

Like any professional jury-member will tell you ‘It wasn’t an easy decision’, and it really wasn’t. I felt that even though I was on the waitlist, and the chances were that I wasn’t going to be faced with the decision, I thought it’d be wise to decide before the decision comes out on the 19th (especially since the Wharton admit would mean a lot of extra paperwork). So I ran it over and over in my head. And drove myself and others nuts. ‘Til I decided to just stop and think why I want this MBA in the first place. I wanted a good business education from a 2-year MBA (I’m a career changer so I need all the opportunity I can get to help me change), in a great city, in an international environment, with lots of opportunity to get involved in extracurricular activities, and a great alumni network in Europe. All of this so I could change careers into a management role in the arts sector in Europe, preferably in the UK. So this still doesn’t exclude Wharton from the picture… but it did put LBS at a distinct advantage. I remember reading my first LBS brochures back to back 2 years ago and all I could think of was ‘I want to be there’… Add to that my love of many things London and British and there you have it. LBS it is! And I am so so excited, I can hardly wait!!!! [ note from editor: I am still going on an exchange and Wharton definitely tops that list….:-)]

To all those still thinking about choosing between different schools, I can only offer you this small piece of advice: follow your heart. It’ll tell you what to do. And remember: this is not a life and death choice. It’s important, but what’s more important is what you put into it, and intend to take away from your MBA. OK, enough riding on this high horse of morality, off to bed for me now.

Resident thinker and creativity

How cool is this: the city of Bristol (in the western bit of the UK) is hosting a Festival of Ideas this coming May and they’ve invited Pat Kane as the resident thinker. Wow, that is one cool job!
Pat Kane is the author of THE PLAY ETHIC: A MANIFESTO FOR A DIFFERENT WAY OF LIVING which according to the blurb ‘explores the real meaning of play and shows how a more playful society would revolutionize and liberate our daily lives.’ Sounds interesting, I’m adding it to my ‘to read’ list. I think that a little play wouldn’t hurt society one bit. Pat also keeps a blog (who doesn’t) which is found here and makes for interesting reading material.
Next up: creativity. Below are a couple of resources I found on creativity in business AND the business of creativity, both subjects which have my interest (see also earliers posts).
Related to Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class (which I’m still debating whether or not to pick it up again) is this site. Some good stuff there, especially the news page.
London’s mayor is making creativity in London one of his focus points, and that has resulted in website Creative London and several reports on the creative industry in London (there’s even a special report on Asian creative business in London). Another exciting initiative is the Clore Leadership Programme, which according to their website is ‘an initiative of the Clore Duffield Foundation, and our aim is to help to train and develop a new generation of leaders for the cultural sector here in the UK’.
On the importance of the arts for the UK economy, see this article in the Guardian.
Special mention for what I think is a great ‘creative’ business idea: the Affordable Art Fair. Started in London, selling affordable art at specialist fairs, it has now branched out to several different countries and is quite succesful.
Lastly, one of the speakers at the Bristol Festival of Ideas is Paul Ormerod, who just has a new book out called Why most things fail. Read the review here, another book that is going on my ‘to read’ list.

The latest news is

that I’m feeling much better, thanks for the wishes of good health. My cold has died down to plain irritating instead of debilitating.
Other picks of the news today:
* The Guardian is writing two articles about George Bush’s Ipod playlist (see this and this). Maybe it’s just me, and no matter how diverting I think these types of articles are (and yes, I’m blogging about them so I am interested), are they news that the Guardian should worry about? I don’t think so. [A quick browse around the Times revealed that they are running a story on it too.]
* Want to buy an island (mental note to self: must include this in my top 100 things to do before I die list)? Then this article in the Times might interest you.
* On the topic of creative business, Fast Company has published an article called The Business of Design which I thought was quite interesting (includes a couple of paragaphs about b-schools).

Feeling poorly

Caught a massive headcold a couple days back and have been feeling poorly for a few days. I tried to fight it, but decided to give in to it today, figuring that’s the quickest way to get it out of my system. I’m not very skilled or experienced at being sick (and am very thankful for that) so I’m not good at this. I’m too well to spend 24 hours sleeping, but not well enough to want food, which for me is a BIG sign that I’m not well. Ah well, I’ll get over it with a couple of days rest and my trusty box of tissues at hand (mental note to self: must investigate new business idea: tissues that ARE really comfortable to use, these ones are hurting my nose).
BUT, all this lying around on couches and in bed with nothing much to do has given room for minor panic attacks. Why on earth do I want this MBA? I don’t personally know anyone in my surroundings who’s got one or sees the use for one, I’m having to sell my house (hassle), take out a loan for the amount I’m selling my house for without a good clue how I’m going to recoup the money (notwithstanding my well-thought out answer for the ‘why mba and what are your career plans after graduation’ questions). Ah well, at least I’ve given one bank manager something to talk about at the coffee machine when I walked in and asked for 100.000 euros (I can just see him standing there, telling his colleagues ‘listen to this, guys, you won’t believe this! there’s this girl walked in today, asking for a 100 grand, for some sort of qualification and she’s got no job, no house AND no way of us tracing her as she’ll be living abroad… how on earth did she think we would ever give her that amount of money!!!’).
[big sigh] Excuse the rant, it’ll blow over once I get a decent night’s sleep again…. I hate feeling poorly and I’m terrible at it!

US or UK? 5 things to think about

It’s that time of year, lots of applicants with multiple admits trying to decide which school to go to. I’ve been talking to a few people about the choices they’re making (you know who you are :-), especially choosing between the US and UK. I agree with LBSgrad (see message 62219.61) that the student is as important or more important than the school, but I also think making a decision about where you’ll live the next two years should involve at least some thought. I’m not an expert on either the US or the UK (although I have lived in London for a year), but the five things to think about below might be helpful for all of those out there trying to make a decision.
5. Where do you want to end up post MBA? Although going to school in Europe and working in the US post-MBA (and vice versa) is not completely unlikely, you needn’t make your life unnecessarily more complicated. Rule of thumb: US schools for US, European schools for Europe.
4. What does your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend think? Work, culture, being far away from respective families are all factors you need to consider when having a significant other.
3. What do you like doing in your spare time? If you’re a huge baseball fan and can’t bear missing a game, London might not be the right place for you…On the other hand, if cricket makes your heart tick, then London might be perfect!
2. What kind of humour do you have/like? Especially when considering living in the UK, you have to like (or at least not mind) british humour. I love it, not everyone does, or finds the sarcasm/understatement/extreme politeness easy to deal with. For a taste of British humour, check out the Young Ones FAQ.
1. International flavour. If you like it, head to the UK (or the rest of Europe). If you don’t care for it, head to one of the US schools. No matter how much the American schools try, the top European schools can’t be beat when it comes to international flavour.  
Wishing everyone who’s trying to make a decision lots of luck.

Saying goodbye…

I am this close to giving up on Blogger…. have been trying to post this three times now, and I keep on losing it (both my posts and my patience). One last try, here it goes.
Stacks of photocopies made during my undergrad years which I haven’t looked at since I finished the course. Clothes that I haven’t worn in years. Junk I was given at different occasions but really don’t want or need. Chucked it all out. Or gave it away. And it feels fabulous!!! It’s such a relief to get rid of it all.
PS Anyone else read Richard Florida’s The rise of the creative class? I’m on page 33 and I want to know if I should keep on reading it. So far it’s just a guy desperately trying to make a point, I haven’t read a lot that indicates that beyond page 33 it’s going to be very interesting…

Sometimes someone else says it better

In this case it’s Constantine Cavafy. When I left university, I started my career at a big management consultancy firm and worked my ass off. After about two years it slowly started to dawn on me, this can’t be it. There must be more to my life than just making the next deadline only for the next deadline and the next looming. And then I came across Cavafy’s Ithaka, which so eloquently says what I feel, the trip is as important as the goal, life’s about reaching goals but also about how you reach those goals and what you learn on the way.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the journey may be long,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon–don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon–you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your journey may be long.
May there be many a summer morning
when with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind–
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptians cities
to learn, and go on learning, from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

LBS admit packet arrived

And I’m impressed! Nice black folder, with a lot of information about the school (although I did wonder if they put in the Women at LBS brochure in every folder they send out ;-) and a case for business cards. It looks nice. I can take it to my bank when asking for money and impress the bankmanager with it. But, and don’t get me wrong, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I do think it’s a very manly thing to give…. Haven’t seen many women lugging around a black folder, or is it just me? If a school wants to attract more women (and I do get the distinct impression LBS is making an extra effort, which I applaud), maybe they should rethink the packaging of their admit pack. Although, of course, decisions about which school to attend do NOT depend on the packaging of the admit pack.

THE latest fashion accessory…

according to today’s Sunday Times, is….. a hobby! And the geekier the better. Celebs are professing their passion for such pastimes as bird watching, playing Scrabble, knitting and astronomy. According to the article it’s connected to the trend of moving more and more towards authenticity and simplicity, and we’re increasingly connecting to the geek inside ourselves. OK, then maybe this is the time to ‘fess up to my own geeky hobby: collecting books. About books. And London. And the Grand Tour. There you have it. Can’t get much more geeky than that I suppose. [added when I finished the whole article: yes you can, apparently Johnny Cash is the ultimate in geek-chic music. It’s official: I’m in fashion!]

On a related note, I’ve been doing some research into art classes in London. I realise that I probably won’t have very much time next to the demands of my MBA, but I would like to take a few art classes to keep the creative juices flowing.

Central Saint Martin’s are offering part-time and summer courses, and the Floodlight directory lists all courses offered in London (not only art classes, but literally ALL types of courses).

10 things I want to do before b-school

10. Visit the Prado museum in Madrid
9. Buy a really cool, too expensive piece of clothing I absolutely adore (check)
8. Spend a day making photographs with M, my dear friend
7. Eat a Michelin-star meal
6. Go for a day-long walk with my dad
5. Go on a shopping spree with my mum
4. Go cycling on the Veluwe and visit Museum Kroller-Mueller with my brother
3. Have a big leaving do with all my friends, family and colleagues
2. Get a tan
1. Visit China (esp. Beijing, Hong Kong)
Hmmm, I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to fit everything in!!