There she goes

We travelled 83279 kilometers together in just under two years. We were together for three hours everyday. She likes Johnny Cash and Arrow Jazz FM radio, like me. Or even if reception was alright, the occasional BBC Radio 4 on shortwave radio. And now I’ve given her keys to someone else…. My Megane was a company car, in fact all my cars were company cars, I’ve never owned a car. This one was special though… I picked her out myself, the model, the color, the engine. This was the last physical thing that tied to me to my employer, as of now, I’m completely and utterly unemployed. And you know what I find the oddest thing I have to get used to? That I can do stuff on weekdays, like buy stamps at the post office, and go to the local council’s office to tell them I’m moving. Stuff that would normally necessitate taking an hour off from work I can now do in my own sweet time. Strange but very wonderful. Now, if only the weather was a little bit better….

For everyone who’s not inclined to go get an official MBA, have a look at the Personal MBA (also good for business book recommendations).

And my IQ is:

133. My shopping IQ that is (I’ve never taken the real IQ test). There was an article today in The Guardian which revealed that scientists have found a way to test your shopping IQ. No need to tell me twice! Took the test and scored a 133! I’m a savvy shopper! Wooohoo!

On the left a picture of the lovely flowers I got today at work. One of the clients I work with, I had my last meeting with today and he gave me this exquisite bouquet as a going-away gift, which then promptly nearly moved me to tears…I feel that my job as a consultant is to do two things, a) reach the project goal b) achieve that goal in the best possible way. The goal is important, but as important (sometimes even more) is the way you get there. And I try to make that journey as enjoyable for everyone as I possibly can. I am lucky that on this particular project, I get to work with a bunch of pretty nice people, and we’ve both reached our target and did it in the best way possible: with a lot of fun and laughter. In one sense I’m sad to have to say goodbye… but I know why I’m saying goodbye. I’m one lucky girl :-)

One more link to share today: for all those looking for a cheap place to stay in London, check out the Easyhotel, which opens on August 1st in Kensington. I just checked out the website, and for a double room late in August, you could pay as little as 15 euros (for a room without windows ;-)!

Proud to present…

Another LBS MBS2007 blog, written by Al Martine! Woohooo! It sounds a bit strange to me to call it a new blog, because Al’s been at it for a while, so he’s definitely not a new kid on the block, but I’m very glad to see another MBA2007, the more the merrier :-)

More great news: there’s a new Wallace and Gromit film coming out later this year. I love Wallace and Gromit, they’re so well made, and their

stories are hilarious. Last time I lived in the UK, the Shaun-the-Sheep backpack was the height of fashion (see picture on the left)…. Although I’m not a great movie buff, this is definitely on my go-see list.

I came across an interesting post at Joe Wikert’s blog about Bill Swanson’s unpublished Management Survival Guide. Bill Swanson, CEO of Raytheon, wrote this guide for his own managers, but it’s started to spread like wildfire. My favourite rules are:

       
  • Learn to say, "I don’t know." If used when appropriate, it will be often.
  •    

  • Don’t ever lose your sense of humor.
  •    

  • Have fun at what you do. It will reflect in your work.
  •    

  • Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what’s there, but few can see what isn’t there.
  •    

  • If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.

Learn more about Bill Swanson, or order a (free) hardcopy from here.

[add-on 1. LBS has been keeping us incoming students pretty busy… we’ve filled out 4 different surveys/questionnaires about management styles, emotional intelligence and creativity. And strangely enough: a 360 degree review which included one part you had to fill in yourself, but which was phrased in the third person (do you think this person has good management skills? Hey, they’re asking that about me to me???). Odd.]

I’m turning into a geek

Or maybe it happened a while ago and I just didn’t notice…. Anyway, today Yahoo announced that they bought Konfabulator, and they are giving away the Konfabulator software for free. In earlier posts I raved about Apple’s Dashboard with its widgets (got the backpack one to work and it is *sweet*). Apple copied the idea from Konfabulator and now everyone (mac and windows users) can try it for free. I haven’t used Konfabulator, but I really like Dashboard, so I might give it a spin.
So far I’m enjoying Johnny, my Apple Powerbook. He’s small and fits into my bags snugly. I’m getting used to the Mac OS, and it’s a treat. So far no problems or issues to report.
Today was my last Monday at work, it’s strange to realise that in a week’s time, my alarmclock won’t be waking me at some ungodly hour.
[edit 1: The Times ran a great article today called ‘My kingdom for a house‘ about a BBC television series which has a guy found a nation in his flat. Yes, you read that right. Founding a nation, in your flat. What a fab idea!!!]

Mixed bag

Lots of links I want to write about, but with no common theme but that I want to write about it….

Marshall Goldsmith, one of the management gurus, has created a website where he’s put a lot of his articles that have appeared in Fastcompany and Leadership Excellence. I think he’s got a lot of sensible things to say (a lot of open doors, but I think there’s a certain knack to kick open open doors succesfully) and I find it very interesting that he’s a practicing buddhist.

As I previously mentioned, LBS students can use the rooms at LBS in summer whilst looking for a permanent place to live. The EMBA’s who normally occupy the rooms aren’t around then, so MBA’s can use ‘em. Very handy I must say. However, for those of you who are not LBS students, there is a way to spend a relatively cheap stay in London by using the university accomodation that is not used in summer. If you go to this website, there’s a whole list of options, and the best thing is: you don’t have to be a student to stay there!

After reading Jack Welch’s autobiography (see sidebar), I read with interest this interview in Fastcompany with Jeff Immelt, Jack’s successor at GE.

Tate Modern, the immensely popular modern art museum in London, is featuring a new exhibition specifically aimed at blind people called ‘Raised Awareness‘. The Times has written an article on it, too. Many years ago I had the pleasure of accompanying a blind friend to a sculpture exhibition and the way she ‘looked’ at things completely opened my eyes to a whole new way of experiencing art. The exhibition at the Tate runs to 30 September, so I’ll try and catch when I’m in London. The Victoria and Albert also has an exhbition on which is called ‘Touch Me‘, fusing design and sensation.

I think that’s about it. The countdown has started in earnest now: in a week’s time from now I’ll be officially unemployed. I’m still coming to grips with that idea, although it’s pretty exciting too. I won’t have a car at my disposal for the first time in 5 years which’ll be odd. I won’t be expected anywhere for two weeks. Strange….

Thankfully

the bombs in London didn’t kill anyone this time around and life goes on, again.

Mave has posted a very good and detailed description of his visit to LBS, which comes highly recommended for anyone wanting to know what LBS is really like. And makes me ashamed for writing such sketchy reviews instead of thorough ones.

I’ve bought my tickets for the Eurostar trip out on August 15th, and booked accomdation at the school (the rooms which the Executive MBA’s and other short course students normally use, but aren’t used in summer and MBA2007s are allowed to use whilst searching for a permanent place to live). I’m busy packing my stuff (and I’m not the only one) and trying to find a good way of selling my books (can’t use Amazon in NL). Anyone wanna buy a stack of Penguin Classics or a set of GMAT prep material????

Oh, no, not again…

Just heard that there have been more explosions in London today, one in Warren Street tube station, one in Shepherd’s Bush tube station, one in Oval tube station and one on a bus in Hackney. So far there seem to be no fatalities and only minor injuries. First thought that ran through my mind was ‘oh no, not again’…. I just hope that it turns out no one got hurt.

Completely forgot

I completely forgot to mention yesterday that there’s LBS news as well: yesterday we got our invitations for a 360 degree survey. Again for the GLAM (Global Leadership for Managers) course, this time we have to invite 1 supervisor and at least three peers to give a 360 degree review. In English. And that’s where my problem comes in: some of the people I work with are, even though their spoken English is alright, not quite fluent in writing English. So now I have to find a solution where I don’t have to get directly involved in translating (that feels like cheating somehow) but I get someone else in to do that.
This Friday we’ll get another two questionnaires we have to fill in ourselves. Yep, the self-help junkie in me is having a field day!

[addition 1: there was a great article today in the Guardian, about making London a bike friendly town… I wish they would, I love my bike and use it all the time in Holland, just wish I could take it with me and use it without being run over all the time]

Meet my baby…

I picked him up today. And I love him. And he’s called Johnny, after the master of country and my alltime hero Johnny Cash.
I know, the pic isn’t great, it was taken with my pda (had to get a good excuse to try that too). And this is my first post on Johnny. For some reason I can’t get Safari to use Blogger properly, so I’ve downloaded Firefox, which handles it perfectly.
So far my first impressions are:
* great keyboard
* great screen
* although I’m finding that I have to get used to Tiger Mac OS, I like it better than XP. It’s more intuitive and somehow feels more like it’s there to help instead of getting in my way.
* Widgets: I *LOVE* ‘em! You see, Tiger has a feature which is called Dashboard, which lets you store mini-programs. I’ve set my settings so that I can access Dashboard by going to the right upper and lower corner of the screen, and my favourite widgets are: Stickies, Bloglines Notifier, Wikipedia, Google Maps, BBC News, Calculator, Sunlit Earth. There’s also a Backpackit widget, but I haven’t got that functioning yet (if there’s anyone out there using it succesfully please drop me a line).
* He’s very quiet even when the fan’s on!
I’ve downloaded a version of OpenOffice to try out (although I’ll probably spring for the Office 2004 for Student at a later stage), the main advantage that I’ve been able to discover is the ability to save documents as .pdf files.

Sorry for this being such a techie post, sometimes I just get so carried away!
To end on a completely silly-useless-fact-note: have a look at this article on Yahoo, which says that the average woman spends $31000 on shoes during her lifetime.

All kitted out with somewhere to go

So, the great kitting-miss-N-out-for-bschool spree is over. Yes, I have bought the final item on my electronics shopping list. And it is [drum roll please] …….
An Apple 12 inch Powerbook
I know, read the last post, I had ruled it out but over the weekend I decided to check my top three out. IBM was out, it didn’t sing to me. That left the Asus and the Apple. I hadn’t seen the Powerbook (just the iBook) in real life so I decided to check that one out. And it was love at first sight. I loved the keyboard (the big downside on the Asus), the ease of use, got to play around with the new Tiger version of the OS (I’m especially looking forward to the widgets on the dashboard) which I loved and the specs were good too. So I decided to take the plunge. I know I’ll run into a few compatibility problems along the way, but I’m counting on my IT knowledge and Mac-friends to help me out. My new plaything will arrive tomorrow.
There’s a bunch of other things that I want to mention as well, so this is going to be a bit of a mishmash, my apologies.
* On moving to London: Jason Cook over at Judge MBA in Cambridge has written a good post on what to bring to Cambridge, which for the most part is also valid for London. Especially handy if you come in from the States or Canada.
* There was an interesting and amusing article in today’s Times, called ‘Why treat your staff like dirt? Because they are’, an antidote to the happy-clappy message that a lot of motivational speakers spread.
* Talking about happy-clappy, I just finished Glenn van Ekeren’s 12 simple secrets of happiness at work which I really liked. Essentially this is just a book of quotes and stories, strung together by the author and not just about work, but more guidelines for life in general. Quite dense, a lot of information in a small book, a bit on the happy-clappy side but I liked it. It made me think about my attitude to work and those I work with.
[addition 1. Just realised that today in 4 weeks I’ll be in London starting the househunt. And in 6 weeks time I’ll start school. Damn, time flies when you’re busy shopping ;-)]

Just to recap

It was like opening Pandora’s box… asking for advice/comments/rants/raves on the notebook-issue. Thanks everyone for your reactions!
To recap a little and answer a few questions:

* Dell doesn’t sell the 700M in The Netherlands :-( Thanks for the tip, though, KV!

* Apple… well, hmm… what can I say. If they made a prize for the sexiest computer around, the Powerbook (or it’s little cousing the iBook) would win it handsdown! And I like the fact that they offer discounts to students (God knows we can use ‘em ;-) But I worry about the compatibility with the LBS network (no support for Apple, although I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that there are students with Apple’s and they work fine) and with my current gadgets. So after much doubt Apple’s out.

* IBM — posters have commented on their sturdy-ness and robustness. True, true. But do they make me want one? No. And call me stupid, but for nearly 2000 euros, I want something I really WANT (part of my five-star theory that no doubt I will feel compelled to elaborate about at a later stage).

* External hard-disks: yes, most definitely! Although I’m not quite decided on which one, I’ll definitely get an external hard drive to make backups.
* Tablet PC: haven’t really looked into them, but that’s more my own personal bias than anything else. I keep on thinking that the less moving parts a notebook has the better. Although I am very interested in trying out mindmapping for which a tablet pc would be fab.
So, for now I’m decided on the Asus W5, and to my great joy, I saw a good review on Notebookreview.com (which I recommend heartily for a motherload of information on notebooks) today.

More news on the gadget front: after MBAEurope got his, I’ve bought myself a PDA too, the HP RX3715. I’ve talked to a few people at b-schools and most seem to be avid users of PDA’s and I’ve been waiting for 2,5 years for a good excuse like this. After watching prices for a while, I got one this week. I’ve already put some software on it (including Skype of course), but if you’ve got any tips for more stuff, please drop me a line.

On an LBS note, Businessweek has a special MBA section, of which I like the MBA journals best. They’re weblogs of a sort (weblogs avant la lettre), and provide a good insight into ‘real’ life at b-schools. For LBS there’s MBA2006 Martin Zalewski , who if all else fails (I doubt that though) has a promising career as a writer!

[edit 1. Still on track for my attempt to enter in the Guiness Book of Records as the one and only person in the Western Hemisphere who hasn’t yet read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies (there are multiple, aren’t there?)! Another Harry Potter coming out tonight at midnight apparently, wishing everyone who’s going to read it lots of pleasure!]

[edit 2. To bring a smile on your face, have a look at this post by Drifting Life.]

Taking a bite

out of this Apple
I’m trying to make up my mind which laptop to buy (I’ve long since passed the stage of asking myself IF I need a laptop ;-), there are apparently plenty of desktops on LBS campus, but I’m too much of a control freak to depend on those) and I’ve narrowed it down to the following (random order):

* Asus W5. Very sleek and sexy, with integrated camera, good specs, also comes in white, comes with mouse, memory stick and bag, only 1,6 kgs a bit pricey;
* Apple Powerbook 12 inch. Again sleek and sexy, not too pricey (student discount), good specs, good performance, 2,1 kgs, but will it be compatible with the LBS network (have heard anecdotal evidence it will, but I’m a bit hesitant;
* IBM T42 or T43. Good reputation, reasonable specs, sturdy, the heaviest of the three at 2,3 kgs.
Must haves:
* good specifications (Centrino processor, or Apple G4, minimum 40 Gb harddrive, 512 MB, bluetooth, preferably infrared, wireless internet, CD or DVD burner);
* reasonable price;
* trackpad (which rules out X40, I need a trackpad, can’t survive on just that red thingy in the middle of my keyboard);
* portability (preferably 2 kgs or less);
* screen size: 12 or 14 inch.
Where does that leave sleek and sexy (see the descriptions of asus and apple above)? Hmmm, it wouldn’t sway me to or from a machine, but I am a girl and I like stuff to look nice AND work well.

The specs that LBS gives as a guideline are pretty reasonable, nothing high end here (note: no special deals with companies so you can get discounts):

1.Pentium 4M Centrino processor for best combination of performance and battery life.
2.Minumum 512mb RAM; 1GB preferable
3.Wireless network that supports 802.11b and 128-bit encryption
4.Ethernet socket (to connect to School wired network – optional).
5.CD/RW+ – invest in a CD writer as a back-up tool.
6.Microsoft Office (MS Word, MS Excel & MS PowerPoint) – if this is not bundled with the machine, be sure to purchase at the education discount price.
7.Mulitple USB2 sockets – memory keys are an excellent way to transfer large files between machines.
8.International Warranty – be sure the warranty will be recognised in the UK and does not require return to the country where purchased.
9.Power transformer that handles 220-240 UK power supply.
I know I’m probably opening Pandora’s box here, but can anyone offer recommendations? Experiences with any of these machines above? Any good advice? Rants, raves?

On a related note, I envy you guys in the US… I see all these coupons for discounts flying around, good deals on US sites, and I can’t use ‘em. I *LOVE* the fact that on the US IBM site you can configure your notebook. Why can’t us Europeans have that????

[edit 1: forgot to mention: today we got our first ‘real’ assignment, a self-assessment for the GLAM (cool name! it stands for Global Leadership Assessment for Managers) course which is part of the core courses. I know that some people don’t really care for these kind of courses, which are labelled by them ‘touchy-feely’. I love ‘em. The same way I love self-help books. All excited now :-)]

Reviews

One of my favourite holiday-passtimes (come to think of it, it’s one of my favourite passtimes full stop) is reading. So, one of the big things when going on holiday is the books I take with me. I’m not an expert reviewer, but below a few short impressions of the books I read.


* Charles Handy, The Elephant and the Flea. I picked up a copy of this book because it was cheap, I’ll be honest about it. I didn’t know that Charles Handy was at the birth of London Business School, that was a pleasant surprise. I liked the general gist of this book, although wasn’t impressed with other parts. The general idea is this: more and more people will have what Handy calls ‘portfolio careers’. A bit of this, a bit of that instead of starting work at a big corporation and getting your gold watch from it’s CEO 40 years later. I like the idea of portfolio, not just doing one thing, but a variety of activities which might or might not be paid (Handy includes housework and voluntary activities in his definition of work).


* Mira Kirshenbaum, The gift of a year. Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for selfhelp books. I love ‘em. And read lots of ‘em. I loved the general idea of this book, although I didn’t care much for what I felt was a lot of repetition in the book. Back to the general idea though: taking a year out for you. To take a year to take a bubblebath every night (as one woman did) to find the man of her life (read the book for more details) to taking every conceivable art course another woman did. While reading it, I kept on thinking ‘my MBA is my gift of a year’ (or technically two years). I have promised myself that I will be concious of the opportunities that will present themselves and create opportunities myself. This is going to be my gift of a year to myself.


* Faith Popcorn, Evelution. The eight truths of marketing to women. Picked this one up on a whim, it was remaindered and seemed like a way of dipping my toe in the pool that is called marketing. I wasn’t impressed. This was a 200 page long advert for Popcorn’s company. A lot of examples are clients of her company which sounded too much like selfpromotion to me. A few concepts I really liked, about specific tactics for marketing to women, like offer something before women have to ask for it, and if you get women to connect, then they will connect to your brand. On the whole though, I wasn’t impressed.

* Jack Welch, Jack. Straight from the gut. I suppose this was the first real business autobiography I’ve ever read. And I was a bit underwhelmed all through the book until the penultimate chapter (more on that later). I hated the amount of detail, I do not care to know that he had a meeting with so-and-so in the business lounge of this-and-that motel. Too much information. The one chapter I really liked was the one in which he gives some advice about what he thinks a CEO should be or do. Characteristics such as informality, celebration and culture counts and Jack’s perception of these made for an interesting read. But I just wish he written a 20 page article and not a 250 page book….

I can’t decide…

If I like knowing that my first midterm of the year will start on 5.15 pm on November 9th 2005 (for those wanting to know, it’s Managerial Economics)… on the one hand I’m getting all excited by these practical details, but on the other hand even for me, the organization freak, this is *VERY* organized. No, the excitement is definitely bigger than the freaking out-bit!
Yesterday all the LBS MBA2007 admits received their first Programme Details email from the MBA Programme Management Office. Lots of practical information about swipe cards, when exams are, information about waiving core courses etc. Let the games begin!
[edit 1. On my way to the post-office in a couple of minutes to put the HSBC loan application in the mail… finally. I just hope that they will show me the money.]

Good things in life

Another day, another entry in my blog. Am feeling a slight tinge of guilt for blogging about ‘normal’ things, although I realise that life goes on and strangely enough, not blogging about the things that I’d blog about if London was hit by 4 bombs makes me feel guilty as well. Londoners are going on with their life, and thus so will I.
Did I say the band of LBS bloggers was complete? Well, we’re on our way to an entire orchestra! Gaurav, another MBA2007 R2 admit like me, is also blogging his way towards LBS as well. Great to have you!

One of the things on my 1001-things-to-do-before-I-die list is visit the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, which is on every year in july. And this year I’m going! The festival started today, but I’m only going tomorrow. The line-up is fab: tonight Al Green and Chaka Khan amongst others, tomorrow Ian Siegal Band, Jamie Cullum and Solomon Burke (my musical hero). And the best thing is: I’m going with a dear friend of mine. So the best of both worlds, great music with a great friend.

The reading material I took with me has given me a lot of inspiration and for once I want to write a proper review, and not just my sketchy ones the way I normally write down impressions, but I’m too tired to do so tonight, will try and come round to it this weekend. One thing that I do want to share is Ramon Stoppelenburg’s website Letmestayforaday.com. I read his book accounting his adventures when he set up a website, asked people to have him stay for a day and subsequently traveled the world without paying a penny. Brilliant idea!