Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

TAG: Businessweek

My Thoughts on MBA Rankings

BusinessWeek recently released their 2012 business school rankings. Rather than go into the mechanics of the rankings and bitch about how my alma mater NYU Stern is only ranked 16th (just kidding, I don’t care), I’m just going to spew my thoughts about how rankings fit into the overall b-school experience.

Like I mentioned, I don’t really care for business school rankings, but I understand why they’re important:

  1. They ignite change. B-school administration will say they don’t care about rankings either. But when their rank goes up, they publish glowing press releases that highlight all the improvements they made. When their rank plummets, they denounce the survey’s methodology, carefully craft answers to potential candidates’ questions about why their rank dropped, and commit time and money to improve on the metrics that gave them a lower ranking. Yup, seems like they don’t care at all.
  2. For the most part, prospective MBA students choose a business school on two primary characteristics – rank and location.

Regarding #2, I don’t think these are wrong factors to take into account – just incomplete. These two factors are where applicants should start their application process, not end. There’s nothing wrong with a top-tier applicant narrowing down his or her initial list of schools to the top-10 ranked programs in major metropolitan areas, for instance. But many times that’s all applicants think about.

I believe that smart applicants will go further; they’ll really understand what they want to get out of business school (e.g. switch to the finance industry?) and the type of environment in which they want to spend their next two years (e.g. competitive or collaborative?), and any other factors that might be important, then really dig in to the fine details of each school that may fit his or her needs. B-schools aren’t just MBA factories; they’re living, breathing entities that will impact you for not only the next two years, but the rest of your life.

Another important factor is brand. No matter how many times Chicago’s Booth School of Business sits atop BusinessWeek’s rankings, that brand just isn’t going to be as powerful as Harvard Business School, Stanford, or Wharton. Brand is a powerful thing that should be taken into account, but like rank and location, it probably shouldn’t be the primary factor.

I understand that many of these factors aren’t mutually exclusive, but the message that I’m trying to convey is that there’s much, much more to b-school selection than rank. At least there should be.

For those of you who have MBAs, I’d love to hear some of the factors that you used, outside of rank and location, that helped you select the school you attended and how it worked out for you.

What I’ve Learned After One Month On My Own

It’s been exactly one month since I left my gig at the Caps and I’ve learned a few things working for myself at home.

The more flexible and unpredictable your schedule is, the more important discipline and routines are 

Now that I’m on my own, I have complete control over my schedule. I can plan meetings when I want, I don’t have to start work at any specific time, nor do I have to commute to an external location everyday. But I’ve found that the unpredictability of this schedule can cause dips in productivity. Who’s to stop me from waking up at 10am everyday and only working until 3pm? I’m the boss, so I can do what I want, right? Sure, but I’d get absolutely nothing done.

So I stay disciplined and replicate my morning routine that I had while working for the Caps. I wake up at 7am, walk the dog, make breakfast, shower, then immediately start cranking out work. When Noon rolls around, I’ll either make lunch and eat, or fit in a mid-day workout. If there are days when I have meetings or I need to run errands during normal work hours, I’ll work into the night to complete my 10-12 hour workday. Staying disciplined and following a routine has been really helpful in staying productive working from home.

Power naps really help productivity, too

You’re probably thinking “WTF?!” after having just read the first section about discipline. But it’s true – power naps are awesome for productivity. Everyone’s been through the 2:30 in the afternoon lull at work and power napping helps me get through it. There have been articles in Inc., Businessweek, and other publications about how companies embrace nap time during the work day and studies show how this positively impacts productivity.

But again, I have to be really disciplined about this, or my 20-minute nap can turn into a 3-hour one (like it sometimes does on the weekend). I nap sitting semi-upright on my couch so I’m not that comfortable.  I set the alarm on my phone to ring after 20-30 minutes and place my phone across the room so I have to physically stand up to turn it off. After I wake up, I splash my face with water and immediately get back to work, feeling refreshed.

The highs are higher and the lows are much lower

The extremes are more amplified working for yourself.

In my past consulting gigs with Tefen and Navigant Consulting, closing a new project deal or completing an engagement was a big deal. At the Caps, a successful marketing campaign, the launch of a new mobile app, or a big win over the Penguins was cause for celebration. I’m not taking anything away from these events, as they definitely elicited happiness and excitement. But when you’re on your own, the littlest wins, like an insightful product test, a completed analysis for one of my consulting clients, or a meeting that went well, seem huge. I can’t even imagine how I’ll feel when something bigger like a product launch happens. My head will probably explode.

On the flip side, the lows feel really, really low. Projects that move slower than I expect drag me down more. Reading about how the stock prices of Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga are dropping like a bag of bricks doesn’t give me much confidence as I build a consumer web app. The doubt that creeps in can be paralyzing.

But that’s the game I’m playing and I need to deal with this roller coaster.

That’s all I have for now. I’d love to hear from other entrepreneurs about their everyday experiences, or from anyone who works from home.

There are no more results.