Monday, December 31, 2007

The Details

I'm a week out from my Darden interview and I must admit, I'm a bit nervous. For some reason, I have a strong feeling about Darden and things working out, but I can't explain it any better than that. Of course, it could be a false sense of security and simply hope on my part. Ever since I walked into the San Francisco information session, I've had a comfort feeling when it comes to the people at Darden and I'm hoping it works out. I still have yet to hear from Ross and although they say Ross can still request an interview, my outlook is glum. I await a decision from Georgetown as well. I have confidence in my essays, but don't feel as strong about my interview. Definitely something I would have changed in my process...interview after essay completion.

I have my flight booked to BWI on Friday and I'll be hanging with Mack in DC this weekend. It should be a blast, but I have to make sure I don't go overboard with the alcohol on Saturday night (not that I ever do). Sunday, I pick up my rental car from the DCA airport and drive the supposed 2 hours to Charlottesville. As of this moment, I have yet to book a hotel, which is my goal today before I head out this evening. Sunday, I don't have plans and Monday, I plan on exploring Charlottesville and the UVA campus (any suggestions would be greatly appreciated). I figure on Monday night, I'll find a local pub and watch the national championship. Tuesday, I have down time in the morning and then my interview is at 11 am. Finally, my flight home is out of the Charlottesville airport at 4 pm.

My interview preparation has been nonexistent. Yesterday, I printed all my essays and added them to my packet of Darden information I had printed a few weeks ago. After some searching, I found the Darden brochure mixed in with a stack of brochures I haven't touched in months. I've read through all my correspondence with Darden staff, students, and alum. Next up, review notes I took at the information session and start writing down MY story. What do I want to say about myself in the 20 minutes or so I am given to talk? Of course, this depends on if the interview is blind or not. I shouldn't cover similar topics to my essays if they've already been read. At that point, I need to disclose 'additional' information. Time to prepare for both scenarios!

Happy 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Misc Update

And so it goes… 4 applications submitted, 2 interviews, 1 interview invite, and 1 silent. 1 DING, 1 completed, 1 plane ticket purchased, and 1 silent. This has been my world for the last 10 months. I’ve written more essays since September than I did in 4 years of college. After careful consideration and the realization that I was “done” with applications, I did not apply to LBS. The excuse of the weak dollar was easy to announce, but it came down to this, I didn’t want to write another six essays, do you blame me?

Everything I have planned for the next 8 months is banking on acceptance to business school. When people ask which school I’d like to attend, I tell them, whichever one lets me in. It’s true, I’d be happy at any one of the schools to which I’ve applied and currently, I’m crossing my fingers. By February 1st I will know if I’m matriculating to business school next year. If I am, it’s time to find a replacement for me at EC Mgmt so that I can travel the world over the summer. Sounds glorious huh? I suppose there’s the alternative as well, if I don’t get in… hmmm, I’ve tried not to think about that fact. I wish I could say I’d start this process again from scratch, but after consuming my life for so long, that’s not exactly a horse I want to get on.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Business in the Philanthropic World

Most of us as MBA applicants know how important it is to be a well-rounded individual and as this type of individual, many of us participate in various forms of philanthropy and charity outreach. I consider myself lucky because I'm not only a participant in philanthropy, but I also help with the tactical design of an individual's philanthropy. During the time in which I have been a member of my firm, we have launched a philanthropic platform which helps individuals structure their charitable giving so that the individual receives greater tax benefits and their gifts provide greater impact to the nonprofits they support. Win-Win situation if you ask me.

My boss keeps a slightly personal/slightly business related blog called Tactical Philanthropy. It's a great source of education for many philanthropic vehicles and a melting pot of ideas from the philanthropic community. Every so often, I read posts from his blog and this post reminds me why it is important for business to be in the philanthropic world. Granted, charity is about helping a cause, but it seems too often that people forget how important it is to effectively help the cause. The repost on his blog is from a thread where he posed this question:
Is the Red Cross Effective? I don't mean do they have low overhead
expenses or some silly measure like that. I mean do they take donor
dollars and use them to fund an organization that produces high levels
of social impact? If the answer is yes, I'd love to know about any
data that backs this claim up.

Thanks to anyone who can help.

The response to the question in my opinion missed the point. The question was simple, essentially, how you measure success as a nonprofit? In the for profit world, we often discuss numbers, increased client retention, sales etc... But we don't measure the nonprofits on the same level and perhaps we can't. However, we should be able to measure nonprofits on some level - whether it's appropriate to measure the number of people they help with a certain amount of money, or do they effectively increase the number of people helped either with the same level of money or perhaps the same duration of time. I'm not sure what makes a good comparison, but there should be one. There are too many nonprofits that essentially cover the same realm of causes, the ones that are inefficient should be overlooked, so those that are efficient may thrive.

Frosty the Snow Man Could Live by Me

We look ridiculous in parkas, hats, gloves, and scarves! After all, it is California. Even if it is Northern California, there's some sort of taboo because to all the East Coast transplants, 31 degrees is not THAT cold. However, to me, even after living in Colorado for 4 years, 31 degrees is cold, so I walked out of my house this morning with a 3/4 length down winter coat (and that's not the sleeve length). You'd probably think that I had been picked up and set down in Boston, but no, I'm just slightly south of San Francisco.

My favorite Christmas present this year is probably the overly expensive earmuffs my mother gave me. Granted, she paid for the label, but they are adorable. Actually, I probably should have worn them today.

Yesterday, I had to fight the wind coming off the Bay when I arrived at work. First thought, maybe not getting into Kellogg was a blessing. This morning, my thought was, what's the weather like in Virginia? I never got around to checking, until now, a calm 51 degrees to my "feels like" 42 degrees.

Where's the hot chocolate and fire place when you need 'em? I'm preparing for snow. ;)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Family and Friends

Please excuse any scatter brained ideas as I presume I had one too many glasses of wine last night.

The holidays are slowly coming to a close, although for whatever reason, I haven't felt like they were here. Of course with 2 Christmas trees, packages galore, a 20 pound turkey, and holly hanging with our staircase, it's difficult to say that it doesn't look like Christmas.

Yesterday, my brother and I rolled out of bed sometime sub 11 am. My parents had been up for hours making stuffing and getting our gigantic turkey ready for the oven. We opened presents as a family, which is always fun because we concentrate more on the laughter than the actual gifts. However, I scored big with the capri length hot chilly's I got dad for Christmas. My brother's gift to each of us may have been the best yet, a picture of him, at 23 years and 6'3", in a red shirt and Santa hat, sitting on the "real" Santa's lap. PRICELESS! Next, we cleaned up and made breakfast as a family. Dad manned the bacon, I made pancakes, mom picked up the wrapping paper, and my brother shuffled bags downstairs to the garbage. Great group effort! For a quick second, my brother and I argued over who would peel potatoes and who would cut green beans, but the time ended up being about even, so I suppose it didn't matter. I must admit, it was fun working together. Specifically entertaining to watch my brother inspect the green beans and trash the ones that HE wouldn't eat.

Dinner was at an early hour of 4. We had a friend's family of three join us and my straggling friend AA. Invitations were accepted by a few other friends, but at the last minute, they decided not to join us, which was a bit rude in my opinion, but it still worked out well. After dinner, with beer and wine in hand (depending on the individual), the younger generation took to the pool table for what became multiple games. Definitely a grand time! Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better Christmas with family and friends! Next up, NYE, for which I haven't currently solidified plans.

Also on the horizon, Darden interview, for which I need to start preparing. Lately, I have been on the lazy side - both for grad school as well as the gym. Granted, the gym is because of my unrelenting injuries. Conversely, I need to focus on this interview because it would be nice to respond with an "I've been accepted..." when someone asks which grad school I will attend. People seem so surprised when you indicate how long the process is. Furthermore, I fly out to DC on Jan 4th and highly doubt I will get any work done in DC. Thus, I have about a week to prepare with NYE and a weekend in the mix...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Stolen Quotes

More to add to the long list of quotes I enjoy:

'No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.' (Aesop)

'There are two ways to lead your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.' (Einstein)

Merry Christmas to all! (And happy holidays to everyone who does not celebrate Christmas, may your dreams come true.)

"Family Business"

Last Friday my older boss was sick and asked me to drop off some reports at his house. Granted, it is not substantially out of my way, but it is out of my way nonetheless. As I was ranting to my mother about getting a call from him saying he was going shopping with his wife and to leave the package underneath his front bench (I figured he should pick up the package), she said something profound. He views this company as a family business and you're part of the family. In that sentence, I understood everything. When we hired my co-worker, it was important to find someone with the right "fit". Not only in skill set or vision, but also in personality and mannerisms. We emphasize customized PERSONAL service. If a client calls, there WILL be someone on the other line and if they wish to speak to their portfolio manager, that person WILL be available. This is simply the way it is and perhaps it is the reason I have difficulty justifying leaving for any reason other than an MBA, even if I am ready.

This fit is the same in the MBA world. Each school constructs a class of diverse people who will work closely together and ideally become lifelong friends. In fact, I chose each school because I perceived there to be a true fit. Not a fit based on stats either, but based on programs, opportunities, culture, and people. As I write, I think it may be possible to incorporate some of these thoughts in my next interview, which means I need to start my research for Darden. Hopefully someone else sees in me what these two gentlemen did many years ago.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Stranger's Advice

Everyone always wants to throw in their $0.02. Often, I listen because you never know what advice may help in the future, however, I remember to take all advice with a grain of salt. Granted, I am also one of those people that gives advice when warranted. That said, I was a bit thrown off tonight when a guy, many years my senior, started giving me advice about an MBA.

My friend J works at a local restaurant named Rocca. After dinner and drinks with the family and my friends who are in town, we headed to Rocca and took a seat at the bar. As the night winded down, J introduced me to what seemed to be a kind man with whom she shared her table. I suppose it was previously mention that I graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Indeed, he also had a daughter who graduated from Boulder. He told me a story of his daughter and her friend, a Berkeley graduate, who was so stuck on the arrogance of graduating from Berkeley, she almost forgot about the power of a "real" major. As he put it, communications as a major is a waste of time. Luckily, I wasn't a comm major and he seemed slightly impressed with my degree in Finance and Accounting.

Only problem, he wasn't as keen on the fact that I work for a small company. He immediately said I need to get out, join Franklin Templeton or Wells Fargo. Then he asked what was next, MBA? Surely I thought he would be happy to hear I was already on that track. Next up, my stats? It never fails that someone wants to know what yours stats are, how did you do on the GMAT etc...I confidently told him and he retaliated with, can you retake it? In my mind, I'm content with my score, perhaps, even beyond content. And how do you tell a man you barely know that having a score over a 700 is not mandatory, though that is what he believes? As he asked what schools to which I applied, I hesitated. I rattled off the schools I haven't heard from, then proceeded to mention Kellogg and my Ding. I still am not quite sure how to tell people that I didn't get accepted and perhaps, I should start avoiding it all together. Nonetheless, he knew nothing of Virginia's reputation and claimed that Kellogg had fallen by the wayside since the Enron scandal. He also mentioned that everyone cheats in business school. The conversation drew to a quick close as the family wanted a ride home. I was a bit relieved, but also wanted to convey some misconceptions he had, however, maybe tonight wasn't the time and place.

This is one stranger's advice I will immediately forget.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Out with a Bang!

Good morning...I've been at work for almost 3 hours and my productivity level is balancing between zero and negative. Last night, we had our company holiday party and as we are a very small company, the intimate setting is fun, yet intimidating. Sitting at a nice table in the private room of the Village Pub were four couples and 3 singles, which is entertaining as there are only 4 employees of my company.

It is no secret that I have applied to business school, but as my younger boss spoke of how it is going to be difficult to replace me and how proud they are of me, I got a bit teary eyed. I've said for some time now that it is time to move on and take the next step in my life and career, but I can't discount how lucky I am to work with the people I do. After college, I joined this company, which is now almost 4 years ago, and I know I have become a pinnacle of our organization. The plan is to hire someone at least three months in advance as to provide enough training time. In addition, I also want to travel this summer, so I figure I will more than likely only work until the end of May. Since my leaving is essentially conditional on acceptance to business school, I have opted not to apply to LBS. Not only am I done with applications, but also the decision date is far too late to do all I want to do and not leave my company hanging.

My next dilemma is work. As noted, I have been highly unproductive today and I once read something that when you leave a company, you should leave with a bang and on a positive note. Should you ever want a reference, you never want your service with the company to be influenced by the last two weeks of your employment or perhaps the last two weeks of unmotivated work. Granted, I'm not leaving tomorrow, but I still feel I should put my best foot forward. My semi annual bonus will be in January and I'm not sure if I will still get my year-end raise, so I don't want my lack on concentration to influence thoughts of my progress over the last 6 mos or even year. Nonetheless, I need to stop daydreaming of a good rest or of celebrating the holidays with family and friends, I need to concentrate. So perhaps ignoring the blog-o-sphere until this afternoon would be a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why DID the Chicken Cross the Road?

I received this email from my boss today. It's great for an afternoon laugh as it touches on some of the most famous public spectacles today. :)

Why did the chicken cross the road?


The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems before adding 'NEW' problems.


Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.


We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.


Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road...


We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road!


Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.


That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.


To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.


No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Mark et to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.


Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.


To die in the rain. Alone.


Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth?' That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media white washes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.


In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.


Isn't that interesting!? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.


Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.


It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.


I have just released eChicken2007, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken. This new platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^(C% ........ reboot.


Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?


I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?


I invented the chicken!


Did I miss one?


Where's my gun?


Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Civic Duty

I'm sorry judge, my story may sound silly, but it's true, some guy did thrust his forehead into my finger. To say I'm not keen on my civic duty would be an understatement. It's not so much that I have better things to do as much as it is, I'm busy. Between Christmas, work, MBA applications, soccer, and sleep, I barely have enough time for me. And here some judge wants me to sit in a court room for the 4-5 days prior to Christmas to determine the fate of some woman I could care less about. To say that I can completely refrain from any preconceived notions, would be lying. To the best of my ability I will keep my personal reservations and morals to myself, but I often wonder why these "criminals" don't have any. Of course, perhaps, I'm passing judgment too soon...

Back from the court house, we walked in, sat down, and the judge proceeded. He indicated that he "accidentally" omitted some very important information, he has to be in Sacramento tomorrow, which means the case cannot be completed by Christmas. Although quite content with the decision to free us of our duty, I was a bit irritated that I sat in traffic for 30 minutes in the pouring rain for nothing. So instead of returning to work, I went to my mom's party. What a nice Tuesday afternoon.

BTW - Congrats to all those who have received acceptances to Chicago!! As they say, you only need one. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Accumulating Injuries

As an avid soccer player, I never fail to injure myself. Every week, I assess the weekend's bruises on Monday morning. Often, I plan on taking a few days rest because of ankle injuries, and recently, a hip flexor injury. Well, it's time to add one more to the list, which is making this post entertaining to type. I jammed my knuckle into some guy's forehead in my first game yesterday. I'm still not sure what he was trying to do, but nonetheless, my index finger hurts. Luckily, I'm left handed, at least for writing and eating, although I still use my right hand for a lot of activities, for instance typing. I can barely turn my car on with my right hand as it shoots immense pain as I apply pressure against the finger. Talk about a bummer.

Subsequently, I believe I'm done with applications. I've jumped back and forth as to whether I would or not turn in a LBS application. Even though, a lot of the material overlaps with previous essays, I'm not in the mood to write another 6 essays. In addition, hopefully I will receive an acceptance from another school. By the time LBS decisions for even interviews arise, I hope to be planning my summer travel schedule. It's scary to think, I should receive decisions from all schools by February 1st. That's definitely enough to induce a slight panic attack, luckily, I've never had one.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday Night... you can't write stories like this

Good afternoon, I just rolled out of bed after one insane Friday night. This was one for the record books. After a few late Christmas parties on Thursday night, I did not sleep much, so I planned a nap before the girls and I went out on Friday night. We had to wait for J to get off of work, and I was surprised to get a call from her around 7:30 pm. She called to say, she had met a girl, also named J, at her restaurant and invited her to come out with us. I'm laid back and often an advocate of the more the merrier and when I heard this girl's short story, I thought, we are just what she needs. The girl recently got out of a relationship, moved to the South of San Francisco from the North, and has no friends. In fact, she practically broke down sitting at the bar. Chance would have her walk into J's restaurant because she was uninterested in waiting in the horrible congestion from her office - home. She simply picked an exit and got off for a drink, which led to a bottle of wine later. I'm not even sure she would recall the exit if asked.

The girls arrived at my house at 10 o'clock, but we were still waiting for VC, who apparently ran out of gas and did not have any cash on her. Additioanlly, VC managed to get lost on her way to my house, even with GPS, but she finally arrived and we were off to pick up CS. First stop, Circa on Chestnut. The group of five of us walked in, met up with Matt, and headed to the bar for drinks. The other J headed to the restroom and the rest of the group decided she did not need the cocktail we purchased for her, but it was handed to her anyhow. After talking with some friends and moving around the crowded bar, we decided it was time to investigate a dance floor, but we were one person short. The girls posted as I circled the bar looking for the illusive J, our new found friend. Thirty solid minutes of searching still left us empty handed. As we were pushing one AM, the executive decision was made, call her, tell her we went dancing, and to call us immediately. What more could we do??

We walked a few short blocks to Hi-Fi and somehow, side stepped the $5 cover with a simple, "can we get a deal?" The deal was free. I don't mind paying a cover, if I plan on being at a bar for the entire night, but when it's one in the morning, I try to avoid it. Within minutes, J lost her wallet. Instead of trying to search the dark floor, we waited until the lights went one. With her keen eye, CS found J's wallet. At least that was a positive.

Next, we decided to get a late night snack at Johnny Rockets. It look longer than we expected, but at around 3 am, we headed home with one wallet lost then found, and one less person. It's a bit comical if you think about the fact that we took some drunk girl to SF and lost her there. On our way home, J tried calling once more. Proving unsuccessful, she tried the first bar, Circa. I'm sure the GM was laughing this morning when he received her message.

The message began simple, this is J and I was at your bar tonight, but I lost my friend there. Her name is also J. By the end of two minutes, the entire car was laughing uncontrollably as J asked if the GM could call her if he found her friend. On some level, I feel bad. In 10 years of going out in SF, I have never left a person, nonetheless a person I didn't know. Most nights, I play sober driver and I'm very aware of my surroundings and the people I drive, but it seems last night, I was no match for the J's disappearing act. Hopefully, she is ok. From now on, we're getting the number of our mysterious guest, their best friend, and perhaps a local sibling.

Update (12/15/2007): Lost friend is alive and well.

Friday, December 14, 2007


As noted, I received my first ding yesterday, Kellogg. Although not unexpected, that sort of decision is never welcomed. In my head, the thought was simple, "ok, moving on", but here is where my dilemma arose. How do I tell my parents? I know it is silly to worry about how they will react, but I'm quite close with them. Additionally, it was not exactly their reaction I was worried about as much as it was what they would say. I didn't want many words, a simple "ok" would suffice. So with that in mind, I took the passive approach and emailed my mom, within minutes the office phone was ringing, she said I'm sorry two or three times, told me she loved me, and that was the end of our conversation, but reality struck. All of a sudden, I comprehended what just happened and returned to a slight freak out mode. What if I don't get into any of the schools to which I have applied? A realization I almost try to keep at the forefront of my mind when everyone else tells me not to worry about it, but of course, a general concern nonetheless.

I consider myself a qualified candidate as many other people applying would. My GMAT is solid, not quite a stellar 760 like other bloggers, but I definitely was not disappointed. Furthermore, my score is evenly distributed with a slight tick to the quantitative. My undergrad GPA is acceptable, but nothing to write home about. Next, my work experience is quality, though it can be hard to articulate because I work in such a small company. Over the last three plus years, I have been handed many projects and tasks that were once the responsibility of the firm principal. Basically, I make the company run - in portfolio management, the only aspect of the business to which I am not involved is stock picking. My extra-curricular activities are spread between avid soccer player and wannabe philanthropist - both in which I have been involved over many years. Finally, I consider myself personable as I am constantly meeting new people and building friendships with them. So there it is, a gist of my candidacy, no numbers. When I think about my applications, I try to remember each of these facts, and with that, somehow my day pressed on and turned out positively, however, I'm a bit tired from having only 4 hours of sleep.

I grabbed dinner at Rex's on Polk in San Francisco with a fellow candidate. (If you ever get a chance to go, get the Fried Chicken and Waffles... heaven.) He had already received his Kellogg ding, so it was a quick mention, and we moved on. It is interesting to talk with other applicants about their future aspirations and why they want to attend business school. Granted, our entire conversation did not revolve around that, but it is not to say it didn't take up a large chunk. Dinner was fabulous, the company was good, and I wrapped up my night with a stop at a friend's Christmas party. I danced a little, but made myself head home as it was a little after one in the morning and my alarm starts blaring at six. Unfortunately, my hip flexor was a bit sore on the drive home, so hopefully it isn't a problem for my last two outdoor games of 2007 on Sunday.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Train has Left the Station

...and won't be returning. It's official, DING, Kellogg is out of the picture. I have the desire to click on the Kellogg folder in my inbox and press delete. I'm not exactly sure what that would do for me, but perhaps I would feel some sort of redemption for all the hard work I put into their application. Granted, there are many tweaks I would make to those essays if I were submitting them today, but I didn't want to wait until Round 2. From here, I can only look forward, which is to say, I still have 3 other schools to hear from, although Michigan's silence worries me a bit. In the past, I did not carefully consider any Round 2 schools, but on some level, I feel I should have. There is still time, but if I don't have the drive to write essays for LBS, I can't imagine having the drive to write essays for any other school. My oh so happy Thursday just became a little ho-hum. I will skip the coffee chat - already sent that email off. There is not reason for me to waste their time and mine. Tonight I have dinner plans and a few holiday shindigs... hoping those will brighten what now seems to be a damp Thursday.

Gloves, a Necessity

Never thought I would type: Gloves are a necessity in the Bay Area on chilly mornings. Lately, I have been contemplating the locations of the schools to which I applied. Granted, I have yet to receive acceptances, so I am trying not to get ahead of myself, but if I think SF is cold right now, I can't imagine how I'd feel in Evanston, Ann Arbor, Washington DC, or Charlottesville, which is probably the warmest of them all. Now I spent 4 years in Colorado, so I know I can live and survive the dry snow, but if you know anything about Colorado weather, you also know it can snow today and be 70 degrees tomorrow. The motto: "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes", is incredibly true and although I had experienced it many times, it never failed to amaze me when it snowed in September or May. Note that I typed, DRY snow. Part of the reason I only glanced at Midwest/East Coast schools for College is their winters and for grad school, I didn't consider winter.

Let's return to yesterday morning and this morning. I work quasi market hours, which means it's dark when I wake up and the sun barely crests the horizon when I leave for work. At 6:45 am, it has been approximately 35 degrees and because a sick friend borrowed my gloves at a soccer tournament last Saturday, I decided they need to be washed leaving me without them. I probably do have another pair, but the effort to locate them has been lacking, although I did make a poor attempt on my way out the door this morning. Trivial features like a heated steering wheel do not seem like a bad idea as my hands are numb just being outside. Other features, like my heated seats, reinforce their use on these mornings. As I wrapped my extra scarf around my steering wheel this morning, I thought, am I crazy? Not because I was wrapping my scarf around the steering wheel, but because in about 8 mos I hope to be moving to a different city, each of which have winters worse than those in San Francisco. However, does the anticipation of a bad winter make it easier? Would I be better prepared if I were in, say, Chicago? It seems silly to me to wear a parker over my suit jacket to work, although it would probably keep me warmer in the morning. Conversely, I would likely always have a pair of gloves if I expected to need them.

I'll admit that location did not play a huge factor in my choice of schools. As I think about the process, I was influenced by program focused research and the people I met from the different programs. In addition, after attending Colorado, I think another football school would be fun.

On another note, I'm attending a local "coffee chat" with a current Kellogg student this evening. I have yet to receive a decision from Kellogg, but believe it would be beneficial to speak with someone regarding the school should I receive an acceptance in the future. As I have committed one email address to all MBA communication, I get a bit nervous every time I have a new message in that mailbox. Thus far, I have not received anything profound.

Furthermore, I booked my flight to DC in January. I will spend a weekend with friends, then drive to Charlottesville for my interview. Excited and a bit nervous.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Immune System Busters

Full list can be found here, but below are two that caught my eye:

3. Avoid Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation has a powerfully detrimental effect on your immune system. The perfect example is college students who get sick after pulling all-nighters cramming for exams.

If you're tired when you wake up in the morning, you're not getting enough sleep, or maybe not enough quality sleep. Either way, your immunity is probably compromised. Poor sleep is associated with lower immune system function and reduced numbers of killer cells that fight germs. Killer cells are also the part of the immune system that combats cells that divide too rapidly, as they do in cancer. Lower their numbers and you may be at greater risk for illness.

Studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation also contributes to heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and other medical illnesses. One study on the effects of sleep deprivation showed that a group of men restricted to 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night experienced changes in hormone function and carbohydrate metabolism that mimic aging changes; the lack of sleep was making them older faster.

10. Use Laughter to Beat Stress

Researchers have found that the positive emotions associated with laughter decrease stress hormones and increase certain immune cells while activating others. In one study conducted at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California, 10 healthy men who watched a funny video for an hour had significant increases in one particular hormone of the immune system that activates other components of the immune system.

So how can you add a little humor to your life? Simply find reasons to laugh. Rent a funny video; read a book of jokes. Have lunch with a friend known for her sense of humor. Lightening up can really light up your immune system.

Hope everyone stays healthy this holiday season!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Essay Creation and the Interview

As I ponder how to prepare for my interview, I think about the admissions process. By no means would I consider it fun, however on its own, its a bit life changing - even with the acceptances and dings. I am not the same person I was when I first started writing business school admission essays three months ago. Each question from each school has given me new perspective on how to approach the next essay as well as a new perspective on myself. When I hear about the adcom reading essays that have the wrong school name, I wonder how these applicants did it. No two essays of mine are alike and although they may share some of the same ideas, they were each written from scratch and tailored to the specific school to which I applied. Please don't miss interpret this, at times, short paragraphs referring to my background could be copied and pasted. I wrote essays based on deadlines, but in a way, that order actually help me. Kellogg was a good start because with a defined page length instead of word limit, I cultivated more ideas (of course, in retrospect, I could have been more concise). The next essays I tackled as one set instead of two, alternating days between the two schools - Virginia and Michigan. There was almost no question overlap and minimal idea overlap, but working on the essays concurrently kept me interested and created a solid picture for each school. Plus, I finally understood the word limit issue. Finally, I tackled my Georgetown essays, which proved to be quite difficult initially. After being used to a 300-500 word limit per essay, 750 words seemed like an eternity. What more did I want to say without simply adding filler words and BS? Somehow, I figured it out. This set of essays is where I think I discovered my idea and definition of Leadership. Not to mention, they ask you to specifically define it in your own words. It look me a lot of hours to fully wrap my head around the concept, the story, and the articulation, but after writing this set of essays, I feel I am a better candidate and can hopefully articulate it in my next interview.

The interviews I have had to date have been...interesting. I felt that I was under prepared for the first interview, but particularly because I did not analyze the Georgetown questions as I should have. Additionally, I didn't write my essays for those questions until 2 months after my interview. The thoughts were better constructed by then. My Kellogg interview with a local alum was more interview and less conversation than I anticipated. A slight miscommunication had me thinking we were meeting for brunch, when in fact, it was simply an interview at a restaurant at brunch time. Overall, the interview had flow and I was more confident when he related his experience to my own. Next up is Virginia. This will be the first campus I visit. At times, I see people attending sessions and campuses a year or two before they intend to apply. In some ways, I envy them and contemplate what I would change about my personal process, but then reality hits, I DO NOT want to do this again next year. The sole action I would change through the entire process is I would have visited campuses. Although I have the funds, the time was not there by the time I narrowed the schools and realized the Round 1 deadlines.

ClearAdmit Wiki has some good comments on interviews. For the most part, I don't feel interview preparation is anything more than knowing your personal story, preparing for the generic questions, and knowing the school. And as a wise adcom rep once told me, remember, it's ok to pause (and in that pause, have silence).

Upcoming decision deadlines:
Kellogg - January 7th
Ross - January 15th
Georgetown - January 25th
Virginia - February 1st

Application Deadlines:
LBS - January 4th

Also, one last end note - because this is primarily a personal blog, you will see posts about all sorts of subjects, I apologize in advance to those who primarily want MBA applicant information.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Not So Lazy Sunday, But Also, Not "Productive"

I'll admit, I miss the lazy Sundays. Those days when you honestly had nothing important to do and it could all wait until tomorrow. Today was definitely not one of those. Last night was the Spinsters Holiday Ball, which was indeed entertaining, but I "worked" more than I would have liked. The volunteers last night were helpful and yet, completely annoying at the same time. I had a person here and there not show up, but perhaps it worked for the better. Who knows? Afterwards, some friends and I did a little dancing at Bruno's in the Mission, then I carted everyone home and crashed around 3 am.

Although the sun is not rising at three, it is late considering I had to be up, yet again, at 7:30 am for soccer. I truly love and enjoy the sport of soccer, but sometimes I wonder if I should give myself a break. My hip flexor is still bothering me and after the tournament on Saturday, I'm sure the THREE games I played today didn't help. Additionally, I have returned home after a day playing in SF and I'm exhausted. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be asleep by 8 pm. However, I STILL have not started my LBS essays and with each passing day, I have less enthusiasm to complete them. Granted, it's not required that I apply to another school in Round 2, as I have finished the rest of my applications in Round 1. Furthermore, if I apply at all, I want to put my best foot forward. All I need to do is sit down one night and get the first drafts complete, but like other applicants, I'm having trouble focusing. Even now, my shoulder aches as I type, and the thought of another 4 hours on the computer makes me sleepy.

I read and glance over various blogs in the student and applicant world of MBAs. Receiving my invite to interview at Darden has definitely made me excited, but knowing that I'm only waiting for an answer from BOTH Georgetown and Kellogg puts me on the verge of crazy. Ross noted that they can request an interview up until their decision deadline, but the more I hear about others interviewing, the more worried I get. Also, I have read that people are getting DINGs from Kellogg and actually a personal friend in SF, the only other person I actually know that is applying to business schools, received his DING. Three months ago I did not know what a DING was, and here I am discussing the logistics of one. I guess it's natural that you won't be accepted to every business school to which you apply. We often empathize with other applicants and sincerely wish them the best of luck, but truth is, we hope that luck is ours as well. I need to book my flight to Virginia for my interview and work out the details of my weekend in DC. I have close friends in DC and thought seeing I'm flying to the East Coast, I might as well make a trip out of it...

As much as I know I should start typing essays right now, I think I may change into some sweats that don't smell like soccer, turn on the tube and relax. Hopefully I can focus tomorrow.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Frank Abagnale

A man most known for the crimes and deception he committed as a young boy between the ages of 16 and 18 years old, Frank Abagnale fooled the public into believing he was 10 years older than he actually was. With creativity, he created opportunities for himself to survive, although those opportunities were not always lawful. He convinced the public that he was a flight attendant, a doctor, and even passed the bar after an 8 week study course in Louisiana. Some would say he had a gift and brilliance, he simply believes he was young, foolish, and trying to survive. Most people may know this part of his life story as depicted in the blockbuster, "Catch Me If You Can", but Frank doesn't define his life like that.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching Frank speak in my backyard, the local performing arts center that held my high school gradation. He had charisma, showed great humility as well as a fantastic sense of humor. Today, he defines himself by what he has done in the last 32 years as an FBI agent trying to defy the very type of criminal he once was. At 16 years old, Frank walked into a courtroom and up to a judge, who quickly read from a sheet of paper that his parents were getting a divorce, and he must choose which parent with whom he wanted to live. Frank turned around and ran out the door, this was the beginning of his adventure. He was quick witted and learned that in order to be believable in any disguise he tried, he had to be knowledgeable - talking and walking as every other member of that profession did.

After years of looking over his shoulder, Frank eventually got caught. He spent years in a French prison, followed by a Swedish prison, and lastly, resided in an American prison until he was finally offered a job at the FBI for the duration of his prison sentence. He has spent 32 years at the FBI and met his wife there with not a dollar to his name. He claims who he is today is because of her, because of his sons, and because of the crimes he's been able to stop. He has never been proud of the crimes he committed.

On that note - here are a couple of tips I picked up to help protect you from identity theft:

1. Write as few checks as possible. In today's world, information is open for the taking. Just think, your check contains your name, address, phone number, and often your driver's license number and birthrate are written on the check. That's a lot of information to be in public view, so instead, it's suggested that you use plastic, but not debit cards. Debit cards are similar to using cash and in a crisis, it's hard to get that money returned if it is stolen. Conversely, credit cards are actually using the credit card company's money, while your money sits in the bank and earns interest. Pay the CC off at the end of the month and get a card that gives you something back. This, in his opinion, is a safer way to pay for things. You can dispute charges or cancel and change credit card numbers should you be a victim of identity theft. Meanwhile, with each on time payment, you're actually building your credit score and history.

2. Shred. It doesn't matter what it is, but most mail provides more information than you expect. At the least, own a cross cut shredder, but for highly sensitive information, a micro-shredder is preferred. The average cross-cut shredded page can be pieced together by the FBI in 8 hours.

3. Keep your social security number private. Federal law states that you only need to disclose your SSN to the federal government, your employer, and yourself. You must also disclose it when you are receiving a line of credit, so if someone who is not one of those entities and who is not giving you a line of credit requests it, you may decline disclosure.

4. Be weary of who is asking for information. Frank gave us a quick version of theft 101. When people call asking for wiring instructions, be weary of who they are, what they intend on wiring you, and why. Otherwise, you are simply giving them your bank account information, including account number. The information is out there and often free, so if you are not the one initiating the call, follow your intuition.

Overall, Frank seems to be an incredibly smart man. I feel fortunate that I got to hear his story, told his way.

Frank has 3 boys and is proud to say that he is their "daddy". He emphasized that each child is entitled to a father and a mother, which echoes my mother's comments of it's the parents that mess up their kids.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Darden Interview

My heart skipped a beat, maybe it was two. Every time I open my Mac email, which has been set aside primarily for MBA contact, I take a deep breath and cross my fingers. With .Mac, you view the number of new messages before you can view who they are from. It's an added step, but over time, I've found that I like it. The enhancement of anticipation is almost welcoming, thought nerve wrecking.

Sure enough, today I opened my email to receive a Darden email message with "account status change". This is where the stomach locks, I had to look up my login information for the Darden website, the whole time praying, please please please, let this be good news. And for some reason, I thought it would be. I signed on and in the right hand corner it states: "Call/Hold for Interview". I released some pressure on my gut with a deep exhale. As I understand it, I have been invited to interview! WOW! By far, I was most happy with my Darden and Ross essays. Although the Darden essays were different, I thoroughly enjoyed the introspection they provided.

The interview is required to be held in Virginia - on campus, which I think is a good way to gage the interest of a candidate. There are set interview dates in December, before Christmas and in January, shortly after New Years. I kindly mentioned to my boss that I received an interview and he noted that January would be preferable because of our business.

I don't touch on work very often other than noting that I went to work, did something, and came home. I guess part of that is because I would hate someone searching for Ensemble to run across my personal blog. At one point, I changed my myspace profile because it would show up in a Google search - third from the top. I'll touch on work in another post, but the reason it is preferable for me to be here through Christmas is because the busiest time of year in our Philanthropic sphere is right before year-end. Conversely, year-end statements are our largest quarterly mailing of the year. It's a lot to ask to be gone for one if not two days.

On another note, I also got invited to be a member of the Membership Selection Committee for Spinsters, which in my opinion, is a high honor. :)

London - Round 2?

COMPLETE - as I typed that word what seems to be many moons ago, it felt good. The significance is, I intended Georgetown to be the last of my business school applications. Granted, I always said that I would apply to 5 schools, but after the procrastination bug got me, I ended up completing 3 essays in essentially 4 days. Not only was it a lot of work, but it was also taxing on my body as I did not sleep much. If it wasn't for Dom, I'd had been SOL. Of course, he's already warned me that with his new job, he won't be able to do that again. (Dom, Thank you for your help... I will be coming to CO and buying you dinner.)

London - Fabulous school and the pinnacle of an international experience, which I dearly want to have. London's essays are short if I recall correctly and many of them are similar to essays I have already written, but if I choose to write them, this means I continue on the my journey in essay land. A land with which I was expecting to be done. The good news however is I would not be so focused on hurry up and wait. So perhaps, returning to essays would be mildly beneficial.

If I start this lot by Sunday, I will apply.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

imagini Update

Last year, I took an online test called Visual DNA. It describes you and your personality based on a series of pictures you select. Each picture is associated with one definite statement. Here are my most recent results.

This is what imagini Christmas Gift Finder says about me:

You're a bit of a party animal at heart. You love the holiday season cos it's a great excuse to eat, drink and be merry with friends and family. Some may say you're a bit of an adrenalin junkie. And it's true that even during the festive season, you have to get your hit of exercise. Your idea of a good game is one that's played with your mates, that's chilled and not too energy consuming! No doubt there'll be plenty of opportunity for that over the holiday season.

And here's my updated Visual DNA:

Personality: Moods: Wild Cat

You're a bit of a romantic and like to get back to basics. The expanse of the wilderness is inspiring and you like landscapes that make you feel calm. When it comes to art, you're definitely unconventional. You like to think differently, always from another perspective. You have a good sense of humor. As for music, it rules your weekend. Sweaty clubs, bangin' parties, you're social and love going out, meeting up and 'avin it. Your choice of treat shows you love being a little bit naughty. Being good all the time is a bore. You've got a good sense of fun and maybe an infectious giggle.

Personality: Fun: Escape Artist

You love to be far away from your everyday life. You love the sun, and like to live life at a slower pace than most - you know how to take things nice and easy! For kicks, you like to experience life at full volume with the lights on full. You're extremely passionate and emotional, and a bit of an exhibitionist? You express yourself and don't mind who's watching. When it comes time for holidays, relaxing and spending time with friends and family it what it is all about. You like long lazy Sundays - coming back home rejuvenated. What grosses you out? Nobody is perfect but some bad habits are unacceptable; you realize that health is wealth.

Personality: Habits: New Wave Puritan

Even if you have a healthy approach to life, you still have your little vices that keep you going. It's all part of the routine, you're a creature of habit. Clean and pure - your choice of drink shows that on the whole you care about your health and make sure you're putting the right stuff in. As for the home style is not really top on your list - you're too busy with other things in life. Functional meets all your needs.

Personality: Love: Love Bug

You're a bit of a softie. Love is unconditional and loyal. When you think of freedom - you think of being in charge of your direction. The open road and a full tank can pretty much take you anywhere.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Beat up and Bruised

Doesn't it always seem, if it isn't one thing, it's definitely another? As noted, my applications are complete. Gosh, that feels good to type: COMPLETE. On Friday, I celebrated Andrea's birthday with a very drunk Andrea (she was sick at midnight and rallying shortly after). Indeed, she is a trooper, but it makes me wonder how good that sort of abuse is to an individual's body. Technically, one gets sick because they have a mild form of alcohol poisoning and that is the body's indication to SLOW DOWN. To each their own. At 4 am, I finally drifted off into a slumber after spending two hours with Jackie playing "catch up". I still can't believe she lived in St Thomas for a year.

Saturday, I slept and that's it. I rolled out of bed around 4:30 pm, caught some football, grabbed a snack, and got ready for the night. Saturday night proved to be interesting, but I won't say anymore.

On Sunday morning at 7:30 am, my alarm started blaring, reminding me that I had to be on the field and ready to play soccer by 9 am. The first game of my day was rather mellow. Although I was bumped into on numerous occasions, I don't feel I suffered a lot of direct injuries from contact besides putting my right leg in front of a few shots. At the end of the game, I had the ball imprints to prove it.

Shortly after my first game, a men's 8v8 game started. I was about to walk out the gate, but one of the guys asked if I'd be interested in playing because they were short. After 30 minutes, I decided to leave the boys to their testosterone and continue across the city to my 1 pm match.

Indeed, I did warm up, but it was likely with reduced effort. I can't say it was solely because I was tired from the morning's activity, but additionally, my muscles were tight. Unfortunately, that tightness seemed to hinder my game or at least, my hip flexor. By halftime, I was playing with noticeable pain. I stepped out of the game for a moment's rest until one of my players ended up injured and had to be replaced. Through the end of the game, I worked. It helped that Mike would remind me to jog it out of the back. As an seasoned defender, I know that we need to clear the back ASAP, but the strain prevented me from following my own instructions. Despite the effort the team and I put in, we suffered our first loss of the season - game 9 of 11. OUCH. I wouldn't say the other team's win was clean, but we could not shoot anything on frame. Our only goal was scored as a ricochet from a penalty kick I took. However, their second goal was off my knee as I got hammered in the back because I was perfectly positioned on a cross. Granted, I realize it's not my fault, but as a player you can't help but feel that you should have made that play.

The day was full of activity, however I returned home for a short baking session and some much needed R&R. Hopefully this injury is temporary and next weekend is more fun.