Monday, April 4, 2011

Action in the face of uncertainty

I have recently made the decision to attend Babson College for their two year MBA program. If you were to ask me why I choose this school, I could easily spout rankings and statistics, but to be honest I cannot pin point a reason why I choose the school. I tried very hard to put into numbers all of my thoughts and feelings about the schools I was looking at. As you might have noticed from a previous post, I usually think through numbers quite a bit when assessing a situation. But choosing an MBA program is not a binary question. There is too many feelings and unknowns that cloud my thoughts. A lot of what if scenarios start running through my head and what ifs are very good at causing inaction. So I keep trying to plug all the variables into one equation and see what answer pops out. So plugging through it I find that to many variables are unknown.
Lets go through some of the major questions that matter to me.
Which MBA will give me better career opportunities? There are stats in this but I find them irrelevant to the individual.
Which MBA will better help me start a business? Unknowable... and I think this depends on an individual more than the program.
Which MBA will better prepare me for the future? I do not know how to quantify this... but I had a feeling that Babson would be best.
So after really thinking about this for I had a few feelings and I do not like making decisions on feelings.  But with a complete lack of quantifiable figures and facts
So now I am faced with a question that does not have a mathematical answer. What do you do?

I choose Babson. I was not going to get all answers I wanted. And I never will. What I decided was to act, and make the best of every situation presented. I have heard this before, and I do not know to attribute to this quote, but you are the biggest factor in your success in an MBA program not the school. So I am going to work very hard to make the best of every moment and opportunity that Babson provides.

The President of Babson has stated this sentiment in his new book here -> http://actiontrumpseverything.com/
And you can find him him describing it here --> CreAction Video

On a side note I have just started reading this book - Though it is just a digital copy and I do not own a e-reading device, so it might take longer than normal. And I plan to right a review here soon enough.

2 comments:

  1. I'm writing this comment to provide an objective opinion from someone who started an MBA program and then turned to one that would increase his technical proficiency instead.

    When I was working on my MBA a few years ago, I had a very knowledgeable professor for my Entrepreneurship class who had years of experience in profit and non-profit sectors and served on several big financial committees. I enjoyed his class very much. To be honest, it was a big part of my later decision to drop my MBA altogether.

    One of the main points he made was that an MBA and the inherent lessons taught by traditional programs, actually stifled entrepreneurial drive. The more you know to assess risk, the less likely you are to take the leap and make it work out. Most successful business owners operate on instinct, push boundaries, and then they do what it takes to make things work. They learn from trying, doing, and failing.

    The following article is written mainly from a perspective of using an MBA to get a job, but also covers other aspects of business success. I found it to be a very good read.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23468789/ns/business-careers/

    To expand upon that, I would also venture to say that getting an MBA is not necessarily a bad thing. I think that it can limit a person if they blieve the degree will make them successful. The degree doesn't make the person; it's what the person can get out of the degree that will make all the difference.

    When I was stationed up in Alaska, I volunteered for a group called Junior Achievement. (http://www.ja.org/default.asp) It was a very neat experience, both for me and for the high school economics class I taught. We went through the Junior Achievement package and lesson materials and created a company from scratch. The students came up with an idea for a product, elected officers, appointed committees, then raised capitol from investors (friends, family members, etc). All the money collected was accounted for and stocks were issued. The entire semester consisted of operating the business and working through associated lessons from the JA materials. At the end of the semester we dismantled the business, tallied everything up, and returned profits back to shareholders.

    I would encourage you to try to get involved in something similar while pursuing your MBA. You'll learn many more hands-on lessons and gain experience, a medium usually valued much higher than theoretical knowledge. You'll probably also find that the activities complement what you'll be learning. This has dual benefit, both for you and for anyone you might help mentor.

    You stated in a previous post that the most money per minute you ever made was with the family aeration business. I was also fortunate enough to go out aerating with your dad when Tara and I were first married. Over the years, the ratio of dollars per minute has been surpassed, but it does serve as a good lesson of what a person can accomplish on their own.

    Have you considered starting up a few small businesses while you're working on your MBA? The experience you'd learn from running your own business, tracking everything that has to be financially accounted for, and filing your tax documentation on schedule would be priceless. Keeping the businesses on a small scale would minimize the impact of failure, providing optimum ratios of lessons to costs. As silly as it sounds, maybe you could try forming a business making and selling t-shirts at the flea market? Is there something you could sell at a farmers market? I've seen ceramic cups, misc. crafts, books, and many other non-edible items. These are just a few ideas, something you could get your wife and son involved in and share those same family business experiences you gained from aerating.

    The point is that I'm not trying to offend or belittle your dream in any way. I'd like to see you and your family achieve your dreams. Good luck, Tyler, you've got a lot of people cheering you on!

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  2. Brady -

    I did not know about your experience with Junior Achievement. That is really cool, and a whole lot of work as a volunteer.
    I agree 100%. An MBA does not guarantee success on its own. It alone is not at all a ticket to the job of your dream. I would actually say the network that you create while working on your MBA is worth much more than the certificate and even the lessons learned during class.
    You whole comment is a bit of a list as to why I choose Babson. From the President of the School on down, Babson is about taking action and provided the skills to react appropriately to the consequences of those actions.
    Babson also has an entrepreneurship focused program that includes starting a business during your time at school. I plan to start not one but hopefully more than one business during my two years at school. And yes I would like a business that would allow my family to be involved.

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