Movie Time!

In preparation of our Organizational Change class, we had to watch "The Thin Blue Line," a documentary about a police investigation gone horribly wrong. The professor had arranged to have the movie played before class and throughout the week. As the diligent student, I went to a screening last week... only to be late and fall asleep for most of the documentary. I was awake enough to sort of understand the story line, but probably not quite enough for class discussion quality. What can I say... typical second year!

Anyway, so when I heard that my friend PP had a copy of the documentary and she was offering to watch it together, I jumped at the offer. So I got to PP's at around 8ish... another colleague arrived within minutes. We happily get set up to watch the movie. Get our drinks, stick the video in, sit back, and enjoy.

Hmmm, something is off. This is sort of a Blink moment: something is wrong, but I can't quite nail it. The beginning is showing different police brutality news clips, then a man in a bunny suit is walking in a police station, then actor names start coming up. Isn't this a documnetary!? Recall that I did fall asleep in the first screening, so everything is a little fuzzy now. But I decided that it was the wrong video. PP takes it out and we sit around wondering what went wrong. Ah, 2nd years... we really have nothing better to do.

20 minutes later, we notice that the video is "The Think Blue LIE," not "The Thin Blue LINE." The funniest part is that if I hadn't showed up, they would have ended watching LIE instead of Line and got to class completely confused. Here's the alternative - instead of being confused, we'll go in knowing nothing.

Like I said, 2nd years. =)


Ah, the interview...

This sounds kind of sick, but when I stepped into the xxx (heh heh) interview and got my first question, I found myself smiling a bit because I actually miss some of these interviews! Yes, I'm sick and disgusting, I know. Can we move on? Please?

The thing is... most interviews will come up with at least one question I never expected. Every time these questions come up, I learn something about myself that I didn't know before. And that makes me smile. This is my first interview of the season, and the first question quickly pushed me to the brink!

I think the interviews went okay. The fit parts really made me think about myself and my career (woohoo, first time this quarter!). Interesting cases that I eventually got to the bottom (I think) but not quite fast enough. Bottom line, I should have done much more to prepare myself for them. I blame the conference. Nah, just kidding, have to blame my lazy and tardy self. I hope they liked me enough. I certainly liked them. We'll see in a few days.

I bought a pair of Cole Haan dress shoes on the way back. They are so comfy. No, it wasn't therapy from a bad interview - I've always wanted a pair but never really walked pass the store at the right time. =)

Meanwhile, I said no to an interview for a position in the US. My mind is set. It's time to go to a place where I can't quite call home but could become one.

Oh, and the Cardinals just won the World Series. Can't wait to see the ratings on this one.



Man, it's so difficult to re-engage with school and recruiting after such hectic schedules all ended. With only one mid term and one interview, the week looked pretty good from Sunday. And yet here I am, on Thursday, wondering what the hell I did with the ~120 hours since Sunday. Let's count:

Sleeping: 35 hours, including Saturday night after 12am
Driving: 3 hours
Eating: 5 hours
Emailing: 5 hours (!?)
Lounge/Winter Garden: 10 hours
Corp Fin mid term: 1.5 hours (I skipped the second half due to trama)
Corp Fin studying: 6 hours in front of material, 1 hour actual studying
Negotiations: 3 hours of class + 1 hour of reading and case preparation
Org Change: 3 hours of class + 2 hours of reading and case preparation
Help OH interview: 2 hours
Post conference networking: 3 hours
Bank week planning: 2.5 hours
Consulting week planning: 2 hours
CAP co-chair meeting: 2 hours
Making feedback forms: 2 hours
Call with manager: 1 hour
Korean Club: 2 hours

Man, this is a great exercise. Okay, I'm up to 91 hours. What the hell happened to the 29 hours that I can't allocate to!?


Coup d'état

Before I start writing... check out this link, courtesy of the Sports Guy. Hopefully, this can help you procrastinate if you are a student... and hopefully it won't get you fired if you are at work. Considering how I chose my name, I guess it makes perfect sense.

Back to coup d'état... I'd just like to use some of the frameworks I've learned from life and business school to highlight how one should deal with a coup, a betrayal, a mutiny, and so on. This should be a rather more complete approach to similar situations.

You can tell it's not rocket science. But if one can have a framework in appraoching this type of events, one can be more comfortable in dealing with it. Remember the scene in Jerry Maguire where Maguire was just fired and he's calling all his clients to retain them while Bob Sugar is in the other room stealing all his clients? That's the scene of a coup/ mutiny/ betrayal. You're in a fishbowl and things are happening fast outside the bowl. What to do, who to call, etc etc, all have to be done right away. Anyway, hope this helps.

Some basic principles:
a. Remain calm. Coups happen because you don't expect it and you didn't prepare for it. So it will be tough to stay calm and respond. Nonetheless, stay calm. What happened has happened and the only way to salvage it is to stay calm and sort things out.

b. Speed, speed, and speed. Must act fast. Your opponents have planned their thing and are light years ahead of you. Once things roll, you must close the gap between the two sides and your speedy response will be absolutely necessary. If you can't close the gap, if you wait, you lose.

c. Have an objective. Paint the picture that you would want to happen. For example, this could be return to the status quo. Or it could be a compromise of the current situation and the status quo. Or it could be an entire different animal. Paint that picture. And then work to make that picture happen for you, which will be highlighted below.

Things that need to happen:
1. Sort out the facts and lies. In a confusing situation like a coup, you have to gather the facts ASAP. Identify people you can trust and gather facts from them. There will be lies along the way. Hence, face to face meetings are the best. Trade for information if you need to. Be genuine and be honest. Most people who are not involved are keen to share information if they know why they are asked.

2. List ALL the stakeholders. Make a list of all the stakeholders during a mutiny. All of those who will be affected should be on the list. Get the numbers for all these people. You will need to call them all, Jerry Maguire-style. Assess these stakeholders: people who are allies, people who are not, peopel whom you can influence, people whom you need to get on my side, people who aren't important but are still stakeholders. The next is to strategize.

3. Create allies on your side. Start with your closest ally. Make sure they are on your side. Detect lies. If you have lost your closest ally, you are probably going to lose the war. Seek refuge. After you secure your closest ally, prioritize other potential allies. Sometimes that involves a few peripheral players, sometimes it is the inner circle. It depends. In general, start close and work outwards. Again, being honest about the situation is the key to gathering empathy and support. Some stakeholders are going to be more supportive and are willing to go the extra mile for you. Find out what is important to them.

4. Create allies on their side. There are always weak spots in your opponents team. Exploit them. Use facts to convince and pressure; don't make it personal. Unlike creating your own allies, start from the outside and move inwards. Try and corner them and offer them one way out (i.e. your way). Be careful of this type of allies; they are sometimes on the wall and will just lean whichever way is better for their personal interests. Like all types of allies, find out what is important to them.

5. Painting that picture. The execution of salvaging a difficult situation is always the most difficult part. A lot of times compromises will have to be made. Not all stakeholders are going to want your picture. Hopefully, you have done your homework and you know what everybody needs. Compromise and draw that picture for yourself and for everybody else. When incentives are aligned, people on the wall choose sides. Sometimes, it's even simpler: some general rules would govern their behavior. Either way, you're executing.

6. Deal with the culprit. Do you need that person in your picture? If not, you might want to consider a harsher response. Otherwise, offer a way out. (note that these can all be in reverse and your opponent may be giving YOU a gracious way out) Offer a solution. Don't make it personal and be diplomatic. If you have succeeded in 1 to 5, this should be a relatively easy task. You would have created a scenario in which the culprit has no choice but to join your picture. That will not likely be the case though. But I believe the more you have done from 1 to 5, the more likely you can make this scenario true.

7. Finally, if you are in the unfortunate situation... good luck.


CAP Conference

I was thinking about how to write this post for days. Really, I was. Such a big event that a couple of us have placed so much effort in. I was dreaming about the moment when the conference ended. Would I just give a sigh of relief? Would I scream and release? Would I high five Dean Leftwich? Would I drink till I drop? Would I pat the behind of all the organizers (this would only happen if I drink till I drop)? Would I trade the silent wink with fellow organizers? Would I have that stupid grin on me for weeks?

Anyway, back to writing. Should I do a time line? Too long. Top 10 on what I learned? Maybe. Significant happenings? Perhaps. I really haven't thought about what to write, honestly.

Turns out I just gave a sigh of relief and then put a smile on my face for a night.

So let me just leave you with my impression of the conference: success. =) Not the smoothest of things, but certainly no complaints at all. Internally, we have much work to do to prepare for next year. Externally, there has been nothing but positive feedback from the attendees, save for they couldn't attend two panels at the same time. (um... wait till ALL of them give feedbacks, I bet there were some complaints)

Thank you to all the organizaers and volunteers to making this happen. The school was very supportive as well. And of course to all those guests who were willing to give their valuable time and effort for the sake of our attendees.

I will now become a student again.


Here we go...

5:30 am. I'm all set for the conference. We'll see how well prepared we are.


Good and bad news abt my photography skills...

One picture I really liked from those taken in Japan and SF. Good news is that I knew my pictures weren't going to be very good since the lighting was always a problem and I was experimenting a lot. Bad news is that I was right.


Shameless self-promo: Buy Tickets to CAP Conference!

Before the shameless self-promo, let me just say that this post is actually school related. You can buy tickets here. hehe. Last week during Fall Preview (i.e. event for MBA applicants), one of the applicants asked me how much time I spent with Chicago Asia Pacific Group (CAP). 40 hours or so a week. Business school is about priorities. Mine is currently not with classes.

Anyway, I thought a timeline would illustrate this the best:
1000: Meeting to lay out all the issues with the day of the conference
1120: meeting with meghak for case interview practice (I give the case)
1230: Meeting over, back home for lunch
1430: At school, start editing website
1530: Start drafting kit for all conference speakers
1535: Finding map of Hyde Park Center and parking options
1545: Find directions to the HPC
1630: Draft response to press coverage
1645: Start putting together booklet for conference
2100: Done (sort of) putting material together
2130: Back home, watching football, good times...
2330: Very bad times: key speaker cancels trip
0100: Making contigency plans
0230: Edit website to reflect newest lineup
0300: Must... do... one... more... thing...
0330: Zzzzzz
0700: Up and shower
0900: Case interview with TT
1000: Case interview with SO
1100: Corp fin study group - I have no done anything; today is no different
1130: CAP meeting on conference and other activities
1330: Continue updating kit (and skipping class)
1600: Alphagraphics to update booklet
1700: Selling tickets at Gleacher Center
1745: Another speaker drops out
1800: Class
2100: Back home
2101: Gather email to update kit, website, and booklet
2300: Start blog...
2301: Phone conference with organizers to get latest info
2315: Continue blog...


Sailing picture...

Apparently, you cannot upload from Picasa to Blogger after switching from Blogger to Blogger Beta (which by the way is a pretty good improvement over the non-beta version). Read about unhappy users here. The biggest downside besides the inconvenience is that I make adjustments to my pictures in Picasa and I cannot post them. Instead, I have to use upload in Blogger which doesn't have the edited picture. So frustrating.

Anyway, here's one of my first pictures from my new GF. You can see the rest of the pictures here (not edited, some are quite horrendous, but I didn't want to leave things out for the people on the trip). Judging from my sailing pictures and selected pictures from Japan, I really need to take some lessons to learn the tech side of photography. My days as an amateur photographer (definition: never received formal training) may soon be over once I have time to take some lessons.


We are the Champions, we are the champions...

Sitting in the student lounge on Thursday afternoon, I felt there was something odd going on. It's about 4pm and usually people come in and see if there's an empty table and then leave the lounge if none is available. Today was a bit different. They came and they stayed. Some were standing even. What the hell is going on...!?

Then the big screen started to come down (last time it came down it was for European Cup Championship... that's real futbol, for my American friends; prior to that it was Karaoke with Dean Kole, who complained that the song didn't sound the same as the one she knows from 30 years ago.) and it hit me: it's the announcement of business school rankings from Business Week! It was going to start at 4:30 for the live announcement.

Well... first of all, I don't really care; second of all, I needed to be at Gleacher to sell tickets for the conference; so I left... as some eager studentfrantically scrambled to get my table.

Fast forward to 2 hours later... I finally heard the buzz: WE ARENUMERO UNO. hmmmm... interesting. Suddenly, I do care about the rankings. =)

Nah, I don't. But it does raise my curiosity on how they ranked schools. Anyway, like any typical GSB person, once you're curious, there's no going back. Basically, it's 45% student/graduate satisfaction, 45% recruiter satisfaction, and 10% intellectual capital (measured by number of publications). But this isn't what I found interesting...

Based on responses, they further place grades on teamwork, communication, analytics (hmmm... this looks like how a certain consulting firm does their reviews...), teaching quality, and career services. Grades range from A+ to C. And what do you know... there is grade inflation inBW rankings! Top 20% is A+, next 25% is A: that's right, if you are above average, you are an A. Even more astonishing is that a a brief glance, none of the top schools scored A+ across the board. Curious, I scrolled down to find aschool who was A+ in everything. Only one winner:Fuqua at #9.

So... do you trust these rankings!? Of course... especially when you are #1. Oh yeah.


When does the snow come?

This season? October 12th. OCTOBER. This is madness. Not even Boston snowed this early.

Someone commented that I shouldn't be busy at all since I'm not doing much recruiting. You are half right and you missed a crucial component. I'm not doing much recruiting. But I am extremely busy with the Asia Pacific Conference. In fact, I might as well quit my day and night job as a GSB student and declare myself a full time conference planner. I can join the part time program and be discriminated against. Anyway, things I have done/need to do for the conference: marketing, sponsorship, logistics, ticket sales, volunteers, speakers, panelists, moderators, hotels, limos, etc etc etc. There you go: I am a very busy man. More than last Fall, in my opinion. I can't wait till the conference is over: I'd be a free man afterwards... just in time for full time recruiting. Arg. In the meantime, allow me to do some shameless self promoting:

The crucial component that many people miss is that other colleagues are doing consulting recruitings. Suddenly, my 10-week experience at a management consulting firm becomes bible to all consultant-wannabes. Everybody is asking for a case interview. I do my best to help, which takes up quite a lot of time!

So that's what I am busy with: conference and case interviews (for someone). Not exactly how I envisioned second year when I was a first year.


This man needs ACT and LEAD

G.W. Bush. North Korea had an underground nuclear test, so GW has a live news conference to explain what needs to be done. I just listened to him use "my point is" to start two consecutive sentences. Mr. President, you are speaking, so it is clearly your point. If you have to state your point a second time, maybe you should have done it in your first sentence.

Oh so painful to watch the most powerful man on Earth struggle with his presentation. I mean I can understand how a debate or a Q&A session (truly disastrous to watch him struggle to answer simple questions from reporters) could be difficult for GW. But you have had plenty of time to prepare for your own statement!

On another note, I'm trying to upload some of my pictures from sailing but my computer/Blogger beta/Internet wouldn't let me do it.

"I thank the [world] leaders, this is why I call them on the phone!" he says in answering a question on what he would tell the world regarding a nuclear North Korea.

Thank you, GW, thank you.



Per the request of my friend from Boston, a little more "sunshine" in this blog today. Literally. By the way, if I got a dollar for every time he and his gf kissed in front of me, I'd be a hundredaire; oh yeah, you knew you were going to make this blog one way or the other... back to the blog.

I went sailing today with the Sail Club of the GSB. Awesome day for sailing. I was compelled by my experience to bring a fleece as well as a wind breaker to boat. I only needed one of them. The sun was great despite the unfavorable weather reports. Nice wind too... wasn't too gusty, but enough to keep the boat moving at a crisp pace. Tom, our captain, did a great job in making sure everybody had a great time on board.

I busted out my new GF and she did not disappoint. I need to review her performance tonight (uh... I mean mine... I can't blame her). The only thing was that the time we were sailing, the sun was right over downtown Chicago, thus making picture taking of downtown very difficult. Instead, I concentrated back on the boat and took pictures of people.


You're either with us or against us

This is a picture from Death Valley sand and I am currently using it on MSN messeger. Not sure why I chose this picture for the post... maybe it'll be obvious to me after I finish writing. haha. I like it, that's why.

Just read a friend's rant about how she was mis-perceieved as a pro-xyz person just because she was present at a xyz-dominated event. The automatic assumption of one person's belief and principle based on a few things is nothing new. Everybody does it. To be an objective person in this day in age is rare. We are influenced by so many things around us: the Al-QaeBush effect, fanaticsm, subjective reporting, sensational interviews, reporters that cater to the audience, advertising, personalized advertising (read: Google).

Anyway, back to my point. There is such a bias in the way we think regardless of how hard we try to be objective. Some don't even try at all, as my friend experienced. I can be with you (against terrorism) and against you (method of fixing terrorism) at the same time. And on issues I know little about, I can't be objective because I haven't done my research. For example, I think bankers are all a-holes. Just kidding. But they don't have time to read my blog, much less care about it, so I think I'm in the clear. Another assumption.

I felt bad for my friend, because it was her principle that got violated by simple assumptions. But consider the consequences. In order to avoid the mis-perception, one solution would be to avoid the xyz-group all together: xyz-group realizes that she isn't one of us; both parties go on their way; more misunderstanding between the two. Another would be to clarify her beliefs, which may lead to the same conclusions anyway.

Here's an interesting piece from Freakenomics on the bias that many carry.

Gear change. Since my weekends start on Wednesdays, I went playing poker on W and Th night. Nothing coming on W, and I went all in with dwindlign chips and my opponent hit a straight on the river. Th night was okay. I finished second place and got my money back. The chip leader had a commanding lead on me and there wasn't much I could do. Either way, Freaknenomic's Steve Levitt has a fascinating story to tell on his poker tourney.


The Dark Side

Just read this amazing story on CNN. Many of you may not know that I was born premature by 2 months. I have, after all, grown quite a bit... and then some, damn it. I can probably fit my premature self into my current self, if that makes sense. Anyway, that makes me quite a survivor. Somehow, coming in at a mere two pounds, I fought my way (thank you, no name doctors) to be alive.

Alan would have been 25 today; he was born at a healthy eight to nine pounds on October 3rd 1981. Whereas I fought to survive at birth, he probably was kicking and screaming already. The past years were, at times, filled with questions. What I could have done, what happened, WHY. I will never have an answer. Lately, I blame The Dark Side.

You and I have all experienced The Dark Side. Anger causing us to "lose it," although most of the time we can control that Dark Side: it's intense, but not overwhelming. Common sense, for the most part, prevails and we continue on our merry little lives. But for the few times that The Dark Side takes over, you never quite know what will happen.

I was at that juncture a few days ago. So angry and furious that I did things I wouldn't have done otherwise. I deliberately (yet uncontrollably) hurt someone; blinded by frustration, whatever came to my mind went to my fingers. It was as if I forgot about decency and all the good times that I had spent with this person.

After the fact, I felt much better. Much more relieved. I know I didn't do the right thing; but whatever I did, it worked for me. Deep down, I think it might have worked for Alan too.

Happy birthday, Alan.


Weekend after first class

Naturally, I couldn't get myself to do any real work during the weekend. With apologies to my colleagues, I do have my weekends starting on Wednesday afternoon. Nonetheless, there was plenty of fake work to do.

Saturday night was Maroons' victory party. About 20 showed up at various times (i.e. 40% of our cohort, which is pretty good!) and we didn't order enough drinks to cover the minimum charge for reserving space. So we ordered champaigne. Good times.

After the victory parade, I headed over to Regents for a poker game. Better lucky than good: so true, so true. My all in attempt with pocket Qs was, predicatbly, called by A-K unsuited. My lost when a spade came on the river and my opponent made a flush. Sigh. I need to start playing in those higher stakes Wednesday night games. I can swallow $20 easy... but $60...?

Sunday morning, after 5 hours of sleep, I woke up to go play tennis in Hyde Park. Perhaps I will play more this year. Just need the right tennis partner. We played mixed doubles, and there was an interesting game which went to duece #12. I was serving. I swear my arm was falling off at the end from serving so much.

So in the afternoon, I finally started doing some real work... and promptly fell asleep reading articles. It's uncanny. I woke up and finished my reading and went back home... where they were showing the Patriots Bengal game. You can guess what happened in the next 5 hours. haha.

Goominating the World

I can't believe I never got myself to using the Google reader. What a wonderful piece of technology. On Google Desktop, I have a tool bar that loads all the web clips so I be up to date with different blogs. The only problem is that the fonts are a bit small and I have to scroll up and down to click into new entries. Fear not, the Google reader basically acts as an inbox in your email. Hmmm... an idea for Google, why not just load it in Gmail? Anyway, Google reader will load all the entries on a blog and mark them as read or unread (You see, like emails) and sort them by either date or by author. Awesome tool to help me keep up with some 30 blogs that I frequent.

Speaking of blogs, Blogspot now offers the option to tag our entires. So far, I've made tags for review, movie, book, and food. What else should I add?

(Consider this the HKG jinx. I just had some good things to say about blogspot and it immediately decided that it cannot post my blog; luckily, copy and paste is always available and I am posting 2 hours after I originally wrote the above.)



Always liked Ed Norton the actor. Like many movies that he is in, the story is okay and the actors are great. Wouldn't really recommend it though. I keep thinking to myself: you have the woman already, why do you have to rub it in!? It's obvious that the Illusionist doesn't care about his country and what not; why did he have to go through so much to eliminate the prince? Anyway, Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti did a good job in the movie. Wouldn't expect anything else.

A week of school has gone by, and you can definitely differentiate the enthusiastic first years from the lack luster second years. We need a few more weeks to soak it in and return to student mode. Those who have offers are in vacation mode right now; don't force us otherwise.