I'm pissed...

Perhaps this is weird, but I feel pissed at myself for being pissed at someone who isn't worth being pissed at. My colleagues in my study group laughed about it and I came up with a perfect analogy: you can't be pissed at your younger brother if he's 10 years younger and just trying to annoy you.

But the fact is, I am affected. (James, if you are reading this, I'm not talking about you... um... not even the analogy. I'm talking about younger boys in general, not you.) Anyway, this aforementioned person, a business school student with a mindset of a younger adolescence, continues to annoy me. And allowing myself to sink low to be annoyed pisses me off. Also pissing me off is that these silly things have no place at the GSB. But mostly I'm a selfish person, so I am pissed at my own reactions.

Why can't I just let go? Arg.

On the brighter side, I did learn a very important lesson in management, simplified courtesy of IM: if he can betray your trust once, he will betray it again. I guess I was (am?) too nice about it. Fool me twice, shame on me. Hey, look, something I will definitely take to my next job! =)



U of C's spam filter put an email I sent myself (and other people) into spam... man, I hate this email system.


The Alchemist

I've been meaning to write a review on The Alchemist. Good thing I waited (er... was busy with work) because a good friend from HKG gave me her review: it wasn't satisfying. Everybody else loved the book, including yours truly. Anyway, The Alchemist is basically about pursuing dreams. It's that simple. Hence my HKG friend's reaction. She thought it was too simple and was a book for people who were too lazy to read. I tend to agree with her. Because I am too lazy to read... like many of my MBA classmates. (We read the book for class)

Nonetheless, lessons well taken from The Alchemist. Everybody has a dream. Not everybody follows it for various reasons. There are subjective and objective reasosn, and some reasons are hard to overcome. The book makes an attempt to say nothing is impossible (thank you, Adidas) and that we should pursue our dreams no matter what. This is, of course, debatable. Nonetheless, The Alchemist makes me think about the paths that I have taken so far and whether those paths are by design or by luck and, most importantly, whether it's leading me towards my dream.

The one thing that bothered me is that the book thinks that everybody has a dream. It doesn't really tell us how to find or formulate this dream. The very nature of a dream, the book says, indicates that it should come to you naturally (bad English, apologies). Nobody can teach you how to identify your dream, for you are the one who knows yourself the best.

This got me thinking: what is my dream? Is it being a consultant? A partner? Travel photographer and writer? At Chicago GSB, I'm working towards the first and second maybe. Just maybe. But that's hardly my dream! The last may be a dream, but I'm good at neither photography nor writing... maybe because I'm focused on career and knowledge. By working as a consultant, am I diminishing my chances of achieving my dream (assuming that it was true and all)?

Let me end with my mother: she use to teach. Following her dream of running her own business, she quit her stable teaching job at the university and started a supermarket business in Hong Kong. Later, she started a beauty salon business. Then, she started a travel agent, capitalizing her dream of learning about other cultures and art and history. She now runs specialty tour groups for museum goers. Maybe there's more to her path... maybe there isn't... I doubt she knew she wanted to be a travel agent, and I doubt she knew of her dream of learning art and history. But by quiting teaching and being an (serial) entrepreneur, she seem to be one step closer.

So maybe, just maybe, I am one step closer. Meanwhile, at the GSB, something counter-productive to my "dream": I left my camera in the classroom. When I found out later in the afternoon, I had a temporary heart attack and felt like the biggest dumbass for not taking care of my favorite electronic equipment. Arg.


Memorial Services

Responses first: Huckle cat, the class is great. I should have taken it with someone from the GSB though, just so I can bitch about how little time I have to take a measly 50 pictures a week. CL/RK, you made it onto a link, so stop complaining! To my friends who are taking Business Policy, I'm so screwed. I have to read The Best and the Brightest in one night and spit out a three page paper. Oh, and of course I should probably buy the book first.

I went to Anant's memorial service today. I didn't know Anant very well, but it was a time to support his family and also those who did know him well. When his sister spoke... it hit me that today was exactly 3 and a half years since Alan left us for a better place. When I shook her hands while exiting the memorial service, I looked into her eyes and I think we both shared a brief moment of sorrow that only brothers and sisters would understand.


Random thoughts...

One of the biggest beefs I have in Chicago is drivers who can't park and leave about 7/8 a space for others to parallel park. Fortunately, I'm Boston-trained and my car is a VW Golf. For three consecutive days last week, I parked into the same impossible spot with about 2 inches to spare on both side. Unfortunately, the cars that I squeezed in between left. No more "designated spot."

I searched for "Orion's Mind," our Small Business Lab client on Google and came up with this page. Notice that the second entry is Kellogg's looking for students to help OM. Maybe OM has more than one student consulting team! Also notice that the forth entry is my blog. This can't be good for OM's marketing. =)

I had an interesting conversation with a classmate. The lesson is that you never truly know a person until you know his or her story. Maybe those hidden stories don't matter (like in my case, I would like to think, but...) at all, but there is this subtle difference in how you view a person after he or she spilled out the life story. More mutual respect, perhaps.

I added some entries on the right for more flogs from friends. BSLW's is awesome pertaining to his trip to Beijing. CL/RK has been campaigning to get onto the list.

I did finish The Alchemist. Will review later.


Nine... and the bathroom dilemma

Some have complained that they can't get into my homepage; it's because the server is in Hong Kong and it doesn't like traffic from the US. Sorry about that. If it stops loading, just press F5 to reload... the map will eventually appear. I've included the link to Galapagos here.

Anyway, went to dinner at Nine with EL, CL, JL (no, they aren't related) and NF. I remember the last time coming to Nine and being moderately impressed. This time around was a bit better. The Tuna Tartar was excellently done. Very satisfying to put fresh and uncooked seafood in my mouth. Despite my self declared boycott on sushi in Chicago, I think I'll make an exception for Nine if I had the chance. They have a sashimi dish. Anyway, on to the rest of the meal.

The over-hyped Lobster Bisque was adequate... the lobster was fresh, but the soup was a bit too salty at the end. Unfortunately, nobody in our party believed that Boston has better Lobster Bisque. NO, not Legal Seafood - they are only good at Clam Cowdah and nothing else - but a place like Grille 23 or Atlantic Seafood.

I had the 22oz Porterhouse. The tenderloin side was nice and juicy; the sirloin side was disappointing. It really wasn't about how it was cooked. The medium rare was leaning a bit towards the medium, but the center of the steak was perfectly done. The tenderloin side was especially good with the steak melting on the tips of my tongue. What was wrong was the meat grade (whatever that means). There were sprinkles of fat around the sirloin side that made cutting difficult the the meat less tender. I was expecting more from a top notch steakhouse like Nine... though, in all fairness, I am biased for old-school steakhouses.

Dessert, of course, did not disappoint. Old school steakhouses always have the best Creme Brulee and a few signature American desserts such as mudslides and cheesecake. Newer restaurants such as Nine have more creative desserts that are just as good if not better. That's always a plus. We ordered three to share. Chocolate cake and creme brulee were good. And the Pecan Square was really really good. I love anything pecan (the TXGF did not...).

Verdict: for appetizers and entree, get something seafood-y and you should have a great time at Nine!

Oh, and the bathroom... I've had weird bathroom experiences... as you can see from this previous entry and yet another. Anyway, I bet most of you have had similar experiences, so I'm not ashamed to bring this up. Okay, maybe I am... but since I'd like to entertain you, I will share it. I know, now you are all scared to read on. Don't worry.

Have you ever been in a bathroom and you hear a dude (or gal, though I highly doubt it) really struggling on the can? Well, this time was a bit different. I wasn't really sure whether he was just grunting in his struggles or grunting with a girlfriend on the can. So here's my question... suppose it's the former, do you ask if he's okay (remember the first Austin Powers!?) in the stall? I feel very conflicted about this. Not. I really don't understand why people have to make noises behind the door. Seriously, just suck it up and finish your business. This should be a Man Law - no noise making while on the can, in the stall, or anywhere in the bathroom vicinity. (If it's your home and you have no guests, I'm a firm believer in 'you are the master of your place' rule.)

It's been an emotional night, as you can see.



Maybe it's the lack of sleep...

Today I spent most of the time sleep walking through study groups, mock interviews, cultural LPF, and a poker game. None of them really worked out for me.

Or maybe it's something else...

Meanwhile, I'm reading The Alchemist. Ah, the omens.


Evolution and Business Strategy

I don't think I reviewed the Business Policy class with Harry Davis, a.k.a. he who invented LEAD.

Anyway, today's class was excellent (TC will tell you otherwise, as he slept spectacularly). Why? Because the professor mentioned evolution and a lot of animal planet stuff. Did the survival of a certain species over another species mean that the species employed better strategy in life? Or is it environmental changes that triggered the extinction (or growth) of the species? Even the most adaptive animal would become extinct if their food source runs out due to terrestrial rain or drought.

(Yes, meanwhile, I'm watching a program on sea otters)

This should be a very interesting class with an alternative examination of strategy. Today, for example, we tried to derive strategy from an image that we gave a struggling company. The free association from an image made the exercise much more enjoyable and also uncovered some hidden points that we didn't get from the case. Then in a excellent twist, the point of the case was that the professor was on the board of directors. The class then turned its attention to how board of directors should govern the company (with benefit of hindsight).

Fascinating class.

And I've decided to audit the lab class with Orion's Mind. So three classes (Business Policy, Private Equity, and Channels) + one audit. Should be a good quarter.


Footsteps in life

This is a picture manufactured by myself at the Galapagos. We all leave footsteps in life that gets washed away by the tide. Sometimes they stay on for a bit, but the tide will catch up.

On Sunday, I received some unfortunate news from the GSB. One of our classmates has passed away. I have spoken with Anant a few times during my first year... the usual types of conversations that covers either our professional past and future or our classes for the quarter. I have seen him around campus every now and then and we exchange a hand wave or a "what's up" before moving on with our own business.

I remember Anant being a sincere and serious guy. He listened intently when I spoke and expected the same from me when he spoke. Good guy to have on your side or across the negotiation table. Those are his footsteps in me.


Double Dip

It's been a while since I last watched two movies back to back at a theater. Woohoo!

The Curse of the Golden Flower: Put it this way, Zhang Yimou's best movies were made at least 7 years ago. Great cinematography, great film-making, decent soundtrack, decent acting, piss poor story and theme. In fact, I have trouble understanding what the point of the movie is. (Spoiler alert... although maybe I can spoil it for you so you won't have to see it yourself... back to the spoiler) I gave some thought about this. Seriously. Maybe it's about you should be near your family and take care of them. Maybe it's about not re-marrying. Maybe it's about paying attention to every family member. Maybe it's about not having your husband work for your ex-husband. Maybe it's about not killing your brother. Maybe it's about not sleeping with your step-mom. Maybe it's about not listening to some crazy chick. Maybe it's about just killing the crazy chick rather than poisoning her (You're the emperor, man, just kill her!). Actually, I think this is the point: listen to your step-mom whom you are sleeping with and don't sleep with your half-sister. That must be it.

Here's to hoping that Zhang Yimou goes back to small money productions that actually impact lives of people. Yeah, like that's going to happen... sigh.

Casino Royale: rarely can I say that a 007 movie is believable. But hey, I just watched a movie where an emperor in the Tang dynasty had only three heirs. This is the TANG DYNASTY. Each emperor should have at least 20 offspring. Anyway, 007 was more "believable." I don't understand how people like this 007 more. It's okay at best. The dialogue is better, but the action is less. My biggest beef, however, is how 007 gets all cheesy and, ultimately, deceived again and again. This 007 is not a cool dude though, being deceived again and again. Oh, actually, I have an even bigger beef: where the hell is Q!? How can you have a 007 movie without Q??????

Oh, so the bad guy in the movie takes money from even badder guys. His mission in the movie is to make "risk-free" investment that has high returns. (He obviously needs an MBA... or some common sense) So he short sells a plane manufacturer stock, which will fall sharply after he bombs its prototype airplane. Hardly risk-free, I'd say. Anyway, how is this "bad guy" differnet from Martha Stewart? And why are we sending 007 to deal with Martha Stewart?


Management Lessons

Well... I finished season 2 of 24 last night. In contrast to the 2 days or so that I took to finish season 1, it took me 3 weeks to finish season 2. Part of it was because school started and my priorities switched. But more importantly is that season 2 was a HUGE disappointment after watching season 1. Didn't feel the urgency of finishing an episode and then watch another right away.

Nonetheless, there are many management issues that I learned from season 2.
1. No matter how much you like David Palmer or think that he is right, as a leader, he has failed in making his followers believers of him. These are your closest allies and they are against you. Don't you ever wonder why!?
2. More on the "President"... calling off an attack on a hunch is hardly the right thing to do. At least have all your pieces in place to make a quick strike!
3. The joint chief of staff can oust their leader by a simple majority!? Come on now, leaders don't just come and go by popular vote!
4. Nobody seems to appreciate the gravity of an impending war. I blame the leader for not making himself clear.
5. Obviously the management of CTU is a complete mess. Insubordination is cause by bad management, that's my theory. Okay, so Amarosa wants your job, get rid of her and don't place her in a situation that can hurt you!
6. Like I said before, don't date within the office... and don't date your boss!
7. CTU again, let your subordinates do their job. All you need to know is the big picture. Micromanagement is bad management.
8. If your ex-boss is back in the office, make sure he or she is on a short leash.
9. Should you go rogue when you don't agree with your bosses? OF COURSE NOT! Your job is to convince that your boss is wrong, not to undermine him or her!
10. Don't make a public appearance after you've been up for 24 hours straight. Poor David.


Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there

Not such a good neighbor when your home gets destroyed, apparently.

I think I added another class... Business Policy. The ratings have been pretty good, the second lecture (I missed the first cus I wasn't sure what classes I wanted to take) was quite boring. Let's hope the third one and onwards will be better.

I'm debating on whether to keep taking a lab class in Small Business. Since the class is full, I can only audit it. I'm wondering if its worth auditing... it's a lab class and large part of the benefit comes from the interaction with the client. But as an auditing student, I should probably defer to my teammates who are taking this class for credit. Hence, although I really like the project and the client, I won't get the full experience from the class.

Meanwhile, I've been busy giving out interviews left and right to first years who want practice. I think I've given out more interview practices this year than being interviewed for real last year.


One week of classes...!

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Oh yes... one week done and here's what I think of all my classes. They are listed in sequence of my attendance, starting last Wednesday.

Managerial Decision Making - the MDM class has had the reputation of being a very fun class. Not this professor. He almost put me to sleep. I am dropping this class, despite having only two classes left. Something will turn out. Or maybe I just need to switch professors.

Private Equity Finance - I was always skeptical about the 1hr20m classes in two days. Not anymore. We have to read 2 cases a week... if both were discussed on the same day, I might have brain cancer by the end of the, um, maybe, 3rd class. And that's being very generous to my limited brain cells. Anyway, glad that we've split it into 2 days. The professor seems very good at disecting the case problems and translating it into frameworks. Very typical GSB, actually. Although it's going to a class that pushes and rocks me (ala Corp Fin 2 - hey, I passed!), I think I will learn a lot in this class. Keeper.

Go to Market - basically a market channel class. I thought this would compliment my work as a management consultant in China. The professor seems very good, cracking jokes and keeping the class engaged. Yet I feel that the topic was dragging her. It is, afterall, market channels. I'll keep it anyway. There better be an international component to it.

Photography - my first photography class, courtesy of Huckle Cat and her post. I've mentioned many times that I feel that I've reached the limit as a photographer (which isn't saying much!)... so this is my first step. Excellent class! I have learned so much in just two classes. There's going to be a lot of work related to this class, but I don't mind it at all. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I will learn more from this class than all my other GSB classes. Noaf knock against the GSB classes, of course, but it's just that I'm much more motivated to learn about photography.

Small Business Entrepreneurship Lab - I'm not in this class yet. It's a very small class with very limited seats. So since I screwed up my bidding this quarter, I might have to just audit this class. It's a lab, so very hands on and very time consuming. I just hope I get credit for it. Our client is Orion's Mind: they basically run after school tutor programs for lower income families. I'm a bit torn between spending a lot of time on this class (not receiving credit) and not taking this class and missing this golden opportunity to learn about the education field. I've bidded for the class. We shall see.

To be determined - I've added in DAS IV (don't ask, non-GSBers, unless you want to see my head explode) the aforementioned Small Business class, Business Policy (strategy class), and MDM with a different professor. I'm hoping two of the three turn out, or else I'm dropping to take a Social Entrepreneurship (not quite a lab...) class and a Managing Organization (organizational behavior) class.

I believe that's it. Five classes total, including the off-campus photography class. Many things I like. Many things that are unknown. Well, it's not exactly the best combination, but I won't complain. I hope DAS works out. Back to school work now.


Galapagos, ready to go, finally!

You can check out all the adventures at my home page. I took a total of 1400 pictures. Some of you might have seen a quick a dirty cut of 60 that I made the night in Quito. I took a closer look (just using Picasa, not even Photoshop) at them and deleted and edited many of them. The initial cut took it down to about 840. On my day to day adventure, I used about 100; for all significant pictures, I used 300 on my picture site. That was a lot of hard work.

I hope you like the pictures. Meanwhile, I'm behind in classes... but that's no surprise. =)
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Learning mode

Going from vacation to school isn't easy. I found myself looking at the clock more than I looked at the professor. Anyway, it'll take some time before I get use to this.

I want to have taken all my classes once before offering the initial assessment of my quarter. Nonetheless, this exchange is a good indication on how my quarter is going to be... (actually, let's hope that's not a good indication)

Professor: So, Eric, why don't you tell me what the 3Cs are?
Me: Uh... Company, Consumers, and I've forgotten the third C...
Professor: And Competitors... xxx, what is STP?

It'll be that kind of quarter, I guess.

Earlier tonight, I took a class in photography. I'm feeling good about it already.

And I'm trying very hard to get my Galapagos site set up, but have failed to FTP upload any files in the last week or so. Here's another picture (save the awww):


24 marathon

Last time I was glued to the TV for a whole day, it was 911.

This time, it's 24. I wonder if it's the numbers. I've seen episodes here and there when they were live. Per my usual principle, I don't like TV series. It hooks you in and leaves you with a cliffhanger every week. I can't get over it. So when 6 discs of season one came knocking on my door, it eliminated my biggest fear: handling the suspense.

Since I came back from Galapagos (website almost ready!), I've done a lot of work on my photos and also travel journal. But mostly, in the last three days, I've watched the entire season one of 24. That's right, all 24 episodes. I counted... about 45 minutes per episode. It was addictive. Evil. And soooo good. It was also predictable, not too suspenseful, and full of holes hat make you scratch your head (and in my case, pulling my hair). If there's one life lesson you have to learn from 24... it is this:
1. don't date people in the office

Oh, and I also had a wonderful brunch with Meghaks at Bonger Room (I think...) and it was deviliously delicious. Plus I learned the difference between flapjacks, pancakes, and hotcakes. I had the hotcake and it was okay. But the chocolate tower that Meghaks insisted that we order and share was to die for. I'm learning about so many more brunch places now. Should make it a habbit. Unfortunately, 24 has limited me to dumplings today - they were no hassle and I can glue myself to the couch as they cooked. Perfect.

So now, my life is back to normal. I was told that there are DVDs of Season Two. I don't think I can handle it though. Now I need to get back to my travel journal and get things organized.