Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another Thing I'm Gonna Miss

Yeah, it looks like it's coming down to me starting to think about all the parts of this MBA program I'm going to miss. Class has been pretty slow lately, so what else do I have to think about?

It's 9:15pm on a Saturday night, and if you're an MBA student like me, that means you're somewhere alone in your house doing homework! Your spouse, friends, and family are either sleeping, watching a cool movie you're never gonna see, or out hanging with people you once saw more than annually or only on Facebook, and here you sit, pouring through some intractable HBR case or tweaking some swanky PowerPoint presentation. I'm doing the latter.

When this is all over, I know I'm going to go back to normal Saturday nights, like any sane person would. That means I won't be doing what I'm doing now, namely drinking coffee way too late in the evening and listening to The Jazz Image on Minnesota Public Radio. The Jazz Image has long been one of my favorite programs on the radio, but in my normal life I'm usually never alone or around to listen to it. Usually I have a life. There have been exceptions in the past, like when I'm traveling or when I'm up way late at night painting a room in the house or something, but for the last 15 months I've been able to catch more episodes of The Jazz Image than ever before because of all the homework.

I'm gonna miss you when this is all over, my lovely little radio program.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thinking Differently

I've already begun thinking about what I'll miss most about being in this program. Going into it last year, I knew one of the things I'd enjoy most was being in a classroom environment and having the opportunity once again to focus strictly on intellectual pursuits. Those who know me know I love being verbose and also that I'm all about the intellectual argument, and my expectation was fully proven out as I eased back into class. Even in the most unbearable of classes, I've still enjoyed being in the classroom environment with stimulating discussions, challenging reading materials and projects, and smart classmates.

Now, in my second year, I'm realizing there's a second benefit that I didn't anticipate, and it's one of the things I'm going to miss most. One of my biggest challenges in my workaday world is fighting to remain strategic in my work. This is why I always enjoy attending conferences and why I even enjoy traveling-- doing so gives me "downtime" away from the challenges of work to reflect and recharge. I find I'm actually always thinking about work, so the ability to do so in an environment of reflection allows me to develop new strategic ideas.

In class, thanks to the wireless network and my laptop, I find I'm able to think about work and craft e-mails that are more strategic than my typical missives. Maybe it's the inspiration I draw from lectures or class discussion, but I find I'm better able to advance my concerns and drive key initiatives by "working" during breaks while in class.

So now I wonder how I'll be able to replicate that same unique combination of inspiration and productivity after this program is over. Sounds like a good new business venture....