10 Truths I learnt at my B School

Here are some of the truths I learnt the hard way...some of them nothing specific to B School life; somethings - may be because I acted so naive in some situations!
  1. Networking is not all about Hi and Bye
  2. There is not such thing as free lunch
  3. The world is competitive; you cannot escape from it!
  4. Watch out for opportunities; once missed; they are missed forever!
  5. MBA doesn't make you the senior executive you dreamt of overnight
  6. B School is really hyped sometimes :)
  7. B School is where you have all the licenses for inventing terms and jargons even for common sense :)
  8. A bluffer who can talk well will be lauded and the one with substance will be ignored if you are keeping it to yourself
  9. Carrot and Stick approach works well even in IIMs
  10. There can be utterly mediocre Professors even in the so called best B Schools in the world!

Interesting quotes from classrooms - II

This is a continuation of some of the quotes I wrote down from classrooms. For the first part, see

Interesting quotes from classrooms - I

Consumer Behavior Professor: "One need to know what is inside the box before thinking out of the box!"

Consumer Behavior Professor: Now the new buzzword is moving up the value chain....how can you move up every second? It will get broken ! (not recalling exact words....)

Consumer Behavior Professor: "vision is there, mission is there, but eyesight is missing"

Economics Professor: SOAPS will continue as long as women have tears in their eyes ! 

Consumer Behavior Professor: at least learn it like a science, u will apply it as an art... if u think its an art... u will be applying as a fine art !! 

OB Professor: Even an Aishwarya  Rai cannot make an Abhishek into Amitabh!

OB Professor: Organizations should not be where intellectual Gullivers locked up by bureaucratic Lilliputs! 

OB Professor: In India, we worship potholes; they are there as perpetuity!! 

Consumer Behavior Professor: There is difference between talking in English and talking with concepts!

Strategy Professor (on CP): Hidden talents make no value; so speak out! 

Strategy Professor: It's good to have aspirations; but keep this question always in mind - What will you do if you are given your boss's job overnight? (not exact) 

MANAC Professor: Startegy is such an overused word that, today I heard some one saying 'I just had a strategic lunch!!' 

Operations Professor: (on designing social ideas): They[poor in need of help] may be illiterate; but they are not stupid - keep that in mind

Strategy Professor: (as a reply to a student's comment during a case discussion that the company doesn't have any strategy ever in place)  Well, they had a chief strategy officer and by the way he is a Professor in IIMB and standing in front of you now!!!

Operations Professor: (I guess this will be the most controversial :)) IIMs produce only good managers; not leaders!!

Operations Professor: (on placements) Everyone is behind CTCs; Have any of you thought about the CTI (Cost To Individual on working with the company)

Operations Professor: (during a friendly talk) You have to take care of yourself! No one will be there beyond a level

Mojo by Marshall Goldsmith book summary

 Mojo is a self-help book for leaders and individuals for leading an effective and successful personal and professional life. In this book, Marshall Goldsmith deals in detail with Mojo – a positive engagement, a feeling of happiness that radiates from within and spreads outwards; how to develop it, how to manage it and if one is not presently having it or lost it – how to get it? The author opines that Mojo is not something that comes out naturally; we need to work towards developing it. The opposite of Mojo is Nojo – with no joy, negativity or cynicism. 

In an effort to start creating the Mojo, Marshall advises to analyze our daily activities from two perspectives – how meaningful they are in terms of purpose in life and future; and how happy you feel while doing those activities – are they draining energy or radiating energy? Marshall provides in the book and spend significant amount of reading in a Mojo Scorecard which helps us find how much mojo we presently have. There are two kinds of mojo – personal mojo and professional mojo. As the names indicate, personal mojo is related to the benefits we get to ourselves in engaging in the daily activities and professional mojo is the measure of skills and value additions we bring in to each of our activities. Each kind of mojo has various components – Personal Mojo with Happiness, Rewards, Meaning, Learning & Gratitude and Professional Mojo with Motivation, Knowledge, Ability, Confidence & Authenticity. With the help of examples, the author argues that religiously taking the Mojo Scorecard can help us find areas in our daily activities and patterns that either create or aid to create Mojo and Nojo. 

The author also provides immense literature on how to evaluate the scorecard. These guidelines help in optimizing our daily engagements. The author talks about Mojo paradox – our default response in life is to continue what we are doing irrespective of whether they are positive, helpful or miserable. As a continuation to the score card and dealing with this Mojo paradox, he asks us to rate all our daily activities in a scale of 1-10. 

Essentially all our activities revolve around four factors – Identity – it can be a created one or a self-developed one; however we need to dwell on what identity we need; Achievement – we need to build a sense of achievement, recognize what we achieved and what we want to achieve, all internally inclined and not necessarily what outside world perceive; Reputation and finally Acceptance – roughly the concept Stephen Covey advises with ‘Circle of Control and Circle of Influence’. A significant part of the books is spent on each of these building blocks of Mojo. Our identity is based on two factors – interplay between sequences of past and future and how we are perceived by ourselves and others. marshall talks about four identities and appeal to focus on the main one –created identity:

  • Remembered Identity (Identity created based on sequences in the past and self) 
  • Reflected Identity (Identity created based on how others perceive us and sequences in the past)
  • Programmed Identity (Identity created based on how others perceive us and how we feel the future be)
  • Created Identity (An identity consciously created by us for future; not controlled by others or past events) 

When it comes to Achievement – author appeals to us that we should differentiate between what we considers as achievement and what others do. Managing the reputation is what author deals with next. He provides a questionnaire that he advises us to take and if possible ask our peers to take about us. This helps in understanding the gap between how we perceive ourselves and what other feel about us. Later he deals with how to change our reputation positively. Marshall spends a chapter on what Mojo killers can be. Essentially they are over committing, simply waiting for circumstances to change or become favorable, trying to justify at wrong times, hate-the-boss-chats, not leaving behind sunk costs(thinking about time spent or investments made), and losing control when not in a professional set-up. 

A section of the book is spent on Mojo toolkit which is essentially a set of questions or guidelines that we can ask ourselves. In short, they are 

1. Establish criteria that matter to you 
2. Find out ‘where’ you are living 
3. Be the optimist in the room 
4. Take away one important thing and think how it will be your life? 
5. Rebuild one brick at a time (more like slow and steady wins the race) 
6. Living our missions even in smaller moments 
7. Changing the game or playing field 
8. Deciding on when to take the plunge 
9. Having an exit strategy 
10. Adopting a metrics system 
11. Reducing gossips and blame game 
12. Keeping influential people in your network 
13. Branding our activities 
14. Forgiving friends always 

I enjoyed reading the book and going through various exercises it depicts. A book worth reading and keeping in the personal library!

The Penultimate Quarter

Should I be happy that my MBA is coming to and end or should I be sad that the journey will come to an end?

Well, it is a mixed reaction. I could have completed the course this quarter; but I decided to stretch it officially to next quarter too. Sometimes I feel, why this is never ending and sometimes I tend to think will this continue for ever. The latter thought deepens when I see some of my seniors still coming back to meet Profs, attend events or simply because of withdrawal symptoms :) To be honest the second year was not that eventful and enthusiastic as the first year; however I guess the remaining days in IIMB will be more thrilling :)

There have some significant changes and happenings at school - new Chair Person, change in admission pattern, yet another batch coming in and our batch slowly passing on the baton to the junior batch! This quarter I took three subjects - two in HR and the third in Marketing. The interesting part this time around is that there are no text books per se for any of these subjects. I was very happy when I read the course outlines - I just need to read the articles and cases; but my happiness didn't last long. In two of these subjects, we are expected to review, summarize and present learnings from two business books each!

In a way it is fun, I will get a chance to read some of the classics like Mojo, Steve Jobs, Being the Boss, The Rising Tide etc. And it fills the pipeline for the next set of blog posts :)

Some marketing pitch as a PGSEMer :) - There is a open house tomorrow; On the spot registration is available; if you plan to register - here is the link http://www.iimb.ernet.in/node/3250

You can also follow in Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/iimb.pgsem

The main change from this year onwards is that there will not be PGSEM Test anymore and only GMAT & CAT scores are accepted for admissions.

Book Review : Services Marketing by Valarie Zeithaml, Mary Jo Bitner, Dwayne Gremler

Services Marketing by Valarie Zeithaml, Mary Jo Bitner, and Dwayne Gremler was the prescribed textbook for my elective course on Service Marketing and Management.

My firs opinion is the name is a misnomer - it should have been called Service Management. The book talk entirely from the perspective of managing services. After reading the textbook and going to 30 hours of lectures, I can safely say that Managing and Marketing of Services cannot be separated and there is no such thing as 'Marketing' tailor-made for 'Services'.

The text book gives a comprehensive note on the Gaps Model and the book is entirely written based on it as the authors were the original conceptualize-rs of the model.

The examples and case studies provided in the text book are useful and very practical ones. The feature 'Strategy Insight' provides good tips and information on how the discussed can be put into use and also how we can build on the concepts to achieve better results.

The chapter on Customer Relations could have been better. Service Recovery is dealt in depth in the textbook with apt examples. 'People' as a core component in managing and marketing services is a message drawn throughout the book. Also I liked the depth to which authors have discussed on how investments in services can be made 'reflected' in the bottom line.

If you are reading the textbook after a plethora of marketing books; it may appear an academic intensive book. However worth a read and keep in your personal library!

Book Review : Strategic Market Management by David A Aaker

Strategic Market Management by David A Aaker was the prescribed text book for an elective course on Competitive Marketing Strategy. A small book, attractive frameworks and lucidly written is my view about this book.

The framework given in the beginning is the most important takeaway from the book. It is simple to comprehend and also outlines what is in the book. It also is a practical outline for any practicing strategist or marketer.

The book provides some really good examples for the concepts it discusses. The book deals with Customer and Competitor Analysis in depth. Some of the frameworks discussed in competitor analysis like competitive strength grid are worth a read. The chapters I liked the most were the discussions on creating competitive advantages.

However, I felt the book is more talking from the air :) Its discussion is from a 10000 feet height from ground level. Especially the discussion on strategic positioning, global strategies are just repetition and common sense in jargon. i expected some more from Aaker for these topics!

The discussion on diversification and marketing strategies for declining markets are of good quality and worth reading. Again, expect only a high level approach to discussion. I was using seventh edition. The latest edition available is ninth; hence I am not sure what all improvements have been included.

Overall a good textbook for academic purposes. Except the strategic market management overview frame work and couple of other frameworks discussed, I doubt whether it will be of any help in practical marketer's life!

Where the heck Have I been?

It has been almost two months now since I wrote a post in this blog!!!

Last quarter was the most hectic so far in my MBA (Haven't I repeated this sentence at least twice :P ; That's the beauty of MBA especially if it is an executive MBA!) Quarter 7 was an interesting one with 2 live projects, understanding in depth the virtue of having an independent financial regulatory environment and some philosophical studies about life and how we all make decisions!!

Also Quarter 7 was the most important one since I got a 4/4 - topper in one of the electives - Element of Management Consulting! Its a wonderful feeling to be a topper; though grades hardly matters in the real world ;)

Times flies so fast that I am already in the third week of Quarter 8!!! Only two subjects this time - all Marketing. Couple it with a marketing project for a start up as the final MBA project! Live an entire quarter with just marketing ;)

Also have joined a Stanford course on Technology Entrepreneurship; Not sure how it will end up in - A free course; yet the faculty and course material from Stanford and an added important benefit of doing virtual international projects!! Looks interesting? - Learn more @ http://venture-lab.org/

Days have been very hectic for me and continues to be....The blog is not dead :) and I assure you I will be back with full throttle soon.... 

Virtues of being a PGSEMer

What are the best lessons one can get from an MBA? I don't think they are the case discussions or financial modeling you do during your two years at B School. I am not contending that they are of no use. However I believe the real experience is the peer group, hostel life, making friends for life time, the friendly competitions and fights & ego clashes. 

Unfortunately a PGSEMer doesn't have the luxury to enjoy the hostel life. However in my opinion, the PGSEMer gets even more interesting experiences; real life examples - be it the professional success or improvement in the quality of life to professional tragedies and family issues. Fortunately I am one of the youngest in my batch. My project group members are at least 4 years senior to me, one even at the extreme - he started his career in the year I joined school! When I reflect back, many interesting experiences come to my mind.
The most recent being - I am writing this blog post while I am waiting for one of my project members to come back to complete an assignment due this week. He left in between our discussion to try to pacify his 3 months old son who was continuously crying! Can it reach another level??? 

During the past 1.5 years many in my batch got married, got the promotion in personal life, some became a house owner, some got even fired from their job and the experiences continues... These all make me virtuous enough to see what changes I can expect going forward in life :) (for example - a group member suddenly leaves our project discussion because his wife is impatient, another is going through some mental trauma because his father is in ICU, one is is cloud 9 because he became a Program Director, one bought a house in the hope that it will add value in his matrimonial resume :P and the list continues....)

Few of the other interesting experiences, I had in my past 1.5 years are  - the level of ego one can attain once you move up the ladder (see I am already an MBA w.r.to using jargon :P ), how typical managers behave and what their thought process is and so on... One thing I learnt is  - we have to salute the middle managers - they get f***ed up from upper management and his reportees have no respect irrespective of whatever he tries - poor chap! (I am not generalizing here; a common scenario though...). Its also an interesting learning on how to manage to get work done by people who are senior or much senior - a trait all leaders need to have!!. The of course the much cliched terms for learning from MBA - working in groups, thinking out side the box, thinking from broader context and so on...

Finally, the importance of talking in air ;), an art every MBA must learn. I have seen enough examples during the class discussions where a person who has read minimal material assigned, but grasped the crux and who has mastered this art shining over a person who had slogged hours in preparation; but cannot articulate well....This again is a real life experience and two years in B School gives enough opportunities to hone this skill - a must especially in the fields of Marketing, Sales and Consulting!!!

The Art of Decision Making

One thing, I have always struggled with is to take decisions - especially when it comes to two equally good/appropriate choices. So here I am in the elective course of Decision Making!! Before I joined, I dreamt that I can take any decisions without any struggle after studying this course. How naive I am still; even after going through an MBA program for 1.5 years.

That doesn't mean the course have no value add. In fact it is one of the good courses co-taught by one of the best professors in IIMB. The course goes in deep about how we think, what are our biases, the importance of intuition, gut feel and so on. It has its own coverage about mathematical notions of decision making using techniques like decision trees, monetary value calculations and applications of game theory.

The interesting thing about this course is that it is co-taught by colonel from Indian Air Force. And the cases are really special which includes, but not limited to Fire at Mann Gulch, Cuban Missile Crisis, Columbia's Final Mission (Multimedia Case), Kargil war, Strategic Innovation Simulation and so on. Overall enjoying the course so far... 

Few of the resources I came across regarding this subject are

A good website about intuition
Some interactive resources on cognitive psychology

Book Review : The Vault Guide to Schmoozing

A random pick from library during the term break; it was not a bad choice :)

I have found Vault Career Guides always useful and The Vault Guide to Schmoozing was no different! After a series of book reviews related to business and management domain...here is one in 'soft skills' domain :)

What attracted me more to this book was the word - 'schmoozing'. Honestly I had no clue about the word's meaning before reading the contents of the book! When I understood the meaning, the obvious question & I am sure all of you would have a also had -  a book on formal flirting? :P

Well, it is not a subject that can be  mocked away like that, especially in this world! Interesting part for me was that, as and when I read each chapter, I could very corelate to few of my marketing colleagues. This confirmed the fact that this skill is required more often in a business professional domain, especially like marketing, consulting or business development; compared to say, may be a software programmer!

The chapters of the book are well written and classified. The features I liked the most were interviews and profiles given appropriately in each chapter. Though chapters based on schmoozing on the job, school etc. are so redundant or obvious, overall the book is worth reading! It may look funny/obvious, however this is the crux of the book or rather the core guidelines/steps for schmoozing:

1) Smile making an eye contact; you don't loose in smiling!
2) If you don't feel you have the confidence; fake it! by practice, you will become confident.
3) Feeling uncomfortable in schmoozing; practice!
4) Met with a set back in your try? Forget it and move on!
5) Control your prejudice; Be delibrate in schmoozing and move out of your comfort zone!
6) Do your research; Take an interest; Listen & pay attention; Find similarities between you and your target ;)
7) Do favors; Take favors.
8) Schmooze everyone - from a janitor to your peers to your boss! (I have seen many of my colleagues practicing this especially even if they have no direct relation - like say a boss or peers. It has done many favors for them!)