Sunday, November 16, 2008

What is a Cohort? It Must be a MBA Term...

Fran, I and the girls traveled to Tucson this weekend to witness the commencement ceremony for the Executive MBA 2008 graduates at The Univeristy of Arizona's Eller College of Management. Our friends Holly Capps and Kristi Staab were both graduating. It was a great honor for us to be there with their family's to celebrate this great accomplishment and watch them walk across the stage in their caps and gowns to receive their hard earned diplomas.

As you know, I like to include speeches on my blog that I think are particularly meaningful, insightful and enlightening.

Holly was chosen by her Tucson cohorts to deliver the student address. Holly hit it out of the park.... A Grand Slam! Her address gave us insight in to what it is like to be a successful and busy executive and study diligently for fourteen consecutive months to reach the milestone of obtaining an Executive MBA. Her comment's were entertaining, informative, addressed camaraderie and most importantly came from the heart.

This is what Holly had to say....

When people hear we are graduating, there is one typical response: “Already? Man, that went by so fast!”

Perhaps for those around us, the past 14 months did go by quickly. However, a lot can (and did) happen in those 14 months.

Here’s a sample of what happened to the Tucson cohort:

3 of us got engaged
2 of us got married
3 babies were born
2 of us lost loved ones
7 of us took new jobs
4 of us moved
1 of us had major surgery
1 of us became an American citizen
2 of us got glasses
6 of us got stronger glasses
14 of us leave with more gray hair than we started with
9 of us leave with less hair
6 of us developed a nervous twitch or stutter
1 of us developed stress-induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome

And it’s not just our brains that got bigger in the program: collectively, we gained 169.38725 pounds.

When our class thinks about the best memories from our time together, many of us think about our International Trip – there can’t be a better way to see Bangkok and Shanghai then hanging out on buses and planes with 60 of our closest friends. As you’ve probably guessed, we shared many laughs together – some at entertaining professors, some caused by late nights and stress, and most of it at our own expense. We laughed when we figured out the professors and staff were all included on our class email list. We laughed when group presentations went…well…less than perfect – we labeled those times “learning opportunities for the rest of the class.” We laughed about professors, our mistakes and our gaffes. We laughed in McClelland Hall, at the Marriot, at Gentle Bens and at the Dubliner. Bottom line: we laughed. And we laughed together.

Top 14 things we learned during the Eller Executive MBA program, at no additional charge:
14. It is totally possible to pull a fast one using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

13. We can become intolerant and crabby when we’re deprived of sleep over a period of say…oh, I don’t know…14 months.

12. Time in the restroom can be vital to reading your homework. Don’t be ashamed to take it with you.

11. Your colleagues are the best resources you can get. Some of them have great ideas and others serve as shining beacons of what NOT to do.

10. No matter how much you try, you may not get everything done to your complete satisfaction. You have to learn to accept the best you can do in the time you have to spend, and move on.

9. Multi-tasking: We can eat, study, eat, participate in class, eat lunch, go for a walk to the 7-11, eat while listening to lectures, break for a snack, listen to more lectures and head out for dinner. What an expansive skill set!

8. It is totally possible to be stressed out and enlightened at the same time.

7. Chickens prefer contacts over spectacles.

6. Averages are useless: With one hand in boiling water and the other hand in ice water, on average, I am comfortable.

5. Pirate jokes…lots and lots of pirate jokes.

4. It is far more painful to have a hangover during MBA classes than it was in undergrad classes.

3. You don’t have to pay taxes on things you launch into space.

2. We can do more and push ourselves farther than we ever thought possible.

1. Most everything in business is a guess.

As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve picked up a few new vocabulary words along the way. You’ll be hearing them often…we’ve paid a lot to get them and they make us feel smarter. Here is a small sample of our favorite new words and phrases:

• Arbitrage
• Pedagogical
• Value proposition
• Iteration
• Launch the biscuit
• Photovoltaic
• Pro forma
• Greenfield & brownfield
• Ideating, which is followed by winnowing
• Open the kimono
• Fungible
• Sunk cost
• Pivot Table
• Extracting consumer surplus

And my favorite new vocabulary word:

• Cohort – they started calling us that on the first day of the program
  • Definition: a group of subjects with a common defining characteristic
  • But over the last 14 months, we learned what it really means: “those who will stick by you through good times and bad” or in short “family”

Job well done!

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