Envisioning 2020

We are the ones who are defining the future- we are one who are leading us there.”

As you may have read from other posts, this past weekend, the Fisher Net Impact club attended the Net Impact Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During the keynote speech, we were asked to envision what we, as MBA students from around the country will do next- what our vision for a sustainable future is, and we were charged with asking ourselves three very provocative questions.

Envision it is October 2020:

1. What do you want to be doing?
2. What will the world look like?
3. What will you do to help us get there?

The power of the conference in my mind was that it was made up of individuals who closed their eyes ten years ago, asked themselves those same questions, answered those questions bravely, and then found ways to turn their blue sky hopes into reality. Over the course of the next two days, we had the chance to interact with a lot of individuals who were not just dreamers but doers – people who made their vision of the world real by their actions- and who found ways to be sustainable, passionate and profitable, without compromising- who found ways to take care of people and planet while still turning a pretty penny.

On the final day, I attended a session called “Conscious Capitalism” and I took away the following thought- A great business does not just maximize profit- it maximizes “total value” created on a sustained basis and it distributes that value across both shareholders and stakeholders. A great business does not just build wealth, but it enhances the health and wealth of human beings overall.

As I reflected on the students from Fisher who attended the conference, I realized that each of them have big dreams and hopes for the future.  I was inspired by their passions and their ideas, and I know, without a doubt, that a decade from now many of my classmates will turn their blue sky dreams into a new reality.

Come join the fun…..

The Supply and Demand of Kindness

I was reading a Daily Om today that said “we all know that a small kindness can make our journeys lighter and more enjoyable.” Kindness is indeed a powerful virtue, and one you may not think you’ll see at a business school.

Well, let me tell you, you’ll find it at Fisher.

For those of you who read my previous blog, you may remember that I came to B-School after spending the past 8 years in the non-profit world. My focus has been about helping people, not making money- but I also knew and know that a solid B-school education is a key to really making a difference, and that business is one of the greatest tools for making an impact.

Enter: Economics.

Economics is based on this idea of supply, demand and competition. At the foundation of economics is a graph and on the Y Axis of this graph is Price- AKA the dollar sign. In economics, everything leads back to money. And it’s killing me.

My intuition is at odds with economic theory. Actually, it seems that it flat out rejects it. My intuition has been saying to me, “Leanne, I know you would like to learn this nice economic theory, but I’m sorry, I’m not sure I’m going to let you.” I think I am afraid that if I really soak in economics that I will think differently about the world, and about what I truly value. Regardless of the philosophical underpinnings of all of this, the reality is that it’s making my mind struggle with the 90 pages of reading recently assigned. And people, I’m not gonna lie- it’s inducing stress. “What’s wrong?” you might ask me if you see me in the hallway.  Are you sick? Did someone die? Oh no, I respond. It’s just economics.

Now, the good news is that my demand for actually understanding economics is pretty high, while at the same time, the supply of my awesome classmates who are willing to walk through this with me and share their knowledge, and explain the same concept 15 times until it sinks into my brain is high as well. Make no mistake, this is a Fisher Perk, and I venture to bet you won’t get this kind of love at just any business school. It’s part of the reason why I came to the Midwest. And this supply of kindness of a handful of impromptu and smiling tutors is indeed making the journey lighter.

And so it goes….the supply and demand of kindness….for this, I don’t think there is such a thing as an equilibrium price. And I am so grateful for it.

Opportunity Knocking

All the opportunity is there for you. You just need to step into it”
– Dean Poon to the Class of 2012

A New York City girl, born and bred, I leased my first car and drove the nine hours to Columbus, Ohio, driving longer than I ever have in my life.  I heart cruise control.  And I heart my little Honda Civic which I was very happy to discover got me all the way from NY to Pittsburgh on one tank of gas. (Happy to discover not just because it has good gas mileage, but also because, being new to driving, I completely forgot to fill up the tank until my friend in PA said, umm…you know you are on empty, right?)

After working in the non-profit world for seven years, I came to business school not to make money so much as to try to change the world in some small (or big) way, because in my mind, business can be an incredible force for social change, for innovation and for empowerment.

And so, I started the Fisher Advantage Orientation, required attendance for all full time MBA students ready to dip their toes into graduate school waters, hoping to fill up my own personal tank- not on gas, but on the fuel of inspiration.

Luckily, a few nuggets were shared by the myriad of speakers including Dean Poon,  Dean Wruck,  Professor Larry Inks,  Jim Rohr, the CEO of PNC,  and the dynamic Bob Irwin,  CEO of Sterling Commerce, among others, which I imagine I will be referring back to as the school year goes by and which I share with all of you….

To the Class of 2012…

“This is a school where excellence is not a question. We aspire to imminence and we are partners in this adventure to build imminence.

The small decisions that you face every day of your life are the most important. They define who you are.

This – if you choose- can be a “transformational experience.” The key factors to make this happen are your willingness and motivation to engage in the opportunities in front of you.

If you are not uncomfortable, then you need to ask yourself “Am I making good decisions?” You need to learn how to expand your inner capacity by expanding outside of your comfort zone.

There is no other time but now. Now is the time. Don’t squander your potential and don’t underestimate the potential of others.

Work hard. Learn everything you can.

Success if a function of richness and depth in both character and capability.

You are two things here. You are yourself, and you are an example for everyone else.

Where there is tremendous change is where you need to be.

Leadership is translating vision into reality.

Achievement and ambition will get you into a position of leadership, but once you are there, you need to focus on empowering others.

It doesn’t matter what you say- it only matters what they hear.

The questions that you ask define the leader that you are.”

It is Dean Poon’s statement about taking opportunity and Bob Irwin’s about asking questions that I liked the most, and that I have put in my pocket to be pulled out on a daily basis.  So off I (we) go on an adventure,  hopefully full of lots questions and opportunities, and of course, lots of driving and lots of fun.