3 Unexpected Benefits of the Fisher MBA

There are benefits to “getting an MBA” which are common knowledge, and it’s likely that you are familiar with most of them. These benefits are a little different for everyone, but usually they include being able to switch careers, build a network base, find a good internship/job, and/or build a broad knowledge base in how to run a business.

Fisher provides every single one of those benefits to any student who is willing to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities that are here. However, after one semester, there have been three unexpected benefits of the Fisher MBA program that have helped me a great deal, both in and outside of school. These three advantages to getting a Fisher MBA are much more difficult to tangibly identify, but they are nevertheless very real:

  1. You learn how to better manage your time. Pre-MBA, I honestly thought I was pretty good at time management, but in reality, I had a lot to learn. When you add together the standard MBA work (classes, homework, group projects, exams), an internship where I work part-time during the week, networking interviews/events, study time for professional tests outside of school, and time with my wife, life gets full fast. Perhaps the most valuable skill I have been learning here at Fisher is time management and how to “keep the main thing the main thing.”
  2. You get a lot of practice making decisions. Before Fisher, I had never done a case study before, but that is no longer the case, let me tell you. Whenever I study a case now, I purposefully try to think through what exactly I would do in the situation present in the case and why I would do that, even if the case doesn’t necessarily ask. One of the best parts about cases is that they give you regular practice at making difficult decisions, and I have truly felt my ability to make decisions improve. This has bled over directly into my life outside of school and it’s really nice!
  3. You are better able to converse with a wide variety of people. Over the past few months I have had the privilege to meet and talk to a lot of quite different people. Because of the Fisher MBA classes, class readings, guest speakers, diverse classmates, etc., my knowledge base has broadened, which has really helped me have much deeper conversations with people than I would have had without the Fisher MBA experience. I definitely saw this over Christmas break.

I am by no means at the level where I should be in any of these areas, but after one semester of the Fisher MBA I can definitely see improvement in more than just academics. The Fisher MBA program is teaching me life skills that I will utilize for the rest of my life.

Looking forward to semester 2 of 4!

Great Individuals Inspire Greatness

About a year ago I read this quote from Mark Twain (emphasis mine):

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

During this first semester at Fisher, we MBA students have had the opportunity to interact with so many people, including faculty, classmates, and guest speakers. One four-day stretch about a month ago (October 23-26), though, we had the incredible opportunity to hear Jeffrey Immelt- CEO of GE, Warren Buffett- CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and Les Wexner- CEO of the Limited Brands, speak. In addition to hearing them, I got to see Mr. Wexner and Mr. Immelt field questions from my MBA classmate peers about 20 feet away from me in a Gerlach classroom.

I was impressed by all three of these individuals (and have been a big Warren Buffett fan for quite some time), but perhaps the most impactful speech came from Mr. Wexner.

While Mr. Wexner was speaking, the above quote from Mark Twain kept coming back into my mind. His talk was perhaps the single most encouraging speech I have heard since being at Fisher. Some people maybe would have just seen a classroom of dressed-up MBA students, but he saw a classroom brimming with potential greatness. He himself came from an extremely humble background, but combined a passion for excellence, an impeccable work ethic, and an insatiable curiosity, and has (obviously) had significant success.

One of my primary takeaways from that session was this: don’t allow culture, society, friends, or family to belittle your ambitions! Be kind, respectful, and friendly to everyone that you meet, no matter their status, be it high or low. However, strive to have your closest friendships and professional associations be with the kind of people who truly believe impossible things are possible. I can say that I have been blessed in that regard. I have an extremely encouraging wife, a supportive family, great friends, and the opportunity to be here at Fisher to learn from numerous people (classmates, faculty, and guest speakers) who believe the sky is the limit.

Do you have a dream that your classmates, the world, or someone else thinks is impossible? Go for it with everything you’ve got! That’s what Mr. Wexner, Mr. Buffet, Mr. Immelt and scores of other successful people would say… adamantly refuse to be disheartened by those who don’t think it’s possible!

The Importance of Focus

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were both asked one time about what was most important to their success in life. They both said the same word- “Focus.”

It’s not just businesspeople who think that, though. Many of the world’s greatest athletes, statesmen, thinkers, and scientists all exhibit the critical trait of focus in pursuing their dreams and ambitions.

Here in the MBA program at Fisher, there are SO many opportunities and things to do, including:

  • Classes with top professors
  • Community Service
  • Studying/Homework
  • Sporting Events
  • Going to company info sessions
  • Networking
  • Campus Organizations
  • Core Team Meetings
  • Career Fairs

Throw into the mix some time to sleep, eat, travel to/from school, write emails, pursue your career, encourage others, and hang out with a significant other/friends, and your time soon becomes full to overflowing!

With that in mind, probably the biggest lesson I have learned thus far while here at Fisher is the importance of utilizing my limited time (only 168 hours a week!) to focus on my long-term goals. That means I say “no” or “not right now” to many amazing opportunities in order to pour my energy into the areas I consider critical for long-term success.

In my opinion, focus at Fisher means:

  • Know why you are getting involved in an activity; don’t just do it because everyone else is
  • Spend time conducting several informational interviews with people in your field of career interest; that is the best way I have found to learn
  • Go above and beyond in the classes that are critical to success in your career field
  • Be wary of overcommitting; better to be excellent in a few areas than to spread yourself too thin and burn yourself out
  • Figure out the field you want to go into as soon as you can; that helps everything

I have by no means figured this “MBA life” out, but staying focused on the long-term has helped me find a balance during this intense time. I am able to pursue my career and learn in class, getting more rest (albeit not as much as most people not in an MBA program) than many of my classmates, as well as getting to still spend quality time with my wife. (At places like Piada… oh so good…)