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The 2012 Warren Buffett trip

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”

Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, has said some of the wisest things anyone has, and the quote above is just one of them. A group of Fisher students applied this first-hand when we had the enviable opportunity to hang out with Warren Buffett himself!

We arrived in Omaha and had a great time at the Upstream Brewery in the downtown area. After a good night’s sleep at the Doubletree hotel, we were up and about in our best suits, ready to get started with the day planned for us. First stop was the Nebraska Furniture Mart. This place was HUGE! We had the honor of hearing from VP Bob Batt, who shared with us the history of the firm, its family business roots and its acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway. Here, we met with students from several other business schools from around the US.

Thanking our sponsor Sander A. Flaum, with VP Bob Batt

After an enlightening tour of the furniture mart, we boarded our bus and headed to the Field Club, where we settled into our seats, sipping coke and waiting with bated breath. Right on time, Mr. Buffett walked in with that endearing smile on his face and accepted the excited applause gracefully.

After a brief speech about his passion for meeting young business professionals, he dove straight into a Q&A session with the students. Each school had their turn and students came up with some excellent questions for Mr. Buffett. His profound wisdom and encyclopedic knowledge of value investing, and even life in general, shone through in all his answers. Mr. Buffett wove in some amusing and insightful anecdotes from his life and relationships that left us the better for having had the opportunity to listen to them.

Mr. Buffett emphasized the importance of doing what you love, with the people you love, from the home you love. He truly believes that opportunity exists for those who seek it, and advised us to be proactive in our careers. He was a careful listener, and made sure to fully understand a question before answering it. Of global economy and politics, he gave his honest opinion about his concern for certain policies and behavior, but indicated that he was very positive about the future of both the developing and developed world.

At Piccolo's

After more than 2 hours of this valuable interaction, we left for Piccolo’s, Mr. Buffett’s favorite restaurant! A few lucky students got to travel with Mr. Buffett in his limo, and a few more had the enviable privilege of sitting with him at his table. The rest of us enjoyed some excellent Omaha steak and the highly acclaimed root beer float! After a great lunch, Mr. Buffett humored each and every one of the 150 or so students with photographs both plain jane and goofy! Some of the guys got into arm wrestling matches with him, while a few gals actually got him to go down on one knee and “propose” to them! His humility and patience was disarming and truly inspirational.

With Warren Buffett!

I think we all left for Columbus rejuvenated by the experience and filled with a new found love for life and a motivation to strive for success. I am immensely thankful that I had the opportunity to meet such a marvelous human being.

After lunch at Piccolo's


Rat race

When you begin your MBA program, you are essentially diving into a swift current that will force you ever forward, leaving you little time to admire the view. This metaphor is fairly accurate for the individual who is contemplating their discrete role in the process. But the extrinsic experience of the MBA is one that leaves little time for introspection. It is therefore prudent to prime yourself for an adventurous journey and to embrace the idea that you have set into motion a series of events that you must refrain from judging until you have fulfilled the original commitment to yourself.

In addition to this attitudinal shift, it is crucial that you recognize some of the powerful, almost primal urges that will rear their ugly heads during your trials. One such impulse is that of competitiveness. You will be surrounded by brilliant minds and formidable entities with great will power. The fact that you are among them is self-evidence of your merit. You deserve to be here, and you will find, not with little pride, your various strengths relative to this intimidating horde. If you try hard enough, and work smartly enough, you may very well find yourself to be the one to beat.

And then, quite suddenly, it all falls crashing down.

And if you are not equipped with the requisite resilience to recoup from the loss of enabled self-confidence, you may take more time than is worth the while to return to your journey and continue learning from it.

Remember that you are here, in this sheltered sandbox, to learn, and then to learn some more. Anything else that comes out of this experience is gratuity that you should happily accept but never expect. The rat race of comparing yourself to your colleagues and being either patronizing or begrudging gets very old very quick. It also happens to yield next to nothing, especially relative to the copious amounts of energy necessary to maintain that level of delusional self-interest.

This is an opportunity to enter what many will call a rat race, and whether it is one or not, you must remain well above it to succeed.

Rat race

Rat race


Fridays at Fisher

Some of you prospective MBA students may have noticed that at Fisher, we generally only have classes Monday through Thursday. That leaves Friday for something special almost every week here. I’m going to tell you about a few memorable Fridays I’ve had here this quarter.

Bootcamps:

Career Bootcamps are by far the best way to learn about a new industry you might be interested in, or to network with experts from a job function you aspire towards. I particularly enjoyed the Operations & Logistics Bootcamp, where we met with alumni and professionals from the industry. Greif’s airplane game was the most popular event, with teams of Fisher students racing the clock to be the most efficient paper airplane assembly line. It was loads of fun and amazingly insightful. My advice: attend all the bootcamps – you never know what will pique your interest.

Don't worry - they're nothing like this!

Fisher Community Service Day:

Fisher students are always looking to give back to the  Columbus community – and on this day, a whole bunch of us go out to volunteer at various locations. I spent my day packaging personal supplies for soldiers at an army base, and then inspecting and cleaning foodstuff for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. We had a great time and it felt so good to be contributing to the welfare of the Columbus family.

Mid-Ohio Food Bank

NetJets:

OLMA (Operations & Logistics Management Association) members had the amazing opportunity to visit the NetJets base at CMH airport. We were greeted by a Fisher alumnus who works there and were treated to an exhaustive tour of the operations. The highlight of the day was getting to walk through one of the luxurious private jets that the company has to offer.

NetJets

Jeffersonville Outlet Mall:

On Veterans Day, a group of international students were treated to a day out to Jeffersonville’s outlet mall, where big brands sell their goods at ridiculously low prices. After an exhausting few hours of running around with plastic bags, we all returned with revamped wardrobes and lighter wallets!

Jeffersonville - Tanger Outlets

 

———

These are just a few of the many opportunities you will be provided with during your time at Fisher. This is apart from the hundreds of other events that the Ohio State University has to offer, so it really is up to you to make the utmost of the variety here.

As the philosopher Rebecca Black once said, “Gotta get down on Friday!”

Fun fun fun fun!


When life gives you lemons

It’s barely been a month since I first arrived in Columbus, and I’ve already got one heck of a story to tell.

I had decided before I arrived here that I would buy a car. The convenience of being able to drive out whenever I wanted to, or make a road trip to meet friends in other parts of the Midwest was all too tempting. Thus began the search, and let me break it to you if you didn’t already know – buying a used car is perhaps the hardest thing to do if you are as indecisive as I am.

I went through the usual process – Craigslist, Facebook markets, dealership websites. Eventually I fixed my budget and narrowed in on a few makes I’d like to drive. Ironically, I found the car I wanted – a 2000 Acura TL, at a Buick showroom! (Goes to show, you’re never certain of finding what you’re looking for if you’re picky about where to look for it!)

So I sealed the deal and drove my (almost) new car out of the dealership, excited at my new-found mobility. Fast-forward to the weekend after. A few friends from Fisher Commons and I went out to shop at Walmart. It was a swelteringly hot day, and I idled the car with the AC on full blast. 5 minutes later, there’s steam rising out of the engine, and we lift the lid to find coolant spewing furiously out of the reservoir. My heart sank. Had I made a huge mistake rushing this car purchase, ending up with a lemon?

Fortunately for me, my friends from FC went into problem-solving mode. We turned the engine off, bought a can of coolant from Walmart and went to the nearest Jiffy Lube. The car was too hot for them to help us, so we decided to head back home, wait and see. Topped up the coolant that night, and the next day, the car was running  fine. Convinced this was a one-off issue, I continued driving around. Sadly, that was not the end of my car’s woes.

On the way back from a friend’s place where a bunch of us had participated in a Fantasy Football draft, we stopped to fill up some gas, only to find the car refusing to start! Panic mode kicked in again, and convinced that my car was doomed, I paced about pointlessly. Again, my friends came to the rescue, contacting our classmate whose house we had just been at, who came to the rescue with his own car and a set of jumper cables. A quick jump start and we were back on the road. So now I had a potentially problematic cooling system, AND a weak battery. I was down in the slumps, assuming that I would soon be having these wheels towed to the nearest junkyard.

There were more problems after that, featuring a broken window, a torn seat, a cracked windshield, etc. Finally, I decided to get everything fixed and give the car that I chose a chance at redemption. The dealer I bought it from promised me a good deal for the repairs, and entrusted me with a loaner car while my car was at service. That evening, the loaner car refused to start. I was at my last straw. My friends joked with me saying, “It’s not your car – it’s YOU!” I began to wish I had never bought a car in the first place!

But things finally looked up when I picked up the car from the dealer. With the radiator cap and battery replaced, and a new window fitted in, it has been cruising pretty smooth so far! The “lemon” nickname has stuck for good, but hopefully it gets me through the program and beyond!

When I look back at all those speed bumps along the way, I am almost thankful for them – because in those situations, I saw how helpful and compassionate my fellow classmates are. The camaraderie at OSU is hard to take for granted, especially when it helps you get through the tough times.

So, when life gives you lemons, get a little help from your friends!

 


Zoom out

There’s no point toning it down – an MBA program is one of the most demanding things you will ever do. What makes the process even more challenging is that you will not always have a clearly defined structure for the things you do. Quite often, you will have to create your own plan of action and explore apparently uncharted territory. What will primarily define the quality of your experience is how you choose to perceive this challenge.

MBAs are often result-oriented in their perspectives. While this is a vital skill in being able to set and achieve clearly defined career goals, it can be counter-productive in a learning environment. A common theme in your first classes will be your professors saying the same thing in different ways – that your grades are not as important as the experience you will have here. Chasing an A grade instead of immersing yourself in the process of a team project, or sparing a few hours a week for recreation, is not the way to go, and both your teachers and seniors will attest to it.

Blinders

Take off those blinders!

A good way to deal with this is to reassess your priorities. Why are you really here? More than likely, you had a job you were good at and had opportunities to further your career in more ways than one. The very fact that you had pause to consider an MBA suggests that you were doing well enough to seek growth. When you think along those lines, you find that in the bigger picture, you have primarily come here to learn and to develop. To do this, you must be prepared to deal with failure, and bounce back into the game quickly. This is where your 2 years at Fisher come in – this is a sandbox for you to stumble, fumble and fall. You will push your limits here, test new waters and inevitably find your calling.

The only investment you need to make here is hard work. Stress, trepidation, fear and insecurity are burdens you need not bear, simply because they do nothing to protect you from the very outcomes they dread. Instead stay focused on the experience, conscientiously observing yourself and those around you, and allowing yourself the space and time to burgeon.

Sometimes all you really need to do is to zoom out and take it all in.



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