Gratitude Practiced Daily Becomes Habit

With the Thanksgiving holiday recently behind us, I’m trying to make more of a conscious effort to take time each day to reflect on things in my life I’m grateful for. This is something that we did with the clients each night at the residential treatment program I previously worked at, but it’s the first time I’m taking a stab at incorporating it into my own life.

grateful

The reason, you ask? Here’s a logical one: Professor Will Shepherd recently cited a “Ted Talk” in which psychologist Shawn Achor argues that the formula most people use to govern their lives: hard work leads to success which leads to happiness, is inherently backwards. Research suggests that happier brains are more creative and productive than those individuals with negative self-talk. So, we ought to be thinking: how can we be happier and more fulfilled, leading us to achieve a higher level of success and productivity in our lives, leading to a higher level of happiness and fulfillment? And the cycle continues.

At the end of the 12-minute presentation (and I encourage you to watch the whole thing, especially if you’re a psychology nerd like me), Achor offers some suggestions for how this can feasibly be done. For 21 days in a row, consciously acknowledge and write down (that part is important) 3 events, things, or people, you interacted with or participated in that you are grateful for. How does it work? In simplest terms, given that our brains are plastic, we are able to reprogram our thinking by simply practicing thinking in certain different ways. By acknowledging gratitude, your brain actually rewires itself to scan the world for the positive.

So, here are 3 things I am thankful for today:

  • My work unit. I share an office with 4 of the kindest, wittiest, and well-informed individuals. I am constantly impressed by their positive outlook on the world and how they can take any mundane task and make it fun.
  • My job. I am biased, but I think I have one of the most rewarding graduate assistantships around. I get to talk about a program, university, and city I love every single day.
  • My friend, Tony. Tony works with me in the GPO (also a blogger here) and has become one of my closest confidants in the program. He is so open-minded and always challenges me in my thinking when I most need it. He’s always looking out for me and my best interests. Tony rocks.

This exercise is already helping me put things in perspective as classes ramp up around the end of the semester when projects are due and exams are scheduled. I encourage everyone to take time each day to be grateful. Do it for yourself!

Why 24-Hour Access Matters

At the Fisher College of Business, all buildings close at 10 pm and reopen at 7am. This can be problematic for some when they need to get into a building, whether it’s to meet with a group or to access their locker (yep, most Fisher grad students get a locker). One of the cool perks that Fisher MAcc students have is 24-access to our home-base, Gerlach Hall. Every student that goes here for school receives a Buck ID, and this Buck ID can be used to pay for things, to get into the recreational centers on campus– and, for grad students, to get into Gerlach Hall.

Here is my Buck ID (ignore my fake smile)
Here is my Buck ID (ignore my fake smile)

Since the libraries at Ohio State get really busy during midterms and finals, if you need a place to study late at night, you can swipe linto Gerlach Hall. You will be able to find a quiet place to study, or a great room where you can work on a group assignment in Gerlach hall, 24/7. One time, I was studying for a final with a few classmates and we were occupying a classroom in Gerlach hall until about 4am when we finally called it a night. I was surprised, but glad, we were able to stay in the building that late. With how often you work in groups in the MAcc, this is going to be very useful if your group has to meet outside of normal building hours.

There is one of these outside both of the main entrances to Gerlach Hall.
There is one of these outside both of the main entrances to Gerlach Hall.

It is so convenient to know that if you ever have to meet with a group, no matter how early or how late at night, you will be able to meet in Gerlach Hall.

The Final Countdown

The first 7-week session came and went, then Fall Break was a treat. Halloween was a blast and the month of November has went by so fast. Now, with Thanksgiving and a HUGE victory over The University of Michigan in the rear view mirror, we are heading into The Final Countdown. Throughout this blog post, I am going to share a few of my memories from this semester in chronological order by using a series of pictures.

First, this is a picture of my group and me in August– we go by the title of Team 6. Over the past few months, we have spent countless hours together working on projects like an Equity Research Report, Corporate Finance Team Cases, and an Economics Presentation.

Team 6
Team 6

Second, this is a picture of some classmates of mine, enjoying lunch outside while the weather was still warm in early September. However, “Winter is Coming.”

Some of the Fellas
Some of the Fellas

Third, a throwback to the New York City trip a few of us in the SMF program went on towards the end of September. It was awesome seeing the big banks and doing some of the touristy stuff.

Raging Bull
Raging Bull

Next up, the SMF class takes a class picture after delivering our Equity Research Report presentations in early October.

SMF Class of 2016-2017
SMF Class of 2016-2017

Throughout the month of October and early November, I drove back and forth from Columbus and Cleveland to watch the Cleveland Indians play in the playoffs of the World Series. Unfortunately, we lost, but I have some great memories with my family and friends.

World Series Games
World Series Games

Next up was the Fisher Follies (a charitable graduate organization that helps students in need). It was a formal auction event that was a great time with other graduate school programs during the month of November.

SMF Classmates at Fisher Follies
SMF Classmates at Fisher Follies

Finally, here is a picture of my friend and SMF classmate, Hector. He drove up to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family this past Thursday, and it was a nice little break to rejuvenate before finals.

Thanksgiving in Cleveland
Thanksgiving in Cleveland

These are just a few of the great memories that I have made as a Specialized Master in Finance student here at the Fisher College of Business. I am looking to finishing up the semester strong as we head into our final presentations, reports, and exams and looking forward to more memories after the Christmas break!

Fun in the MAcc

One of my favorite things about the MAcc program here at Ohio state is how social and friendly everyone is. While we see our classmates every day in class, it is great to get to know each other outside of class. Our MAcc Council has done a great job coordinating social events for us to go to so we can get to know our classmates better. Some of my favorite MAcc social events have been the Fisher scavenger hunt, the Fisher Graduate Programs Halloween party, and tailgating for the Michigan game.

A few weeks ago, the Fisher graduate programs put on a scavenger hunt to help students learn more about Ohio State and get to know the campus a little better. Items on the scavenger hunt ranged from finding a buckeye on the ground (A “buckeye” is a plant!), to jumping into Mirror Lake. My team was made up of several people I was already close with, but I also had a few people on my team who I was very lucky to get to know during this event and who are friends now. During the scavenger hunt, we visited places that in my four years at Ohio State I had never seen before. While the Fisher College of Business is self-sustaining and you are not required to leave this part of campus, there is much more to explore, and this scavenger hunt gave everyone the opportunity to explore campus more.

Challenge: your team must climb a tree
Challenge: your team must climb a tree

For Halloween, the Fisher Graduate Programs decided to have a Halloween party for all of the graduate students. The VIP space of Big Bar was rented out and we had about 100 graduate students at this event, including many MAcc students, SMF students, MBA students, and MHRM students.  This was a great event that allowed us to mingle with the other programs as well as getting to know our own classmates better. It was also fun to see all of the creative costumes people thought of, such as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume, and several Bananas.

This past weekend, when our football team faced off with the University of Michigan (ew), one of our classmates hosted an early morning tailgate. Since the game started at noon, we began tailgating before 9 am. We had breakfast for everyone to enjoy, and drinks for those getting ready to go to the game. This event allowed some of the students who did not fully understand the rivalry with Michigan to get a feel for how important it is to most students who study here.

Some of my classmates at the Tailgate before
Some of my classmates at the Tailgate before

While classes are important and we are here most importantly for school, it is awesome that our MAcc program has gotten so close in just one semester. I’ve made more friends in this program than I ever thought I would, and the social events that the people within the MAcc are able to put on helps contribute to the closeness of the program.

Grad School – Expectations vs. Reality

Though I consider myself a relatively rational person, there are still times where I let my imagination get the best of me. Before beginning the MAcc program, I had plenty of preconceived notions about what the next year was going to look like. Now that I am about halfway through, I can safely say that things have not played out exactly how I thought they would…

Expectation: I will finally learn how to cook. Healthy, home-cooked meals will become a part of my everyday routine.

Reality: Despite having a plethora of recipes saved on Pinterest, most nights I settle on grilled cheese, pizza, or scrambled eggs for dinner.

Expectation: I will make it to the RPAC to workout at least 5 days a week. Who wouldn’t want to work out at such a nice facility?

Reality: No comment.

Expectation: I will take advantage of living in a new city. Columbus has a ton to offer (restaurants, events, etc.) and I want to explore it all.

img_2045-minReality: I have been to a few new restaurants and a couple different Metro Parks but have not done nearly as much as I planned or hoped I would. Most of my weekends involve lots of sleeping and studying.

Expectation: I will be challenged on a daily basis, learn a lot, and make new friends.

Reality: I have been challenged on a daily basis, learned a lot, and made new friends.

Though I am looking forward to having some time to rest and recharge over the Holiday Break, I am equally excited for all the adventures second semester is sure to bring!

The Game

A brilliant 10-year anniversary of “the game of the century”

Every last Saturday in November, the greatest rivalry in Unites States sports takes place. It’s Ohio State versus Michigan, in the border battle football game. This year, the teams entered the game ranked number two and number three in the country (respectively) with each team fighting for one of the four spots in the college football playoff. The stage was set for an instant classic, and like so many installments before, both teams delivered a hard-fought game of unimaginable toughness and passion. We don’t claim that this was the greatest match, because that disrespects the teams of the past; but, undoubtedly, this game rises up and joins the legendary games in the rivalry.

This game holds a special place in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Toledo sits on the border between Ohio and Michigan. In 1835, both states nearly came to war over each’s claim on Toledo’s strategic port. Thankfully, President Andrew Jackson stepped in to prevent war and also make the Toledo strip undoubtedly part of Ohio; but, the city’s split identity still prevails. Today, many Toledoians attended both schools and work in both states. The city’s strong industrial core draws it closely to Detroit auto manufacturing, while others honor the state boarder and unwavering support all things Ohio.

Both states claimed the territory in red, thus fueled the rivalry

Moving from this divided community to Columbus was a transition (spoiler alert: there are no Michigan supporters in Columbus!). During rivalry week, it was odd to see houses and cars decorated only in Scarlet & Grey. Cheering with my roommates in the sixth row of the south end zone student section, there was one lone Michigan fan directly behind me. He has seen Ohio State dominate the rivalry over the past decade, came to a hostile home crowd, and still represented his school well. He was a good reminder that there are much, much more, important things in life than any football game. We are rivals, but are more alike than different. Ohio State and Michigan love each other more than anyone will admit, and it is great to be a part of it – Go Bucks!

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Video footage of my roommates and I storming the field to celebrate our win! (Mazin is jumping in the bottom left, Drew is above him jumping over the rail, and I am next in the grey hat.) – Memorable last home game! O-H-I-O!

Case Comp – A Rite of Passage

Last weekend, first year Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) students underwent a kind of “rite of passage”: the annual MHRM Internal Case Competition.

pepsico

The competition was sponsored by PepsiCo this year, and real executives from PepsiCo as well as other companies that recruit heavily on campus—Marathon, The Wendy’s Company, Ford, Rolls Royce to name a few—were on the judging panels. At 8 AM Friday, we were briefed on the case (a real problem that PepsiCo HR professionals were currently facing), and after a 20-minute Q&A, we broke off into respective 4-person teams to begin our work. We had until the following morning at 8 AM to conceive a solution and figure out a way to sell it to the judges in 20 minutes. If you ever participated in some sort of “lock-in” at your church or school, then that’s a good starting point for understanding. We spent 15 hours in Gerlach Hall that day—or as I like to call it now—my second home.

My team’s day consisted of some serious brainstorming, followed by changing our minds several times, and finally settling on a simple and practical solution to the problem. Was it too simple? Had we thought through all the details? What if they throw us a curveball? These were the questions rattling in my brain all day. But we were in a time crunch (yes, that’s on purpose), so we had to roll with it.

Fast forward past lunch, dinner, laughing, crying, sleeping (there was not actually any crying) to the next morning. We arrived back at Gerlach Hall the following Saturday morning at 7 AM and received our presentation room and time slot. At that point, we scurried back to our room to hammer out the last few details and practice, over and over…and over…and over………………………and over.

We had a tough room—the judges are trained to interrupt you and throw you off to challenge your ideas and assumptions. Now seems like an appropriate time to introduce the idea of Type II Fun:

“Something that is fun only after you have stopped doing it”

– Type II Fun

At the end of a nerve-wracking and intense Q&A session, we left our room to debrief how we thought it went. What was most difficult for me was not having anyone to compare ourselves to. We were not permitted to collaborate with other teams, nor see their presentations. So, it was difficult to know how competitive our idea was. Situations like this definitely challenge my discomfort with ambiguity.

At the end of deliberations and a delicious lunch provided by the Fisher College of Business, the results were in. I am proud to say that my team won our room, which is especially exciting considering we were strangers just a few days before. It is so satisfying to be able to come together and leverage our strengths as a team so quickly and effectively. And I feel lucky to have made some new friends along the way!

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That’s us! Myself, Irinka, Krista, and Katie.

What is Change?

What is Change?

This is the question Professor Jeff Ford posed to us during our first class. Most of us took a stab at answering and the usual responses surfaced–a process of making something different than it was before, an equation of addition or subtraction, a state of transformation. No single answer seemed to entirely encompass the definition of “change.” And like most philosophical questions, the concept seemed to slip through our fingers like fine sand as we tried to wrap our arms all the way around it. I knew immediately that I was going to love this class.

During the second 7-week session of the first semester, all 1st year MHRM students take Organizational Development & Change with Professor Jeff Ford. The course is structured around a series of short cases that we explore each week. We are given a simple question that we work together to answer. The first week, we defined change. This past week, we talked about how to identify–exactly– what we want to accomplish and how, specifically, we would know if we accomplished it.

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Professor Ford’s teaching style is exactly what I envisioned of a graduate-level class. He challenges us to tease out the essence of what we are saying. In undergrad, I felt it was much easier to get away with saying a bunch of pretty words and hoping my main points and ideas would materialize for my audience. But, when forced to focus on word choice and detail the way Ford urges, I find that stripping away all the excess is the best way to solve any complicated problem. He doesn’t lead you into the answer or finish your sentences; he waits for you to distill your message down to the very essence. I think it is so important to practice thinking like this in a world littered with so much information to sift through.

Another unique feature of Ford’s class is that his wife, Dr. Laurie Ford (an experienced consultant), sits in on class and contributes her insights. This is fantastic–Laurie shares real-life examples of how she has initiated change from diagnosis to implementation in organizations she has worked with. With a concept as cloudy as change, I’ve found it is tremendously helpful to have access to multiple perspectives to help us apply what we are learning to real cases that we analyze from start to finish. I also think Laurie’s involvement is such a palpable example of how Professors at Fisher (and their spouses in this case!) truly invest their heart and soul in their students.

Last week, we studied an example of a utility company struggling to complete installations accurately according to the specs provided by the engineers, leading to delays and complaints. We were asked by Professor(s) Ford to get into small groups and provide recommendations for what we would “change,” how we would change it, and how we would know if we succeeded.

Many of us fell victim to the “action imperative”–doing too much too soon and all at once. We suggested lofty ideas like streamlining the communication systems, instituting various task forces (what are those anyway?), implementing and training and project managers, relationship-building among the installers and the engineers…all of which could have worked, but they very quickly became too abstract and unmanageable. Then we started to think about how we would know if our changes worked. Increase in revenues? More timely installations? And how would we implement the changes? Company-wide training initiatives, team-building, eLearning…at a point it began to feel like we were vomiting every HR-related word or phrase we had ever heard in a desperate attempt to hit the right answer. It turns out, we were overcomplicating things.

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This case study was actually a client that Laurie had worked with. She encouraged us to think about the “lines” that represent the connections between the different players. The issue clearly became the communication that was (or wasn’t) happening between the installers and the engineers. They weren’t speaking the same language, and directives were being lost in translation and leading to mistakes and delays in the work orders. Upon further discussion, we discovered that the work order template hadn’t been updated for over a decade. The simple solution was to update the template. Brilliant.

My takeaway from this class so far is to keep it simple. Change can be an intimidating concept for many organizations that need it, and so it is best to change as little as possible that still allows you to accomplish the goal. Tread lightly, and don’t rock the boat if you don’t have to. I’m sure these will be important lessons to remember after grad school when we will be brand new HR professionals trying to make our mark on the world. It will be a tough balance to strike, but I already feel more prepared to tackle it.

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Electives in the MAcc Pt. 2

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I have interviewed several of my peers within the MAcc program about some of their favorite electives offered in the MAcc. Here are some of their responses:

Erica Yoder:

What is your favorite elective?

My favorite elective so far has been ACCTMIS 7620 Management of Corporate Data. It’s a 7-week session course, and each week you learn about a new data system.

Why did you decide to do this class?

I decided to take this class because I had an interest in risk advisory and technology, and felt that this class would be beneficial in pursuing that as my future career.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual)

The format of the class is an interactive lecture. More often than not, half of the class is going over lecture material and the other half is walking through the data system of the week, following along on a personal computer. There is one assignment every week, to help you grasp the new data system that has been introduced.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

The class was fast-paced, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see a variety of different systems in such a short amount of time. I am taking data mining next, to expand on my knowledge and understanding of data systems and data usage.

Kate Sabin:

What is your favorite elective?

Sports Marketing.

Why did you decide to do this class?

I chose to do the class because I loved my Marketing class during undergrad and I am a huge sports fan.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual)

The class is primarily a lecture format, though we have had several guest speakers. All the speakers completed the Sport Management program at Ohio State and have gone on to work in various sectors of the sports industry. There is also a group project component. We were split into teams of 8-9 students and each team was responsible for doing the promotion for both a men’s and women’s hockey game. This included everything from pre-game marketing strategies to actually executing in-game promotions. I had actually never attended an ice hockey game before! Before the end of the semester, we will also create a social media plan for a sports paraphernalia item, as well as a marketing plan for a Columbus Clippers event that another class will go ahead and put into action during the spring semester.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

This class definitely got me out of my comfort zone. The Fisher College of Business can function a lot like a bubble and it is very easy to spend all of one’s time within the walls of Gerlach Hall. By taking a course outside of the “norm” for MAcc students, I have had the opportunity to interact with students who I might not have met otherwise.

Me interviewing one of my friends, Kate Sabin
Me interviewing one of my friends, Kate Sabin

Samantha Daugherty:

What is your favorite elective?

My favorite elective is my Negotiations class.

Why did you decide to do this class?

A friend who took this class in the MAcc program last year suggested I take this course.  In addition, I wanted to increase my negotiating skills and learn different tactics on how to negotiate certain topics.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual)

The format of this class is a little bit of everything.  On one day, we will break out and negotiate with a partner, each having our own set of information and needing to negotiate in order to receive a favorable outcome.  Once we finish this negotiating day, there will be a more lecture-based discussion debriefing the negotiation and talking about the different tactics and takeaways from the negotiation.  In addition to these individual negotiations, we have an ongoing three-step group negotiation, where we negotiate with a different group in order to receive a favorable group outcome.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

So far, my favorite thing I am learning is how to confront certain situations that would otherwise be uncomfortable.  For example, a salary increase or a lower purchase price.  I have learned how to interact and work with different personalities, which I believe is an important takeaway when I enter the workforce.

Chloe Lam:

What is your favorite elective? 

Managing Product and Process Innovation is my favorite elective. The compelling factor about the MACC program here at OSU is that students are encouraged to take classes that interest them. I knew from the start that I wanted to take more management classes to broaden my general business skills and learn from the MBA students.

Why did you decide to do this class?

The topic of innovation has always intrigued me – I wanted to learn more about how big companies, like Siemens and 3M, have succeeded/failed through innovation.

What is the format of the class? (i.e. lecture, cases, group/individual) 

Primarily lecture and group cases.

Favorite thing you learned/biggest takeaway from the course:

The biggest takeaway from this course is to not be afraid of speaking up to share your ideas/opinions. I tend to shy away from participating in classes, but management classes encourage students to participate and learn from each other. Through participating, I was able to learn so much more.

Sunday Night Lights

The Specialized Master in Finance (SMF) program draws students in from all over the globe. Our class is roughly 70% international, with students coming from many different cultures and backgrounds. Just this year alone, we have students from Thailand, Nigeria, and El Salvador. It certainly allows each and every one of us to better understand the truly international world we live in.

While there are some cultural differences between each and every one of us, there are more similarities among us. For instance, some of the men played on intramural soccer and flag (American) football teams. Some of the women in the class even cheered them on. Also, we have had numerous dinners together where we try different types of food: Chinese, Indian, Mexican, American, etc. In addition, we have had get-togethers on the weekends– and a few of us went to the football game the other weekend.

As you can see, there is plenty that we have done so far. One specific gathering I want to write about today, though, has to do with the past few Sunday nights. Basketball, or 篮球 for my Chinese speakers, is a very international sport, one that a good number of us in the program enjoy playing. This past Sunday night, we all met up at the Adventure Recreation Center on West campus (this has a rock-climbing wall) around 7:00pm. Over the next two hours or so, we played several games of 5-on-5 hoops.

Rock Climbing Wall at the ARC
Rock Climbing Wall at the ARC

Several players really stood out. Havish, an Indian classmate of mine, was arguably one of the best players on the court that night. He was quoted after the game saying “My jump-shot was firing on all cylinders tonight. They could not stop me out there.” Meanwhile, Brian Perry (SMF President-Elect) spoke about the play of Chad Dixon in the post, “He was all over the glass tonight, and once he got going on offense, it was game over.” There has been a lot of chatter in anticipation for the upcoming weekend’s game, so it should a fun time!

Since this went so well, we have planned to make it our new Sunday night activity, where we can come together and enjoy some exercise before the academic week begins again. At the end of the day, it’s great to get out there with the fellas and “ball out” for a few hours. I have had some unforgettable experiences with my classmates so far, whether that be in class, at dinners, or on the court; I am looking forward to the next 6 months that we all have left at Ohio State.