Cullman Lunch: Jim Terranova

This week’s guest was at the Cullman lunch series was Jim Terranova, Director of Fund Operations, WS Investments at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati a Silicon Valley law firm.  WSG&R specializes in business, securities, and intellectual property law with a focus in start ups.   Jim essentially runs the firms internal venture fund that it uses to invest in its clients.

Jim is a Fisher Alum and has been very engaged with the Fisher Entrepreneurship Association—he has taken the lead in organizing an annual entrepreneurial tour of Silicon Valley—as well as a member of the Fisher Alumni Society Board.

Jim spoke about the firm’s history of starting with “first circle” companies (i.e. start ups) and growing their offerings as their clients grew to “second” and “third circle” companies.  While he hesitated to provide legal “advice” he did share some of the legal pitfalls he had seen with early stage companies; the most common mistakes centered around failing to clearly define relationships with partners, founders, employees or vendors.

Thanks again to Jim for coming in to share his experience with us.

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Very Busy Week

Monday: So the week started with final preparations for Tuesday’s Statistics exam. Luckily, I spent all weekend studying (with the exception of an Ohio State game that I wished I wouldn’t have watched) and I felt decently prepared.

Tuesday’s exam went well, I made a few mistakes, but overall I was happy with my understanding of the material.

Wednesday I took a trip with other Fisher College of Business grad students to the LimitedBrands campus to visit Les Wexner. If you don’t know who Les Wexner is, you really should do some research. He has basically built an empire from nothing and is the wealthiest man in Ohio. He is also responsible for bringing lingerie mainstream. Turns out Victoria’s Secret was an idea that occurred on the highways of Ohio in the mind of a Fisher grad. He said that women liked to wear lingerie, but they usually just wear underwear. He said that lingerie has a high “emotional” value with women, which is why it is a very popular business. Below is a photo of the area that Les Wexner spoke.


Thursday was the typical work-class all day long. From 8:00 AM- 9:48 PM. I usually have some time in between work and class, but we met for our class project at Fisher at 5:15, which cut out any free time for the day.

Friday was a long day at work with four meetings on top of my daily responsibilities.

Deloitte Tax Competition

This past weekend, I competed in my first ever ‘tax competition’ at the Deloitte office in downtown Columbus.  Along with graduate and undergraduate teams from Dayton and an undergraduate team for OSU, I competed at the office on the OSU graduate team.  As part of the national competition, we were presented with a case and then asked to answer a wide variety of tax questions related to the case and site our sources.

The terrific folks at Deloitte who put the event on hosted a meal at Latitude 41 (great restaurant in downtown Columbus) this past Friday.  It was a great opportunity for all of the competitors to network with current Deloitte employees and learn more about public accounting.

My team of four included Scott Krahn, Dan Packard, and Shalabh Gupta (all current MAcc students).  The four of us were recruited by tax professor Raabe based on the fact that we had all completed two undergraduate tax courses.  Needless to say, I think our main downfall is that all of our tax courses were several years ago and few of us had a great recollection of the material.  We spent some time in the weeks leading up to the event preparing for the competition, but it was very difficult for the four of us to cover everything that could possibly be thrown at us on the day of the competition.  We will receive our results in the coming weeks and I will provide an update on the result.

Opportunity Only Knocks Once – Proverb

Hello again. The principal purpose of the My Fisher Grad Life experiment is to give prospective students a perspective into what it’s like being a graduate student at The Fisher College of Business. I hope that you have been able to cut through my thinly veiled attempt at humor and that  I have provided some insight  into what MBA student life is really like.

First, BOILER UP! Even though I am now a Buckeye I will always be a Boilermaker at heart.  Hopefully this win for Purdue will make tickets to the upcoming Iowa game cheaper. Another reason to enjoy the win!

Second, I’ve noticed a peculiar state-of-mind develop among myself and my fellow MBA classmates. Obviously, we are all occupied with coursework. In fact, between classes, group meetings, and homework – coursework itself is a significant time commitment (if you’ve been following my posts, you already knew this). However, coursework isn’t what consumes our thoughts or conversations.

Rather, the tremendous amount of opportunities in extracurricular and personal/leadership development activities seem to consume us.  Conversations typically cover what lunchtime information sessions, speaker,  interviews for various organizations, or team meetings for non-course related projects we are going to attend.

As an example, here are the extras I am participating in (or plan to participate in):

My short list of activities just scratches the surface of what is available. A more complete list of Fisher’s student organizations can be found here.

Professors, if you are reading this, please don’t interpret this as a reason to make your courses more difficult. The last thing I need is the class hating me for something like that! They are challenging, I assure you.  Classes are table-stakes – everyone does it. I think each student differentiates himself/herself by his/her performance in the classroom and by which of Fisher’s unique opportunities he/she takes advantage of.

I apologize for the relative sincerity of this post. More humor will follow.

Caveat lector. Finis.

Cullman Lunch: Jim Katzenberger

One of the greatest things about The Fisher College of Business is the level of engagement with the greater business community. One unique way Fisher brings the community into the graduate experience is the W. Arthur Cullman Executive Luncheon Series: giving graduate students an opportunity to interact in an intimate setting (lunches are capped at 10-14 students) with entrepreneurs and business leaders.

This Wednesday I attended my first Cullman Lunch with Jim Katzenberger currently an executive at Profit Performance Advisors, in Philadelphia. His consultancy focuses on helping business overcome their “growth inhibitors” and quickly growing businesses for exit events.

Jim’s varied experience includes stints at IBMRazorfish/i-CubeCambridge Technology PartnersBristlecone, Catalyst and being one of the first hundred employees at SAP. At SAP he saw the business grow from less to 100 employees to 2,000+ in less than two years. When asked what growth inhibitors SAP (now a $10 billion company with 50,000 employees) had at this stage, Jim cited the culture shift needed (particularly among the earliest employees) to move from a midsized to a large, flexible firm.

Finally, the signature “formula for growth” printed on the back on of Jim’s card is worth noting.

A(K + S) + GOALS = PBC => IR

Translated, this means Attitudes times Knowledge and Skills plus Goals equals Positive Behavioral Change leading to Improved Results.

Thanks again for coming to Jim for coming to visit Fisher this week. I have another Cullman lunch this week; look for a blog later in the week.

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E-mail sanity

How many user names and passwords do you have? Too many?

Yahoo, Fisher webmail, OSU/Buckeyemail, FisherConnect, MBAFocus, Facebook, LinkedIn, The Hub, WordPress. And those are just the accounts I check often. And no, I don’t have the same password for all of them. I was told that’s unsafe.

E-mail is sometimes too much to handle. Enter Randall Dean, the e-mail sanity expert. He was the speaker of a “Time and E-mail Management Seminar” yesterday.

Turns out, I was to blame with my e-mail and time problems. Well, I kind of knew that but didn’t know there were simple adjustments I could do to change that. Let me share three of the tips.

I’m a blinger. A blinger is someone who has a constant need to check his e-mail with every ‘bling’ alert he hears. According to Randy, blinging temporarily decreases one’s IQ because of the information overload. This must be the reason why I’m a bit spaced out every time. Anyway, he advises control. Check your email only a few times per day, not a few times per hour.

How many messages do you have in your inbox? Randy has practically nothing in it, and receives more than 100 e-mails per day. He has a three-minute, one-touch rule. When you read your e-mail, decide what to do with it immediately. You already spent time reading it. If you postpone taking steps, you would have to read it again, or have to remember if you already acted on that. You can reply, file, read, forward, or delete it. This only takes three minutes.

Take advantage of the productivity tool that is Microsoft Outlook (or other software). Randy gave a lot of tips on how to maximize the software’s features. Now, if only I could get my Fisher webmail account to work in my outlook. I spent the entire Friday night (while waiting for the laundry to finish and the bathroom floor to dry) trying to fix it.

It’s kind of like…

Hello again everyone. As I sit here writing this at 8:23 PM on Friday evening, I have a sense of urgency; not because I am preparing for a night out on the town, but because I have a yellow legal pad to-do list for the evening. For this reason, I am going to use bullet points:

  • Finance Boot Camp – Kara Albert of Career Management ran a terrific program today that covered a lot of information concerning career options for Finance majors. Presentations included two representatives from Barclays (who gave a fantastic presentation on the nuances of interviews), Dean Wruck who, among other things, encouraged us to be more aggressive than perhaps our mid-western sensibilities would allow, several representatives from Nationwide who covered case interviews, and Senior Lecturer Daniel Oglevee. Despite his unapproachable, arrogant first impression (“You only get one chance to make a first impression”),  he is a wealth of knowledge who wants to see all of us succeed (Professor Oglevee – if you are reading this – please don’t hurt me). His presentation covered I-Banking; his stories are fantastic.
  • Innovation – I had a moment of brilliance today which I am going to share. People come in all shapes and sizes – desk chairs mostly do not. I constantly find myself sitting in desk chairs leaned all the way back (reclined) since it’s the most comfortable position for me. Some people tell me this isn’t always a good thing as it shows that I am not interested in what’s going on. This makes sense to me. However, I also realized another reason I likely end up reclined. All the chairs have that spring-reclining-apparatus-knob adjusted to “normal” sized people – a group in which I do not fit. Then it occurred to me (listen up Herman-Miller) – why not make the chairs weight-sensitive. When heavier people sit down, make it harder to recline. Sounds easy enough. Over-sized people like me will forever love you.
  • THIS JUST IN – The Fisher College of Business Class of 2011 has selected the following 5 members as their Fisher Graduate Student Association representatives: Sam Adams, Emily Bae, Joe Fahrendorf, Nick Fischer (not a typo – that’s me!),  and Michael Thompson. I am humbled by my selection and look forward to representing our class!
  • Riding your Bike – This is my best analogy so far for business school. In the beginning, you need training wheels (Fisher Advantage). After you take the wheels off, you are shaky at first but you’ve largely got things under control (first week or so). Then you try going off road and crash into a tree (approx. 10.15.2009). At this point, you slow down and take it easy (fall asleep on the couch at 7:30 PM on a Thursday because you haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night in several days). Finally, your parents trust you to ride down the street and explore the vast world around you (graduation – not sure what this feels like!).


A case of the Mondays

Yesterday was one of the busiest days I have had so far in the program. Below is a description of how it became hectic along with how well it ended.

Sunday night

2:13 am: The Phillies have just won game 3 of the NLDS against the Rockies, a game that had me on the edge of my seat most of the time, and the rest standing with my Phillies fitted hat and Ryan Howard jersey on clapping and talking to the TV. So now that the game is over, and having no chance at falling asleep, I am able to finish the last three pages of the case study that we had to read to be prepared for our Organizational Behavior class (one of my favorite) at 8:30 am. At around 3 am I tuck myself under the sheets, leaving the blinds open so I don’t oversleep.


6:50 am: I proceed to wake up before my alarm and start to get ready for the day. I don’t plan on being back until later in the evening due to some events I am scheduled to attend so eat a hearty breakfast (raisin bran crunch), pack a snack for the time between classes, gather my books and head off to the bus at around 8.

8:14: The campuscabs_bus bus finally makes it. I walk out of my building about two blocks past the law school to a stop where the Campus Loop North bus picks students up about every 8 mins. Since I was the only one there, I must had gotten there right after the last bus came.

8:30: Organizational Behavior begins. I am wide awake but physically tired. I never drink coffee, and never had but I may need to if I keep this schedule up.

10:18: Class is over, we had a great discussion about financial incentives that had a lot of class participation. This is what makes it fun. I grab my snack and off to Accounting which starts at 10:30.

10:40: The lights are low. The power point is up. We are going over Cash flow statements. I feel my eyes getting heavy.

11:00: Nope I didn’t fall asleep, but I got a little energy boost from my yogurt and I am back to running on all fours. The topic isn’t the most interesting but I make sure to have the slides on my laptop along with a word doc open to take notes in. This makes the class a little more interactive to me.

12:18: Accounting class is over but I need to RUN to the Center of Real Estate for a meeting with my adviser (I work in the Center of Real Estate as a teaching assistant for an MBA level Real Estate class and also on projects that the Center is working on). I debate running to Subway first and bring a sandwich with me but I decide not to. Even though my adviser and I get along really well, I didn’t want to make him wait for me.

1:20: I leave my meeting and run to a small deli behind the architecture school across the street. I proceed to eat my chicken wrap as I walk back to Fisher. Very impressed I was able to eat it without getting anything on myself since it was a little messy.

1:30: I get to my Enhanced Professional Interchange Class. Although I am starting to get exhausted from all of the running around this class is not your typical MBA class. It is a class that teaches you presentation techniques. The teacher keeps the class very involved with people coming to the front often to work on techniques. Next thing you know the class is over

3:18: I head to the grad lounge to relax for a few mins. I had signed up for a discussion held by the MBA Finance Club that featured  William M. Issac, former chair of the FDIC which starts 4:oo.

5:00: For the last hour we had a discussion about the recent economic crisis and also a short history lesson about some of the factors that contributed to it. Mr. Issac was very interesting and I was surprised how informative the session was and how much I learned. But no stopping now. Off to my Fisher Professional Serves Conference call.

5:30: I meet with my group for ProjectOne, the initial project for a for profit student run consultancy program. We huddle around a phone for the next half hour and listen to a VP from a Fortune 500 organization explain the project and some of the uses of what we will be asked to help create a plan for. After the call my group decides to start thinking of some ideas over the next week and bounce them off each other via e-mail. Now I get to head home

6:07: Phillies Hat? Check! Phillies Jersey? Check! Sitting on the couch after a long day about to watch an amazing game 4 win over the Rockies to take us to the NLCS? Priceless!Phillies

Careers in Marketing Boot Camp

I spent the day yesterday in the “Careers in Marketing Boot Camp” at The Fisher College of Business.  The Career Management Office organizes several boot camps throughout the fall covering the various careers that MBAs typically seek including: consulting, operations and logistics, marketing, finance, sustainability and real estate.  The Marketing Boot Camp, which was generously sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, was a day-long seminar focused on career paths in marketing, networking strategies and interviewing techniques.  Several alumni and marketers from local firms came to Fisher to share their experiences and take questions on their careers and firms.

The keynote speaker, Mr. Brad Davis, Vice President Nationwide Financial Individual Investments, gave an engaging (and sometimes humorous) but certainly informative presentation covering his experience in branding in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry and how that brought him to his position at Nationwide.  The topics he covered were too numerous to summarize completely, but some of the highlights included:

  • The balance between the science and art of marketing
  • The concepts of “misattribution” and “consideration sets”
  • The marketing cycle
  • Marketing is Business and Business is Marketing: everyone owns a piece of establishing and nurturing a relationship with the customer

Once again thanks to Brad Davis, Nationwide, Jenny Heckscher, the Fisher Office of Career Management and everyone else that took the time to attend and answer questions: The Scotts Miracle-Grow Company, dunnhumbyUSA, Nestlé, Cardinal Health, Resource Interactive, Greif, Sterling Commerce, The Columbus Chapter of the American Marketing Association, The Fisher College of Business Marketing Faculty and second-year MBA students.

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To all those wondering, no my title isn’t gibberish.  It was actually the topic of my first presentation in “Enhancing Professional Interchange” (EPI).  EPI is basically a speech class.  I know that most people fear public speaking but I was actually excited to hear that we were required to take this class because I know there is always room for improvement.

So back to the title…During class, Prof. Ankerman posted a bunch of gibberish words on the board and we were asked to give a 30sec presentation on one of the words.  I was one of the last people to go and as others presented on the words I was planning on talking about, I found my mind racing to come up with what I was going to say.  Ultimately, I think I said something to the effect of it being a new invention that actually made time travel possible, blah blah blah.  Next we gave our 2min persuasive talks that we had been working on.  I think mine went okay.  I talked about why PE class should be an integral part of school.  But as usual, I talked too fast.  This is a really bad habit that I’ve had since birth but towards the end of my speech, as I got more comfortable, I found myself slowing down.

One would think that after an undergraduate education in architecture where I was forced to present daily that I would be a pro at public speaking but this is not so.  And so, I am looking for some helpful criticism and tricks to become a better speaker…..I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going…