The Revelation

Since Day 1, the Fisher faculty and Career Services department have reminded us that our school work is not our only priority.  They have tried to instill in us this notion that internship/job searching is equally important, if not crucial to the overall success of our MBA.  I mean, they have a point: if we graduate from Fisher with leadership, business and teamwork skills, but we are unemployed, how can we be the next generation of leaders in corporate America?

Despite this rational logic, their advice has fallen on deaf ears.  Grades are measurable; progress in the internship search is not.  Although my main objective at Fisher is to graduate with a rewarding job, I have succumbed to the day-to-day attrition of the core curriculum.  (This is a major obstacle to finding an internship.)  However, I have good news.  Today I had a revelation – this is my first ever revelation and will quite possibly be my last – especially if this one burns me in the end.

The Fahrendorf Revelation simply states that life will never slow down or become any easier.  Professors will never slow down or give me “time off” to focus on the outside world.  If I need to spend more time internship searching, I will need to prioritize my school work and focus only on the important material.  I simply don’t have time to do everything.  This revelation is analogous to the law of conservation of energy.  For example, I can change the form of my energy to focus on school or on the internship search, but I cannot double my energy to do equal work in both categories.  Energy is finite; I have to learn to make do with what I have been given.  The key is to prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize.

This watershed moment in my MBA career couldn’t have come at a better time.  Next Friday I am traveling up to Solon, OH to take a tour of Nestle and speak with individuals at the company about their experience in brand development.  I will make sure to get the most out of this opportunity and hopefully my changed philosophy will reward me down the road.

On a different subject, I would like to recognize all the military veterans at Fisher and across the country.  Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and the University was closed in their honor.  Thank you to all the men and women that have served this country.

Skepticism Overcome by Reality

I have never had a mentor before. Sure, I’ve had employers take me under their wing, but my bosses who have done this have also had a friendship with me and that’s why they took more of an interest than the ‘average’ employer normally would. As a member of the GHRA, we had the opportunity to sign-up for the mentorship program and have a professional assigned to us. Because I have limited knowledge of the HR world, i.e. I’m from Psychology and I’m amazed I’m not sinking yet, I am looking for many ways to gain exposure into this crazy world.

Yesterday, I met my mentor, Lisa, at a HRACO (Human Resources Association of Central Ohio) event. Lisa is everything I didn’t imagine in a mentor, in a good way. 🙂 I was expecting an awkward person, who didn’t know how to interact with me and didn’t know how to use their expertise to help me learn more about the field. Oh gosh, Lisa’s amazing. She has such a great personality and we had a great talk. Additionally, she has such a vision on how to help me. She has the personality which just engages people and she knew nearly everyone at the meeting, introduced me to all of them, and truly made me feel welcome. What’s really amazing is that she has real ideas on how I can advance my career search and work towards getting myself to a point where the job search will come naturally. I’m very excited for it all.

In other news, I found out (well I guess my entire class did) when my group presents and it happens to be after Thanksgiving for MHR 851. Whew. I’m pretty stressed out and it’s good to know that I have two extra weeks to work on our presentation. My group met today and I feel the general consensus among my group is that we are light years ahead of other groups, even the ones who are presenting next week. We have a really great idea, we’ve talked to a lot of people, found a lot of research to back up what we’ve discovered. It’s a really great feeling and the rest of our project should come very easily.

This weekend is the conclusion of one of the major stressors in my life. I’m currently coaching an agriculture based knowledge team – it’s called a skillathon – and the team is competing on Monday at a national competition in Louisville. I was on the team when I was in 4-H, my mom used to coach the team, my fiance was on a national championship team and was 2nd high individual overall. This team was a big part of my life when I was in 4-H. I was very honored when my boss asked me to co-coach it with him. While it’s been a lot of fun, it has also been very stressful planning the practices, grading piles of homework, working and going to class/studying. I feel as though the team we put together is going to represent Ohio very well and they’re going to have a great experience. Think of us on Monday when we’re competing! Good wishes to them. 🙂

Happy Thursday! It’s almost the weekend!

Cullman Lunch: Cary Jenkins

Cary Jenkins was behind one of the biggest tech exits in recent Columbus history.  His company of TopNoggin, the producer of the innovative pension management software platform: Bluefin, was recently acquired by The Hartford Financial Services Group.  Cary continues to believe that the IT departments of large companies are not designed to innovate; after TogNoggin he has continued to seek out technology needs with other ventures including Visible Equity and My Financial Guard.

As far as the Cullman lunch series goes, Cary was on the informal end of the spectrum.  He spent some time demonstrating the Bluefin product and tried to let our questions lead the discussion.

A few themes that I picked up on:

  • “Bullets in your gun” when brining in partners. Cary highlighted two selling points when trying to recruit partners away from lucrative corporate life: fun and a potential lump sum.  When our group discussed our reasons for wanting to start a company, we boiled it down to “we just want do something different” and “fun.”  Cary also pointed out that most millionaires become millionaires as the result of a lump sum (i.e. it is very hard to become a millionaire through a salary)—and by taking equity you create this potential.
  • Be honest with your talents. Some of the first people Cary brought on when he started TopNoggin were a domain expert (an actuary) and a president.  While Cary is very talented in crafting and selling a product, he is first to admit that general management is not his forte.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability of new ventures: Cary took us through the startup history of TopNoggin and Visible Equity.  Both companies began by doing something else and the economic situation (e.g. Housing Market Meltdown, Dot Com Bust) and customer needs led their products in new directions.

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and thats the case…


Well I will remember this week as the week when I took part in two Case competitions. And I am not kidding when I say this, I simply have no other memory of this week. The P&G marketing case and the Nationwide Green Case competition. Both of them are different and fun to work on.

The P&G case was a marketing case, where we were presented the challenge that the Crest White Strips brand team faced. We had to step in the shoes of the brand management team and come up with solutions on how to market the product. We also had to think of strategies to deal with competition. The case was conducted by alumni of Fisher who currently work at P&G. They gave us an overview of the situation on Thursday afternoon and then we had approximately three hours to come up with our object, strategies, tactics to implement them and make a presentation for the same.

These were one of the most intense three hours yet at Fisher. As a team we brainstormed and developed strategies to ensure that the Crest White Strip brand beat the competition and captured market share. None of us on my team had any background of brand management for consumer products hence we focused on strengthening the brand. We came up with solutions which would have direct and measurable bottom and top line effects. Unfortunately, we spent too much time thinking which meant we had to rush through our presentation as it had to be submitted by the end of three hours.

On Friday, all teams presented. The participation from the class was huge, according to P&G, the highest they have ever seen. This also meant that the day was long, really long. I was very impressed with a few of the ideas that were presented. Proud of my class after the case competition. For us though it was a major stepping stone, we learned a lot from our mistakes. This was good as just after a day’s break we jumped right into the Nationwide Green Case competition.

Fisher is being represented by 3 teams, one of 2nd year students and 2 from the 1st year students. We ensured that this time since we had ample time we did not leave any loose ends. We went at it hard, putting in the full Sunday (about 11 hours straight) to ensure we had clear ideas and strategies. We also understood our lessons from the P&G case and have made sure that our presentation is good. Prof. Ankerman was very kind to come to Gerlach on Sunday and with his team of alumni provided us with valuable feedback. All that is left to do now is to present it to Nationwide tomorrow. So wish us luck and Go Bucks and Go Green!!!

Why I decided to get an MLHR degree and then some

My sister works for this company. We’ll keep it anonymous because I don’t want her to get in trouble. She graduated from Ohio State in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree, several certifications under her belt and ready to hit the working world. She found this amazing job – or what she thought – and was promised that a year of working 3rd shift meant she could develop quality assurance standards for the company, move off of 3rd shift, and have a really really nice job for her field of study and her limited experience. So, she moved away from Columbus (not too far, but far enough) and a year and a half later, she found herself hating her job. Why? She was still on 3rd shift, she was not utilizing her degree, certifications, or even skill sets for that matter. She was managing her group of 15 people and had never been through any sort of managerial training before. She was also expected to develop job/career paths for her employees, which is something she has no training in. She’s an Animal Sciences major…what does she know about that? And besides, that’s an HR job. Additionally, her boss never acknowledged the work she was doing for him, never took the time to help her understand what she was doing wrong, and never gave her the guidance that the well trained employer would have given. (Note** I’m sure there is some bias in here, but I’m attempting to stay as unbiased as I can).

A few weeks ago, she was told that she was to go to a meeting with her boss and HR to ‘discuss her future at said company’. So with my somewhat limited understanding of her company and my constantly increasing knowledge of HR, I tried talking with her about strategies she could use in the meeting and what they might use to try and figure out certain information. All the while, she has been looking for a new job which was closer to Columbus, better fit of her skill set and something she might actually enjoy. After applying for a few jobs and hearing nothing, she was starting to get pretty down and depressed about her upcoming meeting. While preparing, she finally heard back from a company, 3 days after submitting her resume. A phone interview later, she was asked to come in for a face-to-face interview which happened to be on the same day as her meeting with HR. What awesome timing. Later that day, I called her to see how everything went: interview went well, HR meeting did not. Apparently her boss and HR are in cahoots and she was blamed for all of the problems that her shift was having despite her boss being awful. HR basically told her that she had until Monday to tell them whether or not she wanted to stay at her company and if she decided to, then them allowing her to stay would be based on her review, which she knew was bad…the economy’s bad…her industry fails during this type of economy… Anyway, she was basically hoping for a miracle  and a job offer. She called me about an hour ago and told me she resigned from her company and accepted a job offer from the company that interviewed her last week!!!!! 🙂 It makes me very happy.

Why does all of that have to do with the title of my post? Well, I’ve heard similar stories such as this from some of my friends and their families about poor management and job satisfaction and not being qualified for the job they’re thrown into and realizing that they need a job in order to survive, so they stick it out hoping it will get better. The vast majority of problems within a company boil down to bad management. I am a firm believer that by properly training employers and employees, the job satisfaction will increase, productivity will increase and everyone will be more apt to say they love coming to work. I want to fix those problems and find new ways to make it so that people want to go to work. In a nutshell.

Case competitions: the MBA sport of choice

This weekend a couple dozen of the first year students participated in the P&G Case Competition. I’m proud to say that one of my mentees was on the winning team. Congrats to the uber-talented Shay Merritté and his teammates, Nancy, Brian and Prasant!

Case competitions have become the varsity sport of MBA programs all over the world. Teams practice for weeks or months, travel to the competition site, and engage in intense competition with teams from other top MBA programs. In most competitions the teams only have 24 or 36 hours to read the case, form their strategy, perform the necessary analysis, come up with solid recommendations, create their presentation and get a couple hours of sleep before presenting the next day. The experience is second to none.

Each year, the Fisher College has an internal case competition for the first year students. Faculty, alumni and friends of the Fisher College volunteer their time to serve as guest judges. The winners of each room make up a pool from which the college chooses the best students to represent Fisher at the national case competitions such as the Big 10 Case Competition and the CIBER MBA Case Competition.

Last year I had the pleasure of competing in three case competitions. My respective teams placed 2nd in the Get Green Business Case Competition, 1st place in our room at the Fisher College Internal Case Competition and 2nd place at the Big 10 Case Competition. This year a group of us are applying to compete at the Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit, one of the most prestigious case competitions in the country with a $50,000 prize. We sent a Fisher team last year, so I’m hoping that we make the cutoff of eight teams once again.

For the first years at Fisher, I strongly encourage you to participate in the internal case competition. It’s the closest you’ll get to presenting to the board until you get back out into the real world. And you know what they say, “practice makes perfect.” I think we had around 80% of our class participate last year, so it would be nice to see your class raise the bar even higher. Unless you’re getting married or getting surgery that weekend, I expect to see you there.

And for the few students who get chosen to be on the Big 10 and CIBER teams, you are in luck. Professor Marc Ankerman is great in the classroom, but he is even better one-on-one. Being part of the Big 10 team last year was like having a personal public speaking coach. I learned so much about preparing and delivering effective presentations, which served me well when I presented my recommendations to the HR executive team this summer at Deutsche Post DHL. Ankerman is the real deal and the Fisher College is lucky to have him to give us a little polish before we re-enter the workforce.

Now I find myself on the other side, teaching presentation skills to a classroom of 40 undergraduate students twice a week. I don’t know what I would do had I not participated in the case competitions last year. When my students ask me a question, I just think, W.W.A.D.?

Mike ^_^

2009 CIBER MBA Case Competition Champions (Seth, Annie, Ryan and Chad)


It feels as though I haven’t posted in quite a while. So much has happened in the last 5 or so days that I feel horribly behind in my updating.

First and most important, I got the interview! I’m very very excited about the opportunity. I had the chance to speak with the director of IMS a week ago and after talking with her, it just made me realize so much more that I would love the chance to complete an internship with the program. It wasn’t until a few days later that I was offered a position within the center. Such a relief. It will surely be a great opportunity. I have my first training program tomorrow during lunch. I’m nervous for it all, but excited at the same time.

Second, this weekend was Halloween, and it was a BLAST!!!!! I’ll post pictures below. I went up to Michigan State for Halloween. I know, I know, I skipped out on the grad student Halloween get-together, but I had so much fun this weekend. Friday night, I went to a long-time friend’s party dressed up as a Crayon. You can’t beat home-made costumes. I was “tickle me pink”. I love that costume. Saturday night, my fiance and I and his friends roamed around the streets of Lansing and East Lansing dressed up as the toy soldiers from Toy Story. It was SO much fun seeing everyone’s expression as we walked around and randomly posed. We were trying to find a place to catch the MSU vs Minnesota game, and decided on Bdubs. We walked into the restaurant in our stealth mode and you could hear the entire place go silent. It was awesome. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Anyway, pictures are below. We’re now taking ideas on next year’s costumes. If you have any awesome costumes that you saw, send them my way, or feel free to share.

Lastly, tomorrow is your chance to go out and vote. Vote yes for Issue 2. That’s my only political plug because I have a personal connection with it. Issue 2 will establish a board of directors to make decisions about animal care in Ohio and the board will be made up of informed individuals who know the animal industry and know what’s best for Ohio and for the animals. I grew up on a small sheep farm and I have many farming friends who know what’s best for their animals and would rather have informed individuals make decisions about how they’re supposed to farm than people who know very little about the agriculture in this state. If nothing else, make sure you’re informed about what/who you’re voting for, but just make sure you vote.

Cullman Lunch: Jason Mlicki

Last week some of my classmates and I had lunch with Jason MlickiFisher College of Business MBA and “Resident Left Brain” at Mlicki, a Columbus branding agency.

His feeling in that service and b2b (business-to-business) branding is still in its infancy. Some of the firms biggest successes have been with business that operate in industries that have not traditionally invested in very much branding. He highlighted some of Mlicki’s experience with engineering and construction firms including R.W. Setterlin. I found particularly interesting Jason’s response when asked him how he sold Mlicki’s services to such firms. By demonstrating “thought leadership” as it applies to business problems he could sell work to firms that operated in industries or were in need of services not represented in Mlicki’s portfolio.

Another of Jason’s central themes was the idea that consumers shop comparatively and buy emotionally. He shared an anecdote of his experience buying a flat screen HDTV a few years back. Before heading to the store, Jason looked a copy of Consumer Reports and circled several products in the sizes and categories which he was looking.The products he circled were almost exclusively Samsung brand televisions. However, he came home from Best Buy with a brand new Sony. Only when Jason found the circled Consumer Reports a few weeks later, did he realize what effect the emotional power of the Sony brand had on his buying decision.

Thanks again to Jason Mlicki for visiting us at Fisher. For more of his thoughts on branding check out his blog.

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Busiest Week of My Life Continued…

My classmates and I entered the room for the networking dinner.  There were quite a few people there already, but the OSU people had the coolest name tags by far.  I think there was some name tag envy from the students who were there from Michigan and Illinois.

I was proud of myself.  I jumped in and started introducing myself to people.  During the dinner I spoke to an employee who is currently in the Leadership Development Program, the Director of the Director of HR, the HR Director of the Marine Division, and the HR Manager at the plant in Indianapolis.  All of the employees at Rolls-Royce seemed extremely enthusiastic about working for the company and were a lot of fun to talk to.

After the dinner we all went our separate ways and I headed to my room to relax for the evening.  I was really excited about sleeping in the big, fluffy bed.  Unfortunately, I was so nervous about the next day that I only slept a total of 2-3 hours.

The next morning we all met in the lobby of the hotel and headed to the Rolls-Royce plant on a shuttle.  I was nervous, but everyone at Rolls-Royce was very nice and kept telling us to just be ourselves.  We ate breakfast and the HR Manager did a quick presentation about the company.  After that it was time to interview.

The first activity I did was a written case study, next was a one-on-one with situational questions, then my 10 minute presentation with a question answer portion after, and then a group exercise where we were observed in a group and then presented after 15 minutes of discussion.  I really thought the presentation was going to be the most stressful part, but I actually was most nervous during the group exercise.  I didn’t want to be overly aggressive, but I also did not want to be too passive either.

It was a long day and I was relieved when it was over.  We headed back to the hotel and made the drive back to Columbus.  Unfortunately, I was not chosen to move forward as an intern at Rolls-Royce.  I was disappointed because I really like the company and the people there were really great, but on a positive note, it was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

This actually only gets us through Wednesday of my busy week.  The rest of the week was midterms, another interview, group meetings, class, and finally a really fun Halloween Party.  Maybe this week will be less crazy but, every time I think that, something comes up!

Busiest Week of My Life.

Obviously I knew this week was going to be very busy with it being midterm exam week, but I had no idea it was going to be as crazy as it has been.

Last Friday morning I woke up and was prepared to study for midterms all weekend.  About 30 minutes after I woke up I received a phone call from Rolls-Royce congratulating me on making it to second round interviews and informing me that I would receive an e-mail with more details later in the day.  I was extremely excited, but quickly realized that the two days I was going to be in Indianapolis for the second round interviews were the same two days of my midterms.  Hmm…what to do now…?

I immediately e-mailed my professors to let them know the situation and they were both quick to respond, congratulate me and reschedule my midterms.  That was a huge relief.  Once I had rescheduled my midterms I settled in to study and patiently awaited my e-mail with more details from Rolls-Royce.  I continued to study and check my e-mail throughout the day, but still no e-mail from them.  I honestly started to wonder if I had dreamt the phone call from earlier that morning.  Finally, I decided to go to bed, but checked my e-mail one last time.  There it was!  The e-mail!

So, I opened the e-mailed and read over the travel information and agenda and then noticed an attachment.  I opened the attachment and it stated that I must prepare a 10 minute presentation for the interview process.  My heart started to race and my mind was going a million miles a minute.  First, I’m still a little scared of presentations and second, how in the world am I going to study for midterms and prepare a presentation, and go shopping for a new suit etc, etc…?

Well, somehow I fit all of that in and carpooled to Indianapolis on Tuesday with a couple of my classmates who were also invited for second round interviews.  I am from Indiana, so the drive was familiar and I enjoyed getting to know my classmates better.  Once we got to Indy we went our separate ways and relaxed for a little while prior to the networking dinner.

Around 6:20, we met up and headed downstairs to see what was in store for us!

To prevent this blog from being 10 pages I am going to stop here.  Check out my next blog to find out what happened at the interviews!