It’s not too late! Or too early!

The first month or so of the SMF program has brought about an interesting dynamic between the students. Many were concerned that they have too little work experience for a graduate program. Most MBA programs suggest 3-5 years of work experience for candidates, and many of our classmates are straight from undergrad. Another portion of the students (including myself) have been concerned about getting back into the swing of school after some time in working world. My time lapse is only two years, but a handful have been out of school for up to six or seven years. Regardless, the schedule, mentality, and status of your bank account are all turned upside down. However, after the initial concerns, I think everyone is settling in and realizing that the dichotomy is what makes this experience unique and worthwhile. It’s much like a “Just for Men Gel” ad – the perfect combination of experience and potential! (Let’s be honest, the best Just for Men commercial is the one with Emmitt Smith, Walt Frazier, Keith Hernandez, and the Big Unit, so here you go.)

After completing a handful of interviews, I have realized that there is a great tradeoff between the two. Some interviews focus on technical concepts that we may not have covered in class up to this point. It is difficult to reach back to my undergrad education for specific topics, especially the ones I have not used in my jobs. However, what I lack in technical analysis, I make up for in actual work experience. Many interviews discuss behavioral questions, and despite what anyone may believe, this is a huge aspect of succeeding at any occupation. I felt as though my work experience was relatively useless until I started interviewing and compiling a sizable amount of “tell me about a time when…” answers.

To summarize, wherever you fall on the spectrum from directly entering grad school to going back after working the better part of the last decade, there is a spot for you. Just at look at how welcoming Emmit, Walt, and Keith are to Randy. This could be you.

Ice Cream Lover? Go to Jeni’s

When I came to Columbus for the first time, lots of people recommended me this brand of ice cream. Jeni’s, which is a local brand in Columbus, is an awesome place to enjoy ice cream and hang out with friends. I want to recommend it to you.
Jeni’s

There are 3 Jeni’s shops in Columbus, and the one that is closest to OSU is at 714 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43215. You cannot miss it because there is a reproduction of a distinguished printing, American Gothic by Grant Wood, on the wall outside.

 

 

Are you excited about the ice cream? If so, then you won’t be disappointed. There are numerous sorts of hand-made ice creams with different flavors. The most popular one, which is also my favorite, is salty caramel. It gives a mouth-watering salty sweet balance. It seems that every customer who comes to this shop will have a different preference. And there are many other splendid flavors, such as, beet cake with black walnuts, brown butter almond brittle, cherry lambic sorbet, gravel road, lemon & blueberry frozen yogurt, the buckeye state, etc. Are you still undecided? Can you decide which one to have? The shop assistant will give you little spoons of every flavor you want to try.

menu

 

If you are starving, there are ice cream sandwiches as well for you to consume. The sandwiches are all in the most popular flavors with delicious cookies outside.

ice cream sandwich

The popular Jeni’s shop is often crowed with her fans. On weekends’ nights, especially, there is always a long queue, and people even line up outside Jeni’s shop. So it is better to come here on weekdays or early on weekends.

Comments on the Rationality of Human, and their Behavior in Finance

I’ve heard way more things about the behavior economics recently in class, on TV(CNBC), during lunch at Fisher, and even in a conversation in my dream (just kidding).  Economists, Psychologists, and Financial managers spend years and years trying to figure out their own behaviors-“why are we humans making so many irrational decisions which deviate so much from what they expect them to be, or what they could benefit from?” They want to find some sorts of laws, rules, or some patterns that could explain such phenomenon well.

Scholars make this even more complicated. So far, they could only say “some” of those activities and decisions are just irrational. I’m not going to explain what the behavioral finance is since you can Google it, right? All I want to say from my observation on behavior rationality is that: that people are irrational or making irrational decisions is because there are three things happening that distract them from realizing their target or goals. These things are:

  • Concerns over what other people do in a similar situation
  • Events that are in favor by the people but twist the outcome
  • Incorrect interpretations of problems

“Concerns over what other people do in a similar situation” refers to that people would chose the solutions that are not optimal or even are opposite when taking other people’s solutions into account.  For example, when you wanted to buy Apple’s shares but you found out that everybody else bought Google’s shares, so you bought Google’s share instead even though your 10-hour homework made you believe that Apple is going to blow out after tomorrow’s earning report.

“Events that are in favor by the people but twist the outcome” refers to that things that are happening within the processes of achieving goals are what you preferred but change your optimal solutions.  For example, you had a car accident because you saw an attractive person walking down the street which distracted you. In this situation, looking at the attractive person is what you preferred. But it increases the risk of car accident, twisting your optimal solution which is to drive safely to your destination.

“Incorrect interpretations of problems” leads to wrong decisions that what you know already.

If you are interested in behavior finance and want to discuss it, contact me.

Taking a Spin Around Columbus

Map of Existing and Proposed Bicycle Trails in Columbus

 

As I packed my truck prior to leaving for Columbus, I faced the harsh reality that I would not be able to bring everything.  After fitting in a bed, dresser, furniture, and clothes, I had to decide which items would get to spend the year in Ohio and which items would stay in Kansas.

Included in the junk that did not make the cut was my road bike. Over the past few years, I have developed a very amateur passion for cycling. One day, while watching the Tour de France on TV, I decided to order a road bike online.  It opened up a whole new world, where I could ride far enough to explore new places but slow enough to take in all of the scenery.  As an added bonus, cycling offers a great endurance workout.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Columbus cycling community.  There are a series of paved bike paths that wind through nearly every part of town.  The streets are also very bike friendly, and drivers seem to be cautious around cyclists.  Even at football games, there is a free bicycle valet called Pedal Instead that allows Buckeye fans to bike to the stadium.  Three weeks into the quarter, I realized that I needed to invest in a new bike.

From a buyer’s perspective, the great thing about a bike-friendly town is that there are numerous new and used bicycle shops.  There are at least seven stores on High Street alone.  I spent one Saturday morning visiting many of these stores, and I found almost every store to have great service and a high level of expertise.  I ended up returning to a store called Handy Bikes, where I found a hybrid bike for $160 (I later discovered the same model used bike was selling online for around $300).  The advantage of the hybrid is that it offers the strong frame needed to bike on city streets, but it is light enough to take for a long road ride.

Although Columbus has one of the best systems of bike paths in the region, it is only going to get better.  There is a project right now, called the Ohio to Erie Trail, that aims allow cyclists to ride from Cincinnati to Cleveland (through Columbus).  When this project is complete, we will have a “Tour” of our own right here in Ohio.

Can the football team affect your grad school experience?

Grown men crying
Buckeyes football - Bringing grown men to tears since 1890.

Ok, let me get this out of the way, I promise this is not a “The Buckeyes lost two games in a row, the Mayans were right, the world is ending soon” post. And I am not suggesting that the SMF program or Fisher in general is an expansion of the football team. However, the SMF program provides the unique experience to spend only one year (read: one football season) in Columbus. For the regular Buckeye fans (ok, I may be a bit past regular), this is just a sad season, and everyone will deal with it using their own levels of mourning, denial, and anger. I am talking about the out-of-towners, whether they are from Boston, Beijing, or Bombay.

There is an undeniable connection between Columbus and the Ohio State football team. This is sewn into the fabric of the city. So what if that huge chunk of the experience is missing for a season (like so many of our players are “missing”). Saturday, October 8, was one of the strangest “Football Saturday’s” I have experienced in my seven years in Columbus. Regardless if the game is home or away, campus is flooded with fans ages 8-80 decked out in their scarlet and gray, with as many Buckeye necklaces as you can find. Even on Fridays, all around Columbus and in the surrounding suburbs, businessmen and women don their Ohio State attire to show support and excitement for the upcoming game. After the game, it is commonplace to wear your attire out the local watering holes where throngs of your counterparts are either celebrating or drowning their sorrows along with you.

This was not the case a couple of weekends ago. This year – no national title talks, no College GameDay invading campus at least once, no January bowl trips giving us a great reason to extend our winter break just a few days longer. Maybe it is because I live off campus now, but I lived off campus last season and I did not seem to notice a big difference. It is certainly not depressing around campus this year, just different. I was out before and after the game. Jerseys were scarce. Buckeye beads were nowhere to be found. It might as well have been April. Maybe with only one year here, outsiders would never know what they are missing. Or maybe they don’t care. But part of the fun of a new country, city, or school is the local nuances.

So explore the arts district in the Short North. Gorge yourself with a Thurman’s Burger or a Dagwood from Ohio Deli. Watch out for the basketball team to make a Final Four run. And certainly do not lose sight of the top notch academics offered at Fisher. Those will always be here. I’m just saying, if you are on the fence about coming to OSU, ask any of the 105,000 people below. I can safely say that most of us (yes, I am in there somewhere) will never forget this day or this season. I hope our visitors will be able to say the same.

 

Fans rush the field after "The Game" in 2006

Columbus Day in Columbus: Discovering the New World

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…

Christopher Columbus Reaches the New World

On September 5, I set sail from Wichita, Kansas, in a black Ford pickup truck named Bullet — a little bit more comfortable than the Santa Maria. Instead of sailing west for a few months, my voyage took me east and lasted 14 hours.  I did learn, however, that the world is round and that it does not fall off after the Kansas-Missouri border.  Although my travels along I-70 will not lead to the naming of a city or holiday after me, the experience of discovering a “New World” justifies a blog post honoring Columbus in Columbus on Columbus Day.

I had the opportunity to visit Columbus for a campus visit in early January 2011.  The visit was a fantastic experience, and I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in the Fisher College of Business to visit and experience the campus.  Although I had enjoyed my time in Columbus during my brief January visit, was a bit nervous as I approached the end of the summer.  I could find Columbus and the important parts of the OSU campus on a map, but I did not know the people, the places around town, or the things to do for fun.

It has now been a month since I have been a Columbus resident.  Just as it took some time for news of Christopher Columbus’ discovery to reach home, it has taken me a while to write about my experience on the Grad Life Blog.  But here I am, excited to share with the world that Columbus, Ohio, is a world-class city.

Every day over the past month, I have discovered something new and unique in this “New World.”  Over the next nine months, I look forward to sharing the people, places, and exciting opportunities I encounter in Columbus with the SMF Grad Life Blog.

Happy Columbus Day from Columbus!

Guest Speaker at Ohio State: Bob McDonald, Proctor & Gamble CEO

Last Friday, Ohio State was honored to have Bob McDonald, CEO of Proctor & Gamble, stop by to talk to us about his vision for the company & for Ohio State. President Gordon Gee introduced him to the audience, after having given McDonald and several others a tour around the OSU campus.  President Gee discussed the various ways that P&G and OSU could work together to accomplish shared goals, which were built around the P&G motto of “Touching Lives, Improving Life.” Some of the quoted common goals included an increased focus on sustainability and constantly innovating through research and development.

I figured (correctly) that Bob McDonald would use many inspirational quotes during his speech.  I wrote down the best of the inspirational quotes so that people who didn’t make it to the event could still soak in some of that CEO wisdom. Also I took a picture.

1. “Make us choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” – line from the Cadet Prayer. Bob McDonald attended college at the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint.

2. “Sustainability is not just a responsibility but an opportunity.” – Bob McDonald on how P&G can make a profit from going green.

3. “One must do well to do good, & must do good to do well.” – Bob McDonald on purpose leading to profit.

4. “Give me a lever large enough & I will move the world.” – Archimedes.  Not really sure what this was in reference to, but it sounded good and I assume it fit in the context of what Bob was talking about at the time.

5. “Always limit blog lists to five items or less.” – Me on how itemized lists get increasingly boring the longer they go.

Bob McDonald, P&G CEO
If you come to Ohio State, you'll get to meet interesting people like CEO Bob McDonald.

Taking time for a quick road trip

Last weekend, I went to Chicago with several friends. Yes, we just started our new quarter (academic term) on September, 21. However, I believe we will get busier and busier as time goes by. So, better to seize the chance early in the quarter! We have two cases to do this week. One is the Corporate Finance’s case brief, and the other is the Quantitative Method’s sector analysis. They will be due next week, so our team spent a great amount of time working together on Bloomberg and discussing the case to find a solution. Though I always came back home late due to the team discussion, I felt it was time very well spent. We’ve done an awesome job and I learned a lot from preparing for the the case by ourselves before the professor gives the lecture. Anyway, it now appears that it was a wise decision to go to Chicago last weekend early in the quarter before we all got too busy.

It is a great way to experience life and widen your horizon by traveling, especially planning a DIY trip by yourself. “Traveling DIY” makes me feel much more free and comfortable with no travel agency or time constraints. In China, it’s common to plan trips via a travel agency – how boring it is to go into a souvenir shop arranged by the travel agency! By the trip myself, I can design the way we go, the places to see, the food to enjoy, etc. And I can also visit my friends, and make new friends during the trip. Of course, there are a lot of preparations to do before going out. (Sometimes, you will get “unexpected fun” from the improvisational trip. But as this is my first DIY trip in United States, I want it to be safe and interesting :-)) I looked up the information about the transportation, accommodations, the travel reviews written by other visitors and the articles related to the places I was looking into visiting. Actually, the process of preparing to travel is sort of of fun, not to mention the trip itself.

To save time, we left Columbus for Chicago on Thursday night. And we arrived in Chicago early Friday morning, when it was rather quiet on the streets of downtown. By arriving early, it’s a good way to experience a city in peace and quiet. After a while, we saw people bustling through the street to go to work.

Time was short there. We had just two days in Chicago and came back to Columbus Saturday night. So we went to the most famous places in Chicago, to name a few: Millennium Park, Navy Pier, John Hancock Center, China Town, Michigan Ave., State Ave., the Magnificent Mile, etc. And I also met an ex-classmate who I hadn’t been seen for a long time and we had lunch at Lao Sichuan, an authentic Chinese food restaurant.

It’s prety easy to get to Chicago from Columbus – about 5 hours if you drive, about 7 hours if you take a bus, and about an hour (at most) if you fly. (Several airlines have regular non-stop fligths between Columbus and Chicago.) I really had a great time there. I will go back someday.

Navy Pier

 

Study Spaces: Caffe’ Apropos

Caffe' Apropos

I think one of the most difficult tasks of a student in a new city is finding the perfect place to study.  Yes you could go to the library, or sit in your apartment, but I personally have trouble studying next to noisy freshmen (O wow, you got invited to a frat party!) or next to my television (Jersey Shore marathon > net present value calculations).  Having gone to Ohio State for 4+ years now, I have the distinct advantage of having visited a lot of coffee shops trying to find the perfect place to study.  In my inaugural blog post, I would like to share one of my favorites.

Caffe’ Apropos is a little coffee shop on the corner of 3rd Ave & Michigan Ave.  They bill themselves as a European espresso bar, but having never visited one of those I’ll have to take their word for it.  What makes Caffe’ Apropos so great?

1. The music: There always needs to be a little music playing at a coffee shop, but often times it’s either too loud or not conducive to studying.  Here the music is just the right volume and the genre leans towards hipster rock.  It’s not overly hipster (i.e. let’s sing out of tune, play off rhythm, and pretend we’re making unique music) and most songs have a nice energetic feel that keeps you moving through the textbook.

2.  The coffee/food: The options for coffee are pretty standard, but it’s cheap and the sizes seem bigger than most places.  The food ranges from light snacks like muffins and pretzels to more substantive fair like big salads and sandwiches. There are definitely plenty of options to choose from.

3.  The general atmosphere: There are always people studying, and while they might sometimes be in groups, no one is too loud.  Caffe’ Apropos is (for me) the perfect size as well.  It is small enough to feel charming and cozy, but not so small that you feel like you’re studying over the shoulder of the person next to you.  They provide couches, regular tables, and an outside patio to suit your study needs. Sitting outside on a nice day is especially enjoyable, as there’s plenty of people watching to be had.

4. The after-study options: Perhaps one of the best features of Caffe’ Apropos is their liquor license.  In addition to coffee and espresso they also have a bar with a variety of beers on tap (as well as bottles of course).  Off to the side of the main room is a small “wine boutique” with a nice selection of wine.  After a hard day of studying, it’s great to buy a bottle of wine and sit outside sipping and enjoying the weather (glasses generously provided by the Caffe’).  Don’t worry though, it doesn’t feel like you’re studying at a bar, as this is more of a bonus than a main feature.

Obviously each person has their own preferences for what makes a study spot great, but Caffe’ Apropos works perfectly for me.  If you ever feel like getting out of the apartment and getting some work done in a unique environment then look no further than the Caffe’.

Wine at the Caffe'
A little post-study celebration.

 

Like a Home Here

This is my first time to write a blog after I came to America, and I want to take this time to thank people who generously helped me, a newcomer, to overcome all kinds of difficulties and obstacles. It’s their help that got me well prepared for the coming school year. Even though I can figure out how to manage all the things by myself, their help shortened the time that I needed for settling down. At the same time, I’m writing this blog to let you, who may hesitate to come to a strange nation to study, know that you really don’t need to worry about living here on your own, because people here are always kind and ready to help.

Airport pickup

Can you imagine how difficult it is for a girl with two huge suitcases, a big suitcase and a heavy backpack arrive at a strange airport at midnight for the first time ever? My host family in Columbus helped me to get through this trouble. Mr. Teng, the master of my host family, came to the airport at 10:30pm to pick another girl and me and drove us to his home. How welcoming it is to see people waiting for you after a long journey! Incidentally, one of my suitcases was lost in Chicago, the transfer city. Luckily, my host family who helped me sign a form and got my suitcase back. I cannot say too many thanks to them.

Accommodation

My host family gave us up to four days accommodation. Actually, if you have no apartment to live, they will adopt you as long as you find your own house. My host family has a two-story beautiful house with a parking garage and a golf course behind the house. I live there for 3 days and it’s really convenient for newcomers as me. Because the apartment I rent has no furniture in it, I have to buy bed, table, chair and all kinds of articles for daily use before moving in. My host family gave the convenience to buy necessaries in advance. So I wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor to wait for my bed.

 

Food

My host family was so generous to provide us meals everyday when we lived in their home. To our pleasure, we can even enjoy Chinese food in their home with them. We really had a good time together when chatting at the dinner table.

Transportation

Columbus is so big that it’s difficult for new comers without cars to travel around. Fortunately, we have our warm-hearted host family. Mr. Teng took us to a factory store to buy mattress and box. And he introduced all kinds of supermarkets in Columbus, which helps me a lot to get familiar with life here as soon as possible. And Mrs. Teng even took us to Easton Town to buy clothes in Victoria’s Secret. What’s more, I got the information on the furniture from the internet. And Mr. Teng drove me there to see the furniture in person, so I can get what I like the most.

You maybe wonder where you can find such a nice and hospitable host family. Then go to have a look at fantastic IFI (International Friendship Inc.).

All the favors my host family provided me were a good preparation for the coming year. Unlike most other programs in Fisher College, our SMF program is a rigorous nine-month intensive program. So we started our pre-term just after a series of orientations on September 7. And other socializing activities, team-building activities, welcome party organization fair, bootcamps and so on arrived in quick succession. Although all these things will make me overwhelmed, experiencing all these activities means a lot to me. They are eye-opener and help me to understand life here. I think it’s rewarding to study here, to be a Buckeye! This experience will enrich my life. I’m ready to face the coming opportunities and challenges and immerse myself in life here.