It’s the Holiday Season

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, the Christmas season! With Black Friday sales just a few weeks ago, the “official” start of the holiday season has begun. Everywhere you go, people are putting up Christmas lights, decorating doors with wreaths, and playing familiar Christmas tunes. These are just a few things I love about Christmas, but for an exhaustive list, check this out.

Our Specialized Master in Finance class decided to follow this trend and get into the holiday spirit, as well, before Finals kick off here at the end of the week. The majority of the class attended a holiday celebration at Professor Fuller‘s home this past Sunday night. We are very grateful to be able to celebrate together, and enjoy the wonderful appetizers, cookies, and hot cider that Mrs. Fuller had for us.

Appetizers & Cookies
Appetizers & Cookies

In addition, the Christmas tree was left undecorated for all of us to help. For some, it was their first time putting ornaments on the tree and this was a cool experience to be a part of. Also, I had the honor of placing the angel on top of the Christmas tree (mostly because I am a tall human being); nonetheless, it was a cool thing to do.

The decorated Christmas tree from the house.
The decorated Christmas tree from the house.

During the week prior, our Specialized Master in Finance Council also had organized a Secret Santa gift swap. For those unfamiliar, basically you are assigned another person in the class and you get to give that person a gift (we had a $20 limit on gifts). At Professor Fuller’s, we all exchanged gifts with whom we were assigned. I received an exquisite box of delicious chocolate mints– thank you very much to my Secret Santa!

Finally, the neighborhood of German Village had its Village Lights Festival, in which houses and businesses in the area are decorated and all lit up, to put the neighborhood in the holiday spirit. We drove though the neighborhood instead of walking, due to the cold rain that was falling, but still were able to enjoy the Christmas spirit.

It was a great event to kick the season off, and I am looking forward to getting back to Cleveland to celebrate even more with my family!

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!

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!

image
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!

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.

The Story of & a Night Out at Ohio Theater

This blog post uncovers one of the beautiful buildings here in Columbus. Ohio Theater opened its doors 1928 and is still a cultural center to this day. The theater houses many events and is the permanent home of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. I recently visited the theater for the Columbus Symphony’s Beethoven Marathon.

The view from the top of the balcony

The theater originally opened as an elegant movie theater. The designer aimed to separate guests from their daily lives by making a luxurious and fantastical environment. The design of the walls points attention to the ceiling. Here, the intricate patterns in the ceiling change from section to section and invite the guest’s attention.

The theater successfully ran until it closed in 1969. A development company planned to tear the building down and build a more profitable office complex. Community leaders responded by working together to save the theater. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra made the theater its official home and national musicians such as Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, and The Grateful Dead came for fundraising performances to keep it open. During the next decade, the theater was fully restored to its original design.

The view from stage left

 

Now, the theater is again the home of movies, music, dance, and theater performances. Many of these events offer discounted tickets through the university’s DTIX Program open to all students.

The main chandelier

The story of Ohio Theater is a testament to traits that all Fisher graduates should emulate. First, Fisher Grad students are being trained to be self-motivated leaders effective in both local and global teamwork environments. Saving and preserving the building was a local effort that required a strong team environment to be successful. Second, Fisher students are ethically sound by being committed to excellence in all aspects of life. Architecture and art often go unprotected. Business analysis showed that the land had more economic utility as an office space. Even so, people stepped in to say that more needed to be considered than just numerical analysis. Preserving the theater shows how supporting excellence in all aspects provides a better outcome for our communities. Not only does the theater provide an example for Fisher students, a visit provides a wonderful start to your evening. Make sure to stop by!

A Day in Hocking Hills

The world of finance is concentrated in cities; but, it is good for everyone to spend some time outside of the city and enjoy nature. Even though the SMF program has a busy schedule, we do find the time to stay active and be outside. This month, students from the SMF program took a study break and adventured into the great outdoors. Where did we go, you might ask? We took a day trip and went to one of Ohio’s best state parks, Hocking Hills State Park.

Ash Cave
Ash Cave

Hocking Hills State Park is divided into five separate sections of Hocking State Forest. Each site is centered on a different rock formation. There are deep gorges, high cliffs, rock shelters, and small winding waterfalls. Our SMF group spent the morning exploring the rocks and crevices of “Old Man’s Cave.” This was my favorite part of the trip because there many places to wander off the trail and climb rocks. At the end of the trail is a small pool with water falling down from the high cliffs above. Here, we took endless “selfies” and sat back and relaxed. After finishing that trail, we went to “Ash Cave” and enjoyed our lunches. Then, we when on a rim trail at “Conkel’s Hollow.” This is a 2.5-mile loop trail that is on the edge of a 200-foot gorge. This offers a unique view of the surrounding hills and is a good way to see the changing autumn leaf colors.

Conkles Hollow
The rim trail in the fall

SMF students are lifelong learners. Our curiosity had us asking questions about the rock formations, and after a bit of research, I have some answers for my classmates. Most of the cliffs and gorges occur from erosion-resistant blackhand sandstone. There are few places in Ohio that have this type of sandstone, and that is one of the things that makes the park a special place. Also, there are some places in the park where the sun never shines. This creates a bed for biodiversity and the variations of sunlight and moisture make the park home to many rare plants.

Not only did we get some quiet time in the park, we got to spend the day building friendships among our classmates. Conversation always flows better outside. The weather is starting to cool down, but in the spring, we will have to spend a day on the Lake Erie shore to keep enjoying the outdoors.

Rohr Cafe: “Coffee is King”

I believe The Beatles (a British rock band), in their hit song Come Together, may have once sang “Come together, right now, over coffee.”

Whether they sang this or not, that is not the point. Rather, I really think The Beatles were on to something about the togetherness of coffee. Think about your local coffeehouse: people are getting their morning coffee together, catching up with old friends, and networking with future employers. It truly is amazing– the power of coffee in Western society, and I am not just speaking about the caffeine.

Now you may be wondering, Brett, “what does this have to do with the Specialized Master in Finance program here at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business”? Well, if you are to attend this fine institution, you too will soon come to learn about our own Rohr Cafe. Rohr is a coffee shop located on Fisher’s campus, inside Mason Hall, and serves none other than Starbucks coffee.

Rohr Cafe
Rohr Cafe

From early morning cups of coffee to casual cups between class to coffee chats with other graduate students or potential employers, Rohr Cafe is there for Fisher students and faculty who need their daily dose of caffeine. Just yesterday, I went twice: once for a coffee and once for a shot of espresso. One could argue that Rohr Cafe is the gas that fuels the Fisher engine!

Now I have to throw this in here, as my level of “coffee connoisseur” has certainly increased this year: what you order is important. Some people are traditional and will stick to coffee. Others like it quick and easy and stick to espresso. Finally, some like to test the waters and have been known to order iced coffees, vanilla lattes, and even pumpkin-spiced lattes. However, I have recently come across the greatest creation since sliced bread: The Salted Caramel Mocha (with White Mocha).

Salted Caramel Mocha with White Mocha
Salted Caramel Mocha with White Mocha

As a coffee drinker at Fisher, you will come to see the importance of Rohr Cafe on our campus. Whether you use it for meetings with other students, faculty, graduate associations, or just to get that much needed caffeine, it is awesome to have a place so close to Gerlach Hall.

 

SMF Class Dinner after Intensive Finals week

Hey there! Long time no see, my dear readers!!!

Where have I been???

Well, we SMF candidates have had a lot on our plate in the past few weeks: mid-term exams, group projects, and FINALS, of course.  I was often at Gerlach Student Lounge late at night with my friends to study. Sometimes I also caught up at the 18th Avenue Library. And my group spent dozens of hours together for group assignments in the study rooms at Gerlach Hall, including two days during “autumn break” to work on our final group case for Corporate Finance. Weekends in the past few weeks were just days without classes for me.

View @ 18th Avenue Library
@ 18th Avenue Library

Also, in the 7th week of the first session, our SMF class presented company research reports for the Turbo Finance course, which we had been working on from the very beginning of everything. (For more information about our pre-term, please refer to my previous blog.) Each group delivered awesome presentations on their company. And we got snacks from two groups whose companies are a food company and food packaging company, respectively. My group didn’t bring any treats for our class since we cannot distribute semi-conductors!

TADA!!! Here is our awesome class! Everyone looks sharp. And I was struggling to show my face among 6-foot tall Americans when we were taking the photo…

SMF Class of 2017 Presentation
SMF Class of 2017

After wrapping up the first session, two of our classmates, Agrja and Mia planned and organized our SMF class dinner before we got too busy for the new session. It was a lot of work– including writing invitation to the whole class and professors, confirming attendees and booking the restaurant for the large group.

But it was also a lot of fun that night. Professor Fuller shared his business-trip memories. He told our table about the special shrimp with unique cooking techniques that he tried in an Asian restaurant. Professor Pinteris and his family shared their stories and discussed Chinese dishes with their table. (Professor Pinteris’ daughter is so cute!!! She told us stories about her friends and family. And she took a “selfie” with everyone with her sweet smile!) The last-but-not-least table was “Chinese with Hector” he can speak fake Mandarin! I laugh out loud every time when he mimics us talking.

SMF Class Dinner
SMF Class Dinner

Thank you, Mia & Agrja, for your time and efforts to make all of this happen! I look forward to our next SMF dinner!

Cleveland Baseball Playoffs & “Work-Life Balance”

In the United States, the month of October brings baseball playoffs. This year, the baseball team in Cleveland, Ohio, has an exciting playoff run. Catch a glimpse of how we have been beating up Toronto. What does this have to do with graduate school at Fisher, you might ask? Well, this is my first challenge with the all-important work-life balance. As a lifelong supporter of Cleveland baseball, this is a big moment.

The Jake: If you need to find me, this is the best place to look
The Jake: If you need to find me, this is the best place to look

First we need to set the stage. Even though Cleveland is not considered one of the best teams consistently, the team has made the playoffs over 50% of my life and historically are in the top third of all teams based on playoff appearances. From this spot, the pressure builds, because they have not been to the league championship in 9 years– and have not been to the World Series championship since losing in both 1995 and 1997. The last time they won the World Series was 1948; the second longest drought in baseball. This is a franchise with a history of great teams that didn’t win the title.

This year is the year they will win! In the league championship series, they have the better record, offensive production, and pitching. This week, they continue play and games in the best of seven series will be almost every night. These games occur at the same time that I usually prepare for class, work on projects, or pursue my job search. What do I do? I have supported the baseball team my entire life. As a kid, I played baseball dreaming of the MLB and plastered my bedroom walls with posters, banners, and cards of the players. Also, I have waited nine years to watch the team play at this level. I can neither abandon my program nor my team.

Cleveland Rocks!
Eight more wins, boys– eight more wins!

Here is advice for the work-life-balance sweet spot.

  1. Balance: No one can do everything, and there is nothing wrong with that. My Dad and I went to the playoff game last weekend and saw Corey Kluber pitch a stunning 7-inning shutout of Boston. My first instinct was to get back at the ballpark this week, but during a busy exam time I need to balance priorities. Everything is best in moderation.
  2. Rest: The playoffs are exciting, but make sure to get enough sleep on those late west coast games. Don’t wear yourself out going to too many games. If you are too tired, your professional performance will drop and you will even stop enjoying the games. Rest up!
  3. Prioritize: Realize that at some point during the day, you will have to do school and watch baseball. What time of the day do you work best? What is your tolerance for watching the recording over the weekend? Know thyself and do value added work at the right time.
    Corey Kluber
    Going for another Cy Young award per usual

    Tribetober is exciting, school is important – enjoy the best of both!

Election Season: Vote No on Packed Lunches

I am going to throw it out there: I am against packed lunches. Why? Let me run you though this:

I am against packed lunches.

I vote “no” on packed lunches.

First, you have to buy the right food at the grocery store well ahead of the night before/morning of when you prepare your lunch for the next day. Next, you have to go through the process of preparing the food, only to store it away to be eaten later. While delayed gratification might be a positive for some, I am more of one who cooks something up and needs to have it instantly. Finally, you have to pack it up and carry it to campus in a lunch box/plastic bag (depending on your fashion style). Talk about a hassle.

Due to this, for the first month or so of the year, I lived at Panera, Bibibop, and other OSU campus restaurants between the hours of 12 and 1. You were not going to catch me packing a lunch and bringing a lunch box/plastic bag to campus. No way.

Now, as it turns out, eating-out at restaurants is incredibly expensive if you turn it into a daily habit, sometimes twice daily. My checking account took a Ray Lewis (professional American football player) kind of hit. Check out the link if you are trying to understand what I mean by that.

So, what happens when you are a broke college student and can’t afford to live that luxurious lunch lifestyle? You resort to, yes you guessed it, packed lunches. But remember, this is not something that comes naturally to me, so I look for help. From where? None other than “How to Pack a Lunch Box” by Wiki.

Over the past month, I have been slowly growing into what some might call a packed-lunch connoisseur. I started with peanut butter sandwiches and like pretzels or chips. Moved on to menu items such as chicken and rice & meatballs with pasta. Recently, I have had beef rigatoni, hummus and vegetables, and even a steak balsamic vinaigrette kale salad. What I have come to realize is that I have begun to save more money, eat healthier, and have been able to save some time during the day by packing a lunch.

The future certainly looks bright for what I can manage to fit into that 4×6 Tupperware container. However, with that said, I still am not sold due to the process of creating a packed lunch and will continue to miss those days of old.