Reaching Outside the Comfort Zone

First, let me share some background on myself to give you some context for this post: I am originally from Upper Arlington, Ohio—less than 5 minutes from OSU campus. I attended The Ohio State University alongside 50% of my high school graduating class. During undergrad, while most of my high school friends could pinpoint exactly where they wanted to be 5, even 10 years from then, I always felt unclear about what I wanted out of life and unsure of how to figure it out.

In my junior year of undergrad, while many of my friends were securing study abroad opportunities, I knew I wanted to do something different, something that would challenge me and hopefully reveal to what I didn’t already know about myself—strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities. I wanted to know it all! I found National Outdoor Leadership School through a friend of a friend, and I embarked on what was to become one of the most rewarding and bizarre experiences of my life…

I slept in a sleeping bag for 85 consecutive nights next to 16 strangers who would soon become my closest friends. We backpacked through remote sections of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico and the Galiuro Mountains in Arizona, carrying everything on our backs that we needed to survive for 3 weeks at a time. We climbed the incredible granite domes of Joshua Tree National Park– powered by bacon, coffee, and laughter. We navigated class-3 rapids in whitewater canoes on the Rio Grande, paddled past Mexican military clad with automatic weapons, and didn’t see another human being for 18 days. The vastness of the wilderness was exhilarating, humbling, inspiring, and terrifying all at the same time, and I came to learn more about myself than I ever expected.

When I graduated from undergrad, I knew I wanted to marry my education in psychology with my passion for the outdoors to facilitate meaningful experiences for others who might benefit. I took a job as a Field Instructor for Evoke Therapy Programs helping struggling adolescents and young adults work through depression, drug addiction, trauma, and motivational/behavioral problems. In this job, I worked a non-traditional schedule of 8 days in the field, followed by 6 days off. I saw recovering drug addicts celebrate 30 days of sobriety in the field over no-bake pies. I saw teenage boys with autism begin to challenge rigid patterns of thinking and to develop their first real friendships. And I saw adolescent girls with a history of self-harm come to believe that they mattered in the world. I count myself lucky to have been a part of the transformation process for the clients I worked with, whose stories continue to inspire me and put my own struggles into perspective.

Me and my best friend Taylor when we worked in the field. This was the equivalent "business casual" in the industry.
Me and my best friend Taylor when we worked in the field. This was the equivalent of “business casual” in the industry.

It’s clear that the program I attended and the wilderness therapy program I worked for are very different. The takeaway that I hope becomes obvious here is that there is a certain inherent healing effect of being outside. I also think there is a deeper level of learning that comes from challenging experiences with real consequences—learning what is in and out of your control and how to adapt to adversity. I believe my experiences in the outdoors have shaped me into someone who can find hope and happiness in just about any situation, and I’m grateful for that.

If there is any piece of advice I would give someone who is uncertain about their path in life (and trust me, you’re not alone), I encourage immersing yourself in an experience that you’re afraid of. I’m talking the thing that you always wished you could do but could never actually imagine yourself doing. There is deep self-discovery and self-awareness that comes from pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone.

backpacking, Ohio State, High Sierras
The OSU Outdoor Adventure Center traveled to the High Sierras last summer. Seriously awe-inspring stuff.

The great part about OSU is that we have access to so many different experiences– so many that I hear people talk about how they struggle to fit in everything they want to do. Well, here is one more for you: the OSU Outdoor Adventure Center. Of course there is the famed indoor rock climbing wall, but what a lot of people don’t know is that as students we also have access to adventure trips. From rock climbing, to sea kayaking, to dog sledding—there is really something for all seasons and to suit all tastes. The best part is that there is no experience required for most and all are welcome.

rock climbing, OSU
Indoor rock climbing wall at OSU during the Valentine’s day climbing competition. Participants were held together by a paper chain and had to complete the climb together. They also do other silly stuff, like zombie themed climbing hours for the premier of the Walking Dead.

I can’t emphasize enough the benefit of pushing yourself to challenge fears, insecurities, an preconceived notions of your own limitations. From my own trips, I’ve learned to work with diverse teams, lead others in high pressure situations, and accomplish stretch goals with limited resources. These are all skills that translate remarkably well to “real life,” and that I plan to leverage in work and life in the future. Get out there!

The Concrete Jungle

Before you go on reading this post, I want you to open this music video in another tab and allow the song to play while you continue reading….

Now that the mood has been set, here we go. This past weekend, from the evening of Wednesday the 21st to Sunday the 25th, I took a trip to the land of Sinatra, Bobby Flay, and Tupac. A little place called New York City.

As I was flying in, listening to the song you are hopefully listening to right now, it was around 8:30pm on Wednesday night. If you fly into LaGuardia and are lucky enough to get a seat on the left-side of the aircraft, you will have that 1-million dollar view of NYC lit up like a Christmas tree. That sight always seems to give me the chills, and I was left in awe and ready to take on “the City” the next day.

Now you may be wondering: Brett, what were you doing in NYC?Good question. I ventured on the trip with three of my fellow SMF classmates and an undergraduate group targeting the investment banks in NYC. Between Thursday and Friday, we visited banks like Goldman Sachs in the Financial District and J.P. Morgan in Midtown. With my intended career path of Investment Banking, it was an awesome look into the workings of “Wall Street” and the current state of Investment Banks.

Two of my classmates and I in Times Square.
Two of my classmates and me in Times Square.

Also, I used this trip as a means to network. From our trips to the banks, we were able to speak and network with Ohio State alumni working there, as well as at a reception on Thursday night. In addition, we had free time in which we could network with other working professionals and alumni in the City– and I feel that I established some awesome new connections.

Finally, despite having been to New York City before, I let the inner tourist in me come out a bit and I stopped by some of the most famous spots like: Wall Street, Times Square, the Raging Bull, the Rockefeller Center, and Broadway. Final takeaways? I really do love NYC and can’t wait for my next trip back!


A classmate and I at the Raging Bull near Wall Street.
A classmate and I at the Raging Bull near Wall Street.




What I did this summer…

Akin to the traditional elementary-school first homework assignment, I’m going to write about my summer spent in Battle Creek, Michigan, working in brand management for Kellogg’s. First of all, let me gush a little by saying that it was a fantastic experience!

The Frosted Mini-Wheats team

I got to work on exciting and meaningful marketing projects right away. I was on the Frosted Mini-Wheats team and learned a ton about cereal (not to mention enjoyed the free cereal bar almost daily!). For one project I was able to assist with agency relations and digital strategy planning and for the other, I worked on the recommendation for the marketing communication plan for the Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats launch and also made predictions of future growth for pumpkin spice as a flavor.

IMG_3511I learned a lot about using data, coming to conclusions, making recommendations and putting together a powerful presentation. I had never worked with Nielsen data before, so learning that system was an early challenge, but also figuring out the best way to visually show data was a lot harder than I expected. Both skill sets will be needed for any brand manager, so I was happy that I was able to improve in both areas.

My internship was Gr-r-reat!

Everyone at Kellogg was so supportive and happy to help in any way that I needed, so I got up to speed much faster than I would have on my own. (Shout-out to my roommate who taught me everything I now know about HLOOKUPs!) I reached out to the various business units and learned about their own Pumpkin Spice launches or how they handle seasonal flavors in general. It was fascinating! Now, 12 weeks later, I know more about Pumpkin Spice than anyone should, and it’s exciting to see it all play out this fall.

I’ve lived in Ohio for the last nine years, so I mistakenly assumed that Michigan summers would pretty much be like Ohio ones, but I have to say that they are way better up north! Battle Creek is four hours from Columbus, and in addition to being more north, it’s also almost as far west as you can get in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. This means that it’s light so much longer in the evenings (at the peak, it’s still light at 10:00 pm), which gives you so much more time to be outside doing things! It was sunny almost every day and living only an hour from the beach is pretty exciting.

The four MBA marketing interns on our last day :(

I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity that I had to work at Kellogg this summer and I truly enjoyed my experience. I have a much better understanding of what a brand manager and an assistant brand manager do at a large company like Kellogg, and I’ve worked on some of the important skills that I will need in those roles, both technical and inter-personal.

Now, who wants to go try some Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats? psminiwheats

CFA Research Challenge Global Finals in Chicago

Seven months later, we finally arrived in Chicago for what was one of the coolest and most exciting events of my life. For a recap of what the CFA Research Challenge is and what it took to get to Chicago, please read my previous blog (


When we arrived at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue, I was a little overwhelmed with excitement. Not only was the weather amazing, but the CFA Society of Chicago really rolled out the red carpet for us. The main stage was spectacular and made me a little nervous for the four teams that would be presenting up there. The structure of the week looked like this:

-Tuesday was registration and the opening ceremony

-Wednesday consisted of the semi-final round in the morning, an advancement ceremony at lunch, the national final round in the evening and dinner afterward.

-Thursday was the Engage Symposium where leaders in the finance industry talked about current topics and how students should prepare for the finance world followed by the global finals and a reception


There were over 100 teams competing in the semi-final rounds with only 26 moving on to the national final round. Of those 26, only 4 would go on to present on the main stage in the global finals on Thursday. The 4 that made it were: Italy, The University of Georgia, a team from Asia Pacific and the eventual global champions (and the team we lost to) Waterloo. Watching those 4 teams on that stage was incredible. They all did an amazing job of answering some incredibly difficult questions but Waterloo walked away the champions. After they were crowned, we all made our way to the reception area which was a giant dance floor with a live band. The entire experience was surreal.


After the Research Challenge was over, it was time to be a tourist. I packed my bags and left the Hilton for an Airbnb three blocks from Wrigley Field. Two friends from Columbus joined me as we explored Wrigleyville, downtown, Michigan Ave, Millennium Park and the business district. The weather was perfect so we walked for hours everyday and enjoyed every second. If you ever have a few days to explore and are looking for a destination, I highly recommend Chicago. It is hard to beat. IMG_5978

The Year is Coming to an End

Technically, there are two days of class left in the semester. For the sake of this post, let’s say classes are over and all that remains between the student body and summer are those pesky exams.

Here in Gerlach Hall, there are two camps. First-year MBAs are eagerly preparing for GAP assignments and summer internships that will hopefully turn into full-time offers. Second-years are staring employment directly in the face. Try and picture the fleeting look of carefree senioritis on a 28-year-old’s face as she realizes winter break, spring break and Fridays off will forever be in the past. I fall squarely into the anxious, exhausted first-year camp. In less than two weeks, I’ll be in Tanzania working with the Global Water Institute on a water well program. In less than six weeks, I’ll be interning with The Wendy’s Company in its marketing division. Bring it on!

On one hand, I cannot wait to ditch homework for four months. No more late nights at the kitchen table with a strategy case for a company. On the other hand, I’m essentially going back to work for 13 weeks. Work stress and effort are totally different than school stress and effort. Grades and participation points are great, but real life company-related implications and a paycheck are vastly more important in the long run. A dumb answer or a half-hearted deliverable will not ultimately sink a ship here in the safe classrooms of Fisher. Not so in the real world. All the theory and case studies will finally be put to the test. I’ll let you know how it goes!


Hocking Hill Trip

During spring break, my friends and I went on a trip to Hocking Hill.

In order to enjoy the wonderful weather and the first day of the spring break, my roommates and I made a quick decision to have a picnic. But where to go? My roommate recommended Hocking Hill. After calling some neighbors and friends and simple preparation, we headed to Hocking Hill.


After about one-hour drive, we arrived at the Hocking Hill. Probably because it is a sunny Saturday, many people had the same idea as us. As a result, we spent a lot of time parking our cars. As planned, we had a picnic: we brought some snacks, soda and fruit. It was a good time: we could enjoy the food as well as the view, and talk with each other.

After the picnic, we went hiking. Because many people recommended the Old Man Cave, we first took a visit to the cave. The road was muddy, but the beautiful scene made this little difficulty worthwhile. We took many pictures. There was also a waterfall. I have to say, compared to waterfalls in China, the waterfall is quite small. But I really liked the shallow river (probably it is not suitable to call it a “river” as it is so shallow). I saw children play near the water. I also saw some family brought their dogs. I touched the water, it was so cold, but cool.


We spent almost all the afternoon at Hocking Hill. It was a wonderful experience and I definitely recommend the Hocking Hill for picnic and hiking.

Chicago Marketing Hop

One of my favorite memories from the end of the first semester was attending the Chicago Hop, hosted by the marketing student organization, AMP! We had about 50 students across all disciplines attend the trip immediately after finals were over. On Thursday 12/17, we first stopped in Dearborn, MI to visit Ford’s headquarters and then hear a presentation from their creative agency, Team Detroit.

Fisher MBA students visit Ford headquarters and Team Detroit agency.
“Making a good sports point…” “SPORTS!!”

Then, onward to the Windy City! At the alumni networking event, we met many Chicago-based Ohio State alums and enjoyed hearing stories of their experiences at OSU and in their careers. Dean Makhija teleconferenced in and shared the college’s vision for the future with the alumni. After experiencing a little of the city night life (but I’m sure everyone was home at a reasonable hour, of course), we prepared for a big day on Friday.

Friday dawned bright but cold. We first visited the Big Ten Network and had a great time trying out the commentator desks and pretending to talk about sports. Elizabeth Conlisk, VP of Communications, spoke to us about how the Big Ten Network starting in 2007 as a new entrant in a saturated market. People thought they were crazy to start this, but they’ve turned the brand into a success in just a few years.

Yeah, I knew you needed photo evidence of the cat in the spaceship.

From there, we went to Groupon’s offices, which run counter to everything you thought you knew about offices. Open floor plan? Check! Swings? Check! Fake fairytale woodland themed meeting area? Check! Luau with fake palm trees and probably not fake bar? Check! Spaceship with a giant cat head? Double check! It was great to hear from a brand that’s built a completely different business model than what was previously out there and strives to stay innovative and fun.

After a quick lunch, it was time for Tyson/Hillshire Farms! We were able to tour their office and see their great facilities. Several of their assistant brand managers came in to talk to us about their jobs and represented a variety of different brands: Sarah Lee, Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, Tyson, and more. It was interesting to hear about their day-to-day activities in charge of brands large and small.


From Tyson, we visited Ogilvy & Mather, a full-service agency that was founded in 1948 at the beginning of the rise of advertising. Many people believe that the founder, David Ogilvy, was the inspiration for Mad Men’s Don Draper. The Ogilvy team shared advertisements that they’ve worked on, discussed the relationship between the agency and their clients, and gave advice for people interested in working for agencies.

What a full and exciting day! One of the goals of the Marketing Hop is to showcase different sides of marketing and give real-life examples of the types of careers a marketer can have.  With an upstart cable TV network, a discounting website, a traditional CPG food company and a well-known agency on the agenda, it was hard to not see the breadth and excitement available in marketing careers.


On the social side of things, we had a great time at dinner and at various bars around Chicago. It was great to get to know my fellow students better outside of class and mix more with the 2nd years too.  While there, many of the international students experienced their first snowfall, so it was really fun to be a part of those memories, and connect with people on a personal level. The Chicago Marketing Hop was a whirlwind trip, but hugely valuable for the 50 of us who went, both in a professional sense and a personal sense. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip!

Uncovering the World of Career Conferences

It was my first year in the MBA, and school had started just a couple of weeks ago. I received an email from the president of the Fisher Graduate Latino Association (FGLA) telling us about this conference happening in Philadelphia: NSHMBA Career Expo (National Society of Hispanic MBAs). It was a 3-day career conference hosted by NSHMBA, an organization dedicated to “increasing the number of Hispanics graduating with MBAs; and to assist in networking by helping secure leadership positions and enhance professional development.” I had only been in the MBA program for a couple of weeks, and I had no idea what this event was, or the great opportunities it provided.

After talking to the president of FGLA and my advisor, I decided to attend, along with 5 other first years and a couple of second years. We arrived in Philadelphia Thursday night, and would be attending the Conference first thing Friday morning. The night before at the hotel, we all researched the companies we were interested in, and took a look at the conference map. There would be so many companies attending! The map, however, only conveyed the scale of the conference to a small degree. When we arrived there Friday morning before the conference started, it was a busy, crazy scene of hundreds of MBAs in suits and with portfolios, eagerly waiting to go talk to the company they were interested in.

The doors to the conference finally opened. I decided to walk around the conference and get a feel for the environment before I talked to any recruiter.  It was an overwhelming experience, since it was my first time in a conference such as that one, but it was also so energizing and thriving. So much talent and opportunities everywhere. I walked around the floor and observed the layout of the conference. Once I felt comfortable and ready to take part of this experience, I put down my coffee and looked at the first company name in my list. It would be a great, long day ahead of me – and I felt as ready as ever to start!

Touring Philly the day we arrived
Touring Philly the day we arrived
Right before starting the conference
Right before starting the conference


Global Marketing Lab – Singapore Style

I wanted to write about my amazing week in Singapore now that I’ve been back in the States for over a week and I’ve finally conquered jet lag (enough) to organize my thoughts.

Naturally, I’m talking about this year’s Global Marketing Lab, Fisher’s winter break course that pairs teams of undergraduate business students with MBA mentors to create boardroom-ready presentations for multinational companies and their Asia Pacific leadership teams. During our week abroad, our undergraduates presented to Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue team, two divisions of Deutsche Post DHL and Wendy’s EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Asia) leadership team.

During each visit, the youngsters would present their projects and the respective leadership teams would educate our entire group about their business, and more specifically, illuminate the reality of doing business in Southeast Asia. Perhaps the most enlightening portions of each get-together were the informal Q&A sessions and networking opportunities. After all, these individuals already held the reins for three established, influential global companies. The best we could do was to simply soak in as much information as possible: every insight and industry tidbit that would inevitably help us in the future.


While we donned our business professional finest each morning to fulfill our educational duties, each afternoon held a different kind of education. Our days included cultural tours, tourist attractions and some of the most delicious food a human being could ever venture to ask for. Within 48 hours of touching down in the tropical city-state, we had all experienced:

  • The Singapore Flyer: one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels
  • The Marina Bay Sands: imagine a Las Vegas resort containing three massive towers with a boat-like structure spanning all three (complete with a pool, a bar and an incredible view)
  • Gardens by the Bay: a man-made cloud forest and nature conservatory
  • The Colonial District Tour: which can only be completed on a ubiquitous bumboat
  • Jumbo Seafood feast
  • Singapore City Gallery: picture an architectural tour by way of an intricate model of the entire city (down to the unique shape of our hotel’s roof)
  • Asian Civilizations Museum: exactly as it sounds

Our first 48 hours were, in my mind, the busiest and most tour-heavy days of the trip. That’s not to say we didn’t resume our tourist roles again throughout the trip, but bedtime could not come soon enough on Sunday and Monday.


Throughout the week we toured and spent hours exploring Chinatown, Little India and the Malay District, experiencing the separate cultures that make Singapore such a distinctive place. It was very interesting as a novice Singaporean historian to learn about the cultural make-up of the nation that grew from a small fishing village and nautical crossroads to a British trade hub and, eventually, a free nation leading the Asian tigers to become one of the most developed and prosperous countries in the world.

The growth and prosperity of Singapore is easily seen throughout the city, as well as the strict regulations that govern its people. The public transportation system is immaculately clean. There truly is such a small amount of litter that it becomes rare to even see an empty bottle or cigarette butt in the gutter. As for jaywalking, chewing gum and the other strange laws that we hear about Stateside, I couldn’t tell you. I was too nervous to try.
Singapore is a marvelous entry point for travelers’ first Asian trip. It’s largely English-speaking, safe and compact. The small country, about the size of all five boroughs of New York City, has five million people. You can experience as much traditional culture as you please. Or, if you so choose, the shopping centers are (apparently) amazing. And I’ll say it again, the food is fantastic. Try everything. Find the stall in the hawker center with the longest line and have at it.

Fish head

This goes without saying, but the trip went so well because of our esteemed leaders Professor Shashi Matta and Heidi Eldred, Director, Graduate Global Experiential Education Program. These two know the territory and show the students a great time.

Oh, and one last thing, it’s extremely hot and humid. Pack extra shirts.

Golfing in Naples, Florida!

After I thought all of the presents were opened this Christmas, my littlest brother (Wyatt) brought out one more envelope for me to open. I was a little nervous but extremely excited for what may be inside. After opening it, I read his 13 year old scribbling and the biggest smile came across my face. He, with the help of my mom, had put together a golf trip to Naples, Florida for me, my dad and my other younger brother (Patrick). That wasn’t the only surprise though. My mom decided to add an extra ticket for Wyatt to go with us too!

Two days after Christmas, we were packed and ready to make our way down south. We arrived in Naples around 10pm so Patty and I ordered pizza because nothing else was open. I would say it was a great start to the trip. On the first day of the trip, we woke up at 7am to grab some breakfast and head to the golf course. We walked on the first tee box and I was just in awe at how incredible this golf course was. The greenest grass I’ve ever seen paired with some of the bluest water. Now came the hardest part of the entire trip…Trying not to embarrass myself. My first tee shot was miserable. The golf ball popped straight up in the air and fell about 20 yards in front of me; I had tee’d it up too high and walked back to the cart, red in the face.
The rest of that first round was better than the first shot but I still finished above my average score. I also lost more golf balls than ever before (thank god for Santa). After getting cleaned up, we adventured to downtown Naples to try and find a cool place to eat. We settled on an authentic Mexican restaurant that barely had enough room for 20 people. The food was incredible! After that adventure we made our way around to different shops and stores before taking off for the hotel.

Day two was similar to the first but I shot a little better. After the round of golf, Patty and I relaxed on the beach for a few hours as the sun went down. Sitting on a beach in December is an amazing experience and I highly recommend it! On the last day of our trip, I shot the best nine holes of my life on the back. What a great way to finish the trip! Patty and my dad beat me on every round except those last nine holes and I will be proud of that for months to come!