Great Individuals Inspire Greatness

About a year ago I read this quote from Mark Twain (emphasis mine):

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

During this first semester at Fisher, we MBA students have had the opportunity to interact with so many people, including faculty, classmates, and guest speakers. One four-day stretch about a month ago (October 23-26), though, we had the incredible opportunity to hear Jeffrey Immelt- CEO of GE, Warren Buffett- CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and Les Wexner- CEO of the Limited Brands, speak. In addition to hearing them, I got to see Mr. Wexner and Mr. Immelt field questions from my MBA classmate peers about 20 feet away from me in a Gerlach classroom.

I was impressed by all three of these individuals (and have been a big Warren Buffett fan for quite some time), but perhaps the most impactful speech came from Mr. Wexner.

While Mr. Wexner was speaking, the above quote from Mark Twain kept coming back into my mind. His talk was perhaps the single most encouraging speech I have heard since being at Fisher. Some people maybe would have just seen a classroom of dressed-up MBA students, but he saw a classroom brimming with potential greatness. He himself came from an extremely humble background, but combined a passion for excellence, an impeccable work ethic, and an insatiable curiosity, and has (obviously) had significant success.

One of my primary takeaways from that session was this: don’t allow culture, society, friends, or family to belittle your ambitions! Be kind, respectful, and friendly to everyone that you meet, no matter their status, be it high or low. However, strive to have your closest friendships and professional associations be with the kind of people who truly believe impossible things are possible. I can say that I have been blessed in that regard. I have an extremely encouraging wife, a supportive family, great friends, and the opportunity to be here at Fisher to learn from numerous people (classmates, faculty, and guest speakers) who believe the sky is the limit.

Do you have a dream that your classmates, the world, or someone else thinks is impossible? Go for it with everything you’ve got! That’s what Mr. Wexner, Mr. Buffet, Mr. Immelt and scores of other successful people would say… adamantly refuse to be disheartened by those who don’t think it’s possible!

I Had Lunch With the Lieutenant Governor

It’s not everyday that you can say “Hey, I had lunch with Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor!” (although as a student in the MAcc program, you can get pretty close to saying such awesome things on a daily basis).

Well my friends, the MAcc program made sure that we could say just that.  So, I’ll say it – I had lunch with Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor.  Granted, it wasn’t a one-on-one lunch or anything.  But still, Mary Taylor came to speak to all of us MAccers (and a few other graduate students) at lunch.  How cool is that!?

For those of you who are not familiar with the Lieutenant Governor’s background, this is such a big deal because she is the first CPA to hold an elected office in the state of Ohio.  This is great news for students like me, who do not plan on making their living with their CPA in the field public accounting.  And even better news – she  is adamant that while she does not explicitly use her CPA on a daily basis, it has proven to be invaluable in her career.

I think the best part of this experience came in the Q&A session.  Lt. Governor Taylor provided great information regarding her background and career evolution at the start, but was eager to hear our questions.  This proved that the event was really for US, which I really appreciated.  She ensured that the hour was dedicated to ensuring that all of the MAcc (and the few MBA and SMF) students could learn exactly what we wanted to know.

Lieutenant Governor Taylor was great to listen to – she spoke openly, engaged us all, and answered all of our questions.  She provided some really unique perspectives on how becoming a CPA can broaden your thinking, and how it applies beyond the field of accounting.  I feel more confident than ever now that just because I have an accounting degree does not mean I’ll be an accountant forever.  From the way Lt. Governor Taylor made it sound, having your CPA is one of the best moves to make…you’ll be prepared for anything, and benefit from the unique methods of analysis it prepares you for.

Exciting opportunities like this happen all the time in the MAcc program.  This was one of the bigger awesome opportunities, and I am so thankful I was able to attend.  But rest assured – if you enroll in the MAcc program, you’ll have plenty of chances to attend outstanding presentations just like this.

A Quarter in The Fisher MAcc Under My Belt

I can’t believe fall quarter has come and gone already.  Seriously, it seems like last week I was making sure I had enough notebooks, pencils, and pens to last me 10 weeks.  I was just sitting down to write my first blog post.  I was getting ready to meet my professors for the first time.  Yeah – that wasn’t last week…

So what do I think about the MAcc program, now that I’ve actually had the chance to get my hands dirty?  Come on – you know that on paper (or on the website) Fisher makes the program out to be incredible.  “Work on incredible teams, learn from the best faculty, attend once in a lifetime guest speakers, and participate in great extracurriculars” are just a few of the claims you’ll hear through Fisher.  I can honestly say that each and every one of them is true.  I’ll even go so far as to back them up.

1.  Work on incredible teams – Each of the courses I took this quarter involved teamwork.  Some (Professor Turner’s 804) required a ton, while others (Professor William’s 824) required a little bit less.  In any case, there’s a slim chance that you’ll work with the same people for every class, so you get a lot of exposure.  And this exposure will be to different thinking styles, different backgrounds, and different cultures.  My finance 811 group, for instance, consisted of six members:  an American student, a Chinese student, a German student, a Puerto Rican student, a Ukrainian student, and a Phillippino student.  How’s that for an incredible team?

2.  Learn from the best faculty – When you can wake up in the morning excited for class not one, not five, but ten weeks in a row, the faculty must be doing something right.  Each faculty member I’ve had the pleasure to learn from so far has been obviously passionate about what they do, and want nothing more than to teach you as much as possible.  They’re willing to meet anytime to discuss lingering questions and more than happy to do whatever you need to make sure you learn.

3.  Once in a lifetime guest speakers – Guest speakers are a great way to mix up a class, as they can provide such a unique view to what you’re currently learning.  (Sorry Professor Dietrich, but I don’t think I can include your guest lectures in this category – just kidding!  Professor Dietrich guest lectured in one of our classes this year, and we had the opportunity to think critically about some bizarre accounting treatments…there were no right or wrong answers, so we really got to just think.  How often can you do that in a class??)  We also heard from Jim Leisenring, a member of the Fisher Accounting Hall of Fame and an influential member of the FASB and IASB.  Outside of the classroom, there are always events you can attend to listen to speakers…many of them include a free lunch too!  I was able to listen to Donald Kimble, CFO of Huntington Bank, talk a little about how the current economic environment has affected a regional bank.  His insight and talk of the future truly was fascinating.

4.  Participate in great extracurriculars – If you read my blog posts regularly (thank you!), you’ll remember some of the posts I’ve done relating to this topic.  My personal favorite this quarter had to be the MAcc intramural flag football team.  Return of the MAcc was so much fun, and I got to develop some new friendships with some of my classmates.  There are so many other great extracurriculars, such as the FETCH service program (teaching financial responsibility to younger kids), the VITA program which will happen this winter, and weekly Event of the Weeks.  If the academics haven’t convinced you Fisher is the right choice, these definitely should.

This really was a great 10 weeks and I’m sad to see it come to an end.  On the plus side, I’ll get to experience brand new courses and faculty, work with new groups, and participate in even more extracurriculars in just a few weeks.  And it does feel good to have a quarter under my belt!

A Visit from an All-Powerful Oz

On Wednesday, October 5, General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt was on campus for the “Leading from the Middle” National Middle Market Summit and took the time to speak with Fisher students. Just as a little added bonus, GE Capital Chairman and CEO Michael Neal also came along. Wow. Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon. That means that we’ve had Jamie Dimon and Jeffrey Immelt visit us for talks in the last year or so.

In keeping with the Fisher tradition, Mr. Immelt did not want to meet in an auditorium or huge lecture hall. He wanted the intimacy of a classroom. This meant that about 100 of us were able to sit in a room with two men that actually help shape the world we live in. While it was daunting to sit there and listen to them speak it was also inspiring. Mr. Immelt spoke for about 5 minutes (maybe 10) and then opened the floor for questions as he didn’t come to Fisher to give a lecture. He actually was interested in hearing our concerns and our questions.

I’ve often wondered “Why?” when I look at someone in Mr. Immelt’s position. By that I mean why is this person still working? Jeffrey Immelt can do anything he wants. He is one of the masters of the universe. Yet he still will wake up tomorrow and go to work. I wonder why that is. Why doesn’t he retire and do whatever he wants? Why keep this up any longer? I think I may have an answer to the question now.

The point that came across the clearest from Mr. Immelt’s talk is that he likes what he does. He enjoys running GE and having the ability to bring its resources to bear on some of the world’s biggest problems. He believes GE can actually make the world a better place. Just because he is beholden to GE’s shareholders, it doesn’t mean that the company cannot also “do good” for the planet. By using its size and resources, GE can attack some of the most pressing concerns that the U.S. and the world are facing, such as health care and alternative energy. I came away from the talk thinking that Mr. Immelt genuinely believes these things.

All in all, it was a great time. To be able to listen to how Mr. Immelt views his and GE’s roles was an amazing opportunity. It was even better since there were not 500 of us crammed into an auditorium. One more “plus” from the intimate program we have here at Fisher.