Spring Break Part I: Mesa, Arizona!

The first several days of my last spring break as a MAcc student were spent in Mesa, Arizona, with my dad.  (One of the benefits of being in Columbus is you’re always one change of planes from any decently sized city in the U.S.) We flew out Friday evening and spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons at Hohokam Park, home of the Chicago Cubs spring training!  Unfortunately (although unsurprisingly), the Cubs lost on Saturday to the Cleveland Indians in an embarrassing performance involving five, six, maybe seven different pitchers?  I know, I know, it’s only spring training, but a 9-2 loss doesn’t get my hopes up for the games that apparently do matter in the regular season.  But, the Cubs were able to turn it around on Sunday and beat the San Diego Padres 9-3.  The sun was out, there were hot dogs and ice cream to spare, and it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Outside Hohokam Park, home of the Chicago Cubs spring training!

After a couple of days of baseball, we drove out to the Phoenix Botanical Garden to get some sun and see the Sonoran Desert at its finest!  We saw tons of cacti as you might expect in a desert, but the botanical garden also had an herb garden and butterfly garden, as well as some hand-built shelters and tools used by tribes native to the desert.  I also saw a few prairie dogs running about.  If I remember correctly, the real name according to an official botanical garden sign was some type of squirrel, but they sure looked like prairie dogs to me!  There were also lots of beautiful flowers among the green cacti; the one below was one of my favorites!

One of the thousands of beautiful plants in the botanical garden

We spend the last couple of days soaking up the sun at the pool, as it reached the high 80’s by our last day.  After what seemed like a short trip, it was back to Columbus for a pit stop before heading to Chicago for the Big 10 Tourney to get my basketball fix before the last six weeks of classes in the Fisher MAcc!


My Spring Break

Wow!  What great weather we are having for Spring Break. As a Working Professional, “Spring Break” for most is a week when you just go to work and then come back home and not head to campus for four hours.  But, I hope you are all taking advantage of this wonderful weather after hours.  So far, I have jogged a bit outside, rode my bike a few miles, read a couple books on my front porch while listening to the birds chirp, did a little shopping (ok, so this doesn’t have anything to do with the weather, but it’s more fun to buy flip flops when it’s nice out), had the windows open most afternoons, and on Saturday, we even had a fire going outside.  We created a new twist to the traditional smore.  Since the only chocolate in the house came from a couple boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, you’ll see our concoction (not the best picture, but you get the point).  And yes, it was delicious and a little less messy than a regular smore.

Hope you are all enjoying Spring Break and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is going by very fast!

Legacies Left Must Be Alright

Ever notice yourself having a train of thought due to a recurring theme manifesting itself in your life events?  No?  Well then maybe you should pay closer attention.

Last we spoke, I just arrived in Peru and promised to provide you an update with pictures.  I’m not one to disappoint . . . I just didn’t realize there would be such an enormous lapse between posts.  Well, as they say: “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  Personally, I prefer: “Life happens when you’re making other plans.”

Here’s what’s new with me:  My aunt died.  I visited Peru.  Spring sprung.  Spring quarter started.  Peruvian bacteria accompanied me home.  My internship search continues.  New officers are being elected in student organizations.  Red Carpet weekend just ended.

My array of feelings (in no accompanying order to the prior list): sick, tired, sick and tired, over-committed, under-utilized, over-whelmed, under-appreciated, appreciative, apprehensive, excited, hopeful, ambitious, grateful, irritated, exhausted, elated, deflated, determined, distracted, supportive, suspicious, apathetic, empathetic, blessed, lucky, and loved.

Bi-polar?  Nah, it’s just my Fisher Grad life.  Ups and downs are normal and they come quickly and sometimes unexpectedly.  There’s a lot going on and it is really important to navigate through everything without failing to make time for the people and things that *really* matter.  Which brings me back to contemplating “legacy”.

Just as a snail leaves a trail, we are each bound to leave a legacy.  I’m amazed at the legacies left by people and by institutions.  The Ohio State University has a lot of alumni.  I was told this during my Red Carpet weekend event last year.  David Smith of our Admissions Office travels throughout the world recruiting MBA students and he told us that no matter where we were, we could let out a cry of “O-H!” and undoubtedly it would be met with an response of “I-O!”  These are the stories of legend.  Stories of legend are worth testing when possible so while hiking around Machu Picchu, our group opted to conduct a test.  Standing at the Intiwatana overlooking the Central Plaza, we let out a loud cry of “O-H!” and to our great amusement we were promptly answered by “I-O!”  Yes, seriously.  We were so amused we continued our cry time and again until we were shushed by some nearby Peruvian park attendants.  In our exuberance, we forgot about the fact that we were at one of the modern wonders of the world and not all guests would enjoy listening to us yell while they navigated this sacred space.

Fact is: I’m proud to be a Buckeye.  Over the past couple of days I’ve met many potential members of the Ohio State MBA Class of 2013.  Some of them have accepted their admission letter and will be joining me this fall.  Others sit the fence and are still considering their options.  My advice to them is the same I’d give to any of you reading this that are unsure of your MBA future: Choose the program that your heart tells you to attend.  Each program has its merit and will provide great opportunities for your future.  You’ll do fine wherever you choose to go.  That said, make sure you’re following your own inner voice and not that of your parents, fiance(e), boyfriend/girlfriend, boss, co-workers, or friends.  You spend a *HUGE* amount of time on campus and with your classmates.  Be sure you’re spending that precious time at the place that suits you best.  Life is short and the days/weeks fly by quickly.  I can hardly believe I’m seven weeks away from the end of my first year.  Leave your own legacy… not one that someone else dreamt up for you.

Fisher has a very intimate and collaborative program but – believe you me – B-school pushes you to compete against each other.  Frankly, I’m getting really tired of competing.  As long as I’m doing the best I can do, I’m fine.  In the end, what matters is not the things that we accomplish or leave undone.  It is not the offices held or the grades, salaries, or frequent flier miles earned but the people we love and whose lives we touch that matter.

I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it’s only life after all”  – The Indigo Girls

This is what giddy looks like.
Found him!
Downtown Lima at dusk
O-H-I-O (photo courtesy of Jeff Sleasman, taken by Leanne Gluck)

Spring Break … The Shortest Week Ever

Ah, spring quarter. How quickly you have arrived. When you are smiling and nodding through orientation, spring quarter could be 10 years away. You’re sure it will be forever before you finish two quarters and make it to the last lap of the year. And yet, here we are.

But between what was an admittedly challenging winter quarter and the start of something fresher, something pleasant, there was one week of blissful relaxation. My classmates took the opportunity to squeeze in a little travel to St. Thomas, New York, Miami, Puerto Rico, Philly, Orlando and other warm and inviting destinations. I now admire their tans and Facebook pictures of spring break happiness.

But since I have a body that is not remotely ready to be seen on a beach on spring break, and I have two children who would probably be a real drag on those sand volleyball games, I had to choose a more family friendly option for break. That’s right kids, we’re going to the Smokies! Sure it was a cabin instead of a cabana and the only swimwear action was a couple of kids splashing around in a hot tub, but it was just perfect for me.

Some of the highlights:

1. We saw a bear! Granted, this might not be on the top of most spring breakers’ lists, but I thought this was amazing. To see a black bear rooting around in the underbrush clearly ignoring the flock of tourists snapping pictures from a ridge 100 yards away, is something to see. I’ve made trips to the Tennessee Smokies since I was about 7 years old, and this was my first bear sighting.

See Amazing Sights!

2. Reading for pleasure. Yes, this is one of the things I miss most about school. There is always reading to do, but none of it is for pleasure no matter how much we may claim to really get something useful out of the materials. It’s jus not that same as a gritty fiction novel.

3. Eating at an “Indian Owned” restaurant in Cherokee, NC. Yeah I really wanted to play some Black Jack at the Indian casino, but kids aren’t real conducive to that type of spring-break activity either. So, we did the next best thing: We took the family to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (which is really quite interesting) and then settled on a locally-owned establishment for lunch known as Paul’s. I’ve never eaten at a Native American diner so I had to try something off the “Indian” menu. I ordered the Indian taco; I know, doesn’t quite sound authentic does it? But, it was a tasty fried bread concoction with a heaping scoop of chili and taco fixings on top.

4. Hiking two-and-a-half miles up hill, down hill, through mud, across foot bridges, while herding two kids back from the precipice of certain death, or at least a broken arm. And then, turning around and doing it all over again on the way back. At the end of the first-half of the trek: Abram’s Falls, a scenic waterfall where every other hiker was lounging like a lizard on the warm rocks next to the water’s edge. This included a trio of husky guys who were always a few yards in front of us. Their scarlet and gray get ups made me think they were Buckeyes. The O-H-I-O they created by the falls sealed the deal. I watched as they recruited someone to become the leading O. It was too much! I had to tell them I was a Buckeye too. So I asked: Are you guys on spring break too? The reply: “Yes, ma’am.” Ma’am? Ouch! Well, I am a Buckeye too, and I was jealous I wasn’t in the picture. I wonder if they thought I was a staffer on break. Regardless, it was a reminder that Buckeyes are everywhere.

Buckeyes Are Everywhere!

Spring break 2011

You’ll forgive me if I’m a bit short with this entry. You see, I’m on vacation and I intend it to be “leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure” (thank you wordnetweb). To be honest, this has been a  rather heterodox spring break for me. I’ve always been one to work hard and play hard, but there is probably something to say about simply giving yourself time to relax. Over the past several years, I’ve transitioned into an adult life–arguable I know–that has taught me the virtues of having a  good work ethic. I feel I have been more than satisfied to sit down and rely on hard work to drive my future. I always thought it would provide me opportunities and it has; however, a new problem presents itself in that the opportunities all seem so viable! Spring break this year has afforded me the time to reflect and ponder over my life and its prospects over the next five to ten years. Thanks to my absolutely gorgeous and wonderful friends in the MAcc program, I had the most incredible environment in which to do it.

Since I know I’d have trouble attempting to illustrate how rejuvenating the entire break has been, I’ll allow these thousand words to speak for me.

Nutshell spring break
Spring break in a nutshell

My time to reflect hasn’t given me an answer to my dilemma but rather has given me direction and for that I am most grateful. Anyways, the beach is calling my name once more and I’m afraid I must answer. Oh and by the by, I’ve been able to catch up on some Harry Potter!

Winter Quarter Recap

Now that finals are OVER, it’s time to recap and discuss some highlights of Winter Quarter 2011.

First of all, I really enjoyed my classes during winter quarter.  One of my favorite classes was MHR 846 Talent Management.  I learned a lot about the various talent management practices that are employed within organizations, including onboarding, succession planning, recruiting, performance management and developing employee’s strengths.  Additionally, we were given the opportunity to conduct a talent management assessment on a company/business of our choice.  By far, this was my favorite group project because it allowed our group to assess an entire function in relation to the organization.  Most of my projects to date have focused on either designing or developing a process, so this was a nice change of pace.  Next, I got a lot of worthwhile information from MHR 807 Organizational Change.  My most positive takeaways from this class was learning about having integrity and honoring your word, displaying personal accountability in change management efforts and finding out that, generally, people consistently act inconsistent.  This class certainly was challenging.  But I’m always up for a good challenge and, as a result, I definitely had a lot of positive takeaways.  Lastly, in MHR 852 HR II, I learned about two major themes that every HR professional needs to know:  Competencies and HR Scorecards.  As always, all I can say to this class is this:  I had F-U-N.

During this winter quarter I finally got to experience my first SNOW day!  I can tell you, there is nothing like getting a free day off from class due to inclement weather.  Even though this day off might have taken away from some of my learning, I’m not going to complain.  And neither would any other undergraduate and graduate student.  I hope that we get one AGAIN next winter quarter.

As always, I had a good time attending my share of round-tables and guest speakers that are posted on The Hub.  I am not going to lie, if I have a “foreknowledge” that Adriatico’s pizza will be served, you can be sure you will see my name on the sign-up list.  It’s by far the best pizza in Columbus, OH.

Lastly, even though I don’t have any “official” spring break trip planned, I am going to try to make the most of my 10 days off.  I definitely have a long list of “to-do” items to get done.  It’s amazing how many things you can get behind on when you are in the middle of taking classes.

All in all, I hope everyone had a great winter quarter and I am looking forward to spring quarter as well as heading off to my summer internship!


There are two kinds of people in life . . . those who are spontaneous and those who are planners.  Sure, you can argue that you’re somewhere in between but, when you really think about it, I purport that you find yourself in one camp or the other.  Me?  I’m a planner.

I’m writing this from my hostel in Lima, Peru.  I arrived a couple of hours ago and within the past hour the remainder of my classmates (spare a couple) have all safely arrived.  We are here as part of our winter quarter course work.  We opted to take part in the EMFS program offered by the International Programs Office and CIBER at Fisher.  There is a group in Brazil, a working Spanish group in Puerto Rico, and we’re the micro-enterprise group visiting Peru.  Spring break is a great time to stretch your wings and gain some international exposure… especially if you don’t participate in a longer-term study abroad program.

My planner-self really struggled with this trip.  We didn’t receive an itinerary until the week prior to departure, boarding passes arrived yesterday afternoon, finals just ended yesterday, and I am staying an extra day in the city because I wanted to find airfare for under $1,000.  Oh yeah – my level of Spanish consists of what I learned 30 some years ago watching Sesame Street.

I’m well traveled in the states but am used to staying in hotels.  Hostel is the name of a horror flick.  Have I mentioned my over-active imagination?

Fact of the matter: I chose this particular trip option because I knew it would challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone.

It would also allow me to explore a subject area that has increasingly intrigued me for the past few years… Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship.  If you find yourself in the same boat, I strongly suggest you check out the upcoming summit.  I attended last year before I was a student and I’m really looking forward to attending again this year.

I hate shots and had to get five (tetanus, flu, HepA, typhoid, yellow fever)… half of our group is going into the Amazon jungle.  They needed to get malaria too.  I’m not particularly earthy and I’ve always refused to leave the house without makeup.  For this trip, I’m sans makeup, staying in hostels, sleeping in group arrangements, and doing my best to ward off mosquitoes (there’s one in my room now so I just doused myself with repellent).

That said, I’m learning a new culture, touring the Andes mountains, seeing Machu Picchu, earning class credit, testing my limits, and helping small dairy farmers grow their businesses.  What’s the full-time MBA all about?  Life experiences.  Can’t wait to post pictures for you later!

How to Make the Most of your On-Campus Spring Break

Last week, I was solely focused on anything that was mid-term exam & project-oriented.  My tiny brain was inundated with meeting deadlines; reading…reading and…RE-reading Harvard Business Review case studies; agonizing over how to piece together several 2-15 page, 12-pt, Times New Roman, double-spaced, 1-inch margin explanation and recommendation papers; and, the COUP DE GRACE, cooking up ways to describe amazing broad topics such as competencies and balance scorecards.

Now that mid-term week is officially over for me, its time to focus on Spring Break.  Yes, I do realize that I’m not “out of the woods” yet. And yes, I still have final exam week to command and conquer.  But whats the harm in dreaming for a blog or two about how great, wonderful, amazing and awesome a well-deserved 9-10 day break from classes, papers and people will be.

For me, I really don’t have anything significant (e.g. trip) planned.  Mostly, I just wanted to get myself thinking about how I make the most of my spring break…even if I’m only in Columbus.

1.  Take a Break. Sounds crazy, huh?  Well, its true.  Everyone of us needs to detox our brains & bodies from “trying to do it all”.  Take a day, do A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y nothing and feel good about it.  There is no sense in feeling guilty about having to “do something” when there is nothing to do.  For me, its a 9:53am wake-up and a date with some Cap’n Crunch and CSI Miami re-runs all day.  Horacio…such a bad man.

2.  Think Outside the Bar. This might cause some graduate students to blow a gasket.  Its fair to admit:  there are “other” forms of entertainment and socializing other than ritual ‘mug night’ at the local hole-in-the-wall.  Punxsutwaney Phil said spring is coming early this early.  I believe him and so should you.  Go for a bike ride or take on the hiking trails at Alum Creek.  Maybe hit up a new part of town and see what else Columbus has to offer.  It might be worth your while.

3.  Tie Up Loose Ends. Now that you’ve done “nothing” for a whole day, its time to be semi-productive.  Try to tie up all those loose ends  you know you have been putting off for quite some time.  Schedule that drug test for your internship (um, that’s me), clean out your car or play catch-up on your DVR.  You’ll  feel better when you do.


4.  Me time. Embrace the solitude of just having a week off.  Everything and everyone has been pulling at you for the last 12 weeks.  The demands of grad school have taken their toll on your body and its time to recharge your batteries.  The best thing I’ve found to get my swagger back (other than use Old Spice Swagger body wash) is to spend some good ol’ time with three people I know best:  me, myself and I.

Go Bucks!

Kid’s story: Cold lessons, or lessons in the cold… (PG-13 version)

Timeline: Thursday afternoon (what?!)

I see: gloomy skies.

I hear:  “Los Maté” by Tego Calderón on XM radio

I smell: Pineapple Cilantro…?

I feel: a surprising lack of motivation.

Note: this post is a couple of weeks old and has been edited for content.

So winter quarter is finally over. In a nutshell: I really hope spring is better. I only had lecture classes (as opposed to discussions) and I really found them less interesting than I expected. Then again, maybe it was just me.

One thing I learned during winter was that the weather is not as bad as people describe it, at least for me. It certainly was not enjoyable every day, especially during the three or four snowstorms we had between January and March, but the sun does shine with certain frequency and the snow is not much of a problem most of the time, as this city has the necessary infrastructure to deal with it adequately. Of course, you will hear people complaining a LOT about how the city of Columbus only has 60 plows or something and how they do not plow side streets down to the pavement and a bunch of other things. Then again, you kind of expect these things in “the developed world”, where people could definitely improve on their appreciation of what they have and how well things work. Whining aside, winter is mild enough to be livable; since this past winter was one of the worst in the memory of locals, it can only get better.

Also, as time goes by, people get to know you better and feel more at ease around you. It goes without saying that this is a good thing like 99% of the time. Sometimes, however, you could find that some comments go a bit over the line (unintentionally, mostly). It’s no big deal, but it kind of surprised me and I could have used a heads-up in this regard.

Another pointer: getting that summer internship is quite difficult and stressful. At the end of fall it doesn’t seem too bad, but I have dedicated considerable time and efforts during winter and have gotten NOWHERE so far. When you bring that up as a concern, people will tell you that many have already gotten their internships (mostly domestic students) and that several others are in the same internship-less situation (mostly international students). None too reassuring, to say the least. The best advice that can be given in advance is to start looking for an internship the summer before classes start, and to be relentless about it. That way, you can have a great peace of mind. However, I can also tell you that if you get your kicks out of the adrenaline rush of waiting until the last minute, you won’t be disappointed at all.

As for spring break, which is currently underway, many of my classmates traveled to other countries as part of the emerging markets class; namely Peru, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Brazil. You will surely be able to read numerous posts on their travels in the coming days.

I decided to drive down to the Sunshine State for a few days. The trip was quite enjoyable, as the roads in this country are excellent (I think I mentioned that before), and going to a party full of undergrads on the beach is quite a sight for a single person as myself. Plus, I got to spend some time with my family and shop around. In short: pateó asno. The downside is that now the weather in Columbus seems worse than when I left, but that’s bound to wear off.

Um… Yeah, that’s about it for now.

“There’s 40 million of us in this country, and we ain’t going nowhere!”  – George Lopez

Spring Break in Brazil

Tonight marks the last day of possibly the last Spring Break of my life. As I look back on the past year I can’t believe how lucky I am and what the MBA program has done for my quality of life. Travel is something that is very important to me and just in the past 12 months alone I’ve traveled to Germany for a week with my summer internship with DHL, traveled to Wake Forest and won $50,000 in a case competition, traveled to Omaha to meet Warren Buffett, traveled to multiple on-site interviews with some great companies, traveled home to Tucson several times for weeks at a time, and most recently traveled to Brazil for a week with the Emerging Market Field Studies program.

I knew the Brazil trip was going to be fun, but it totally blew away all my expectations. The group was a great mix of students from the full-time MBA program, MLHR program, Working Professional MBA program, and even the undergraduate program (Note to self: 20 year old superstar Bill Babeaux will be my boss someday). I don’t think I’ve laughed as much in a week in my life (mostly due to Celina, Micah and Horvath). Sometimes when you travel with large groups you encounter difficulties or conflicting personalities, but the entire trip went incredibly smooth and everyone got along exceptionally well.

Highlights of my trip included:

  • Meeting our Brazilian colleagues that we had been working with all quarter at ESALQ (Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Quieroz”)
  • Eco-trekking in Brotas and standing under giant waterfalls and laying out by the most beautiful pool ever
  • Jogging through the streets of Piracicaba, getting totally lost, but enjoying the scenery and covering much more distance than usual
  • Seeing the Rio Piracicaba, the most powerful display of water I’ve ever seen in person
  • Eating plates and plates of delicious feijoada, Brazil’s national dish
  • Visiting a green Wal-Mart and hearing about their sustainability practices
  • Enjoying the Sao Paulo nightlife, where things begin to pick up when I usually go to bed
  • Getting the “meat sweats” from eating unlimited amounts of meat at a churrascaria (Professor Costigan wasn’t joking)

The only small difficulty I encountered was the fact that I booked my return flight a day later. When we all went to the ticket counter on Friday night, I was told I’d have to stay an additional 24 hours on my own since my flight was booked for Saturday and the actual flight I was supposed to be on was totally booked. I made the most of it though and I was glad it didn’t happen to anyone else on the trip. I had a chance to walk around the city some more and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of Brazil. I also reread one of my favorite books ever, The Power of Optimism by Alan Loy McGinnis, which couldn’t have come at a more opportune time (the book that changed my life, available on Amazon for $0.01).

Now that I’m back in Columbus, I have to get back into moving at MBA speed. I’m teaching two sections of my undergraduate business class this quarter which I’m looking forward to. And for once I’m only taking three classes, so hopefully I’ll have more time for Duke MBA Games planning, Fisher Follies, Utsav, weekend barbeques, laying out on the oval, and all the other fabulousness that makes spring quarter the BEST quarter at Ohio State.

Mike ^_^