A Fashion Faux Pas

Source: Mashable, Sep 2014

Wisdom in the Age of Information – Maria Popova

Amelie’s Question: How Many People Are Having An Orgasm right Now?

Source: IMDB website, 2001

Narrator: Amélie still seeks solitude. She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below, such as “How many people are having an orgasm right now?”

[scenes of various orgasms taking place]

Amélie: Fifteen.

EdX: “The Road to Selective College Admissions”

Source: EdX, Sep 2014

The Road to Selective College Admissions is designed for students in 10th and 11th grade who are looking to navigate the college application process. Students will become well-versed in the language of college admissions and be led through exercises aiming to broaden their access to available resources.

At the end of this course, students will understand how to research schools as they build a list of colleges of interest. We will provide tools to help students plan their high school summers, and begin considering financing a college education. Students will learn how to build a support network and given tips on how to be successful in college once they matriculate. Most importantly, students will be led through the application itself, focusing on standardized testing, essays, and extracurricular activities.

Courage is Rarer than Genius

Source: Fortune, Sep 2014

“Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.” Peter Thiel


Should You Get an MBA?

Source: HBR blog, Sep 2014

Practical leadership and management skills

Business schools have realized that it’s not sufficient to provide quantitative and analytical training, because within a few years of leaving school (or even immediately upon graduation) their alumni will add value more through their ability to lead and manage others than through their talents as individual contributors. And effectiveness in these more senior roles requires an entirely different interpersonal skill set. Saloner goes on to note that, “the softer skill sets, the real leadership, the ability to work with others and through others, to execute, that is still in very scarce supply.”

Harvard’s Bill George has said, “I don’t think you can teach leadership, I think you can learn about it” through experiential activities that bring students together to help them understand their strengths and limitations, provide feedback and promote self-awareness, and these activities require a very different approach from traditional lecture methods.

The special advantage of an MBA program is the opportunity to develop leadership and interpersonal skills with a group of peers in a sequence of experiential courses informed by current research. So ask yourself:

  • Do the MBA programs I’m considering provide practical leadership and management training?
  • How well-established are these courses? How much support do they have from the school? How much support do they have from the surrounding community?
  • What do alumni say about their experiences in these courses? How have they benefited from this training?
  • And what alternative means are available to me to develop these practical skills?

A credential that sends a signal to the marketplace

  • What market am I in now? What markets might I seek to enter in the future?
  • Who’s interested in my services? How might this change if I had an MBA?
  • How are MBAs perceived in these markets? What signals does an MBA send in these markets? What stereotypes (both positive and negative) might I face as an MBA?
  • What is the specific reputation of the MBA programs I’m considering? How are these schools and their alumni viewed within my desired markets?
  • And what alternative means are available to me to send the signals I desire to communicate?

Membership in a learning community and access to an alumni network

  • What do I know about the students at the MBA programs I’m considering? Are they like-minded peers? Do I see myself learning alongside them?
  • What do I know about the alumni networks of these programs? How active are they? Are they concentrated in geographic areas and professional fields of interest to me?
  • What support does a school provide to its alumni network and to individual alumni? Do alumni return frequently to participate in events and activities at the school?

Ivy League Admissions (Guaranteed!)

Source: Businessweek, Sep 2014

Ma guarantees that his students will get into a top school or their parents get their money back—provided the applicant achieves a certain GPA and other metrics. He also offers a standard college consulting package that doesn’t come with a guarantee; for a lower price, Ma’s centers provide after-school tutoring, test prep, college counseling, and extra class work in English, math, science, and history.

Ma, a former hedge fund analyst, makes bets on student admissions the way a trader plays the commodities markets. Using 12 variables from a student’s profile—from grades and test scores to extracurricular activities and immigration status—Ma’s software crunches the odds of admission to a range of top-shelf colleges.

His proprietary algorithm assigns varying weights to different parameters, derived from his analysis of the successes and failures of thousands of students he’s coached over the years. Ma’s algorithm, for example, predicts that a U.S.-born high school senior with a 3.8 GPA, an SAT score of 2,000 (out of 2,400), moderate leadership credentials, and 800 hours of extracurricular activities, has a 20.4 percent chance of admission to New York University and a 28.1 percent shot at the University of Southern California. Those odds determine the fee ThinkTank charges that student for its guaranteed consulting package: $25,931 to apply to NYU and $18,826 for USC. “Of course we set limits on who we’ll guarantee,” says Ma. “We don’t want to make this a casino game.”