NYMag’s “She’s the Boss” Series

A little late to the game here, but I just stumbled upon NYMag‘s “She’s the Boss” series, which is full of great articles about being a lady in the business world. A couple of my favorite pieces were “25 Famous Women on Being in Charge” and “Everything I Learned Leading a Fortune 500 Company,” an interview with Lynn Good, the first female CEO of Duke Energy.

Some highlights:

Lynn Good
“Always play to your strengths, whether your strengths are gender-based or just natural aptitude. You’re well-spoken, or you’re very analytical, or you’re a great team-builder, or you’re great with relationships … Playing to your strengths is always something good to build on, because you’re trying to develop a foundation to keep growing, as a professional and as a leader. [… T]his issue of stereotypes, behavior that’s consistent with gender, I think every woman needs to evaluate how those things help your effectiveness, because ultimately what you’re trying to do is be the most effective leader, the most effective professional, and you want to add to your foundational strengths, and not detract from them.”

Jenna Lyons
“Managing creative people — not so easy. A lot of emotion, a lot of stroking. Some people need tough love. Some people need a lot of love. There’s no right or wrong answer. When someone creates something and puts it in front of you, that thing came from inside of them, and if you make them feel bad, it’s going to be hard to fix, because you’ve actually crushed them.” —Fast Company, April 2013

Mindy Kaling
“Well, [being a boss] was the thing I was kind of most excited about. You know, I came into the new show thinking, oh, let me have this democratic way of doing the show because I remember what it was like being a staff writer … At the beginning, I started at the show being a little bit too democratic … I just didn’t want to, like, overcorrect and become, like, the Saddam Hussein of the new job … [I]t was a really interesting learning experience, deciding that I have to just be very decisive and not take everyone’s opinion.’” —NPR, September 2012

Marissa Mayer
“I realized in all the cases where I was happy with the decision I made, there were two common threads: Surround myself with the smartest people who challenge you to think about things in new ways, and do something you are not ready to do so you can learn the most.” —Los Angeles Times, January 2011

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

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Orientation Day 1: Accidentally Kellogg-Famous?

Yesterday was the first day of orientation (CIM — Complete Immersion in Management) at Kellogg. There is already so much I want to write about my experience at Kellogg so far, from their Social Impact Days event to the people to the KWEST trip I just went on to Peru (more on that soon).

But I am just so jazzed about this first day of orientation that I need to write about it RIGHT NOW. We were assigned our sections for fall quarter (go Big Dogs!) and listened to some speeches, including one by Dean Sally Blount, undoubtedly the most badass woman in the MBA dean game. We also did a choose-your-own-adventure leadership simulation based on a climb up Mt. Everest.

For me though, the very best part of all was during Kellogg’s MBA-famous “One of You” speech, delivered by Kate Smith, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. In this speech, she highlights the diversity of the incoming class by listing off some of our classmates’ accomplishments. There were so many impressive achievements, from starting non-profits benefiting underprivileged children, to convincing Melinda Gates to invest $100M in a development project, to Ironman triathletes and professional musicians.

Then… “One of you interviewed cast and designed challenges as a producer on shows like The Biggest Loser and Joe Schmo 3.You guys…THAT’S ME! And I’m so excited to tell you about this because it goes to show that we non-traditional people really are unusual and valuable and totally brag-worthy. (For real though, I’m even in the Kellogg news feature about the speech.)

So if you’re a non-traditional candidate working on your applications or looking into applying, keep your head in the game. It’s a lot of hard work, and we have more to prove than traditional candidates, but there are programs out there that want you and students out there who will be so excited to have you as one of them.

And now, a lovely PSA from our CIM Week execs on ways to celebrate life. Why not, right?

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

You F*cking Rule

Last week, I hopped on the phone with a non-traditional applicant (who works in fashion!) to chat about all things MBA. We ended up talking about how people don’t apply to business school because everything’s oh-so-perfect, but because they realize that they’re itching for more — a higher salary, a career change, something new.

And it got me thinking…If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably decided to pursue your MBA. You’ve decided you want more. And that is f*cking awesome.

…And f*cking scary, right?

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Sheryl Sandberg: Win Hearts

Sheryl Sandberg recently spoke to the graduates of Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. The speech is making headlines for her touching tribute to her late husband, and she also stressed the importance of being bold, soliciting feedback, empowering others, and supporting equality.

Some other highlights:

“I believe that there are some principles of leadership that are universal — and one of those is that it is better to inspire than to direct. […] Great leaders do not just want to secure compliance. They want to elicit genuine enthusiasm, complete trust, and real dedication. They don’t just win the minds of their teams, they win their hearts. If they believe in your organization’s mission and they believe in you, they will not only do their daily tasks well, but they will do them with true passion.

No one won more hearts than my beloved husband Dave Goldberg who passed away suddenly two months ago. Dave was a truly inspiring leader. He was kind. He was generous. He was thoughtful. He raised the level of performance of everyone around him. [… HBS] Professor Frances Frei has said ‘leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’ Like Dave, you can do this for others over the course of your career.”

“I hope if you find yourself on one path but longing for something else, you find a way to get there. And if that isn’t right, try again. Try until you find something that stirs your passion, a job that matters to you and matters to others. It’s a luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a clear path to happiness.”

Read the full text of the speech at HuffPo.

Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Where Oh Where to Apply?

A really great Stacy Blackman e-mail popped into my inbox earlier this week. (Maybe it popped into yours too?) It was about figuring out where to apply — is it more important for you want an MBA from one particular school (Stanford or bust!), or just to get the MBA?

I decided to post highlights from that e-mail then figured, why not also share how I picked schools? That’s what MBA blogs are all about, right?

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Kellogg Graduation (Not Mine, Obvs)

Today is Kellogg graduation day! To commemorate, Kellogg Dean Betsy Ziegler wrote this awesome post with advice for the Class of 2015. A few highlights:

“You will have moments of sheer panic – that you were a hiring mistake; that you made an unforgivable error on an analysis; that you are overwhelmed by the workload/responsibility. […] Resist the urge to go underground and hide. Instead, ask for help. […] It is a sign of strength to say you don’t know but are willing to do everything you can to figure it out. […] You will be great, but you can’t be great totally on your own”

“Every six months I was at McKinsey, I asked myself – Am I still learning? Am I still making an impact? Am I still having fun? […] At year 11, I started to feel differently, so wrote out a 40×40 list (things I wanted to do by the time I was 40) and started executing. My world totally opened up. I was a seat filler at the Primetime Emmys, travelled around the globe, attended the Aspen Ideas Festival…and I made choices that got me to Kellogg. 

I firmly believe that you have to plan to live a full and happy life. […] Figure out what is important to you over time (not necessarily what others think is important), and make intentional choices that bring you the greatest personal happiness. […] Make the brave choice and take it.”

Everything about that post makes me so fired up to be going to Kellogg this fall. I hope it gets you equally excited about applying to b school!!

Courtney Kemp Agboh: Certified Badass

Just read this incredible interview with Courtney Kemp Agboh, the showrunner of Starz’s Power. (Full disclosure: I hadn’t seen Power before reading this interview, but I’m catching up now.)

I love how completely honest and no-bullshit this woman is, even about her vulnerabilities. Proof:

“My job isn’t to make great women; my job is to make a great fucking show so that the next time a woman wants to run her own show, somebody says, ‘Yeah, she can probably do it because that other bitch did it.'”

“There’s no leap [to showrunner]. There’s staff writer, and I worked my way up. The shows I worked on got canceled every year, and then I was on The Good Wife for three years, and the idea [for Power] started to come together and I pitched it. I had a couple more years in the wilderness and then they finally said yes. Slow and steady work. […] If you want to be a showrunner, you have to work your way all the way up.”

What did you learn from making season one of Power?
“I kind of know a little bit what I’m doing. That was a big revelation, because I had never done this before, and I learned that I could trust my own taste. I could trust my instincts. It didn’t mean I had all the experience or I knew everything, but I could trust myself some.”

Read more at Vulture, and watch Power on Starz (season 2 premiered on June 6 to record-setting ratings for Starz). The first episode is available for free online.

Image courtesy of Kurt Iswarienko / AP.