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Archive for November, 2010

Kinda Like Ironman Hawaii

Have you ever met a triathlete who was pushing themselves in an effort to get good enough to go to Ironman Hawaii?  I’ve met a few men who chase this dream.  Surprisingly, these guys are pretty normal: they have jobs, wives, kids and mortgages.  But they give up their free time in nights and weekends to train.  They push themselves, make themselves stronger and better.

And for what?  Not one of these men is ever going to be good enough to win Ironman Hawaii.  Not ever.   By their own admission, there would have to be some sort of catastrophe that hit the front runners before they’d ever have a shot of winning. They’re just training to get to the race.  They train to get good enough to compete at a world-class level.  Their dream isn’t to win, it’s to compete in the most grueling race known to that sport.

I am no athlete.  The chances of me ever discussing my training regimen for an athletic event are the square root of zero.  So why in the world would I mention it?  Because I just completed my version of training for world-class competition.

Just a few minutes ago, I completed an application for Harvard Business School, pursuant to a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, with an emphasis on Psychology.

Ok…. some of you are probably saying: WTF? Right?  Well… let me explain.

1) Let’s just get this straight.  I don’t expect to get admitted.  I just wanted to compete and fulfill a lifelong dream of putting in a good, strong application. Being good enough to compete in the big leagues.  Even if I am not a winner.

2) I vowed never to rack up more educational debt.  And I wouldn’t be breaking that vow if I get in. If a person is admitted to HBS for a Ph.D., he/she doesn’t have to pay.  Due to the generous HBS Endowment, students are guaranteed to be fully funded (tuition + stipend) for 4 to 5 years.  I put myself in $100K of educational debt for my previous degrees.  Thankfully, the house sale enabled me to pay that off.  I don’t intend to make that mistake ever again, and I never recommend submitting to a bunch of educational debt to anyone else.

3) If I get in, I don’t intend to stop working. I have built my strategic consulting practice to a place where I am in an unusual position: I telecommute for major client projects and rarely have to go onsite.  Thus, I could continue unabated.

4) If I get in, I’ll get over the weather.  It’s true: I’m a big baby when it comes to cold weather.  But I hear there are clothes, heaters, and something called an ice-scraper.  And, if all else fails, I’ll hop on a plane for the Caribbean.

5) No, I can’t just learn this stuff by reading books.  To me, the value of educational experience is the 2-way conversation. I’m an extrovert.  Running through piles of books may be necessary for academic excellence, but it is not a raison d’etre. Reading a book without a 2-way, meaningful, in-person dialogue is boring as hell for me. So, no Mr. Will Hunting, I don’t care that you’ve consumed an entire library.  How do you like ‘dem apples?

6) You may also be wondering: what the hell would you do with that degree?  Well…. I’d like to be a Professor and continue to be a business consultant.  A couple of weeks ago, I did a stint as a guest lecturer in a Business School class.  I loved it.  So exhilarating!

So that’s that: I set a goal and completed it. I got 4 strong recommendation letters, wrote a kick-ass Statement of Intent, did all the other paperwork, dug up all of my previous grades, and took the GRE. Along the way, I also got pretty far along with completing a book, proved that I have dyscalculia and got an official IQ score.  All of these were fascinating experiences too.

As of today, it’s done.  I’m proud of myself for completing the journey.  I doubt that I’ll get in… but you never will if you don’t try.  This was my attempt at world-class competition.  Don’t hold your breath for any additional positive outcome.  I’m not expecting it, but I’ll definitely post if I get any farther along in the process!

My Upcoming Christmas Crafts Project

I’ve been known to make my own Christmas presents. It’s artsy-craftsy, fun, and personalized. Although I don’t go cheap on anything, the resulting gift is usually less expensive than the same gift from a store.

This year is no different. I have a plan to make my own resin-based jewelry. Specifically, I’ll be making custom cuff links and necklace bangles.

The cufflink and necklace blanks are ordered and on their way. I’m also getting inspiration from famous modern artists, prepping some beautiful images for the baubles.

Here’s a YouTube video where the guy goes step-by-step. (There are 4 parts to this video, but I am only linking to part 1 here.)
Resin Jewelry tutorial


Standardized Tests

Ohhhhh how I loathe standardized, multiple-choice tests.  A pox on the house of whomever dreamed up the concept.  It is my considered opinion that standardized tests are a horrible metric for grounding an assessment of future performance for anyone because they have very little correlation to one’s ability to deal with and adapt to the very real exigencies of the world.  I also agree with the position that standardized testing tends to stifle creative thinking and promotes common, canonical thinking.  The result is that synapses are shaped and honed down well-traveled paths, rather than allowing for and promoting thinking ‘on the margins.’ Furthermore, the system of standardized testing (gradeschool, pre-SAT, SAT, GRE) sets up a model whereby both teachers and students tend to focus on correcting weaknesses rather than playing to individual strengths.  That stifles geniuses, causes self-esteem issues for both the brightest and weakest students, and puts everyone (who buys into the system) in jeopardy of never really being happy with themselves.

Frankly, it pains me to see that our society is embracing them more and more, rather than moving away from them.  As a country, I’d like to see us playing to our strengths.  Come on folks: let’s promote individuality, creativity, critical thinking, adaptability, and flexibility!

Diane Sawyer via Huffington Post: Education in China v. America

Clearly, standardized testing is being used as a bludgeon over the heads of the teacher’s unions.  Supporters of the the testing culture say standardized scores can be used to weed out poor-performing teachers and incentivize teachers (and schools) to be more engaged with at-risk youth.  Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear to be working all that well.  Although all sectors of society are getting slightly better at taking these tests, the reality of the world isn’t changing much.  Socio-economic factors still prevail, so it is easy to predict who will do relatively poorer on standardized testing, and who will do less well after their school years.  In short, the testing merely confirms our already-existing understanding of the inequities of the world.  And, in the process of all of this testing madness, we’re losing something really important to America: our bias toward creativity and individuality.


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