summer reading, b school style

after a month off, i’m easing back into this. nice and slow. i’m also easing into my summer prep for business school, which begins (but does not end) with a pretty comprehensive reading list (top 3 are required, the rest are strongly recommended). i thought others might be interested in this stuff too, so allow me to share:

Required for all: The Start Up Of You, by Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha

I’ve actually started this one, and it offers some interesting and useful ways to think about your networks. So far one of my favorite insights has been the suggestion that one factor in the success of a group’s collaboration is the appropriate combination of “cohesion and creativity” (118), that is, the combination of strong connections that “optimize trust because there’s likely overlap in belief systems and communication styles” and new blood that “help find creative solutions by introducing new information and resources from other social circles” (119). 

Leading Organizations: Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute

Operations: The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Decision Analysis: The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our Livesby Leonard Mlodinow, Pantheon Books, 2008.

Finance: Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel (any edition).

Supposed to be great for students coming from a non-finance background (thats me!)

Recommended text for use during Finance course (none is specifically required for class): Richard Brealey, Stewart Myers, and Franklin Allen: Principles of Corporate Finance, Irwin-McGraw Hill (the 10th edition is most recent, but not essential).

Marketing: The Portable MBA, 4th Edition, by Robert F. Bruner, Mark R. Eaker, R. Edward Freeman, Robert E. Spekman, Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg, S. Venkataraman

Happy reading!

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


random photo – pologua, guatemala

Pretty consumed getting this conference off the ground – Impact Investing in Action. But it’ll all be over Friday May 25! In the meantime…

…the full version of the background photo of the blog. Pologua, Guatemala.

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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


lgbtq rights = civil rights of our generation

UPDATE: awesome graphic of legal rights by state. i love awesome graphics.

north carolina had already outlawed gay marriage. what this amendment does goes way beyond that, ingraining this discrimination into the genetic makeup of the state by adding it to the constitution, with extensive implications that include revoking health care of partners & children of same sex relationships that had been covered by county initiatives, and even has implications for domestic abuse victims. the amendment is one of the most vaguely written, and therefore has the potential to be the most widely interpreted, of those across the nation.

this is our fight to fight. but we have to be smart about it. 

some takeaways from the north carolina amendment 1 debacle (and some general thoughts i have):

1. vote. around 35% of eligible voters turned out for this primary election. (around 70% of eligible voters turned out for the 2008 general election, which is very high.) so not very many people voted yes, but they changed the constitution and face of this state, and what it means to live there, for the foreseeable future.

2. yes, politics is a game. and your opponents are trying to trick you. but who cares, you’re smarter than that, and have more resources than ever with which to educate yourself. yes, the amendment was placed on a primary ballot, which historically has lower turnout. and yes, it appears that the more voters learned about this amendment, the less likely they were to vote for it (now thats a powerful statistic.)

3. which comes first – social change or political change? who cares. both are important fronts. so lead by example. mindsets matter. if you don’t understand why this is a big deal, educate yourself. if you don’t think this affects you, you’re wrong. if this truly is, as i believe it to be, the civil rights of our generation, there are no innocent bystanders.

4. unintended consequences suck. the video below shares perspectives on amendment 1 from the field of family law.

for me, this isn’t about the right to perform the ritual of marriage (for some, it is). this is about all the rights that you take for granted: visitation, health care for you and your children, adoption, having a family recognized by the state, etc.

if you don’t really get it, which is completely understandably, this might illuminate some of the issues (albeit, with some emotion. but i figure thats ok. this is an emotional issue.):

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” – mlk jr 

well, this is one hell of an arc. but i’ve got to believe that we’re on our way. here’s to hoping that the backlash from this has a unifying & amplifying effect, eh? i think just maybe.

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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


random photo – machu picchu

one of my favorites. Peru, May 2009.

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


go where you believe you will do your best work

dear you,

the real reason i didn’t write or call for so long in early to mid-april was this: 5 cities, 2 business schools, 9 days. and information overload (stemming from consecutive admitted students weekend to schools i had never visited, my first real VilCap cohort experience, 2 days of face-to-face work with the usually only-skype-accessible DC Agora office, 2 tours of event space for May’s Impact Investing in Action, and i even found time to see some heartbreakingly good bluegrass singing, catch up with new old friends, have some quality time with mom & dad & aunt, and find a bridesmaid dress for my older sister’s wedding!) so, my apologies. (but this girl has priorities.) and i learned a lot. in fact, i was pretty taken aback by how much i learned, and it has taken me this long to process it. in fact, i’m still not done, but i’d like to start sharing:

Attending two ‘admitted students’ events on back-to-back weekends, it was nearly impossible to refrain from  comparing the two, but I tried to see each in their own light. To me, they were incredibly different experiences – and the ways in which they were different, and the the way that one appealed to me, taught me about myself and what I’m looking for in a learning environment, and in life (dramatic, I know).

I want to focus on one thing that continues to resonate with me from my Darden experience. The Dean, Bob Bruner, closed the weekend’s activities (I was initially surprised not to hear from him earlier in the program, but then I got it), and focus of his talk was his go-to advice: Go where you believe you will do your best work.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? I think the best advice often is. He continued on, deconstructing this sentence, offering various possible interpretations of each component. The more I think about this, the more applicable it is, to so many moments. It seems to me that, being 26, I have lots of friends in transition right now. (I started to list some shout outs here, but there were too many). Transitions of varying nature, and varying magnitude. And for many of us, the implications of this advice are equally important: it challenges us to know enough about our “best work” to strive for it. In the context of your transition, what does “your best work” mean to you?

And because so many have inquired, here is a brief and non-comprehensive list of other things about Darden I find compelling:

  • The students: chill, yet studious; understated, yet ambitious.
  • The application question: Share your perspective on leadership in the workplace and describe how it has been shaped by the increasing influence of globalization. I really enjoyed writing this essay. If you’ve read previous entries on this blog, you might guess that I had a lot to say about this. And that I had a difficult time limiting myself to 500 words.
  • Recognition of, and momentum around, innovationrole of design in business.
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


global development, the industry

I know that we all think that we’re experiencing the world at its pinnacle, constantly witnessing some significant fulcrum in history. We always are fascinated when something happens for the umpteenth time, as long as its the first time we’re seeing it. It’s in our nature to be self-centered, in that we are quite literally centered on ourselves. We can only see history, as well as the present, through one perspective. And we can’t apologize for this, it’s just the way things are. Awareness can be helpful, but difficult to maintain.

That said, I’m going to use that opener as a disclaimer and go ahead and indulge in some 2012-centric, and therefore me-centric, rhetoric: I’m pretty astounded by the global development & aid community. It seems to me (from my lofty & learned 2012 point of view) that it has taken us, collectively, an astounding amount of time to get to move from learning the lesson (over and over again) of a failed approach, to trying a new approach.

What lesson? I recently read a blog post that summarized it quite nicely:

If I were to do it all again, I wouldn’t design a solution. It isn’t my place to do that. What I’d do is try and be a useful resource for a group of people or a community that have a much better understanding of their problems than I do, and want to work together toward finding solutions. I wouldn’t come in as the guy with the answer. I’d come in as the guy willing to try and help them in any way possible as they find their own answer, and act as the bridge between that answer, and the money and resources needed to make it happen.
Or, perhaps if I really wanted to help, I wouldn’t ever come to Haiti to begin with. I’d keep my fight at home in the United States, rallying people to try and build awareness that places like Haiti suffer because of policies benefitting our government, our corporations, and ultimately, ourselves. Policies created by our politicians, sometimes with our consent (the Iraq War) and sometimes as a result of special interests (the Supreme Court’s campaign finance reform ruling), result in massive problems for other people in the world. Sometimes I wonder if that truly ever can be remedied.
The crazy part? This blog post is from April 22, 2012. Last f’ing week. This blows my mind. That he learned this lesson, and is able to articulate it – this is great. But this isn’t about him. This is about the fact that he had to learn this lesson by himself, and that this learning clearly isn’t reflected in the organization he supports, much less the industry of global development.

So are we really at a fulcrum in history? Are we starting to absorb this lesson and adapt our strategies? Pursue innovations and use new methods? It seems so, to me. But maybe thats just because I can only see it from where I’m standing. But maybe not!

ps – I know, the fact that it’s an ‘industry’ deserves its own lengthy conversation, but I think its undeniable that it is, in fact, an industry. So rather than debate the merits of it’s existence, lets figure out how to make it a functional industry with fewer and fewer negative externalities. Now, if we can just figure out what progress looks like…


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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


how to buy happiness

“If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re just not spending it right.”

This has pretty far-reaching implications for incentivizing socially & community-focused behavior, if you ask me. Pretty cool stuff.

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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Uncategorized