Saturday, April 15, 2006

Good day for me!

I went out on stage, wearing 1950s style Tuxedo with a bowtie and belted out "Johnny B Goode" by Chuck Berry! The occasion was Fuqua Idol and the contestants were students. You have to believe me when I say this. The talent that students bring to school is simply amazing! I just don't have a word for it! One after another, they came and they sang absolutely amazing songs and you had to sit there and think, "What the hell are these people doing in a business school?" People sang some of the most difficult songs, Whitney Houston, Jewel, Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and more! It was something to remember. Oh and I forgot to mention one important thing! Tina (Attagirl) did my makeup, and my hairstyle was like the Elvis Presley one!

From what I hear, our batch is extra enthusiastic. I have heard this couple of times over the last one year. Last fall, when all of us were new to school, the number of applications that went in to fill cabinet positions was apparently crazy! SYs were blown away and had to create special rules for filtering coz. they could not even interview everyone who applied! But yesterday was something else! Singers, guitar players, drummers, it is inexplicable! People loved my song, but I didn't win the idol. I didn't even come close actually, but what can I say, I am in good company!! :-D

Lately, I have increasingly started thinking about the group I am part of today! Picture this. First, you pick one thing you are good at. You know you are good at it because people have told you multiple times that you are good at it. They encourage you and you nurture your strength, bask in its glory for a while. It is a magic wand that you use and things work out and you feel exhilarated! It gives you a high that can't be explained! Then it kinda gets boring, so you push yourself hard and try to do something else. You crack a couple of exams and interviews and stuff and you make it to a place like Fuqua. There, you meet many people who have struggled the same way you did.

As you settle down among the new group of people, you realize one fine day that the very strength that brought you here is not unique any more! You don't feel special any more... Well not for a while at least. You pick one skill of yours and you will see at least 10 more people having the same exact thing! It's uncanny! Well there are exceptions. Let me take an aside for a moment to explain. Yesterday afternoon, as I walked through the Fox student center, I saw an FY student playing a speed chess game with students. He is apparently a chess Grand Master or something. Students sat there with chess boards in front of them. This guy walked around playing them, one by one. As I walked past them, I thought to myself, "This guy (I happen to know him a little; He is a Russian, what do you know!!) must be feeling like he is on top of the world. At that moment, he must be like the most powerful man on the planet!" OK maybe not the most powerful, but pretty darn good, right? Later I heard that he defeated all of them! Not too surprising I guess. And I guess it is hard to admit 10 Grand Masters at Fuqua to "normalize" them, but I am sure that some day this past year, he must have had similar thought about some aspect other than chess where he felt he had something unique that has been snatched away from him.

What do you do now? You can't but feel helpless! Thankfully, the course and six week terms keep you away from thinking much about it, but it's still there. So you do something that comes as the most natural response. You try to innovate into a new niche! You work hard and build a new strength! You try to do something that would make you special again. But do most people do that? I guess that's what ambition is! They try their best at least. It's probably an addiction to be unique. It takes time and it takes considerable effort, but that's what you work on, over and over again! And each time you do this, you are evolving.

I say all this because we are pretty close to finishing off first year and a new batch is going to join the schools of their choice. "I closed my eyes in September. I opened it and it is April." But a lot of things happened in between. Studies was part of it. Of course I learnt a little bit of marketing, a touch of strategy, managerial effectiveness and economics, but it is the people that I met, the people that I felt envious of, the people that I never knew existed on this planet and the people that made me boring that I learnt the most from. I think the school that can make you the most boring is the best school to go to!

There is another piece of news. When I was rehearsing the song in Geneen [Auditorium], I felt the phone vibrate in my pocket, but I let it go into voice mail. When I checked, it was a call from a company I interviewed with that morning. It's marketing and it's telecommunications devices and I am thrilled! Later in the evening, I sang a song in front of the school, all dressed up and groovy!! :-D Yes, it's been a good day for me, but in way more ways than just getting an offer or singing a song! It's the realization that I am in good company (no pun intended)!


Anonymous said...

I was sure I had missed something by not being able to see the Fuqua idol!! Anyways, nice to know that you had a great time!! :)

And Congrats on the job offer too! :)

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts remind me of 'Who Moved my Cheese' :)

With the progress of time the obsolescence factor catches up with any product/brand or skill. The only way to keep ahead of the obsolescence curve is to embrace change and innovate rapidly. The new-age mantra is 'Innovate or Vacate' (OK, I agree, now that was cheesy) ;)

Your thoughts on how each one is constantly striving to inculcate unique skills to become something special reminded me of the concept of building a USP that acts as an effective 'barrier to entry', which can be leveraged to ensure that competition does not catch up too soon.

Atta boy Shivesh, now you are living the management experience :)

And of course..congrats on landing the job offer :)

Shivesh said...

Howdy Sharky! Long time, no see! I knew I should read that book when it was being passed around in the office! Well anyway, hope I can read that and some stuff during summer.

I just got hold of a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (one of my friends ordered and sent it to me!). I started it towards the tail end of my Cuba trip and it looks good so far. It is in fact an assigned text for one of the elective courses here called Power and Politics! I have got rave reviews about the course and I am definitely going to take it. It's taught by one of my favourite professors too here... C ya!