Archive for October, 2009

This has been a busy week for us with three different mid term assignments due and three mid-term exams early next week. Another issue that took a considerable chunk of our time was the reviews that we had to write for our leadership squad members assessing positives and deltas in their performance in leadership labs in significant detail.

I’m looking forward to Wednesday when exams end and the EAP (exclusive academic period) ends as well. This means that starting Wednesday we are free to sign up for clubs and societies at the GSB and be active in them. Recruiting officially opens to us then as well. I’ve heard things get a couple of notches more busy after Wednesday but as of right now, I’m not sure if that’s even possible.

Friday is the GSB Halloween Party as well, which should be interesting.

I’ve been using zipcar heavily over the last two weeks. It’s amazingly convenient for someone who doesn’t have a car, although there are limitations like the inability to get hold of a car on short notice (especially at dinner time).  My Sri Lankan friend Ranidu pointed me to a Indian Grocery store called Patel Brothers about 30 minutes from the GSB that carries a significant amount of Sri Lankan frozen food and groceries, a huge improvement over the situation when I was in Miami.


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The global fiesta which was held today is an event where GSB students from 40 countries around the world showcase their food and culture.  The tables were a wonderful display of the diversity of the class: dances, music, and wonderful food!

SL Table

This is a picture of the Sri Lankan table where I served Indiappa (String Hoppers), Kiribath (Milk Rice), Pol Sambola, Chicken Curry, Potato Curry, Lemon Puff, Chocolate Rolls and Cream Soda

Most of which had disappeared by the time this picture was taken.

A special thank you to Sri Lankan singer Ranidu and my college friend Art Kao who helped me with the table and the food.

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CIMG0720We had a very good first session today (the first day of “condi week”), taught by Prof. Condoleezza Rice. She managed the class discussions expertly and as the class was very focused as well, the comments were spot on. I’m looking forward to Thursday when we have her next.

It was funny to see secret service scoping out the class room right before class. The entire class was dressed in as much red, blue and white as we could get our hands on, as a humorous reminder of “patriotism.”

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Readers of my blog who read my Kindle DX review probably know how excited I was about the kindle and about using it as my reader for school cases, textbooks etc.  I have to admit that my initial assessment of how appropriate the Kindle DX would be for business school may not have been accurate.  Because of this, I wanted to write a brief update to describe what my experiences have been so far.

Of the 6+ textbooks that were assigned for reading at the GSB none were available in Kindle format.  However, based on what I’ve noticed over the last few weeks, I’m glad that this was the case.  The only book that I was able to get on the kindle was one that we were analyzing for “Critical Analytical Thinking” (CAT). The book was called Blink (note: I do not recommend this book to anyone reading my blog!).

For CAT, we had to write a paper dissecting the arguments in a limited number of chapters from Blink.

Issues that I had:

– Many discussions and citations require page numbers. The Kindle does not have any. I had to add an extra note to the instructor to explain why I couldn’t cite my sources.

– Once you’ve read the book and want to find something that you read, to quickly refer to again as you are writing, it’s very hard to do this on the Kindle. There is no equivalent to the quick page flip that we do so often and we take for granted. Yes, I know there’s a word search function, but it does not really work for me.

– There’s no real way to quickly refer back to a prior chapter and come back to where you were like you can do in a book.

For these reasons, I’m not convinced about how successful the Kindle will be in an academic context. What worries me the most is that the book I was reading here wasn’t even a textbook, this was the kind of book you read from beginning to end but I still found myself wishing I had the paper version instead.

Lastly, for case discussions, what I’ve found is that most proper case readings require you to make notes, underline etc as you read. Because of this it’s very difficult to use the Kindle as a case reader despite the Kindle DX’s pdf capabilities.

I do still love me Kindle but I think I’ll be focusing on using it for non-academic reading.

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CAT Paper!

I just got back from an interesting morning in leadership labs.  For the first time we were put in a truly confrontational situation with some very interesting learning experiences.  Unfortunately can’t share any more details about it than that.

Last night was spent largely at the home of our leadership fellow who cooked for us and hosted us at his home. We spent a lot of time talking about the amount of bike theft that seems to be happening all around campus, while the police seem to not care at all.  There was talk of organizing a group to lie outside waiting… It was a fun night.

Conclusion: I really like my leadership squad and love my leadership fellow!

Now back to reality as I have to work on a CAT (Critical Analytical Thinking) paper that is due in 7 hours. I haven’t written a word yet, which is NOT good. I want to fast forward to 9pm and have it all done.  Well, I’d like to throw all the reading for tomorrow in the same bucket and have that done too!

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I know it’s been a long time since I promised more details “next week.”  So far, things have been a lot busier than I expected it would be.  It feels like two months since I wrote that last update promising more details.

The first weekend, the welcome dinner and the speech from the co-presidents of the student union were everything that I expected them to be (except for the rain during the welcome dinner, which I hear is very unusual for Palo Alto at this time of the year). We were told of the importance of balancing “what matters most” with keeping an open mind and trying things out. The value of being open to change and things that you have not considered previously, made an impact on me. I told myself that I would definitely try a little bit of everything.  The first day or two was a whirlwind of meeting new people, finding out about their backgrounds and where they are from (basically a whole lot of name, from, what I’ve been doing…).  Although I thought I would know all of the members of the class very quickly, it definitely hasn’t been that quick: the class is small but not that small. Even the members of my 64 member section are only now becoming closer and more familiar.

The first week was busy.  Going in, I thought I worked somewhere that got me very used to a busy lifestyle but this was completely different. All times during the day over the first week involved either a class or an information session with only very small breaks in between. And the evenings were taken with various social events. There were also homework assignments ands reading even for the first day of class.

This to me was the biggest thing to get used to. In college, you could skim through readings or skip the readings altogether and still do fine in class. But grades based on class participation put a whole new light on things. To be honest, I felt like a fish out of water with all the really smart comments from people around me during class discussions.  The grading of class participation by peers was an uncomfortable experience as well.

There were two classes during week zero that basically had finals at the end of the week and finished for the quarter (an Accounting and Teams class) that added additional pressure.  The final for the teams class was a take home group assignment, the first work that I did with my study group.

I think I was very luck with my team assignment as I immediately felt very comfortable with the other members of my group. This team had individuals with a diverse set of experiences that included music publishing, research/science and public finance.

The Teams class was a very interesting one. During each session we were given assignments to work out in teams: building a lego man, finding our way out of desert, enlarging and putting together a painting piece by piece (see image), etc. These exercises really helped to build relationships with people in the section and understand them better, I think. The teacher of the Teams class was exceptional and engaging.


Over the first few days I realized that living in an Escondido village studio is definitely not ideal for taking part in the many activities that happen around Schwab (the official b-school residence).  I also realized that I didn’t have the time to make a 20 minute trek to and from class every day and ended up buying a bike. For any member of the 2012 class that’s reading this blog post, I would strongly suggest you try to live in Schwab or Munger. It’s expensive in Munger (for a studio), yes, but still seems worth it.

Over the first week of class (after week zero), some of the pressure of the first week relaxed because we didn’t have as many of the information sessions filling up the gaps between classes.  The classes also started to become more interesting with some good international case discussions. Prof. Barnett who taught our section’s Global Context of Management class was amazingly good and had the section cracking up in laughter for most of our sessions.  At least based on the first two weeks of class, there seemed to be a heavy focus on Asia and China and understanding cultural differences and business practices there.

One of the best experiences so far has been in Leadership Labs. This is sort of a role-play class which you take with a small group of students known as the “leadership squad,” who you get to know really closely. This is supervised by a second year “leadership fellow.” The best learning experiences I’ve had so far are the feedback sessions that follow the various exercises of this class. Students are encouraged to give each other honest feedback (both positive and negative) on what they are doing.

GSB students take social activities very seriously as well. The 80s party and the Back to School Party which were the two major parties for example were great experiences with some really funny costumes, etc. We’ve also had an “outdoor adventure weekend” where I was lucky enough to get a place on the whitewater rafting trip. We car pooled to drive up to Coloma and then rafted 12 miles down the American river. The best part of the day was when it became an all out frenzy to pull as many other students into the ~55 degree water as possible! This was followed by Karaoke at the Coloma club which was a lot of fun as well.


Anyway, I should run now and prepare for tomorrow’s leadership lab assignment where I’ve been assigned the role of protagonist. We have our first introduction to the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in an hour or so as well, which should be interesting.

I will “try” to keep everyone updated more frequently from now on.

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