Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Blog - Brian Brecheisen

Hey there, KD!! I hope this blog finds you well. I can't believe it, but it's the beginning of the end. I have one last assignment, and I am going to be finishing the MBA program. It's been a fun, long journey, but I'm excited for my next steps. I am not quite sure what they are yet, but I am excited for the future, especially the ability to read what I want to again.

Well, as promised KD, here's a blog from a guest blogger, and friend of mine, Brian Brecheisen. He's a Power Systems Engineer at Nucor Steel. We met during my in-residence course, and have been fast friends. We figured out that we are both from Northern Indiana, and were at a time, both engineers. He was also my roommate for the Washington Campus for Public Policy experience. For the guest blog, I asked him to share some information about himself, and his experiences in the KD program. I have listed his information below. Happy Reading!

Name: Brian Brecheisen

Time in the KD Program: 20 months, started in February 2010

Occupation: Electrical Power Systems Engineer at Nucor Steel

Location: Blytheville, AR

Degree Program: MBA/MSSM Dual Degree

Why did you choose KD?
I, first, learned of KD from friend from my undergraduate college, Rose-Hulman.  He told me about how flexible the program was and all of the interesting people he had met and worked with in the program.  Also, I was familiar with KD because the Kelley School has a great reputation in the Midwest.

Key Experiences in the KD program.
I really enjoyed both in residence courses.  The first year was great because we all got to meet before our program really got started.  I was able to build on my relationships in the first year by working with those individuals in some class projects.  The second year was even more enjoyable because we all got to reconnect after working together for a year. 
Another great experience was the course in Public Policy, which I attended in Washington DC in September.  This was a very interesting course which I would recommend to everyone.  Emery and Michelle have already discussed this course at length, so I will not bore you with the details.

Any other thoughts for people considering joining the KD family?
The most important thing to consider is that you have to be very disciplined to stick to the work on your own.  No one is going to be there making sure you read the material and attend the Breeze sessions.  Also, it is very important to have a strong support structure in your personal life.  I would not be nearing the end of the program without my wife.  She has been very supportive and I think that is as important as anything.

Well, KD, that's Brian! He's another great member of the KD family. Until next time, catch you later!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Washington Campus Experience, Pt. 2 - 2, My Other Adventures in Washington

Well, KD fans, here’s pt. 2 of the 2nd installment in my Washington Campus Experience – my other Adventures in Washington.

I think in any trip, especially a class trip such as this one, the networking and social times are just as important as the actual education. It is through those that we make the connections that we remember well beyond the actual classwork. Moreover, those are the memories that you laugh about much later, after the fact.

As I reminisce on my Washington Campus experience, there are 2 stories that I believe that I will always remember fondly at – the Quest for Crabs and the March to Georgetown. Each of these titles represents a great story that I will share with you.

The Quest for Crabs
In the summer of 2008, I had a life changing experience that affected me on multiple levels. First, I participated in the National Housing Training Institute (NHTI), which was a highly revered conference for young professionals in housing to insight needed to understand what it took to become a Chief Housing Officer. This was monumental, because it was at this conference I realized that housing wasn’t going to be my long term career path, which ultimately led me to applying to the KD program.

Second, I had my first positive interaction with eating crab legs. NHTI, at that time, took place in Baltimore. During our free day, I was able to go to an Orioles game at Camden Yards, and experience true seafood for the first time. While I have been in all contiguous 48 states, I had really only eating seafood while at home in the Midwest. It was based upon these eating experiences that I decided that I didn’t like crab legs. However, during NHTI, I was introduced to Phillips, a high quality seafood buffet, found only on the east coast. Suffice to say, this experience changed my eating ballet for life.

As things go, this was my first trip back to the Mid-Atlantic, since that faithful trip in the summer of 2008; and my only goal, outside of getting an A in the class, and making some new friends, was to get some high quality crab legs. Fortunately, Brian and Lilia, my new BFFs, were down for the adventure. I am especially appreciative that Brian was, as he hates seafood, lol… However, during the first two days of the class, I was on a wild hunt for crab legs, consulting everyone in our class with D.C. ties, from the teacher, to Syd (our class liaison), to my fellow classmates. While my passion for finding good crabs was equal parts humorous and interesting for most my classmates, I was finally able to get some good recommendations for locations.

In the end, however, Brian, Lilia, and I, were able to find a Phillips restaurant in D.C.!! Getting there was quite the challenge, as we had to figure out which Metro stop to take, walk across an expressway entrance, and under a viaduct to get there. Even more during the trip, we found out that rent for some D.C. properties is $4200/month, depending on whether you live. But, I was able to feast on a full bucket of crab legs, or as I refer to them, heaven in my mouth.

The March to Georgetown
A common occurrence for our class was coordinating dinner schedules. With so many people who were not from Georgetown, there was often comfort found in eating with folks from the class in some of the great D.C. eateries. Moreover, it was truly over meals that we were able to get to know one another, talk about our experiences in our respective MBA programs, and/or debrief from some of the more amazing experiences that we shared throughout the day. Often, after coordinating dinner schedules, there was the enviable coordination of social activities. Throughout the course of the week, classmates wanted to see the sights of D.C., hang out with friends or alums, meet D.C. insiders, etc… So, it would regularly happen that either during lunch, or at the end of class, the same question was regularly bandied about, “What are you doing tonight?”

On this particular night, Brian, Lilia, myself, and two of our colleagues from the class decided that we wanted to go to Georgetown, a neighborhood in D.C., where we were supposed to me another large group of people from our class. I wasn’t sure what was there, but everyone else was jazzed, so was I. Initially, we contemplated taking a cab, as was our normal practice. But, since our group was too large to fit in one cab, and we thought that D.C. was only about a mile and a half away from where we were. We decided to walk. We were told the directions were simple, walk a half a mile down to the White House, turn right, and it’s about a mile. We would never know just how wrong we were… But, we did as the directions said; we walked down to the White House, turned right, and kept walking.

About a mile and a half into our trek, we were talking through Foggy Bottom and passed a CVS, where I had to stop because I was out of gum. (I love fresh breath, what can I say?) After we each made our purchases, I asked a police officer outside the store, how much further until we reach Georgetown. We informed him that we were walking, based upon some directions from a friend; he, then (and I might remember this moment forever), laughed very hard and said, “oh, you have a couple more miles”, which was met with our horror. We made the startling revelation that while we had already walked 15 blocks; we needed to walk another 20 to hit our mark. Of course, this was met with indignation and horror, and we immediately began working to find a cab that would fit us, which of course, would not come. And so we continued, walking to and past the George Washington University campus, through Washington Park, and eventually into Georgetown, which is quite a nice neighborhood.

After walking 3 hours, 4 miles, in clothes and shoes not meant for such a hike, we, then, found that our large party wasn’t coming. But, since we were already there, and none of us wanted to admit that we walked this way for nothing, we explored some of Georgetown’s finest establishments. In the end, we found out two things – one, the trek really could have been only a mile and a half, we took the looooonng way, and two, that it was only a 10 minute walk from a Metro stop. But, it was an experience that will live on forever in humor, at least for me, now.
Well, KD fam… I hope that you found some humor in those two great experiences. For, our next installment, I am going to talk about what happened after the class was over. Until next time, catch you later!!

The Washington Campus Experience, Pt. 2 - 1, The Day at the Capitol

What’s up KD!! Well, in our last conversation, I was starting to tell you about my trip to Washington D.C., for the Washington Campus for Public Policy. Well, I figured that I would keep telling you about my experience – today’s addition is broken into two parts – the Day at the Capitol and other Adventures in Washington. First, up the Day at the Capitol.

As a part of the Washington Campus experience, we spent a day at the U.S. Capitol Hill. During the day, we met with current and former congressmen and their congressional staff, attended a hearing for either the Senate or the House, and visited the Supreme Court. It was a long, but extremely powerful day. (I have weaved pictures in, so that you can see some of the places that we went… Thank you Lilia for letting me use some of your pictures!!)

Our day started by going to the U.S. Capitol, where we met with Ohio Congressmen Sherrod Brown, and a member of his congressional staff, Marjorie Glick. It was definitely both interesting and eye-opening. I think the most interesting educational lesson from the session was developing an understanding the divided nature of a Congressman’s position. On one hand, he has to serve his constituents in his home district, wherever that is – from Maryland, to Michigan, to California, and everything in between. However, they also have to be in Washington, so that they can make the right connections to get something done. Moreover, they have to be in proper balance, because by leaning to one side too much, will get you skewered by the other side.

I think the second most interesting education lesson was the importance of a good congressional staff. In fact, as a person who used to work in education, I often would get excited for students as they would describe their experiences working for their local congressperson. However, what I learned is that those college interns, who grow up to be congressional staffers, are often the most powerful people on the Hill. They actually control access to the respective congressperson, as they control his/her schedule.

We, then, were assigned to sit in on Senate Hearings during the day. I, unknowingly, actually chose the most important hearing of the day – the Super Committee’s first hearing regarding the budget. It was fascinating to hear each of the politicians say the same things, while sending subtle jabs at one another.

I think the final most powerful lesson from the entire day was the shared frustrations of those in Washington, with our governmental process. It was truly intriguing to get an insider’s perspective on just why Congress and President Obama aren’t able to get anything done. The reasons ranged from a lack of trust, to the lack of concern for re-election, even to an unwillingness to listen to another viewpoint from your own. In all cases, however, it was relieving to see that the Washington insiders that we met with were just as frustrated about the current events, as the American public seems to be.

But, I would be remiss, if I didn’t include some of the cool pictures from places we were able to see while at the Capitol. I have included pictures of the Supreme Court (outside, not inside – no pictures on the inside!!) , the original Liberty, which is outside of Union Station in Washington, D.C., and the World War II Memorial.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Washington Campus Experience, Pt. 1

What’s up KD? I hope that this message finds you well!! I am knee deep in my last quarter here with KD, which is both exciting and scary at the same time…

Well, in today’s blog, I wanted to begin to share an amazing experience that I had within the KD program. I met some fellow KD students, learned a ton, and even got a chance to have some fun as well. This experience was the Washington Campus for Public Policy, a class for MBA students and executives in Washington D.C.. The course, which is a week long, allows students to get a feel for what it is like to work in Washington D.C.’s political structure. Moreover, it teaches students the important links between the business community, the economy, and the world political machine. Finally, it gives students ample time for networking with one another and, at times, Washington D.C. political and business insiders.

My particular class took place from September 12-16, 2011. Our class was a shared course with students from the Ohio State Fisher School of Business, which added both a fun, but also interesting educational change to the class.

My experience in the class was so outstanding that I really couldn’t contain it in just one blog, so I have broken it into three blogs – Arrival, the Day at the Capitol and other Adventures in Washington, and the Epilogue. I figure, by breaking it down this way, you will get a complete feel about my experience. So, up first, the Arrival.

I arrived in D.C., on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.. It was a surreal day to be arrive, not only because of the fears of another attack, but also the memorials that were taking places all over the city, and the general feel of melancholy around the city. Given the time that I arrived, I wasn’t able to attend any of the festivals, but the news and press coverage was awe-inspiring. Soon after I arrived, I was able to meet up with my roommate, Brian, who was in my in-residence course. I also met Lilia, a fellow KD student, who actually lived close to Brian, and was in our course. Brian and Lilia would be my best friends during the experience – it was great to meet and hang out with them. In fact, some time, we are going to hang out soon.

The next major event was our first day of class. I have to thank Brian – he found us a cheap, quality hotel - which was only a 5 minute walk from our classes. The first day was overall a whirl. First, we met everyone – both those from our KD program and the OSU students. Then, we had introductions, not only to the course and its facilitators, but also to Washington D.C., structure. The initial day was spent learning about policy making, the executive branch of the government, regulation, and lobbying. While it may not sound the interesting, it was actually really fascinating – we had some great presenters who made the topics very engaging.

Our first day closed with a great reception and a fun night of networking – where I actually saw Lavar Arrington. All told – a great first day!

Stay tuned, KD fans… My post is about the Day at the Capitol, and the rest of the course!! Until next time, catch you later KD!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Finding balance-it's something everyone struggles with, no matter what your 'job' is or how busy or calm your life may seem at that very moment. Most of us might have even chose the Kelley Direct program because it is a great way to achieve your degree while trying to find that balance, given the flexibility the online format provides. But that doesn't make everything else in life slow down. We once had a senior leader at work give us his principles for finding work/life balance, the core of which was have NO more than 5 'roles' in your life. You simply cannot do more than 5 things well. Every time I hear him speak, this gets me, as I start thinking through my roles: wife, daughter, sister, employee, student...oh wait, that's all i get?! add in church member, volunteer, friend, horseback rider, and travel junkie only to find I've now doubled my list. As I reflect on this, it's not that I can't do all of those things; I even have to do many of them. The key is as I doing them well? Do I want to even do some of them if I'm only half-heartedly engaging? Am I letting others down by only giving it my attention while multitasking and thinking of the 'to do' list in my head?

The solution looks different for everyone. Personally, it means having different roles at different times. Work cannot come before my role as a wife, daughter & sister-they will always take precedence. I fit in my volunteering and horseback riding when I have time, most often on the weekends. Travel becomes a more structured, limited time venture. Yet a friend in need immediately rises to the top. For others, this means deciding not to do certain things (I try this, but find I then replace it with another!). Everyone has to find their own balance, yet for me, when I get to doing those 5 roles well, I find much more satisfaction. Spending quality time talking with my parents, going out for a dinner (with no cell phones) with my husband & friends-these are what I will cherish.

This is the core reason for me why I value Kelley Direct. I love that teachers will record & post their lectures, so even though I can't make a Tuesday 8pm session, I can watch it on Thursday morning while on the treadmill. I find invaluable that my classmates are all trying to find this balance, so we understand the give and take during group work. Lastly, I love that I can continue to challenge myself academically, and yet still have my 'other' roles, falling into a routine. Three-quarters of a year into the program, I finally find myself settling into a rhythm of how and when to study and how to do it well; but it took taking a hard look at how my 5 roles would change during these two years of school. I challenge you to do the same.

What are your 5 roles? Are you dedicating your best to them?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prelude to an MBA

What's up KD? I hope this message finds you well! It's been a long time since we last spoke. As the movie says, it has been one long, crazy summer. But, I am doing well, lots of change, but overall doing quite well.

Well, I can't believe it, but this is going to be my last quarter in the KD program. I finish up my MBA this coming November... Can you believe it? It has been quite the ride. Let's see, since I started in the program, I have:

· Changed jobs twice, and careers.

· Changed foci - from dual degree to Ph.D., to just finishing off the MBA.

· Moved three times!!!

· Changed life plans too many times to count.

So, as you can see, it has been quite the road over the last two and a half years. Well, since it has been a while, I figured I would give you some updates on me, and some previews on the blog posts that you can expect to see for the rest of the quarter.

First, about me... I'm still in Carbondale, for now. I just accepted a position as a Sales Executive Manager at Macy's, here in Carbondale. I am responsibile for coaching 30 associates to drive sales, especially in the areas of women's and juniors clothing (my areas), within the store. I never thought that I would be a person who would love working a retail gig full time, but I have loved it so far. I have been able to use my previous work experience and my KD learning to help change the culture in the store. We are performing at a higher clip since I started, I am excited to say. I have been interesting selling women's clothing and shoes, especially given my previous knowledge, but it has been a ton of fun and learning. I have also lost more than 30 lbs, so life is just great overall!!

As for the career planning, I think that I have finally figured it out, at least for the time being. I am pretty much focused within the areas of Sales/Marketing and/or Training/Development. After working a decade in education, I have been fortunate to have developed a ton of talents, by using some of the Kelley GCS tools, I have realized that these are the areas that I fit the best. It's actually what led me to the position at Macy's, where I do a little of all of the areas. I also have to thank my classmates from the Kelley Direct week 2 years ago. I never would have thought of going down this road without their suggestion. I think that going forward, my career is going to be focused in these areas, which is exciting, to me at least.

Outside of that, my family is doing well! Jalen just turned 4 and started preschool, which has been awesome. It's kind of interesting to watch his passion for learning, it invigorates me at times to finish off the program strong. Gabby is 2 going on 16, which has also been fun - because she has actually taken an interest in some of the areas of that I have been studying, which is a true test of comprehension. If you want to test if you really know your material, try to explain it to a 2 year old, it's quite the experience. Finally, my wife, Steph, and I just started a new online business. We are selling hair accessories for women, which has been another fun application of my KD degree. We just opened for business this past month, and things are pretty well. Check us out -!

As for the blogs to look for this coming quarter, first, I promise not to make you wait another three months for my next post. I am planning (and hoping) to get some thing posted every two weeks, or sooner. I figure since this is the end of my blogging and KD career, I want to go out strong! To give you a preview, here are a view topics that I will be covering:

· Adventures in Washington - My experience at the Washington Campus for Public Policy (a 3-4 part series)

· Adding to your Library - I wanted to give you a last few books to read, since I have found some great books that have been helpful for me.

· Guest bloggers - I am going to reach out to some of the great people I have met in the KD program, and see if they can give you their perspective on the experience.

Well, that's about it for now, KD. I hope that you are great, and until next time - catch you later!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reflections of the Washington, DC course: Business and Public Policy

It’s been over a week since I left Washington, DC after taking the one-week course, “Business and Public Policy: How Washington Works and What Issues Matter”. I’ve had some time to contemplate all that I learned and thought I would share some lessons from the week.

Companies react or respond to legislation and regulations in three different ways: 1) react to public policy when decisions are made, 2) monitor efforts toward public policy changes, and 3) directly participate.[1] Those companies using the first way generally have the most expenses for adjusting to legislation and regulation since it costs money to make those adjustments, especially when the company was not prepared for those changes. Companies that monitor public policy activity have less immediate adjustment costs since they can make slight adjustments over time as they see public policy forming in a certain direction. Companies that participate directly in the process have the highest costs for monitoring and lobbying but can potentially influence decisions that reduce adjustment costs. When companies evaluate which way they will react or respond to legislation and regulations, they also must consider what their competitors and other external organizations are doing. There is a potential for legislation and regulations to have larger effects on a company if the company does not directly participate and a competitor or other opposing groups do.

The word “lobbying” may have a negative connotation in the minds of many Americans. However, lobbying is a very important part of government and is necessary for educating representatives on the effects of legislation and regulations on constituents. In fact, lobbying is so important that it is protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”[2] Consider this: legislators have many, many bills to consider each year. It is difficult to evaluate all of the effects and potential effects that a bill or regulation would have on individuals and companies. Lobbyists provide that information to legislators through research, surveys, or analyses that have been conducted. Information from all sides of an issue help legislators make educated decisions. The best way to influence public policy is through constituents; therefore, the most important job of a corporate lobbyist is to educate individual employees of the company on an issue so they will be inspired to contact representatives themselves.

Many Americans may have noticed that politics have become more and more party-based over the years. This observation is accurate for two main reasons. First, most moderates or independents do not know their representatives and never contact them for any reason. Therefore, representatives mainly hear from constituents who have strong opinions on the issues, thus pushing the parties further from midline opinion. Second, the costs of election campaigns have skyrocketed. Politicians must spend more time fundraising than ever before since television advertising is the best way to reach constituents and win elections. Since fundraising is done where constituents live, politicians don’t spend time together as they used to so they do not know each other or understand each other’s points of view.

These lessons have inspired me to become involved in the political process by knowing my representatives and expressing my opinions to them – both as a constituent and a representative to my company. This course has changed how I view Washington and has shown me that I can be part of the solution by speaking up instead of part of the problem by being silent. I will no longer stand by and watch; I will become active in the process of improving our nation. This course has been a highlight in my business education, and I highly recommend it.

[1] Keim, Gerry. Political Advocacy in the United States, Chapter 25, Managing Business Political Advocacy in the United States: Opportunities for Improved Effectiveness, pp. 418-433.

[2] Mount, Steve. “The United States Constitution.”, accessed 28Sept 2011.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Days 3-5 of the Washington, DC course: Business and Public Policy

The last three days of The Washington Campus course, “Business and Public Policy: How Washington Works and What Issues Matter”, continued to be busy and full of valuable information. We started Day 3 with a grim report on the federal budget and US economy by Joseph Minarik, Senior Vice President of the Committee for Economic Development. Then Shirley Zebroski, Faculty Director of The Washington Campus, discussed US Trade Policy in general and pending trade policy with Korea specifically. After lunch, Adam Cobb, Professor of International Relations at Command and Staff College of Marine Corps University, talked to us about US strategic relationships with other countries. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to a computer simulation showing us a glimpse of what it is like to be a first-term member of the House of Representatives. We had to make quick decisions about what policies to support and how to handle a variety of situations. With each round, we received a report detailing how our constituents, colleagues, media, and other interested parties felt we were performing. It was a demonstration that a representative can never make everyone happy.

Day 4 started with a lesson on political campaigns and how to run one with Joe McLean, President of McLean/Clark. Then Timothy Brennan, Senior Fellow of Resources for the Future, talked about US energy policy. After lunch, Chris Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, talked to us about US health policy and specifically about the new Affordable Care Plan. The Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations of Ohio State University, Stacy Rastauskas, talked about lobbying Congress for federal funding for research and student loans. Lastly, Kevin Hassett, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies at American Enterprise Institute, made it just in time from testifying to Congress to talk to us about taxes, tax reform, and his ideas for improving the federal budget.

Our last day started with a talk from Shannon Penberthy, Associate Director of Federal Government Relations at P&G, about her work in lobbying Congress and advocacy strategy. Kiki McLean, Global Head of Public Affairs and Managing Director of Porter Novelli, talked about her work on Hilary Clinton’s campaign and how to manage a crisis. After taking our exam based on the readings and lectures throughout the week, we took a bus to the National Press Club. We had lunch, and then Steve Roberts, Professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, talked to us about the changing role of media and its impact on public policy.

It was a fabulous week full of great information, and I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in business and how government and business interrelate.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NAWMBA 2011 National Conference - Irving, Texas

The 2011 NAWMBA conference took place September 16 and 17 in Irving, Texas and it was a fantastic event. During these two days, attendees were inspired and empowered by learning the stories and listening to the advice of successful women in business.

Most of us, KD students, lead really busy lives as we try to juggle a full time job with our school and family responsibilities. It’s really easy to get trapped in the daily routine and not dedicate enough time to think about our career goals and what will be our strategy to achieve those goals. Events such as the NAWMBA conference provide a great opportunity to pause, absorb new knowledge, and reflect on what your next steps will be career wise.

The conference offered a variety of panels and workshops, covering all sorts of topics including: how to negotiate effectively, achieving work life balance, driving change in the organization, personal image, managing up, and exploring career options in finance, marketing, and technology among others. As awesome as it all sounds, I must say I was anxious about attending this event, since it would surely mean I would need to network.

I recently completed a 4-day backpacking trip in the Yosemite High Sierra area, and I can tell you that the prospect of carrying 30 lbs. of equipment while climbing more than 1,000 feet in rugged terrain and without access to showers or toilets, was less daunting than the idea of networking. Having said that, I’m thrilled to tell all those who feel the same way I do, that it’s not really that hard. From the moment you entered the Irving Convention Center, you could sense the really positive and welcoming atmosphere that would characterize the whole event.

During the course of those two days I met Jessica, an MBA student from Phoenix who had learned Spanish during a Peace Corps assignment in Honduras. We ended up having a great conversation in Spanish, Jessica was thrilled to practice it again after a long time and I was ecstatic to be able to converse in my native language.

I also met Heather Howell, who is the Chief Tea Officer of Rooibee Red Tea and she is also a board member of NAWMBA. Heather is an amazing woman who is really passionate about her work and about empowering women. She encouraged me to really take advantage of the conference by networking with other attendees, interacting with the panelists and to simply enjoy the event.

Karen, Angela, and Meredith; KD students at NAWMBA Conference

I also had the pleasure to meet fellow KD students Meredith Suffron and Angela Whiteside; as well as our brand new Director for Student Engagement: Sheila Morris-Watson. It was really exciting to get to know them during this conference, and it was pretty clear everybody was having a great time.

While it’s not possible to provide a full summary of the topics covered, there are a couple of topics I would like to highlight. First of all, the first keynote speaker was Karen Hough, and she talked about improvisation techniques and how to apply those in the workplace. Four key recommendations provided were:

  • Provide positive feedback at the same time you are offering suggestions to others. This will ensure people don’t focus only on the negative aspects they have to improve, but rather they can feel good about the things that are right, even if there’s room for them to improve.

  • Building blocks: recognize the good ideas contributed by team members and use them as a springboard to provide your own contributions.

  • Team equity: Recognize that teamwork is better than trying to do everything yourself. Being ready for anything sometimes means you have to give up control.

  • Oops to Eureka: when something does not go as expected, the best thing to do is to acknowledge it, take a deep breath and think of an alternative solution.

If you are interested in this topic, you can check out Karen’s website at:

There’s also a workshop I’d like to point out and it was “Fulfill Your Purpose – Pursue Your Passion” with Lisa Arie. Lisa spoke about the importance of knowing yourself and getting clarity on what you really want to accomplish, so you can start with the end point in mind.

She also explained that success is the result of work done in peace, and that every time we feel vulnerable it’s a great opportunity since it basically means we are being faced with the question: are you willing to let the status quo change?

Often times, we let fear paralyze us and we choose to stay in our current situation thinking that we’ll be safe and we’ll avoid risks. Well, Lisa explained how the word risk comes from an old navigation term which was used to point out difficulties you could encounter while you were cut off the land, such as a strong current. So, it’s a way of saying “pay attention”, but by no means should it become a reason for us to stop pursuing our passion, whatever that may be.

Recap of Germany Trip

Well, it’s hard to believe, but it has already been over a month since returning from Germany. At this point, we have just submitted our required assignment for this course, and this task has been the perfect impetus for me to take a trip down memory lane (or memory “straße” if you will) from our week together in Germany.

As I am preparing for my next quarter of “traditional” classes, I’ve gained a greater appreciation of just how special our study-abroad experience was. I can say with clean conscience that it was truly one of the greatest courses I’ve ever taken. And the fact that the entire class was contained in one packed week speaks volumes to the professionalism and skill of the team at the German Graduate School of Management and Law (GGS). As I mentioned in my previous post, the staff at GGS did an excellent job of integrating informative lectures with company visits and other hands on experiences to make the learning come to life. No other class in my two years of being an MBA student has been able achieve this accomplishment quite like this exchange program. Not enough can be said about Kelley Direct for creating such wonderful international ties, and giving their students this unique opportunity.

What sticks out the most about our trip to Heilbronn, Germany has to be the meticulous organization of the entire week. From the first day, I, along with several other students, had a bit of trepidation about how the week was going to progress. Namely, how was our host university going to make the topic of study interesting when very few people in attendance knew much about the business environment in Germany, and most certainly had never heard of a Mittelstand company? It’s safe to say that after the first morning, no students were running to the airport. We were all in awe at the gorgeous view from the GGS building, which stands prominently on the Neckar River, just adjacent to downtown Heilbronn. From the 12th floor of the circular building, we had a panoramic view of the rolling hills nearby dotted with vineyards growing some of Germany’s most acclaimed grapes for red wine. Although I would never want to insinuate the lack of topography in Indiana makes for a less enjoyable educational experience, it certainly helps motivating someone to go to class when surrounded by such a beautiful landscape. I knew we had a wonderful experience awaiting us when we were promptly informed that the mayor of the city was expecting us so he could properly welcome us to his beloved town. As an added treat, we had the honor of toasting some locally produced sparkling wine with him after his speech. It’s not often you get to drink wine while in class! As some locals I met later in the week mentioned upon being told about our grand welcoming, “I’ve lived here for 25 years, and never had the opportunity to meet the mayor!”

Another reason GGS made this one of the most memorable MBA classes I’ve ever taken was the variety of professors and guest lecturers they were able to acquire. We didn’t just have the same person lecturing on different topics: We had a representative from the Chamber of Commerce to discuss with us the educational system and employment challenges facing Germany, we had an Indian ex-pat who currently works in Germany to lecture on the difficulties faced by non-Germans when working within our host country, and we had a representative from the Economic Development Office explain to us how the region of Germany in which we were studying was working tirelessly to attract future talent in the hopes of filling a projected gap of skilled workers in the future. These lectures afforded us the opportunity to not only learn from people in the world of academia, but also interact with professionals struggling to solve the very problems we were learning about in the classroom. While learning about how Mittelstand companies must deal with succession issues in their leadership structure, we actually had the opportunity to hear from a local CEO of a business who dealt with fighting within his family when it came to succession planning. While we could have easily just read about this sensitive topic from a textbook, it was invaluable to speak to someone who has actually lived through this trying experience, and get a true feeling for the difficulties faced by him and his family.

Similarly to the experience of speaking with guest lecturers, visiting local corporations brought much of our studies to life. In each of the corporations we visited we had the unique opportunity to meet with, and ask questions of management within the company that could further explain how the principles of business we were learning about were implemented at their company. On each trip we received a company tour, and got an exclusive look at how some of the most innovative companies in the world operate.

As much as the GGS excelled at providing an outstanding academic experience, they also succeeded in showing us a world-class cultural experience. Each day, an exquisite lunch and dinner was arranged for and provided by the staff at GGS. We visited local eateries, and had the opportunity to try many delicious German dishes, including local Swabian specialties. Although all but the two German-speaking students needed translation help with the menus, we enjoyed every plate put in front of us, even if sometimes we were unsure of what we were ordering. There was also no shortage of opportunities to learn more about the burgeoning wine industry in the Heilbronn area. We had a tasty meal at a vineyard that included a thorough education on the region’s wine as told by the 14th generation owner of the property in which we were eating. We also visited a wine cooperative that collected grapes from all over the region, and then collectively performed the bottling function. At this location we went for a scenic stroll through their vineyards. One evening we visited a nearby castle, and had the opportunity to dine outdoors next to the walls of the ancient structure. To end the week, some of the GGS staff brought us to Stuttgart to further our cultural exposure to the region in which we were studying. We went to the top of the world’s oldest TV antenna, which offered spectacular vistas of the city of Stuttgart. We then traveled as a group and visited the Porsche museum. After one last evening socializing in Stuttgart, we all parted ways back home the following day

One of the more unseen benefits of this Germany experience would have to be the social bonds I created with my fellow MBA students and professors. Particularly coming from an online MBA program where live interaction with fellow students is infrequent, it was an incredible experience to go through this class with 20 other like-minded people interested in learning about different cultures. The group of us from Kelley Direct became such good friends with our fellow MBA students from around the world, that most evenings after 12 hours of studying/eating, we would stay out in the city and socialize further. It was quite enlightening to speak with students in other programs, and realize that although we are separated geographically by thousands of miles, and often must deal with language barriers, we share a bond with our mutual business education, and can connect on a deeper level than if we had met in other circumstances. I can’t stress enough my excitement to visit my new friends from around the world, both fellow KD students, and those from the other programs. A similar bond was also created between the students and the professors. I observed many students engaged in deep conversation with the professors during our breaks, and could tell that many students had a genuine interest in the experiences of our professors. Many students expressed interest in continuing communication with the professors, as they felt their area of expertise could help them in their professional life back home.

Indiana University, specifically the Kelley Direct program, has hit a home run with its partnership with the German Graduate School of Management and Law. Once again, the Kelley Direct MBA program has managed to find a new and exciting way for its students to gain business knowledge outside of the classroom. They could not have found a more professional and relevant school as GGS, and I commend them for forging this partnership that will hopefully stay strong for years. Since returning from Germany, we’ve been told that this first annual summer session by GGS was so successful that they are already planning for next year’s session.

On behalf of myself and my fellow KD students, I would like to extend a warm thank-you to the Kelley personnel that made this trip possible. I would also like to express my sincerest gratitude to the entire staff at GGS who worked tirelessly to ensure their guests had an educational and memorable experience. Danke schön.

Here’s to hoping they let me come back next summer!

Max Rubenstein

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Days 1 & 2 of the Washington, DC course: Business and Public Policy

The first two days in The Washington Campus course, “Business and Public Policy: How Washington Works and What Issues Matter”, have been busy and full of valuable information. On the first day, we met our fellow students – 15 students from Indiana University’s Kelley Direct program and 38 MBA students from Ohio State University – along with our faculty director, logistics coordinator, and program coordinator. Then we had four excellent speakers with diverse experiences in Washington. John Shelk, President and CEO of Electric Power Supply Association, spoke about the US Congress and policymaking including the changing roles of congressional committees. Jeff Weinberg, Legislative Attorney for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), talked to us about the executive branch and policymaking and how Presidents have differed in policymaking over the years. Jonathan Gledhill, President of The Policy Navigation Group, spoke to us about the regulatory process and the role of the OMB in that process. Douglas Bennett, Vice President of Federal Affairs for Liberty Mutual Group, talked with us about lobbying and interest groups. Afterward, we had a social event at James Hoban’s Restaurant and Bar.

On our second day, we visited the US Capitol where Marjorie Glick spoke to us about her role as a staffer in Senator Sherrod Brown’s office. Then Senator Sherrod Brown himself spoke to us about being a senator for Ohio and answered lots of questions. Afterward, we were free to choose which Senate or House hearings we wanted to attend. I attended the hearing on Deficit Reduction where all 12 members of the Super Committee presided over it. After lunch, we all met at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building where Mickey Edwards, former representative for Oklahoma in the House of Representatives, reflected on his time as a representative and discussed the changes in Congress today. Afterward, we had a choice to see the Supreme Court or to visit the Senate or House galleries. I chose to see the Senate gallery and heard senators discussing FEMA funding for victims of natural disasters in their states.

The next three days are packed with more valuable information and events, and I’m looking forward to learning more.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pre-Trip Preparation for Washington, DC course: Business and Public Policy

This weekend, I travel to Washington, DC for a one-week course entitled “Business and Public Policy: How Washington Works and What Issues Matter”. Fourteen other Kelley students and I will join MBA students from 16 other business schools around the country for a week full of tours, speakers, and a computer simulation.

When I first heard about the course, I was very interested, so I talked with my advisor about taking it. Once I registered, I was linked to a website with more details on the trip along with a required pre-reading list of articles. The intro article gave a synopsis of the who’s who in government and how the various agencies and departments are linked together. The remaining articles mostly described the good and bad sides of lobbying and advocacy groups along with some of the attempts at reform. They also gave a glimpse of the topics that would be covered during the week.

Last week, I received the final agenda for the course, and my interest in the course quickly turned to excitement. Seventeen guest speakers will discuss topics covering policy making, roles of lobbyists and interest groups, the federal budget, taxes, China, elections, energy, healthcare, universities, trade policies, the role of media, and more. We will also observe Congress, visit the Supreme Court, and have lunch one day at the National Press Club. One afternoon we will even participate in a computer simulation demonstrating the types of pressures that Congressmen confront. For grading, we have a written exam on the last day of the course and a team project to complete within two weeks of finishing the course.

I don’t know any of my fellow students who are attending, but I look forward to meeting them and other students from around the country. I suspect that I will learn from all of them as we explore how our government works and what issues matter.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hello world!

Hi everyone! My name is Wei and I am a first year student in the Kelley Direct MBA program. I'm halfway through my first year right now and definitely loving the experience. I was given the opportunity to contribute to the Kelley Direct blog and I am really grateful for the opportunity. I wanted to quickly introduce myself in my first post so you can get to know me and hopefully, at least for prospective students, be able to relate to my experiences and how it got me to where I am now.

A little background about myself: I graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA in Industrial Design and a BA in Comparative Religion. I found out during the ID program that I wasn't passionate enough to be a designer for the rest of my life, and somehow by chance fell into consumer goods product development. It was a career path I'd never heard of, but something I've fallen in love with since I started my professional career. I spent the last 3 years in the toy industry mainly working on Disney products and have some great memories from those experiences. However, I soon discovered that if I wanted to continue moving forward in my career, I would need to build up my business skills and knowledge. This is why I decided to pursue my MBA and I most certainly don't regret the choice!

For all the creative minds out there, you do have skills to contribute to the MBA program. You don't have to be a numbers person at all to succeed. You certainly may need to put more time in to the quantitative courses, but there are other skills you can offer to the program, to your cohort, and to your team mates. For people who have been trained in design, for example, you can offer your creative problem solving skills. You can also offer your persuasion skills, as designers are often required to sell their concepts to their coworkers or superiors. I can guarantee you that your classmates will appreciate you for it and for your unique perspective.

In any case, thanks so much for reading! I look forward to posting more in the future and sharing with you my experiences.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cell Phones and Online MBA Education

I purchased an iPhone recently, and it got me thinking about online education. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, allow me to explain. I owned the same cell phone for five years. It was a classic flip phone with an antenna. It took 25 keystrokes to write a simple phrase like “happy birthday." It was a terribly inefficient device that my friends reminded me of regularly.

I didn’t get a new phone sooner because I’m a late adopter. It takes me a long time to evaluate products and services, and it takes an even longer time to make a decision. I tend to be distrustful of “the next best thing,” and I prefer to allow other people to test new products so that I may learn from their feedback. So why did I choose to earn an online MBA degree – a relatively new educational program design – instead of a traditional two-year immersive program?

There were three mental obstacles that I had to overcome in order to apply (and be accepted) into the Kelley Direct program. It’s my hope that prospective students who read this blog entry may find my thought process to be parallel to their own. Clearly my goal is to be a good steward for the program, and I hope prospective students will choose the Kelley Direct program, but at the end of the day everyone has to do what’s right for them. With all that said, let me continue.

First, I wanted to make sure that whichever MBA program I chose would have a great reputation. I wanted the program to be challenging and to adhere to strict academic standards, and the Kelley School is frequently ranked among the best in the country. Additionally, the Kelley School has done a tremendous job opening up its career and alumni resources to Kelley Direct students. The administration has further integrated the program so that everyone knows that it’s the first word in “Kelley Direct” that is the most important.

Second, as sick as it sounds, I wanted to keep working. When I was evaluating full-time programs, I had lots of discussions with prospective students about career goals. The inevitable first question that I was asked was “What do you do?” and the follow up question was “What do you want to do?” After answering these questions the same way for about the 500th time, I realized that (a) I love my work, (b) I’m doing exactly what I want to do and (c) I have great opportunities to progress in my career. So why leave for two years to go back to the same job in the same industry?

Third, I have a young family, and their happiness is of paramount importance. My daughter is about a year-and-a-half and my wife is working on her master’s degree. How far would our family be set back if we made nothing for two years? What kind of dad would I be, or shall I say could I be, while being a full-time student? I should note that I met people who were dealing with the same circumstances, and they were accomplishing their MBA as a full-time student while being a family-person. I admire their commitment to fulfilling their MBA dream, but I knew that their path was not for my family and me.

Obviously I’m very happy about my decision to enroll in the Kelley Direct program. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and expanding my skills. I’m even looking forward to viewing PowerPoint presentations on my iPhone.

Rounding 3rd, Heading for Home

Late last month, I had the opportunity to sit in on a webcast for prospective students. It offered me the chance to reflect on where I have been and what I have accomplished over the last 18 months. I am in the middle of my second year at the Kelley School (hence the baseball analogy in the title).

There were 20-some people on the web conference, all of whom were evaluating online MBA schools and trying to find the best online MBA program for their own circumstances. I had the same questions as they did. "Is it worth it?" "Are the professors top notch?" "Do you feel like you are learning as much as you would in the classroom?"

Yes, yes and yes!

Having completed almost six of the eight quaters for my degree through Kelley Direct, I look back amazed at the knowledge that I have attained, the people that I have met and the professors that have diligently taught and mentored throughout my time at the Kelley School of Business. As promised by the faculty during my first in-residence, the rigor of the program is there. The professors are as good as advertised. The classes are demanding.

In case you are wondering, I am not being paid to write this and I am not brainwashed. The Kelley School has delivered on its promise. I am looking forward to two more exciting, intense quarters before graduation.