Friday, October 30, 2009

Wolf T-shirt

Since starting school in August, we have done a number of cases related to shirts. First, there was George's T-shirts, which introduced us to the magic of Crystal Ball and the Flaw of Averages. Then, just this week, we tried to figure out whether it would be more cost effective and operationally appropriate to outsource Surfing Santa shirts from Hong Kong.

After doing several weeks of Management Communications classes with presentations on, I was introduced to yet another great t-shirt story: the story of the 3 wolf t-shirt.

Apparently the 3-wolf t-shirt was not a popular seller until one day, when someone decided to write a review on his experiences with the shirt. Since then, there have been over a thousand reviews added, and the t-shirt has spiked in popularity. Rather than telling you the rest of the story, you can just read it here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beautiful Day

Today I finally got to go hiking!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Apple Picking

Do you ever have one of those weeks where it seems NOTHING can go right?

For me, that's been the last two weeks. The streak of bad luck started almost two weeks ago when I was rear-ended. This whole past week has been just brutal at school (I think it's the combination of new classes and a million company briefings). Then this morning, my iPhone, which I've had for less than three months, suddenly decided to stop working. I took it in to AT&T only to discover that I will either have to drive to Richmond to get a replacement or mail it in. In the meantime, they have given me a loaner phone. Which would be awesome if the microphone actually worked in it. I used this loaner "phone" to call Apple to see about getting a replacement phone only to discover that they can't hear me at all when I speak.

So yes, it's been one of those weeks. (And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Trust me... it's been a bad week.)

BUT, after classes ended today, my friend Legal MBAyhem and I took off for the apple orchard. Once there, we did wine tasting and apple picking and apple cider donut eating. It was great to get out of the Darden bubble and actually get to take in the spectacular fall colours!

Growing up in Western Canada, apple picking was not a regular fall occasion. In fact, to be honest, there aren't any fall traditions since it lasts a grand total of about three weeks. (Seriously... I've heard jokes about kids designing their Halloween costumes to fit over a snow suit for trick or treating and it's true!) So it was great fun to be schooled in this New England tradition. I enjoyed picking apples right off the tree and eating them. It doesn't get much fresher than that, eh?

Fall has always been my favourite season, and it seems that here in Virginia, it actually consists of a full season, taking it's fair share of the year. So after a really long, brutal week, it was most pleasant to get away and take it all in. I think I will have to go apple picking again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall in VA

It is a gorgeous, warm sunny afternoon here in Virginia, and I am inside working on cases. *sigh* For the last two months since arriving, I have attempted three times to go hiking on Saturdays, and every single time, it rains. In light of the great weather this afternoon, I texted a few friends to see if anyone could just blow off case work for the afternoon and go for a hike with me this afternoon, but alas, with company briefings and business plan concept competitions and meetings with career coaches, no one was free.

I would use this as leverage for looking forward to the weekend, but guess what the forecast is for Friday and Saturday?

You guessed it... rain.

So I ask any long-term residents of Virginia: do we EVER get nice weather on the weekends?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blog News!

It's not very often that a little, personal blog like mine has news. In fact, this may very well be the only time that I have blog news. After all, I'm not supporting a book, nor will I begin selling t-shirts. There are very few, if any, awards for personal blogs.

But today I have news.

My blog has been selected as a Darden Student Blog, meaning that it will serve as a glimpse into life at Darden for prospective and incoming students.

I'm very excited about my fellow incoming bloggers, but will wait until they are officially announced to introduce them to you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


One-eighth of my MBA education was officially completed on Friday and commemorated with the well-renowned 100 Case Party (think: bunch of late-20/early-30-somethings completely decked out in 80s gear and add a LOT of beer). It seems that it wasn't enough to celebrate with that, and I have found myself out ALL weekend with various fun activities: flag football Saturday afternoon, dinner with a friend Saturday evening followed by Riesling tasting with another friend and then on to a Section B potluck after church this morning.

Thoughout all of these activities, I was in serious denial about what came this afternoon: three intense cases for tomorrow's classes.

This quarter, we switch out DA (decision analysis - an Excel-based class) and LO (leading organizations - the soft class) for finance and economics. Given that I really love Excel and frequently fell asleep during undergrad finance, this change is not particularly welcome.

Although Q1 passed quickly in hindsight, I quickly became comfortable with my seat, profs and classes. Tomorrow brings new professors, new neighbours and a new seat that is NOT in the back row. (But I can't complain... it's in the second last row)

Anyway, I have one last case to prep before learning team tonight, and the one thing that makes me happy is that I get to stick with LT15. Though we do have a new room...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Exam Week

It used to be that exam week elicited no small sense of high stress and tension. After shutting yourself in the library for a solid week, you would get up early (especially since I rarely had classes starting before 10 in undergrad), drive in to school, find the appropriate gym, find your exam's row, lay out all your pens, calculator and ID, and then proceed to write the exam in an artificially quiet room as proctors and professors roamed the aisles watching for suspicious behaviour.

Exams at Darden started this week. While I definitely did my fair share of locking myself in a room going over notes, because the exam was open book, there was no memorization required. I set my alarm for 9:30 this morning, since the absolutely latest I could start was 10, and ended up waking up around 7:56. I got up, ate a leisurely breakfast, and strolled over to my computer to download the exam around 8:30. I finished and took a break so I could clear my head before checking over the answers. Then I put on some sweat pants and walked over to the school to turn it in.

Since tomorrow's exam is open book and I have already spent hours studying for it, there wasn't anything school related to do this afternoon. So I took my car in to get an estimate on the repair (I was rear-ended yesterday), had some friends over for pie, actually cooked dinner with my roommate for the second night in a row and am taking care of the huge list of things that have been neglected over the past few weeks.

I had heard the rumour that exam week was the easiest week at Darden, and it is proving to be true.

In other news, Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there! After drooling over the mental image of my mom's pumpkin and apple pies, I decided to summon my domestic streak and made my own pies. One of my friends took pictures and has blogged about them.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Airport Tests

Over the past few days, I have spent a lot of time talking to consultants, learning about consulting and figuring out how to prepare for the consulting interviews.

One of the key aspects of the consulting interview is the airport test. Basically, the interviewer needs to feel confident that if stuck in an airport with you for several hours, they won't want to resort to listening to their iPod or reading the Wall Street Journal.

A while back, I blogged about my frustrations with the recruiting process. And indeed, as I started talking to my career consultant this week to go over my resume, the question of networking came up. But I discovered something this week that I think will help with the rest of the recruiting process: I don't have to fit into any sort of mould to network. Previously, I had visions of sliding into a conversation, smoothly delivering my story, asking intelligent but canned questions and listening politely to the answers. While there's nothing wrong with any of those things, it just seems like a stuffy way to spend several evenings in a row.

Instead, I have discovered that networking can be fun, after all. In the past week, I have discussed being stranded in small Saskatchewan airports, Monster Truck rallies, sore feet, how many times you can hit "Snooze" before getting out of bed to catch a plane, and the stealing of the Section B bird. One of the shining moments of the week for me was when I was asked to give a fun fact, talked about how I love road trips and had driven down from Canada and had one consultant say, "you just wanted to slip in that you are from Canada," to which I replied, "well, being from Canada isn't much of a novelty for me." To which the other consultant replied, "THAT is a great line" and repeated it back.

Anyway, what I am discovering is that the nice thing about the people I am meeting in my career progression, especially the Darden alum (though I have had some good conversations with people from other schools), is that they are fun people. There is no need to put on my serious face and figure out how to ask serious questions. These people have all passed the airport test and thus are actually fun to talk to!

Monday, October 05, 2009


After a long day of classes, a headache, case prep (3 cases worth and a billion pages of reading), a company briefing that went way too long, a hurriedly scarfed down supper and then learning team, I came home to print something off and walked back to school. My hope was that the piano room would be empty, leaving me the opportunity to do something that completely refreshes me - make music. As luck (or splendid planning!) would have it, the room was empty. I guess that's probably a safe guess for 10:30 at night.

After spending half an hour playing the piano and singing, I feel at peace and completely refreshed. It's amazing how much I crave playing when I am not around a piano often enough. I've determined that I have to figure out a way to bring my guitar back with me at Christmas.

Many people think I'm crazy when I tell them I take one day off a week. But what I have discovered is that those times of rest are vital in a busy schedule. Taking half an hour to play the piano when I could be prepping the cases for Wednesday is actually the best use of my time. I've found that going to bed by midnight every night does more for class participation than staying up an extra hour or two to review.

I know I've blogged about this before, but I'm learning how incredibly important it is. There is a lot of discussion about choosing a career and having work/life balance. What I'm finding is that you can make time for that renewal and refreshment no matter your schedule. The times that you go hard are the times when the end is in sight. When you've got 4 months between August and December with very few breaks, you can't afford to run yourself ragged every day and every week. Of course, all this said, I have a big list of things I am planning to do next week during my free evenings that should have been done throughout the quarter. Oh well... you can't win 'em all.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

International Food Festival

One of the best things about Darden is the international student population. Every year, there is an International Food Festival, and the organizers claim that it is the best event of the year.

After participating last night, I would concur.

Flagler Courtyard was transformed into a global village, with booths set up for India, Columbia, Argentina, Italy, Japan, Thailand, and many, many more countries. Each of these countries featured students dressed in their traditional country garb and, more importantly, serving traditional country cuisine. It only took a few tables before I was completely and utterly stuffed. I would swear that I was done eating until I walked past the Russian booth, where my friends forced blinis into my hand. Then someone would tell me that I absolutely HAD to try the noodle dish from Korea.


After the dining portion of the evening, there were traditional performances from each country. While many would probably decree the Egyptian belly dancer was the best (a girl from the fabulous Section B), my favourite was the Japan presentation. The first lord was played by a guy in my section, who was lulled to sleep with wine by someone who promptly stole the bird. (For more on that, read my previous entry.) After that, there was some sword play and some sumo wrestling to determine who would win the bird. It was quite hilarious.

One of the biggest questions I got all evening was: where's the Canada booth? So, my question to all my fellow Canadians, what would you deem traditional Canadian food so I can have a booth next year? The only thing I could come up with is poutine.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


If you read my blog at the actual blog site and not on Facebook, you will notice that on the right side of my blog, there is a bucket list. On the top of that list, there is a newly checked item - seeing U2 in concert.

It was everything I dreamed it would be.

Okay, perhaps that is slightly overdramatic, but seriously, the concert was amazing. I continue to have a deep-found respect for Bono as a musician, celebrity, activist and man of faith. One of my favourite moments in the concert was the acoustic version of "Amazing Grace."

The social activism remained high as well. They performed "Walk On" in honour of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, a political prisoner in Burma. There was a tribute to everything the One campaign has accomplished. And at the end, Bono gave a special thank you to the people sitting in the (RED) section.

As I walked back to my apartment, one of my classmates and I discussed the implications of everything. Here we are, being trained as "leaders in the world of practical affairs," and as such, we have a responsibility. I've always felt it is my responsibility as someone who has much to give back and truly make an impact that lasts beyond my time on this earth and does something more than expand my shoe collection. It's so easy to forget this when I am caught up in cases and the job search, but ultimately, I need to figure out how best to contribute to this global community I find myself in.

Anyway, I could probably develop a whole blog on this subject, but for now I am tired. The concert was great.