Rice Football

The weather here has taken a decidedly cooler turn. I'm not sure if that's just temporary or if we're entering autumn. Such thoughts in August would be unheard of in Houston--and even in northern Virginia--but I suppose it is possible. Either way, the onset of cooler weather always means one thing to me: it's football season!

Although professional games don't begin until next weekend, this weekend marks the start of the season for the NCAA. My fighting Rice Owls won their season opener last night against conference rival SMU in very decisive fashion. I'm sorry I couldn't have been there as the home opener each year is always quite a spectacle.

I can't believe it's been over 10 years now since I last played football. Real football, I mean--none of this sissy flag variety. The grueling two-a-days in August heat causing players to drop like flies and require intraveinous water/electrolytes, the smell of freshly cut grass, the competition on the field for starting positions, the resultant camaraderie off the field, the crack of helmet on helmet and pads on pads, the roar of the crowd, etc, etc. The football field was a great place to learn about teamwork, leadership, strategy, discipline, performance in clutch situations, and how to accomplish goals despite daunting obstacles (UT!).

I will miss the football season here in Lausanne but at least I can follow my teams thanks to the Web. Go Rice! Hail to the Redskins! And, of course, Go TJHSST Colonials!


ICP Client Visit in Zurich

Following is an IMD MBA Diary entry cowritten by my ICP teammate, Daniel, and me. This is Daniel's second time working with me (We were also in the same Mod II study group.) and he hasn't strangled me yet. Pictures of this trip are in my facebook album.

You know that something has changed when you take a train during a weekday. We have become so used to being stuck in Ouchy that it felt almost awkward not to sit in a classroom all day. There was a sense of adventure and excitement in the air when we (Bryan Hassin [USA], Mupwaya Mutakwa [Zambia], Felipe Restrepo [Colombia], Daniel Thull [Germany] and our professor Corey Billington [USA]) left Lausanne for the first work-meeting with our ICP client.

The expectations for our meeting were high. Over the last months there had been some communication glitches between our client, a global Chemical company code-named Pandora, and us and we were eager to get the project back on track. We used the two hour ride to Zurich in a very “swissy” train car to consult with Corey and come up with a project plan that will bring us closer to the “big win”. Had someone told us a year ago that we would be travelling first class to Zurich, talking about physical supply chain optimization and the tax-effect of principal structures, we probably would have told him to go see a doctor...

Avid diary readers might recall that we have recently seen the movie “An inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore. Although our project team had not discussed the issue openly, we did all our travel on public transportation and thus maybe helped to offset some of the carbon footprint of our colleagues who travel around the world.

The meeting with Pandora went very well. Although one of our stakeholders was out with a migraine (maybe that was due to the long list of information we were requesting from him) we were able to extract lots of useful information from them. Not least did we learn that emulsion polymers are colloidal dispersions of polymers in an aqueous medium. We expect that tidbit to be of critical importance in our future careers.

The Pandora buildings left quite an impression. Bland from the outside, they were sharp and very modern inside. Maybe a little TOO modern—the green bathroom was a bit much! Speaking of green, though, all of their buildings had green roofs. We thought this sustainability touch, coupled with the absence of a single environmental incident over their 100+-year corporate history, was surprising—and welcome—coming from a chemical manufacturer.

Lunch was a refreshing break as we spent an hour chatting up our client. The special of the day was “Fleischkäs”, which ostensibly means “meatloaf.” However, this was like no meatloaf we had ever seen. It was basically a huge hot dog, sliced into crosswise sections and served with gravy. It couldn’t compete with IMD’s lunches, but what do you expect in the cafeteria of the local water works?! Unfortunately Corey had a long conference call and couldn’t join us for lunch. He had to settle for a cheese sandwich plus a Twix – welcome to the consulting world!

Before hopping on the train to head back to Lausanne, our group relaxed by the river for about 45 minutes. We found a nice little café with outdoor seating and ordered a round of beer—except for B ryan. When told that they didn’t have any dark beer, he ordered Scotch whiskey instead. The “bourbon” on the menu came from Tennessee so he didn’t trust it—Americans! Despite the fact that he claimed to have had Macallan 12-year many times before, this was the first time that it was served A. in a champagne flute and B. accompanied by dark Lindt chocolate—a pairing that went quite well!

On the train ride home we abandoned project discussion to talk about careers. Corey was helpful in providing some of his wisdom accumulated throughout his years at IBM, HP, and Silicon Valley start-ups. His #1 piece of advice to us sounded obvious but he assured us that each year he saw students not follow it: avoid toxic companies/work environments. Avoid them like the plague. If you love what you do and are in a nurturing environment, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. You should feel your energy going up every day. If, however, you are in an exploitative, unethical, abusive, or otherwise “evil” company, your energy will go down and life will . . . suck.

This project falls into the former category. We are set to deliver millions of euros of value to our client, we have tremendous faculty support from Corey, and we are very positive as a team. Despite the fact that the solution to our client’s problem is non-obvious, our energy level for addressing it is increasing and we know that we will succeed. Now, in the meantime, we all need to work on finding similar environments for life after IMD!

Olympic Wrap-up

The final results are in according to my "official" scoring system:

1. China: 346
2. USA: 330
3. Russia: 206
4. Great Britain: 149
5. Australia: 132

Congratulations to the Chinese; we'll see you in London for a rematch in 2012!


The Circle of Life

Sorry for the cheesy title to this post but I'm not in a very creative mood. I arrived home this evening to learn that the daughter of one of my good friends had died. She had been in and out of the hospital all her life so perhaps this wasn't a surprise, but it still hurts. Figuring that my friends probably needed some grieving time to themselves, I forewent a phone call and spent a long time crafting an email to express my heartfelt condolences.

Of course it is terrible whenever a loved one dies, but there is something so . . . unnatural . . . about parents outliving their children; it adds another dimension of grief to the mourning. Although I have never experienced it myself, I saw the anguish it caused my grandparents when my father died; years later they still cried and cried about it. These friends of mine were no more deserving of such a tragedy than were my grandparents, but I suppose these things happen; death is as natural a part of life as birth.

Then, no sooner had I hit the send button than a new email arrived in my inbox. It was from another friend of mine who was in the same circle of friends as those who had just lost their daughter. However this email was to announce the birth of his son, who entered this world just as the other was leaving.

I feel both sorrow and joy; I feel conflicted. I suppose this is akin to (albeit much, MUCH milder) the mixture of grief and joy felt by a new father when the mother dies in childbirth. Every end is a new beginning, every time a door closes another is opened, etc. This pointed coincidence of timing illustrates something so simple about the natural cycle of birth and death, yet so profound that I can't possibly articulate it in this entry.

Olympics Scoring

After heated debate with my classmates from around the world, I have decided to revise my Olympics medal scoring system. While we all agree that points should be given for silver and bronze medals (After all, shouldn't winning gold and silver be worth more than just winning gold alone?), the topic of dispute was how many points each medal should be awarded.

Under my original scheme, golds were worth 3 points, silvers 2, and bronzes 1. This means that earning silver and and bronze together would be equivalent to earning gold. Our consensus was that a single gold was worth more than silver and bronze together; after all, gold is the best in the world. Accordingly, my new "official" system assigns 5 points to gold, 3 points to silver, and 1 point to bronze.

As of now, China retains the lead with 330 points (49 gold, 19 silver, 28 bronze). The US follows closely with 317 points (34 gold, 37 silver, 35 bronze). Russia, Great Britain, and Australia bring up the rest of the top five, each with scores in the 100s. With only two days of competition left, GAME ON!

Also, I have posted pics of my dinner up in the Swiss mountains in my facebook album.


Kings of the Beach

Much controversy has surrounded the measurement of "success" in the Olympics. Should success be measured by the total number of medals won as advocated by the US? Or by just the number of golds won, which is used by the rest of the world? While I agree with the US that silver and bronze medals should be considered--otherwise why award them at all--I don't think they should count as much as golds. Accordingly I have been tracking the official medal count throughout the Olympics: a weighted score for which golds count 3, silvers 2, and bronzes 1. With all of China's golds it has led this scoring system throughout the games.

At last, however, the US is catching up. With 29 golds, 34 silvers, and 32 bronzes, it has 187 points. China, with 46 golds, 15 silvers, and 22 bronzes, still leads with 190 points. We'll see what the next three days hold in store for the final tally!

This morning the US demonstrated its beach dominance with a gold in men's beach volleyball to accompany yesterday's gold for the women. In indoor the women have already advanced to the finals while the men are ahead of Russia 1-0 right now in the semifinals. Hopefully we'll have some more volleyball medals soon!

Meanwhile this afternoon I will be focused on the women's long jump finals, where Rice alum Funmi Jimoh will be competing. She had a good jump in the qualifiers; hopefully she can dig in for an even better one today. Go USA and go Rice!


Swiss Dairy

Last night was fantastic. The entrepreneurs behind my spring startup project, deskNet, took my group out for a celebration dinner. This was something we intended to do back in May when the project finished, but final exams, Kenya, and vacation interfered. It was nice to take a break, though, as this way they could update us on their progress. It seems that we really added some value as they are now running an operation much more focused on a specific strategy.

They picked us up at IMD and drove us about an hour up into the mountains. When it became clear that the only signs of life for miles around were evergreen trees and cattle, we came upon a dairy farm that doubled as an out-of-the-way restaurant, La Bréguette. Apparently others were in on the secret as the rows of tables inside the farm house were packed. We settled down to a delicious meal of escargots, cold meats, fondue, and incredible desserts. Cream, cheese, and chocolate were made there at the dairy so were prominently featured throughout the menu. Add a little (OK, a lot) Swiss white wine and great conversation and we found ourselves back at IMD after midnight. The crisp night air and bright stars up in the mountains were really refreshing; Switzerland is not a bad place to live. I wish the deskNET team all the best and I look forward to following their success.

Today has been a great day for USA volleyball. Misty May and Kerri Walsh won their second consecutive Olympic gold in beach volleyball (their 108th consecutive match win) while the indoor women's team advanced to the gold medal match. Tomorrow it's time for the men to show that they can keep up!


Michael Phelps

As I was heading to bed last night, I couldn't decide whether or not to get up at 4:58 AM to watch Phelps go for his 8th gold of the Olympics. Having played a few hours of beach volleyball yesterday, I was pretty tired and actually fell asleep while trying to decide whether or not to get up and reset my alarm clock for 4:57 AM. I guess my decision was made for me. Oh well, I would see the results of his race on the Internet as soon as I woke up anyway.

Then, in the middle of the night, I woke up inexplicably. I glanced over at the alarm clock; it read 4:57 AM. This was clearly fate intervening so, blurry eyed, I turned on Zattoo, found a channel that was showing aquatics, and tuned in just as the 4x100MR was about to start.

I'm glad I did--what a race! Things didn't start out too well for the US and the BBC commentator remarked several times that he didn't think we were performing well enough to fend off the strong Australians in the anchor leg. In fact we had slipped to third place when Phelps dove in for the third leg. 100m later we were in first and Jason Lezak wasn't about to give it up.

8 gold medals and 7 world records in 9 days. Michael Phelps, what a machine. Sure he's genetically predisposed to swimming but it takes much more than that to accomplish what he has. Years of focused, intense practice; discipline to maintain perfect form even when exhausted; mental toughness to push harder even when there is nothing left; heart to persevere even when unthinkable success has already been achieved.

What I love most about his feat is that some of his golds came from team events. His fate rested not just in his hands but also in the hands of others who wouldn't share the media attention, glory, or financial reward. Yet they all rallied around him and dug down deep--Jason Lezak, especially--to make it happen.

I'm glad I woke up to watch; I was inspired by the drive, dedication, and teamwork of those representing the USA.



We wrapped up this week with another case on Corporate Social Responsibility. Once again there was a great deal of debate. Was the company genuine about providing environmental benefit? Or was it just looking to improve its image and, hence, its returns? If the latter, did it matter so long as the environmental benefit was realized? What is the purpose of a business? Should it try to satisfy all the stakeholders? Or should it focus on profits (a focus for which it is very efficient) and rely on its government to regulate it? Or should its consumers, suppliers, and employees "market regulate" it by not buying from, selling to, or working for it unless it acts in "good" interest?

These are tough questions and I don't have an "optimal" answer worked out in my head yet. I continue to wrestle with the question of what is the best model. I love the double- and triple-bottom-line ideas but even they are problematic: how do you measure social and environmental benefit when weighing against easily measurable financial benefit? My inclination is to regard with skepticism unsustainable businesses that just kick off some money to CSR. Businesses that grow out of inherently sustainable ideas, however, are something else. When sustainability goes along with profitability instead of detracting from it, then we've got something that really works. But can every business be independently sustainable? If not, how can we ensure that those that aren't sustainable are balanced by "surpluses" from those that are?

These questions have some impact on my job search as well. I sent in my first two applications yesterday to GE Energy. Their renewables segment is growing by leaps and bounds and I'm interested to learn more about it. Furthermore, such a large, global corporation could be an excellent platform on which to work toward my goal of helping to change the world. Or it could be bureaucratic, inefficient, and stymying at every turn. We'll see!

While working on industry/company research and cover letters I have been making my way through my music collection in alphabetical order by artist. AC/DC, Air Supply, Alice in Chains, and Anne Murray were last week. I just finished B.B. King yesterday and am now listening to all of the Beatles' albums in chronological order. Such good music! And the weather is gorgeous today so I'll have to take a break from career strategy for some beach volley later on.

Oh and one more thing: Michael Phelps is a hoss. I'm waking up at 4 AM tomorrow to watch him [hopefully] go 8/8 in Olympic golds. What an inspiration.



Is a company's chief allegiance to its shareholders or should it also be held accountable by other stakeholders, including employees, the community, and the environment? Should ethics be defined by the net social value of consequences to actions, fundamental rights of individuals, social contracts, or predefined virtues? How important are values in an organization and, if they are important, how can they be defined and maintained? How "should" a company interact with NGOs that oppose it, especially when they're "right?"

These are the questions we are wrestling with in our Ethics & Social Responsibility class. The discussions, led by professor Michael Yaziji, have been scinitllating and heated--just what you'd expect from a debate in such a diverse environment! My favorite question for contemplation so far has been:

"You are the CEO of a pharma company with the option to save hundreds of thousands of lives. This option will necessarily come at significant, long-term shareholder expense. What do you do?"

After much clarification of the question and the assumptions, it was clear that there was no win-win situation. You either saved lives and lost money or didn't and made money. There was much debate. Obviously everyone wanted to save the lives, but did we have the right? Or were we obliged to run the company in the best interests of the shareholders? Many student responses relied on passing the buck to the owners: put it up for a vote and comply with the result.

I don't buy that, however. To me, this question of whether or not to save lives is similar to a question of whether or not to save money (Hear me out before you condemn me for that statement!). If you choose not to save money you are, effectively, losing money. If you choose not to save lives you are, effectively, killing. When I frame the question that way, my course of action is apparent: I will save the lives.

It distills down to the same question faced by Nazi officers: do I kill because I have been ordered to do so by my shareholders/fuhrer? Or do I adhere first to my own principles? I am a principled human first and a CEO after. I may be fired for my decision but what good is being CEO if you can't live with yourself? My goal would be to communicate upfront the values that would drive my decision-making in such a situation--transparency and honesty with the shareholders. Hopefully that would help ensure that I work for a company with similar values.

It seems like a theoretical, academic question, except that it was part of a case discussion involving a pharma company and its marketing of AIDS drugs in South Africa. What are your thoughts on such a dilemma?

Out-of-Town Visitors

On Sunday I had lunch with Will, a family friend who swung through town during his summer travels. Will is one of the most brilliant, accomplished people I know and it was great to spend some time with him. He is a Jefferson Scholar at UVA, where he just finished his second year. Three of his friends, also Jefferson Scholars, joined us at a little creperie along the lake for a couple of hours of great conversation and food. These kids were bright, worldy, multicultural, and nice, an outstanding example of what America can produce.

Last night I had dinner with Nathalie, a former housemate of mine in Houston. She is Swiss and was in town spending time with her family. Dinner--also on the lake--was very nice (Chantrelles are in season!) and it was great to catch up with Nathalie. Two years ago she helped start up a renewable fuels trading company that is growing and doing very well.

Meanwhile this week's class focus on ethics and social responsibility has been very interesting already. It has been very philosophical so far with background readings on Kantian ethics, rights, and social justice. I'll post a more detailed update later in the week.


Italian Volleyball

While I'm working on my career strategy all day I have some olympic coverage going on in the background. Because NBC won't broadcast online to viewers outside the US, I have to be creative with my choice of media. Fortunately I found a web service called Zattoo that shows many international channels online. Right now I am watching USA beach volleyball on an Italian channel--che bella!


The Olympics Have Begun!

As we finished our last day of Stakeholder Managment today, our breaks were consumed by watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Everyone cheered as countries represented in our class marched in. What fun--I can't wait for the competitive rivalries to start once the events get going.

I was proud to learn that Rice is well represented in the Olympics: we have eight athletes and coaches representing their countries. Additionally, Rice's president is there at the opening ceremony. Go Rice and Go USA!


Career Strategy Update: Objective and Industries

Following is another email that I just sent my Career Board today:

First, let me elaborate a little on my objective (Change the world through business leadership!) because I know it sounds cheesy. The premise is pretty simple: governments and NGOs are just some of the parties that can address some of the major challenges the world faces today. In a capitalist society, and in a global market-driven economy, I believe very strongly in the power of the business to address them as well. When I look back at the world-changing developments of recent history, many (most?) of them have come from private industry. Furthermore, my professional experience is in business so, if I want to change the world (and I do!), it makes sense for me to focus on this area.

A company like Exxon-Mobil, for example, has a profound ability to change the world. As one of the world’s largest energy producers and global employers, everything it does or doesn’t do has serious consequences for the world’s energy, environmental, and social challenges. It has the power to change the world for the better—or for the worse. Consequently, it is crucial that Exxon-Mobil’s leadership “get it right.” I am not so presumptuous as to contend that I have all the answers about what is “right” or that I am qualified to take over as CEO of Exxon-Mobil tomorrow. However, I consider it my duty to give it my best shot.

Thus my strategy is as follows:
1. Identify industries that have the greatest potential to change the world.
2. Match those industries with my interests and background. About which industries am I most passionate? To which industries can I offer the most value with my own skills and experience. For example, I believe biotechnology can be a world-changing industry but it is not a great match with background.
3. Learn more about my target industries with industry analyses, analyst reports, and conversations with contacts in those industries. Validate my understanding of the industries and what I would bring to each one. Study the business system(s) of each industry and identify the specific activities that are most interesting and/or offer the greatest opportunity to change the world.
4. Identify and target specific companies that are most interesting within each targeted business activity. Criteria include: innovation, financial performance, market performance, quality of work life, quality of leadership, opportunities for learning/mentorship, and geographic location/travel.
5. Market myself to targeted companies by networking, on-campus recruiting, and unsolicited applications.

I am currently in steps 3 and 4, depending on the industry. I have also subsumed my nanotechnology interest under green energy and commercial space operations. The more I learned about nanotechnology, the more I confirmed that my interests in it were almost exclusively insomuch as it relates to these other two industries. My status for each of my remaining three target industries is as follows:

Green Energy: Step 4
The sub-industries that interest me most are:
Renewables (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal): technology development (e.g. nanotechnology thin-film solar cells), device manufacturing (e.g. wind turbine manufacturing), operations (e.g. wind farm development)
Distribution: technology development (e.g., nanotechnology high-efficiency transmission lines or high-capacitance residential power storage)
Vestas (world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer) and AES (a power generator/developer that includes renewables in its portfolio) recruit on-campus for their leadership development programs. Shell, which has more green energy in its offering than it used to also recruits here but I just don’t get a great “vibe” from them in terms of fit. In Step 4 I am identifying all of the other companies to target as well.

Technology: Step 3
I am most interested in revolutionary web software companies, not IT services companies, but I am still in Step 3, identifying exactly which business activities and sub-industries to target proactively.
Google recruits on-campus and is definitely on my list. Amazon may sign up too. British Telecom has also contacted me and motivated me to open up a little to technology companies outside of my web software scope. They are looking for global leaders to help them expand their concept of “the 21st-century network” worldwide and are offering what sounds like a very appealing leadership development program.

Commercial Space Operations: Step 3
I am still validating this industry to understand whether I should target it or not. It is very nascent, which is both exciting and challenging—there are no industry reports, for example. I have contacts in NASA and NASA contractors but I really need to talk to people IN this industry and they are hard to find. Using online networking tools I have generated some contacts at the Space Island Group (http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html) and am cold calling this week. If anyone has other ideas about how to learn more about *commercial* space operations, I would love to discuss.

My Career

With less than four months (Yikes! How did it pass so quickly?!) left on the program, our thoughts have turned toward our post-IMD careers. Many of us are looking to continue paths that we already started, many are looking for radical changes, and many are seeking something in between.

As this is an integral part of the IMD experience, I will keep my readers (especially those future-IMDers) posted on my progression as I move from a high-level, general strategy to something more focused, to [hopefully] offers, to selecting my next move.

I am pursuing my career search using a corporate model. I am the CEO of my search (I'm also the product that I will eventually be marketing.) and, as such, I put together a Board of Directors to help advise me. The Board consists of one VC, one pilot, two consultants, two entrepreneurs (This is how I’m classifying you—let me know if I’m off the mark.), three CXOs, a banker, a doctor, and a lawyer—I think that provides adequate diversity! The Board members are spread around the US and Australia but I have some informal advisors in Europe as well.

The first emails I sent to my Board members (mid-July) contained variations of the following information. It is general and ambiguous, but it is a starting point. Although I have limited my Board to 10 members, I would certainly welcome comments and criticisms from the rest of my readers. My opening position:

My objective: to change the world through business leadership! I hope to do this by obtaining an influential general management position (with an entrepreneurial element as well!) at a company with the potential for significant global impact.
Skills I bring: founding and leading organizations, communicating and persuading diverse stakeholders, and global perspective, having lived in three countries and speaking three languages
Experience: 7 years in entrepreneurship and general management with software companies serving diverse industries and geographic markets around the world

By definition, general management is awfully . . . general! So my challenge has been to refine my career search to focus on just the areas where there is the greatest fit. After a significant amount of thinking about my strengths, motivations, goals, and experience, I have decided to target the following four industries:

Renewable Energy (solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, etc.) – I am familiar with the energy industry through having served it with software my whole career; now I see it as an industry with the potential to change the world—for the better!
Commercial Space Operations (space industrialization, exploration) – I have lived in the shadow of space exploration my entire life and it has always been a passion of mine. With the growing number of companies participating, I see opportunities to contribute without working for bureaucratic government organizations.
Nanotechnology – I am specifically interested in nanotechnologies that support renewable energy (carbon-walled nanotubes that transmit electricity over vast distances with little attenuation, for example) and commercial space operations (incredibly light, strong materials that make reusable launch vehicles more practical, for example). Although I have no background in nanotech, Rice is very strong in this area and should provide significant networking opportunities.
Web Software (Internet portals, applications, etc.) – I remain enamored of IT and its ability to change the lives of millions practically overnight. Given my background, this is probably the “lowest-risk” search strategy, but I am committed to pursuing the others with equal gusto.

Geographically I am targeting the USA (Houston, Austin, San Diego, or Silicon Valley), Italy, the UK, or Switzerland. I am open to the right opportunity that is based anywhere, and I anticipate significant travel, but these are my ideal “home bases.”


Daniel Day Lewis

In between rewriting my PPIN (a 20-page paper that defines everything I stand for and analyzes my past to understand why) and pounding my way through the 20 cases we have to prepare for this week's course on stakeholder management, I had the opportunity to watch some movies this weekend.

Friday night I revisited a movie I hadn't seen since pre-school: Howard the Duck. I was looking for something to have on in the background as I caught up on some emails so I didn't want anything too intellectual--no worries there! This movie was just as bad as I remember it but it did bring back some memories.

Saturday I threw on Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay which was almost as bad. Again, though, I just wanted something for the background while I cooked and putzed around.

Saturday evening I settled in for a Daniel Day Lewis fix. I never really knew who he was until I saw Gangs of New York, in which I found his portrayal of Bill "The Butcher" Cutting absolutely riveting. When I saw There Will Be Blood (for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor) several weeks ago I was reminded of how much I admired his acting so decided to procure his other movies. Saturday night I watched The Last of the Mohicans and this evening I just finished My Left Foot, for which he also won Best Actor. Daniel Day Lewis only seems to surface every few years but, when he does, it is a performance worth watching.

I was glad to have some time this weekend to watch some movies--one of my favorite pastimes. Also, congratulations again to Washington Redskins greats Art Monk and Darrell Green, who were officially inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame this weekend. Hail to the Redskins!



At long last I have finished my chronological tour through American popular music. The 2000s ended my journey with more of a whimper than a bang so I really don't have much to say about them. Here are a few thoughts, though:

Although I'm no great fan of Mariah Carey's, it is impressive that she has now been cranking out hits for almost 20 years.
I'm glad that the fad formula of female vocalist + Ja Rule groaning/grunting in the background came and went pretty quickly.
There are still a number of great rock/alternative songs that aren't making it onto Billboard's charts.

Now that I have completed this musical tour and, at the same time, played through all of Jimmy Buffett's albums (35 years worth!), I almost don't know what to listen to next. However, the weather is great, which means I need something to pump me up for some beach volley. I'll just start at the top of the alphabet. Next up: AC/DC!


Allez Suisse!

We have spent the past three days in a negotiation workshop run by CM Partners. It was a great experience studying frameworks for analysis of one-on-one and multi-party negotiations. These frameworks are useful for advance preparation as well as mindfulness in the moment. The goal throughout our similated negotiations was understanding each party's interests in order to reach a wise decision for mutual gain. Of course understanding wasn't enough; we also practiced many communication techniques to keep dialogs moving in a positive direction, even in the face of "difficult" circumstances or people. We wrapped up the session this afternoon by tying it in with other IMD course themes: principled negotiation can be a great tool to help us make the world a better place.

Today is also Swiss National Day. It was celebrated with a brilliant display of fireworks over the lake, which I could see very well from my window. Now that the official fireworks are over, the private fireworks are going off with loud booms and occasional flashes in the distance. I think I'll sleep with earplugs in tonight as the "wild and crazy" Swiss get their celebration on!