Thursday, December 22, 2011

One Down...

It's been 8 days, 12 hours and 22 minutes since I got the admit call from Kellogg.  I'm still walking on sunshine, but I've started to come down a bit from my euphoric high.  There are still Round 2 applications to complete (too many of them since I procrastinated through most of November and December).  What's that you say? Why am I applying in Round 2 if I'm already in at Kellogg?  Aren't I set on going to Kellogg?  Isn't Kellogg my first choice?

The simple answer to the last two questions is, no.  I'm not set on going to Kellogg and it's not my first choice.  However, I don't have a first choice.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Along the Yellow Brick Road.

When Dorothy got caught in a twister, hit her head, and woke up in Oz, she couldn't have fathomed the characters that she would meet along the way.  There was Glenda, the Good Witch of the North who gave her ruby slippers and gave her the simple instructions to, "follow the yellow brick road."  There were the Munchkins who welcomed her to Munchkin land.  And we must not forget the friends Dorothy made on her way to the Emerald City: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.  All of these characters (including the Wicked Witch of the West) are instantly recognizable and I'm sure we could all identify them with either pieces of ourselves or people we know.

So along my personal yellow brick road to b-school, I too have come across a colorful cast of characters.  See if you recognize any of these people.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Walking on Sunshine

"I used to think maybe you loved me..."

I'll be honest. This summer when I was reseraching schools, Kellogg didn't really do it for me.  Maybe it was the staid website or possibly the "K is only good for marketing" chatter on the MBA forums. Whatever it was I didn't have the stars in my eyes for Kellogg that I did for Booth (SKI TRIP!), Wharton, Stanford, and other schools. Still, one of my recommenders is a Kellogg alum and I thought it would be stupid to not try to take some small advantage in that.

Something funny happens when you take the time to get to know a school in order to write three to four sentences to answer the all important question, "Why Kellogg." You find out exactly why. I spent hours poring over Kellogg's website, reading professors' blogs, checking out student clubs, and learning about the curriculum.  I spoke to current students too. Somewhere in the middle of writing the second essay it hit me: I would love to do all of the wonderful things I'm writing about. I want to enter the Net Impact case competition. I want to do a Global Immersion.  I want to be a Board Fellow. Oh CRAP! I want to go to Kellogg.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sitting by the Phone

I know, I know, I know. I've been remiss with updating the blog. It's not that I haven't wanted to write an update; it's just that I can't quite justify writing a blog update when I should be using the time to write essays. Yep, that's right folks, I am now smack in the middle of applications. In fact I submitted my first application last month. That feeling of relief that supposedly comes with finally completing an application has yet to settle upon me. Instead, all I can feel is obsessive paranoia. See, it's out of my hands now. There's nothing more I can do to convince the admissions committee to let me in. The only thing left to do is wait. Wait and see if they like my GMAT score, optional essay, and recommendations enough to overlook the fact that my undergraduate academic performance was, how shall I say this....eclectic. I just have to wait and see if they actually get my off the beaten path career goals and understand why I need an MBA now (and not 4 years ago). I can only wait and see if they get me and if they do get me if they like me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Charge It to the Game

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Brain Dump has gone viral. I logged into my Sitemeter account today and saw an astronomical upswing in my traffic, courtesy of some blog by a person named Roosh. Seems as though someone found this older post and put it on his site and the name calling commenced. At first I ignored it, but when people feel the need to call me nasty names ON MY BLOG then all bets are off.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I started to consider getting my MBA late last summer. I knew that I needed to take the GMAT and write a ton of essays in order to apply.  I thought that I could study for my GMAT, take the test, and apply to 6-8 schools between September and January.  Oh, how naive I was! Thank God my promotion last fall kept me from trying to exercise that delusion.
Thanks to a 10% pay increase, better title, and cross country move to the East coast, I got a whole year to prepare for the Fall 2012 admissions cycle. It is quickly becoming apparent that I underestimated how short a year really is. As Round 1 deadlines quickly approach and the weekends on my calendar get reserved I am wishing I had used the extra time to prepare better.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Don't Call Me

I would like to take a break from all of the b-school talk to discuss something that's been on my mind lately...

About a month ago I was driving home from New York when a voice came through my car radio speakers. It was a woman over a telephone line, but I couldn't make out her words. The strains of a synthesizer phased onto the track, followed shortly by a pulsing bass line. A spark of recognition flashed in my mind. I knew this song. I turned up the volume ready to enjoy a song that I didn't know at all but knew that I liked.

I recognized Drake's slightly nasal tenor from the first note he sang. "Cups of the Rose/_____ in my old phone" he sings. Aahh, Drizzy doing his annual vulnerable thug posturing. Unlike previous listens I made a point to pay attention to his sensitive lyrics this time. I reclined in my seat, swayed to the syncopated drum beat, and vibed to his words. Then I heard it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Too Through

I have yet to apply to any schools, but I'm so done with b-school. I'm done with MBA Fairs, school information sessions, diversity weekends, resumes, essays, recommendations, EVERYTHING. Every MBA panel I've heard always says the same thing: "Enjoy this journey."
Well, if you want my opinion, this journey is nucking futs and there's really nothing enjoyable about it. There's nothing enjoyable about having to give my "Why MBA" pitch whenever I just want some information about what a current student likes about their school. There's nothing fun about wild swings from self assurance that you just might get in everywhere to paranoia that you won't get in anywhere. There's not a damn thing enjoyable about standing on line in 3-4 inch heels waiting for the freakin college senior in front of you to run out of ways to ask an admissions officer, "So what are my chances of getting in?" And most of all, writing essays sucks!! Screw the platitudes about being grateful for all the introspection. Introspection can kiss my ass when it won't fit in 600 words.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It Ain't My Fault

I spent this past weekend in New York City. Although my all consuming need to live in NYC has subsided in recent years, it's still my happy place. A certain calm envelops me as soon as the crackles of static give way to the clear sound of Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex's voice over my car radio speakers. Even without concrete plans for a Friday night the promise of possibilities always hovers in the air. I get excited knowing not that something exciting will happen but that at any moment it could. Mostly, I just like being in the same place where most of the characters from the collegiate chapter of my life reside.

I ran into one of those characters at brunch last Sunday. She was a class behind me at college and I really didn't know her well while I was in school. Actually, I don't remember even crossing her path once during my four year tenure, which says a lot since all of the black students at school could fit in three long tables at the dining hall. While we didn't socialize in the same circle (within an already tiny bubble), we both had the good sense to pledge the greater than great, grander than grand, best of the best sorority in the land. I did it in Spring 2001 so thus I had the pleasure of getting to know her when she followed in Spring 2003.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What do you Recommend?

It's hot. The Weather Channel says that it's 97 degrees right now and that temperatures will reach 102 by the afternoon. People are being warned to avoid outdoor activities between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., lest they want to die. Still, I'm sitting in my air conditioned office thinking to myself that I'd rather go for a 10 mile run at noon than confront what faces me next week.

July is coming to an end and August is drawing near. August brings the release of the LIVE APPLICATION. Although essay questions are released between May and July, business schools don't open the floodgates for thousands of applications to pour through until early August. Round 1 applications won't be due until October, but now is the time to start assembling the pieces. While it's up to each individual applicant to get the the online app filled in, the essays written, the GMAT taken, and the transcripts uploaded there is one critical component that is out of our hands. The recommendations, the part of the application where one to three people corroborate that you are in fact the innovative, collaborative, genius business leader of the future that you've said you are. Recommendations, the one section of the application where someone else can sink your battleship (and sink it hard). Recommendations, the reason for fifty-leven rounds of the always fun "Did you submit it yet?" game. Next week I ask my current manager to be one of my business school recommenders.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

I hate mornings. Let me clarify. I hate weekday mornings. Mornings suck from Monday through Friday. Why? Because weekday mornings mean going to work. Going to work requires taking a shower, wearing pants (or an appropriate length skirt or dress), and making my hair presentable. Going to work requires enduring 40-60 minutes of traffic just to be there. Being there requires staying awake for at least 8 hours, reflexively looking over my shoulder to see if a senior manager is about to catch me on facebook or GMAT Club, and refraining from inappropriate scratching. I have absolutely no desire to be at work.
I have a pretty cool job. I represent great brands, work with (mostly) cool people, and manage to get a free lunch a couple of times a week. The job isn't the problem; going to work is. For five years I had a job that rarely required me to go to work. Nearly everyday I rolled out of bed between 8:30 and 9 a.m., bypassed the shower, staggered downstairs, plopped myself in front of the TV with my laptop perched on my knees, and got to working. I would go for a mid-morning run, take an afternoon nap, and polish off my project list in enough time to take a shower and head to the gym or tae kwon do class. It's been two years since I left that position and I have yet to acclimate.
When animals are left in the wild too long it is impossible to domesticate them. I think the same principle applies to people who have worked from home for longer than three years. At three years people reach a point of no return. Just like that wild animal can't be domesticated, the home based employee can't be office broken. We've been free to roam for too long to be caged by the rules of office etiquette. Why is it necessary to wear shoes? Do my feet really need to stay under my desk? What's wrong with putting my head down for an hour long nap? Why can't I release into the atmosphere the gas that bubbles in my stomach? Is it really a big deal to eat the food in the refrigerator that doesn't have my name on it? For some reason that I can't quite grasp all of the behaviors that were perfectly acceptable at my house are not only frowned upon, but prohibited in the office.
What puts the cherry on top of this shit drenched sundae is having to willingly take myself to this place each morning. Regardless of whether or not I have meetings to attend or assignments to complete I have to be here every MORNING. For some reason it's necessary for me to be in the office by 8:30 a.m. No one talks to me. Hardly anyone calls. Still, it's imperative for me to be sitting here. I force myself to wake up by 7 a.m. (even in the dead of winter when mother nature hasn't bothered to awaken the sun), rack my brain to remember if I've worn that particular sweater vest in the last 7 days, refrain from throwing objects at the car in front of me that insists on going 20 in a 45 along a ten mile single lane road, and spend a small fortune on Wawa coffee just to sit here. Ironically, sitting here is NOT necessary for me to do my job. Because of the wunderkinds in the IT department I could stay in bed and still do my job. What's the sense of having remote capabilities if they're not going to let me work remotely?
Like I said, I have no problem actually doing my job. I just don't want to do it in an office. I can do this job just as well in a t-shirt and underoos from the comfort of my queen size bed while watching One Life to Live. Somebody, anybody please...JUST GIVE ME FREE!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Above Average

Last Thursday I received my 9th annual, "Congratulations on getting through another year without getting fired!" e-mail from the company HR bot. This Thursday I turn 31. The average full-time MBA student at top-tier US business schools is between 26-28 and has five years of work experience at matriculation. Am I too late to the party?

While there are many people my age who choose to pursue an MBA a higher majority go the part-time, executive, or 1 year European MBA route. When I mention that I want to get an MBA many people's initial assumption is that I will pick from one of those options. They scratch their heads when I say I'm aiming for the FT programs. Yes, I'm older. However, that doesn't preclude a FT MBA from being a good fit with my goals.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Ready, Set, GO!

Round 1 has officially started for me. Kellogg School of Management released their application essays last week, three required 600 word essays and one 400 word essay on one of four topics. That gives me 2200 words to show an admissions committee that I belong in Kellogg's class of 2014. No, that I more than belong...that they need me and my 9 years of sales management experience, colorful writing skills, and lofty ideas about building communities through public-private partnerships. I have 2200 words to tell them where I've been, where I am, where I want to go and most importantly why. I have to tell them my story. 2200 words isn't nearly enough to capture 30 years.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Psyche Out

I wasn't getting it. I'd gone through the entire quantitative section of the Kaplan 2011 GMAT Premier study guide. I'd read through every review topic from fractions to geometry to rate/distance/work. The concepts were pretty familiar. I was getting it. "When two or more people/objects are working together add their rates together to determine how long it takes to finish one job." Simple enough, I got it. Bring on the problem sets. "In the economy mode, a printer prints twice as fast as in the optimal quality mode. If after working for 20 minutes in the optimal quality mode and 40 minutes in the economy mode the printer printed 120 pages, how long would it take the printer to print 120 pages in the optimal quality mode?" (C) 2008 GMAT Club. On second thought, maybe I don't get it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


My old roommate called me the other day. He wanted to share his latest running accomplishment: 4 miles in one hour and ten minutes, an average of roughly 17 minutes per mile. Psshhh! I let him know that I could totally beat that. I can easily clock an 18+ minute mile pace. Ahh, the race to the bottom is cutthroat.

However, our conversation soon shifted to our own respective races to the top. He's looking to find the sports apparel product manager job that has eluded him for so long, and I am seeking entrance into a top-tier b-school. "You know I applied to Columbia when I was applying to b-school," he told me. My ears perked up at this piece of previously unknown information because Columbia is so on my list. "Yeah, that application was harder than I thought. I figured I could get it done in a couple of hours but it took me more like 4 or 5 to complete it." Needless to say, he's not a Columbia alum.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Could've Had a V8

"I think you should have lunch with him."
I stared at Chesty LaRue through squinted eyes, surprised by her declaration. I gave her the rundown on the man who just extended me an invitation via email to lunch the next afternoon. I'd met him on OKCupid. He seemed nice enough and wasn't bad looking. However, he was on the short side and wasn't particularly vibrant or interesting. However, this was his second request to meet and I really had no reason to turn him down.
"At the very least, you get a free meal," she reasoned.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Build That Bridge

I get easily annoyed with people who won't let things go. People make mountains out of molehills and obsess incessantly over things that ultimately are NOT THAT DEEP. They repaint the same wall over and over again because the color just isn't right. They play the same video game ad nauseum to best their already ridiculously high score. They can't move on to other things because they have yet to build a bridge and get the hell over it.

Such is the case with my relationship with the GMAT. The GMAT, that necessary evil that nearly every MBA applicant must endure (although for some it's the GRE). The exam that claims to only test what you learned in high school but somehow never actually serves up a problem any high school student would see. The GMAT, nearly 4 hours of mind numbing, nerve wracking, vomit inducing hell. After suffering through the GRE back in 2006 I promised myself that I would never take another standardized test again. Promises are meant to be broken.

In August 2010 I found myself at Borders purchasing the Kaplan GMAT 2011 Premier study guide (w/ CD-Rom). Over the next 2 months I also purchased the Official Guide for GMAT Review 12 edition, five Manhattan GMAT math strategy guides, and $79 worth of practice tests from I pored over fractions, prime numbers, and probability. I spent hours trying to comprehend the intricacies of data sufficiency. "Is x greater than 0?" Who the hell knows?

I would come home from work and attack practice problems until after midnight. My Saturdays consisted of practice exams followed by a detailed review of all of the questions I missed. There were a lot of them. I was consumed by the GMAT for well into the fall until one phone call rendered a November test date irrelevant. I got a new job...a job on the East Coast. After more than 8 years in the Midwest, I was finally coming home. Well close to home. Philadelphia is NOT New York City, but it's closer than Grand Rapids, MI and Minneapolis, MN could ever be. I packed up my GMAT study books along with my living room, bedrooms, dining room, bathrooms, and kitchen. I didn't look at anything GMAT related for months.

GMAT studying resumed with the new year. I planned to take the test in the spring so that I would have plenty of time to work on my applications. While I knew taking it early gave me time to retake it if necessary my plan was to make sure it would not be necessary. The GMAT is a $250 investment and I only wanted to invest once. With that in mind I was aiming high. When I first started started studying back in August I would have been happy with a 650 and elated with hitting 700. But trolling GMAT and MBA forums has a way of raising the bar. A 700 was no longer good enough. I wanted the holy grail: the 99th percentile. I wanted to go where only 1% of test takers go. I wanted to enter the exclusive club dominated by Indian engineers and Chinese finance jocks. I wanted to be more than great. I wanted to be exceptional. Plus, I realized I needed that kind of score. In full disclosure, my undergrad GPA left much to be desired (that F, second semester senior year was the nail in my GPA's coffin). I knew that I'd need a nosebleed score to truly offset it.

Studying became my life from February through May. I even enrolled in a prep class through Veritas Prep. On May 21, 2011 I headed to the testing center ready to annihilate the GMAT. After 2 essays, 37 quantitative problems, and 41 verbal questions I'd say it was a draw. 710. Q48, V40. 92nd percentile overall. Womp, womp. It's a decent score. Hell, it's a really good score. But I wanted more than really good. I wanted jaw-dropping. What I got was plenty good enough.

That's the dilemma. Do I take good enough and run with it? Or do I cough up another $250 (that my employer will NOT reimburse) and go for the score I really wanted? Now that I've seen the live test I'm pretty sure that I can improve my score with some more focused studying and lots more practice tests. My Verbal score can definitely go up. For the first time in my life I didn't reach the 90th percentile in the verbal section of a standardized test. It hurts my pride because Verbal is my thing. It's what I do. Ironically, I performed surprisingly well on the quantitative portion of the exam. While I usually hover between the 60th and 65th percentile in quant, all of my studying moved me into the 82nd percentile on the GMAT. Ahh, there's the rub. There is a very distinct chance that I could retake the test and raise my verbal score but lose ground in the quant. Plus, retaking the test doesn't really do me any good unless I can raise my score by 50+ points. Getting another 50 points out of the GMAT is much easier to do at a 650 than a 710.

I also know that there are many people who would kill for my score and can't catch a whiff of it no matter how much they study. However, every time I see someone with a higher score, especially a 760+ I know that that could be my score too. Yes, I worked my butt off for that 710. The amount of work I put in should tell me that I performed to my ability level. Yet something keeps nagging at me, telling me that 710 is just a baseline. Something keeps telling me that I didn't take as many practice tests as I could have, that there are other study guides I could review. However, people (very knowledgeable people) tell me to focus on my application essays and let the score ride. Maybe they are right. But there's something about the GMAT that just wont let me build that bridge and get over it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Prodigal Daughter

I'm embarking on a journey. Five years ago, if someone told me that I'd be taking this journey I would have punched them in the face. Well, a lot can change in 5 years. Some how the girl who wanted to get an MFA in Creative Writing is applying to MBA programs. Was that the sound of a record scratch? I think it was.
How in the hell did this happen? Have I turned to the dark side, lured away from the beauty of words by the seductive call of cash? Have I finally resigned myself to stop fighting the inevitability of becoming a company woman after nearly a decade with my employer? Have I finally realized that I can't beat them so I might as well join them? Yes and no. Is this about money? You bet your ass it is. But it's also about breaking out of the monotony that has become my professional life. You ask how can I break the monotony of my professional life by pursuing a degree that entrenches me further into it? I asked myself the same question for a long time. In fact, I often viewed an MBA as an additional shackle, chaining me to spreadsheets, bottom lines, and cost-benefit analyses. Ironic that it was my pursuit of an MFA that ultimately led me to change my mind about an MBA.