11 Other Things You Learn At Business School

Business School Happy Hour

This is the second part of a four part series “Things You Learn At Business School”. See the first part here.

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Dear Dad,

Summer semester was fun. I “learned” how to price bonds and got really good at networking. And by networking I mean partying on boats. I learned the stock market has been mired in the driftless Summer doldrums. So, my smart investor friends bail when the Dow crests at 10,500 and come aboard again when the Euro/U.S. housing market/jobless claims anchor sinks it back down to 9500. My classmates also wonder if we’ll see a double-dip in a) the U.S. economy (33% chance) and b) in my GPA (significantly higher).

Here are eleven other things I learned last semester:

1. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You have to sit through at least 30 minutes of a consulting firm workshop to get it.

2. When interviewing try and go first (The Primacy Effect) or last (The Recency Effect). And never come without prepared questions (The Not Gonna Get Hired Effect).

Hot Brazilian Soccer Fan

3. Invest in Brazil for the long-term. Sure, it’s dangerous (See: Janeiro, Rio de).Yes, we’ve all seen “City Of God”, and the country ranks in the top 20 in homicide rate. For all of Lulu’s charm, you still can’t trust what the government reports. Despite all this, Brazil is ready to samba. The country holds 20% of the world’s fresh water supply and has been dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of ethanol”. Brazil was largely insulated from the Great Recession because of its diverse investments. The nation’s largest oil company Petrobras (PBR) just uncovered the second-largest oil discovery in 20 years deep beneath the Atlantic. And Brazil’s rickety infrastructure is due for a major make-over with the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics on the way.

4. At recruiting efforts, go to odd-numbered groups of 1, 3 or 5 people so you couple up. When the conversation starts to stall, go with “I must rescue my friend” or “I should mingle.” Not “Peace out, homie!”

5. The over/under on hearing the word “synergy” on any given class day is 11.

6. The next time someone says, “I’m not a business man. I’m a business, man.” Take your business to a ma’am.

7. Every business school ethics case is the exact same. All of ours come from Harvard Business School (which is ironic in its own right). And they all go something like this:

INTRO: ____, a senior managing director at [Insert Top Wall Street Firm Here] reflected on the last six months at the company from his desk. A sudden breeze cooled his brow.

NEXT 5-7 PAGES: Company and employee background you barely skim.

DILEMMA: The star-hire is a rainmaker who wants a promotion but his brusque personality infuriates the rest of the office. Do you fire him?

CONCLUSION: You do. (See also: Terrell Owens’ brief tenure with the Dallas Cowboys)

EXHIBITS: 4 pages of charts and tables you don’t read.

8. There are two ways to negotiate: distributive and integrative. Distributive is the bad, I-win-you-lose, zero-sum game kind. Integrative negotiation is the good, we-both-win-more, grow-the-pie kind.

Gross

In Hollywood movie terms, distributive negotiation is the there-can-only-be-one “Highlander” variety. Integrative bargaining is the feel-good “Sex & The City” negotiation. Sure Miranda and Samantha sometimes have their differences, but at the end of the day the girls all work together to find Mr. Right.

In reality, every negotiation is a mix of the two. And I would love to see that movie. (Even if Michael Bay directs it.)

9. Princeton researchers pegged the price of happiness at $75,000 a year. Make more than that and the stress tends to outweigh the material gain. In other words, my future banker friends are highly masochistic.

10. Every Professor belittles Little’s Law. It’s a formula—L = ?W—that tells you how long you have to wait in line. In English, the number of customers (L) equals the average arrival rate (?) multiplied by the average waiting time (W).

a) This is invariably followed by the Professor scoffing, “Wow, Mr. Little! Great formula to be remembered by.”

b) Little’s Law is not applicable at the DMV.

11. Law school and med school kids, don’t hate because you have more work, graduate later, and our dean is funnier than your dean:

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