Intentions & Conversations

I talked to Liz Rockett, Haas 2010 and the President of Haas MBA Association about my blog post “Doing an MBA is like shopping in a grocery” from her speech in the Orientation week.  Liz is very generous to share the text of that portion of her speech about setting intentions and “grocery shopping” through business school.

Here is that part of Liz’s speech:

>> Second half of O-Week welcome speech — intentions & conversations

Take this week to make notes to yourself of what’s important to you, what you want to focus on this year. Watch for your own stress points – what is likely to cause you to lose that composure, that effortlessness?

With that in mind, whatever you know now about what you want to focus on and what your likely stress points are, you want to take this week to set your intentions. As you are at the threshold, what do YOU need to get out of this year, what will you gain from this experience? And I don’t mean that you need to know exactly what career or job or whatever you want – plenty of us come here with the intention to figure out what lights us on fire. That’s an intention. Figure out if you’d like consulting. That’s an intention. Figure out what it takes to serve on a board, and if you could try that out. That’s an intention. Figure out if you can show a side of yourself that you’ve never been able to showcase before.

Each of us walks in with a set of intentions, but if we don’t set them down before we get into the smorgasbord of Haas, we risk deciding to take the approach of “try one of everything,” or worse the “I feel like I have to do it” mentality that causes you to do things you don’t want to / can’t / don’t have time to do. By setting your intentions early, even if they change mid-course, you avoid some of the perils of business school – the perils that can cause you to lose your intensity.

Without your intentions…well, the best thing I can think to compare it to, is that it’s like walking in to a grocery store with no list – something I personally do all the time. You walk in, you’re on the phone, you circle the aisles, you inevitably spend 3 hours on a task that could’ve taken 30 minutes, and you invariably walk out with a lot of stuff – a lot of tasty stuff even – but without the ingredients to make a single meal.

Haas is a grocery store – there’s a lot to offer.

To navigate it well, as you push your cart around, you want to know what you are trying to create – you need your list.
– To build a career you need a lot of ingredients – and you have a finite time to shop. Walk in with a grocery list, plan, and you’re more likely to walk out with what you want
– You’ll still want to have your eyes open for other ingredients, other things you wouldn’t have thought to try, or always wanted to try and see available for the taking…

But there’s one other thing that’s really important as you’re getting ready to shop the aisles of Haas, even if you do have your grocery list and you’re ready to keep your eyes peeled for fun new ingredients

There are other people shopping alongside of you. Your classmates, with their own plans and lists, may have something to share that will shape your own plans for something you could never have even thought to prepare on your own.

I was reminded of this recently at an event for our alumni leaders, who spent the day debating how we can help Dean Lyons push Haas to the next level. I was chatting at the end of the day with one of the recent alums who’s taken a leadership role in our alumni community. He was asking if I could get all of us, the current students, to start pushing out information on what’s being talked about on campus. And when I asked him what he meant, what information, he said – “it’s those conversations in between – the conversations between a few people after class or in the courtyard or over a beer. If you could package up those courtyard conversations and broadcast them out, that would be like being back on this campus. Those conversations define the cutting edge of thinking in such a range of industries. That is what I miss. That’s what I can’t get anywhere else.”

In this store, you are surrounded by people who are constructing their own fabulous plans for incredible lives, careers, heck even incredible weekend plans. The conversations that happen in between the meat and potatoes of classes and recruiting nights and consumption functions and everything else – those conversations can flavor what you are creating. The ingredients that others are adding to their own basket can make the meal that you are preparing even more exceptional. Use them, make time for those conversations, but to have them you HAVE to pick your head up you have to engage the people around you and not just be going for the ingredients that you think you need – they will be perhaps the most invaluable part of this balance that you’re trying to strike.

So now, before I close, if you haven’t written anything down yet – write this down.

Set your intention.

Make time for conversations that will flavor your own experience You are about to open that gift that all of you have given yourselves – this week, you go BACK TO SCHOOL. Your time is yours – life is good.

Welcome to Haas. Welcome home. I’m so glad you’re here.

Thank you.

Liz, thank you very much for the speech.