Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kellogg Class Gift 2011

I am working on the Kellogg Class Gift team for the class of the 2011. The class Gift is a pledge that the graduating class makes for monetary contribution. The actual payments are made over a period of two years.

Why am I working for this cause? There are several reasons:

1. I hate the fact that I am graduating. I would rather stay in school for another 2 years. But given the fact that I am going to become an alum, I would rather take the first step in giving back and contribute towards the class gift.

2. I feel passionately about Kellogg - it has blessed me with great friendships, awesome knowledge, and helped me develop personally and professionally.

3. The class gift makes it easy to give back. One can decide the payment schedule, so I am giving a minimal amount this year, and more next year, when I will actually have money

4. I benefited greatly from alumni who have contributed in the past, and I feel that it is my responsibility to give back to the incoming classes.

So dear classmates, please do make your pledge now. We are counting on you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nota Bene II

Kellogg is hosting the Nota Bene series for graduating second years.Last week we had the second event in the series called 'Nota Bene II: Applying MBA Lessons to Your Life.' It featured some amazing Kellogg professors, Professors Tim Calkins, Daniel Diermeier, Kathleen Hagerty, Victoria Medvec, Derek Rucker and Florian Zettelmeyer. The panel was moderated by Professor Adam Galinsky. The event was amazing; particularly for some comments from Professors that I cannot post on this blog. However there were some great quotations that I noted down. All quotations have to do with failures that professors have experienced in their lives:

"Sometimes you have to fail on purpose, in order to progress further." - Derek Rucker, on having a terrible meeting with his colleagues on his way to establishing a center for marketing practice at Kellogg

"Over time, the things that you regret most are your inactions. You hardly ever regret your failures" - Victoria Medvec, on not negotiating enough when it counted, even though she loves to negotiate always (e.g., at the grocery store)

"Go back to the basics. Even negotiations professors fail at negotiations when they mess up the basics" - Adam Galinsky, on messing up a negotiation for his twin brother (an example he mentioned in class as well)

"Management by analogy is dangerous. Extract commonalities, but remember to understand what's different in the situation" - Florian Zettelmeyer, on overestimating market potential, when he ignored the fact that people, after a certain age, tend to die with increasing probability

"In your first post-MBA job, stay till you get promoted. This way, no one looking at your resume will be in doubt that you were fired" - Tim Calkins

"I like the professor, but not as much as the professor likes himself" - quote from TCEs that Professor Galinsky got from the class of 2011. He realized he talked a lot about his successes, and not much about his failures.

"First, I want to be as nice as possible. Second, I like to be straight with whoever I am negotiating with " - Kathleen Hagerty, on hiring some of Kellogg's brightest faculty as Associate Dean

"I love talking about depressing things." - Daniel Diermeier

"I love Stata" - Florian Zettelmeyer, on Stata

"You will be fine at McKinsey" - Florian Zettelmeyer
"I am not going to McKinsey" - 2nd year student
"Oh crap (not said, but implied)" - Florian Zettelmeyer

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why you should register for bone marrow donation

Look at the video below - I am registered as a marrow donor, and it literally takes 1 minute to fill out a form, and a cheek swab.This is especially important for minorities as the match is largely based on a genetic match.

If you are matched, you save a life. And they don't cut you up! It is similar to stem cell donation; just like donating some blood! If you are @ Kellogg, do checkout the facebook page here

Friday, May 13, 2011

The reuse phenomena

I am a big fan of internet startups that help us improve our efficiency. Now efficiency is a pretty broad term, and people typically associate efficiency with time efficiency. Thus an application like Toodledo, designed to help manage tasks, falls into that category. Others, like Kayak, Yelp and The Class Guru, help people find the right things faster.

Another form of efficiency that interests me is 'material' or 'stuff' efficiency. There are so many things that we buy, which we use for a limited amount of time, but then, they just lie, gathering dust. What if we could reuse them for someone else's good, and perhaps make some money in the process? Following are some of the recent web startups that are working in this field:

1. - run by a friend of mine, this startup provides a peer to peer video game rental service. Video games gathering dust on your shelves? Rent them out. Or get new video games title for a price much lower than what you would pay for buying them new or used.

2. is an online exchange for children's clothes, works on a simple premise. Children grow up. Clothes don't. So rather than throwing away clothes, why not sell them to someone for a minimal fee?

As I look at these different examples, several critical success factors emerged:

1. Usability is at the top of the list. There is not much money to be earned by renting video games or selling old clothes, so using the site must be effortless.

2. The effortless piece extends to logistics; the sites provide pre-paid and printed shipping envelopes/packages, so that there is not much effort on part of the user.

3. Targeting of a product that loses use after some, but is useful to someone else. Old movies, video games, clothes work well. However, there are some behavioral issues that one must take into account. Let's consider video games; typically video games have several levels to conquer, and in most cases, video gamers love to go up to the advanced level, which could take several weeks. If that were the case, would it really be cheaper to rent the game vs. buying it? The answer is unclear.

4. Low shipping costs, which might eliminate books

5. Ability to transfer ownership of the product, which eliminates e-books.

6. A fraud proof system, which includes storing the credit card number of people renting the goods, in case they do not return it

7. Probably the toughest part comes from network effects. Growing the business initially is really hard, as you need parties from both sides of the platform to make the network a success. Sellers have no utility without buyers, and buyers have no utility without sellers. Businesses need to use some strategy to kick-start the network. Let's take the example of Thredup. I am not sure what the owners used, but one strategy would be to convince 50 to 100 of their closest friends and families to create clothes packages online; even give them incentive to do so. An excellent paper about two-sided markets can be found here (purchase required, but just google the title - there are a lot of free downloadable PDFs available online).

Good luck to these businesses!

The most important thing you should know before B School

Recently I was talking to some of my classmates about one of the most important concepts everyone should know before coming to B-School. To my surprise they did not. If you are going to B-School, are at B-School or a B-School alum, you must watch this clip. It explains what you need to know about the fundamentals of business. Cause if anyone knows business, the Gnomes know business.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

6th on Clear Admit Student Bloggers!

I was number 6 - super happy!!

Congratulations to the winners. Here is the list of the top 10 student bloggers, 4 of which were from Kellogg (AWESOME!), including #1 and #2. Full post is here

Top Student Bloggers
1. Orlando
2. Jeremy
3. Miltary to Business
4. Rocky
5. Praz
6. Shobhit
7. D.G.
8. Darden Poet
9. Paul
10. Nistha

Sources of Inspiration

What are your sources of inspiration? What do you do keep yourself from giving up, from continuing to work on that business, or that business school application, or that next big presentation?

I believe that working on the tasks and visualizing achieving the end goal is a powerful motivator to keep going. However, I try to practice regular routines to keep myself inspired.

1. Every 3 days or so, I watch a TED talk. I try to go and find an inspiring talk that is not necessarily related to anything I am working on.

2. I blog. Blogging requires one to reflect on one's life, and reflection often highlights to me all the great things I am blessed with. This inspires me to keep going.

3. I read. My reading list normally consists of business books with an inspirational flair. Currently, I am reading Onward by Howard Schultz and Do More Faster by Brad Feld and David Cohen.

4. I spend time with family and friends. This is a great energizer and inspires me tremendously. I am a pretty friendly guy in general, but its those few close relationships that I cherish the most.

What inspires you?


One of the best ways to be innovative is take something that works in one field and apply it to another. Punchtab aims to do just that; it provides a loyaly program for websites similar to hotels or airlines.

I was able to sign up and setup a reward for my blog in seconds. I was also able to setup rewards very soon e.g., 10000 points = $10 gift card for amazon. What I was able to figure out is how to setup feedback for actions e.g., if someone leaves a comment, how do I make sure that they get points? The only points that get automatically setup are for Facebook shares and likes. Then when I went back to the site, I wasn't able to log in. In summary, seems like an excellent idea, but not executed well so far.

The 3 A's of Awesome

It is pretty awesome!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Launching the Startup Leadership Program in Chicago

In 2008, I graduated from the Startup Leadership Program , a program aimed at grooming the next generation of startup CEOs. The training, mentorship and network that the program provided has been instrumental in my career in several ways, including getting into Kellogg, working on startups and determining post-Kellogg career path. You can read about the program through my original blog post here.

The program began in Boston in 2007, and we have expanded to six cities now. Right now, I am involved in an effort to get the program started in Chicago, and we have one outstanding program lead and some outstanding mentors interested. If you are/know of outstanding mentors or potential program leaders based in Chicago, please do let me know!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Action Classes

For web entrepreneurs: do checkout the page '' This is a collection of great classes, completely free on topics ranging from Positioning, Social Marketing, Startup metrics, Landing page design etc. It is amazing how generous each of the teachers on the courses have been with their time. They include Neil Patel, Hiten Shah, Pete Koomen and Bob Walsh. Thanks you guys, people like me really appreciate it!

Public Speaking topic

Dear Readers,

I need to do a persuasive speech on a controversial topic this Monday. I need some suggestions on what topic I could do the speech on. Any ideas? Please do leave comments.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Excellent report on Social Media Industry 2011

2011 Social Media Industry Report

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another productivity hack: write things down

Presenting my productivity hack #2: write things down. This applies to everything: a thought that you have that you want to explore later, a task that needs to be done at some point, something that is bothering you or some new idea you have. Writing it down helps you 'download' the thought onto paper, and stop thinking about it, enabling you to focus your mind and energy on the task at hand.

I use this hack constantly - there is always a pen/pencil and sheet of paper next to my computer. For this purpose, I prefer paper over note taking applications like Evernote, which I use for almost everything else. Paper and pencil also lets me physically scratch things out when they are done, giving additional satisfaction on a small task accomplished or idea executed.

Next up: how to eat unlimited ice cream and gain no weight.