Really busy

Wow…. it has been a long time since I last updated.  I have little excuse for not posting anything in August, but in September I have been very busy.  On top of taking 6 classes while working approximately 2 jobs, I have been recovering having all my luggage stolen the night before I returned from Germany.  (I wish I had posted more of my photos online before that night!)  I also spend much time enjoying the company of Heather rather than working on pesky homework.  However, commitments I’ve made to my teammates will keep me on track for most classes.

Fall is supposed to be the heavy season for fulltime MBA recruiting, but I’m not sure how much that applies to me.  First, I’m really busy.  Second, many of the companies I was interested in last year didn’t seem to get serious about interviewing for internships until May, so it seems doubtful they would interview and extend offers in the fall for work starting the following summer.  Some of the work I’m doing now for Journeys International and for my entrepreneurship class has the potential to give me networking potential and strong referrals, as well as skills that would be very helpful in starting a new venture.

Feedback spam from and

In the past month, I have received several feedback spam messages on my neglected VW Cabriolet website.  Each submission sends me an e-mail (which the spammer might not know) and typically posts the message online (which I assume is the spammer’s intent).  However, they’ve screwed everytime and simply sent the e-mail without posting.  It’s actually surprising they can screw this up.  A quick search on Google shows that they’ve been more successful posting their spam elsewhere.  It will be interesting to see if they read this post and realize their mistake.

I just launched my first attempt at an online job search. The idea is to eventually expand it to speed up the application process, but I figured getting a search online would be a good first step. If nothing else, I’d be happy to see it indexed in Google.

Discussion-based classes

A number of my recent classes have been based, in some part, on class discussions.  In terms of engagement, there are some clear benefits to this approach.  However, there are a number of negative factors that become clear over time.

When a teacher asks a question to the class, there are more things that could go wrong than right.  First, some students will misinterpret or misunderstand the question.  Second, from among the students who were able to understand the question, some will have answers that are incorrect.  If you consider that most teachers want to ensure they hear from all students, this is a sure plan to get lots of wrong and unrelated answers.

Some might disagree, but I find these bad answers annoying.  It’s discouraging when the teacher teacher tells you that you’re wrong, regardless of how much tact they use.  It is time consuming when a teacher turns down several qualified answers while they are waiting for their desired answer which will segway to the next question.  The point of class is for the teacher to share knowledge with the students.  To have students try to guess it piece by piece is horribly inefficient.

The root issue is that a true discussion is between peers, where neither party is authoritative.  Each side contributes, and the combination of ideas may bring new insight.  In a classroom setting, the teacher is considered authoritative.  Each side may contribute, but the teacher nixes ideas he disagrees with.  This uneven situation wastes time and discourages many students.  Isn’t there a better way to increase engagement?

What is going on at school

I have fallen quite behind in blogging; while My Yahoo claims my last entry was one month ago, I don’t know that I’ve written anything substantive since January. So let’s cover the major news.

For being in an MBA program, I don’t spend much time writing about it here. (If you do want to hear about the MSU full-time MBA program, you can read the diaries.) With 17 credits, I am taking one more class than many of my peers. This reduces my free time, but I have a hard time turning down a free class (a result of block tuition). I did seriously consider dropping one class, but that was due to professor quality rather than time constraints. My time is further reduced because I work for Journeys International in Ann Arbor on Fridays, as well as working remotely during the week.

There are a number of fun things related to my classes. In my entrepreneurship class, the professor has invited some real-life entrepreneurs to come in and give presentations and Q/A sessions about their experiences. It has been pretty interested to see the different paths and philosophies. On Thursday, my team will be pitching our business plan to a number of venture capitalists the professor has invited. In my investments class, I am part of a team that is investing an imaginary $1,000,000 in the stock market. Despite having a very passive strategy, we have consistently been in the top third of the competitive rankings. I would like to thank the efficient frontier for this.

My search for a summer internship has continued. While my classmates studying HR were interviewing heavily last fall, it appears that many of the companies in the tech industry didn’t get around to posting internships until March. With each company having its own resume system, apply to these positions can take a lot of time. I have an idea on how to improve this, and I’m planning to write a patent for it.

New style

Today I updated the main stylesheet for my website, increasing the font size, narrowing the article width, and making a couple other tweaks. This is the first time I have changed the style in over a year. While some Internet research showed that usability studies have not identified a single, optimal column width for websites, I think the previous size was beyond the recommended norms. Also, I specified the font and column widths in ems, so changing your browser’s text size will scale both the text and the columns, similar to Yahoo’s home page. Now, I’m not sure what to do with the additional space in the right margin…. perhaps I could add a random image roll from my photo galleries. I’ll definitely consider lazy web suggestions.

Equal members

The syllabus for one of my new classes states in bold, “It is expected that each team member will contribute equally on each part of each assignment.” Apparently the professor did not read my recent post on group projects. I agree with some of the group requirements: the group size (2 students) should not be too large for the assignments, and teams last for the entire course. However, I disagree that individual contributions should be equal for every single subdivision of each assignment. If the goal is to enforce fairness, the professor could simply allow optional group feedback reports. If the goal is to ensure every student can perform everything taught in the course, why bother having groups at all?

I also resent when professors mandate a certain level of note-taking, but at least the class does not have a participation grade based on quantity of class questions.


Another blog entry that has been rattling around my head is the subject of fairness. In my leadership and teamwork class last semester, Professor Hollenbeck explained the concept of fairness in the simplest, most practical way. In the context of a relationship, someone considers what they put in versus what they get out. Then they compare this to a different relationship for reference. There are three possible outcomes:

  • If the reference relationship matches, they consider it fair.
  • If the comparison reveals that they get out more than put it, they feel guilt.
  • If the comparison reveals that they put in more than they get out, they feel angry.

That should make sense immediately, as long as I explained it well.

Now, let’s apply this to human-corporation relationships, e.g. business transactions. A good example is buying a new car. If I pay the same price for a new car that my neighbor paid, I would consider it fair. If I pay more than my neighbor paid for a new car, I would feel angry. If I pay less than my neighbor paid for a new car, I would feel happy. This all matched up until that last part… while I might feel a tinge of guilt about gloating to my neighbor, it is a victorious feeling knowing that I “beat” the dealership.

I am not going to expand on this right now, but it seems the lack of guilt in business transactions is related to the many woes of globalization. The odd thing is that individual consumers are the source of the cruelty.