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How do you do it?

I am sorry, work and school are really taken up a lot of my time.  But that does not mean I’ve forgotten about this blog.  I have a couple of entries I still want to share when I get some breathing room.

But for this entry, lets keep it simple.

A fellow MBA student and friend asked me, “Chris, how do you do it all?  You go to school full time, take an extra non-credit online class, work a a part-time job, play intramurals, volunteer, and participate in clubs!”

my response, “I don’t sleep, and I love coffee!”

Well of course I sleep, but very little.  Here’s an example of what my day looks like…

5:40am:  Wake up, hit snooze a couple times

6am: Get out of bed and drink a pre-work out supplement

6:30am:  Group fitness class

8am:  Make post-work out protein shake, brew first batch of coffee, make lunch, read tech blogs and NFL news.

10:30am:  head to campus to study (usually for readings due that same day)

1pm-5pm:  work

5:30pm:  get another cup, or two, of coffee

6-8:40pm – class

9pm:   head to library for additional hw

11pm:  go home

11pm-12:30am:  Unwind, watch DVRed shows

1am – sleeping

that’s my day, Monday though Friday, for the most part!


The MOOC Movement: Coursera

MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses

Have you ever heard of Coursera or Kahn Academy?  These are two popular MOOC’s that are taking the next step in higher education.  The concept of MOOC was brought to my attention in my MBA marketing principles class this past summer, and I was very intrigued.

These platforms offer free, yes, 100% free, online classes taught by professors from the nation’s top schools (Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Michigan, Princeton…the list goes on) from topics ranging from Biology & Life Sciences to Economics & Finance.  What’s the catch?  You will not earn any credit towards any educational institution (but you will get a signed certificate if you pass the course!).

Since it’s purely an online course, some of you may think the class is easy.  But you are wrong.  The courses recommend you dedicate at minimum of 5-7 hours a week to watch lectures and do homework.  On top of that, most courses are 10 weeks long, which is the same was my quarterly MBA schedule.

Why do this?  My response back is WHY NOT?  I personally have a thirst for knowledge.  Although finance and economics are my main courses of study, I try to broaden my general knowledge.  My latest interests have been about theoretical physics through the readings of Stephen Hawking and general knowledge of astrophysics from Neil deGrasse Tyson.  I feel that MOOC/Coursera is a near revolutionary idea to help spread knowledge once thought to be obtainable only if you could score high on standardized tests and have the bank account to pay for it.

For my first MOOC experience, I chose “Introduction to Computational Finance and Financial Econometrics” taught by Dr. Eric Zivot of the University of Washington.   I look forward to the knowledge I will gain through this and hope you will do the same!

Below is a screen shot of my Coursera course dashboard:

MBA 510: Retreat, part 2

Friday, Day 1

Woke up to thunder and rain Friday morning, “Great, just great” I said to myself.  We’ve been having some decent weather the last few weeks and when I want it most, it goes back to grey, wet, and windy.  Either way, I was excited to go on this retreat.

At 12pm, I met up with 3 classmates to make the drive to Bastyr University in Kenmore.  Bastyr is an institution that specializes in science-based natural medicine, and was the first accredited naturopathic school in 1989.  The campus rests on 51 acres along the woodlands of Lake Washington.

Even before any of the activities started, I easily found a sense of calm and relaxation here.  After playing a few SAGs (Stupid Ass Games) to get us loose, we were allowed to move into our “dorms”.

I’m not sure about you, but this was the nicest dorm I’ve ever stayed in.  The dorms were also  green-built, LEED-registered and ADA-compliant.

Kitchen and Living Area


And just like dorming back in undergrad, I figured having a roommate would only make the experience better.  (Lars, sorry if my snoring kept you up!).

Trust Walk

Our first major activity was a trust walk. Half the group was blindfolded and the other half had to guide them through the forest.  Rules:  ZERO TALKING, but touching is allowed.

The trail was windy, had random inclines and declines, obstructions, and even a small river.  Being the first group to lead the blind, I decided to steer my person from behind by placing my hands on his shoulders and pointing him in the proper direction.  I NEVER lost contact with him.  When we came to inclines, declines, and obstructions I would stop him and slowly guide his feet to where it needed to be with hopes he would catch on.  When we approached logs that we needed to climb over, I placed his hand on the log to make him aware that he needed to lift his entire leg.

After 20-30 minutes of walking, it was my turn to be blind folded.  The person guiding me placed his arm around my shoulder and walked parallel with me.  I really liked this approach since I had high sense of reassurance that he was with me at all times and felt very secure if I were to fall or slip.  My guide utilized sounds by stomping on the ground when we came up to obstacles to alert me.  After we successful navigated each obstacle he patted my chest twice to tell me “good job.”

Reflection:  Although I thought my technique of “steering” was ok, it wasn’t the best.  Looking back, I was just pushing him rather than walking with him or even leading.  Sometimes I couldn’t even see around him (since he was taller and had very broad shoulders), and at time I missed rocks and stumps, but thankfully he was talking small nimble steps.

I feel the technique used on me when I was blindfold was ideal.  My guide was standing right next to me, arm around my shoulder.  Rather than being behind me and “trucking” me through it, it felt as if he wanted to be equal with me, trying to place himself as a mirror of me in a way.  Although I do not require positive reinforcement, it was nice to be told “good job” every time we managed to overcome something.  Lastly, the arm around my shoulder at all times gave me reassurance that he was with me every step of the way, literally.  It also gave him great support if I were to misstep.

The Number Game

We were divided into three groups.  Our objective was to have each team member step on a range of numbers, in an increasing order, that were placed in a circle 15-20  yards from us.

Teams looking out towards the field trying to see how many numbers there are.

Framework:  We were three divisions working for the same company.  Our goal was the get the lowest time to beat a “foreign” time.

Rules:  Run to the circle, one team member can be in the circle at a time, each team member must step on at least one number, and all numbers must be stepped on in increasing order.

What made this tricky is the numbers were in scattered randomly in the circle, there were missing numbers between 0-31, some were written as “31-5” (31 minus 5), and we could only see the numbers when we ran from the start line to the circle (so basically going in blind).

Team #1/Seattle around the circle counting what numbers are present and their location.

Our team’s strategy were to take two numbers each and position yourself so you can run through them in a straight line.  Person #1 would have the first two numbers, person #2 would have the next two, and so on.  By sheer luck, the rotation ended on me, meaning our time stopped once I sprinted back towards the start line.

Reflection:  Even though all the teams “worked” for the same company, we were very reluctant to work with each other.  We would win this challenge if any group’s time was lower than the “foreign” time, however, many felt as if we were competing against each other.  By physically separating us into groups, but not saying we can only talk to our groups, tends to force individuals to only converse to those in close proximity to them, or in this case, our group.

Deep Lounging

We were told after all of our activities, we’d have a period of “deep lounging” or aka drink, eat, and relax!  Rules were beer and wine only, apparently hards were allowed but someone/some people got out of control.



Prior to coming here, we were told that all meals were going to be vegan.  With that said, we had to two people bring their grill and a ton of meat!

Leadership Skills & Team Development Retreat, part 1

Summer school coupled with working near full-time has been quite an experience.  Thankfully, I have a short “break” this weekend.  For my MBA 510 class, we will be taking a 3 day/2night retreat to Kenmore, WA to participate in OEBT, Outdoor Experimental Based Training.

I am extremely excited for this retreat, it’s always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and “unplug” for a bit.  With that said, I will NOT be bringing my laptop with me.  I’ve been told that we’ll be staying in a brand new dorm, its been nearly 6 years since I’ve slept in a dorm!  But what I’m looking forward to the most is connecting with my classmates and interacting with them through physical and mental challenges over the weekend.

I plan on taking a lot of picture and then posting them up in part 2.  But  for now, I’ll leave you with what I’ll be taking

Numero Uno!

Sorry for the Español, Spain just dominated the Euro Cup 2012 championship yesterday and I took Spanish in high school.  Anyways, here’s my first entry…

I wondered what my first entry would be about.  I contemplated if I should backtrack and write about some bigger event in the past, or just dive in on what is happening right now.

I think I’ll go with the latter.

In my final year of my MBA program, I am slowly discovering more and more about myself through different classes.  For my MBA 517 class,  Marketing Management, I was required to take a VALS™ survey that places you in one of eight types, or mindsets, based on “psychological traits and key demographics that drive consumer behavior.” (see below)

The VALS Framework

Based off of the survey, my primary type was “Achiever” and my secondary type was “Innovator.”

What Achievers want:

  • Financial security
  • Material possessions
  • Social standings/awards

Content preference:

  • Succinct
  • Beneficial
  • Bullet pointed (ha!)
  • Peer approved

Power words (words that resonate):

  • Business/career
  • Competitive
  • Conservative
  • Economical
  • Efficient
  • Exclusive
  • Focused/goal oriented
  • Organized

It’s almost scary and cool at the same time that a less than 20 question survey pretty much nailed it on the head in terms of my personality.  The median age for this group is 41!  I guess all this time people have told me, “you’re mature for your age!” is all making sense now.

While nearly all the descriptions are on point, I have to question the “looks for rewards, recognition, and outward signs of success.”  I don’t believe I’m driven by achievements (unless their XBOX achievements, lol) rather than them being a secondary award, the first being the path taken to the achievement.

Take the survey, link is above.  It’s super short and leave your type in the comments.