Eating but not writing…

Between the final weeks of school, planning a big move, and getting ready for an awesome vacation, I haven’t had time to post. I have had time, however, to have some lovely farewell meals at my favorite Bay Area spots. These places are awesome, and I hope you have the chance to check them out!

Which places would you have to say “goodbye” to if you moved?

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Pizza at the Cheese Board in Berkeley!
http://cheeseboardcollective.coop

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Coffee and Happy Fries at Baladie Cafe in SF!
http://www.baladiecafe.com

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Deliciousness at La Note in Berkeley.
http://www.lanoterestaurant.com

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Breakfast at Pizzaiolo in Oakland (A Thursday tradition I’ll miss sorely…)
http://www.pizzaiolooakland.com

You: By the Numbers

Something unexpected about getting an MBA is the number of assessments we’ve taken for various classes. Some may seem superficial, but may apply more accurately than you’d think. I struggled with taking the assessments based on my actions and actual emotions, rather than how I wanted to act and feel. In any case, it’s been interesting to amass the results and see how they relate.

Here’s a collection of them:

Emotional Intelligence: Assesses your Social Competence and Personal Competence, and helps you identify strategies to improve. (Accompanied by a book, $13.70.)

Strengthsfinder: This assessment finds your top five strengths from a list of 34. It identifies how to best leverage these strengths and how to avoid over-using them. (Accompanied by a book, $13.40.)

TKI Conflict Assessment: An assessment that shows your general affinity with five conflict styles: Collaborating, Avoiding, Accommodating, Compromising, and Competing. ($40 for an individual, discounted for groups and education)

Reflected Best Self: Certainly the most personal assessment. It involves asking your friends, family, and colleagues to give you examples of “when you are at your best.” I asked something like 35 people and got 21 responses. The recommendation is to try and get 20 responses for a representative sample. Some people found it harder than expected to get responses, so don’t feel too bummed out if people don’t respond right away and you have to prod them! (FREE)

The following analyze your impact on the planet:

Water Footprint (FREE)

Global Footprint Network (FREE)

The Nature Conservancy Carbon Footprint (FREE)

The most insightful assessment has been the Reflected Best Self. Although it’s supremely awkward to ask your colleagues to write you examples of when you are at your best, it’s very useful. It’s validated some of the results I got on other assessments. Some results were expected, and some were very surprising. I highly recommend just doing it.

The footprint calculators have inspired me to eat significantly less dairy and eggs as a personal sustainability project. It’s amazing how much water and resource it takes to create animal product. I was aware of the impact of meat, but not dairy and eggs. You may be surprised at which habits you have that are particularly impactful!

Indispensable Interweb Tools: The Study Edition

More learning happens online than ever before, and the trend will continue. I use online tools a ton, as my program accommodates a commuter schedule and involves a ton of online meeting, research, posting, and content generation. These are the tools I’ve found the most helpful this year:

Evernote: This tool has been wonderful. All of your notes for all of your classes and books and anything else…in the same place. You can insert videos, images and audios into your notes, and the search function searches text inside images as well as in your actual notes. You can also access your documents online or offline at any time– on your iPad, phone, or computer. It’s free.

Pandora: Electronic for Studying Mix. Everything you wanted from your study playlist but didn’t have time to curate. Free with commercials.

Zoom: The group video service that doesn’t crash, and connects people quickly. You can invite people via Google Chat or email. Allows for screen sharing, and is far more reliable than anything else I’ve tried. And I’ve tried a lot of services. Unfortunately, the free version only allows for 45 minute meetings before you have to re-connect. The paid version isn’t too expensive though.

Google Docs: When working with groups, Google Docs is a fairly intuitive and easy way to work on documents at the same time. We can take notes, keep track of action items, brainstorm, and generate content during meetings with each team member seeing the same thing. It’s brilliant. I can’t imagine writing a team paper or sharing research without it. Free.

LinkedIn: This tool has been surprisingly useful for connecting with visiting speakers, professors, and classmates. People post useful news articles and groups may offer insight into various industries and trends. Free.

Twitter: Another surprise find– when researching trends or trying to find general consumer data points (to get started in the right direction, not to be taken as a representative sample) Many of my projects involve industries that I haven’t worked in, and it’s been extremely helpful to create lists of key industry players and follow their tweets. Also free.

YouTube: Cute Baby Animal Videos. There’s nothing that’s quite as relaxing, brainless, and uplifting as watching videos of cute baby animals.

Honorable Mentions: Asana and Mural.ly

What are your favorites?

On Reading: First Year DMBA

As you can imagine/have experienced/are experiencing currently, grad school requires a lot of reading. Almost through my first year, I feel ready to recommend some of the best reading we’ve done in the purple track of the DMBA.

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Here goes:

The top three on the list were pre-reading before the first semester started, and served to get my head in the game before starting my MBA. The second three were the Bibles of my first semester, and Business Model Generation and Designing for Growth have influenced each project I’ve worked on since meeting them. The last two books are both from my second semester marketing insights course. The Making Meaning book provided a whole new perspective on what needs to design for, and Design Research is full of tools for uncovering those needs.

Finally, cliche I know, but keeping a design journal has been wonderful. If you don’t already think of yourself as a person who draws or maps ideas on paper, having to keep a design journal as an assignment will open doors. I’m not a drawer and I do not sketch for fun. But, let me tell you, putting an idea on paper, literally, is the fastest way to try out a new idea and communicate it to people. Because it was a weekly assignment, I had to get used to it. I loved it when I did.

Anyone else have great grad school reads?

Knitting Project #4

This is the first real pattern I’m following, and it requires the use of a stitch marker, row counter, increasing stitches, decreasing stitches, short shaping rows, making button holes and counting stitches!

About button holes: One part of making a button hole is binding off stitches (BO) to make  the bottom edge of the hole. To bind off stitches, you use two stitches– one carries down the row and one slips off and makes that nice edge. It’s pretty easy if you’re binding off an entire row, but when you’re counting stitches, it’s unclear if you make one or two additional stitches before you start binding off. In this pattern, you make two if you want it to be symmetrical. I’ll experiment with this on patterns going forward.

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Stage One

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Stage Two! (It’s a little ruffled because of the short shaping rows.)

Photo on 4-30-13 at 4.31 PM

It’s done! Now to find some buttons…

On Happiness

Perhaps happiness is like a relationship—it’s wonderful and incredibly gratifying, but requires some amount of awareness and maintenance. Instead of having a partner help keep things on track, happiness is a relationship with yourself. It’s up to you to make sure you are incorporating what you need- rituals, gratitude, meditation, alone time, social time, whatever it is, into your life. Certainly people will feel the effects of your happiness, and share in its pursuit, but ultimately, happiness is a contract with yourself.