On A Clear Day You Can See Alcatraz

Occasionally there are some perks to my somewhat chaotic travel schedule for work.  Like today, when I’m fortunate enough to be able to work remote from Boulin’s Bakery in San Francisco.  After a red eye flight I woke up  this morning and meandered my way to the bakery to camp out at Pier 43 and get some work done.  My friend Leala, who is my travel buddy extraordinaire, is working here and has graciously allowed me to bunk with her for a few days to adjust to the time zone before I head into what promises to be a crazy week in Everett, Washington.  This morning as we found our way to Boulin’s Leala pointed out, “On a clear day you can see Alcatraz.” There as we passed I saw the famous prison across the bay.

As I’ve been sitting here this morning I couldn’t help but think about all the stories I’ve heard about the prisoners at Alcatraz, and how they could hear the voices and sounds that carried across the bay.  If they were there today, what sounds would they hear?  What would be the stories they would recount as they listened in admiration of our freedom?

Here in my little café they would hear the two developers of a SMS smart phone ap discuss their design and how they can better their software.  They would hear a pitch from a start up executive to an investor going over the financial statements and making his best case to for more seed money.  Perhaps the smell of the fresh baked sour dough from the bakery would make its way all the way to the small cell of the prisoner and they would imagine themselves sitting right where I am now….just one person sitting, listening and going about my own business.

What I can’t help but be grateful for is a program that allows us the flexibility to be anywhere in the world and continue our classes.  Here I am, it is finals week, and I am in San Francisco enjoying a beautiful day and watching people network in a city famous for its startups.  I know we all love the travels that are built into the program itself, taking us to different countries and cultures.  I know we appreciate the ability to work from our own homes or locales.  But how often do we recognize the flexibility the format of the Duke CCMBA has afforded us to continue to pursue not just our interest in travels, our own professions, and an MBA, but the opportunity to go and experience new opportunities and networks in any city we visit.  The CCMBA gives each of us the opportunity to look at each new place with fresh eyes and valuing its unique potential.

Now imagine yourself all those years ago when Alcatraz was still a working facility.  Imagine yourself just as I am today, sitting in a café looking across the bay at the prison and appreciating the freedom you have to enjoy this day.  Now think about all those other  MBA programs.  Are they like the prisoner in Alcatraz listening across the bay to us in our café?  Are they jealous of the freedom and opportunity that we the Duke CCMBA class has?  Or are they content with their day to day in one location focusing on getting through just another day in their MBA lives?  Will they have the opportunity to sit in their class room in a campus in Cambridge and enjoy the networking and business opportunities that a CCMBA student will?  On this clear day on Pier 43 I’m most appreciative for the format of this program.  It may not be a quality that Business Week ranks, but it is one I’m finding priceless.

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