Get The Most Out of Your MBA

So here we are, half way through our Duke Cross Continent journey, and at this point we know what to expect when The Box comes or what Finals week looks like during a busy work week.  We know how much we enjoy Residencies and team meetings during Distance.  So we have been posed with a question from other MBA hopefuls to find out what are some ways to get the most out of your program.  Here are a few tips that our Duke CC-MBA 2012 class has compiled and my best attempt to give some advice on how to put them into practice.

Tip #1 – Always say YES when faced with a new opportunity. – from Debbie Barabe – Throughout the MBA process and in your career you’ll often be presented with the chance to do something different and out of your comfort zone.  When you signed up for an MBA you more than likely signed up to add a skill set to your résumé.  So when opportunities come along to do something that is out of the norm for you, take them.  If you’re a CPA volunteer to do a Marketing case.  If you’re a Marketer, volunteer to do an Accounting assignment.  It’s only by saying “Yes” to a new opportunity that the new skill sets you’re aiming for with an MBA will be obtained.

Tip #2 – Gain perspective. Be open to new and different ideas. – from Kevin Wakefield – The Duke CCMBA program takes us to new and exciting locations, but if you go into each place looking to embrace the similarities you still only walk away with one angle.  By being open to new and different ideas you get to look at the same place with a new slant.  That same philosophy can apply to an organization.  If you only look at an organization from your team’s point of view or are only interested in following your processes you will not be able to approach the issues in the bigger picture.  Instead, try to put yourself into a “foreign land” and look at each issue from the perspective of another team or even from your customers point of view.  By learning to think like this in your MBA program you can grow leaps and bounds in the work place.

Tip #3 - Make the most of the time spent with your classmates! – from Tyler Roehm – When we wrote our entrance essay we were asked to share what about our backgrounds would benefit other students.  One hundred fifty of us wrote an essay on that and Duke thought the answer was pretty good.  So when meeting your classmates and talking to them, make the most of that time and find out what some of those reasons are.  A conversation you have today about someone else’s work may be something that becomes a door to another possibility later on.  If nothing else you’ve gained another great friend in your MBA program.

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Competing with China

How China redefines leadership…

As the clock struck 08:08:08 PM on 08/08/08, three words filled the air around 100,000 souls – “Citius, Altius, Fortius” – Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and motto of the modern Olympic games that has inspired hundreds of thousands of athletes in the past century. But what did it mean for China, a country that had never staged an international event of such a magnitude?

The Beijing 2008 Olympics were not just a symbol of China’s sporting prowess, but of becoming a powerful nation. So, is China perfect now? No doubt, it struggles with issues any other developing nation does, but by adopting the higher-faster-stronger principle, it manages to take the giant leap.

Time and again, we are faced with the question – “To do it the best?” or “To be the best?” The former reflects ability while the latter reflects attitude. The only way out is to set our eyes on “To be the best”. With the right attitude, ability can be fostered. But without attitude, ability is orphan.

In fact, I used this lesson in a feedback to one of my team member who was dissatisfied with his performance evaluation. His view was – “I’ve done better than I did last time”. In other words he did his best. But was he better than others? In these competitive times, one has to look outward for improvement – China’s “satellite vision” scans the world to see what is best. It then sets out to better it. Be it the Bird’s Nest or the Water Cube – world’s finest architects were hired to build these magnificent structures, a befitting example of China’s better-than-the-best mindset.

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