The Juggling Act

Sometimes inspiration comes out of desperation.  It was just so this evening after a two hour marathon team call to review our consulting report for Strategy.  After discussing every matrix any consulting firm has ever developed, and evaluating not just our firm but every firm in the industry against these matrices, my eyes were crossing.  As we were wrapping up our call, my teammate Shaliz Afshar made sure to announce that finals were soon around the corner.  With only a week to go and so much to do for assignments, not to mention final plans for Russia, wrapping up Q2 at work, unpacking from India (which I’m ashamed to say still has not been completed), and all the other normal things like brushing one’s teeth I had to take a deep breath.  I might have shared an emoticon on Skype that portrayed my “uneasiness” as well.

It was in this moment that my sidekick Ravi Bansal popped online.  As each of us in the CCMBA program will attest, there is always that one person in the program that knows exactly what is going with you and can empathize with you so you don’t feel alone.  Here was my conversation with Ravi…and this is how I was inspired to write this blog post.

[5/30/2012 11:45:54 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: bleh..i can’t believe finals are right here

[5/30/2012 11:45:57 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: this is crazzzzyyy

[5/30/2012 11:46:12 PM] Ravi Bansal: i know

[5/30/2012 11:46:44 PM] Ravi Bansal: i have stopped looking at finance i need to start looking at it again but just need to get my dumb part in strategy done

 [5/30/2012 11:47:04 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: i feel like a juggler

[5/30/2012 11:47:28 PM] Jordan Cathleen Lofton: if i can just toss this ball high enough in the air i can catch the next ball and then toss it up and so forth

Of course I am a nerd so I had to look up juggling and find out how it is done.  As if somehow learning to juggle balls would help me juggle responsibility.  It was this YouTube video that caught my eye and not only made me laugh, but think that there might be some practical applications for what we’re going through with juggling the CCMBA.

First watch Charlie then keep reading.  :)

So as you can see there is a process to learn how to juggle.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  On day one Charlie could barely even catch one ball going hand to hand, but after 8 days of practice and slowly increasing the difficulty Charlie developed a rhythm.

Not surprisingly experts say this same process of “learning to juggle” happens with juggling tasks.

  • Step 1 – Selecting the Right Things to Juggle – before you even begin you have to actually understand what the tasks are you’re about to manage and in some way determine their priority to you.  You don’t have to pick up every task, like unpacking for instance, you just have to juggle the most important ones.
  • Step 2 – Start With Only One – Just as Charlie started with only one ball and practiced tossing it from left to right, experts say that’s how you begin to juggle responsibilities.  By focusing on just one task or project you’re able to learn the rhythm of catching, throwing, and shuffling that is necessary to juggle.  Sooner or later it starts to feel like a well-oiled machine.  Looking back on it, that feels like what work was before I was in the CCMBA program.  I learned how to juggle work really well.
  • Step 3 – Add In Another Task– Now that there is a good balance going on you can add another task or project.  The goal is to move seamlessly from one task to the other without missing a beat.  Work and school, school and work, work and school, school and work….School….ooops work dropped….I’ve felt a lot like Charlie in the Day 2 section.
  • Step 4 – Full Blown Multi-Tasking – Now you’re ready for the biggest test of all….life, work, school.  The trifecta of juggling acts.  In this perfect balance all of your scores are SPs, you earn the promotion at work, and every single person in your family and all of your friends see you as much as they so desire.  Oh yes, and the bags from India are unpacked.  As you can tell I’ve progressed to attempt Step 3 (barely) at this portion of the program.

With that said, I head off to bed past midnight, awaiting my alarm clock, morning rush hour traffic and perfectly scheduled 9am meeting.

To quote Charlie, “Challenge completed.  I can juggle.  Gesticulation.  Awkward ending.  The end.”


A Thanks to All the CC-MBA Moms

The Duke CC-MBA 2012 class is an amazingly diverse group, full of people from across the globe and cutting across industries.  Our class has 28% women, a number higher than most MBA programs.  So what I am about to say may come as a bit of a shock to many.  The Duke CC-MBA like most MBA programs is lacking one key demographic.  Mothers.

By just doing a quick review of our class Facebook page I’ve come up with some unscientific  numbers.  Out of the 156 students, 24 men are fathers and only 3 of the women are mothers.  I don’t believe this is a problem at an organization level that is creating this phenomenon.  What I believe is that when women become mothers they take on what is a second and sometimes a third job.  All the doctors’ visits, the carpool pick up lane, the parent teacher meetings, play dates, birthday parties, soccer games, bath times, bed time stories, dinners, and so much more are added to the daily to do list of even the most successful woman.  While it’s true fathers have that same list of to do’s added, what our demographics show is that for most women it’s hard to add on the additional task of self-investment.

So on this Mother’s Day I want to take a brief pause to thank all the wonderful mothers who have made the CC-MBA possible.

  • To the mothers in our program, you have taken on yet another full time job of gaining your MBA, in addition to your career and in addition to your job as a mother.  You are showing all of us, and most importantly those mothers considering an MBA, that it can be done.
  • To the wives of the men in our program, you have taken over many of the to do’s your husband would take on as a father for these 16 months so your husband can pursue his degree.  The bed time stories you tell while he is studying for a Finance mid-term and the Skype calls you make to him with the kids during residency, you do so your family will one day benefit.  We as classmates recognize your contribution to our program.  We thank you for loaning your husbands to us as classmates so that we can learn from them, and after seeing so many of them turn in strong deliverables while missing their family, we know that the sacrifice you make during these 16 months will be worth it.
  • To the mothers of each CC-MBAer, who instilled in us the values of hard work and drive for something greater.  The foundations of global leadership started long before we arrived at Duke.  So thank you to each of the mothers who believed that we were leaders of consequence long before a degree ever proved the point.
  • To all the hopeful CC-MBA mothers thinking of applying and wondering how you can manage yet another set of responsibilities, I want to encourage you that the Duke family and in particular the CC-MBA program, is full of people who support you in your endeavor and are anxious for the opportunity to learn from women of your caliber.

So with that, I wish everyone a Happy Mothers’ Day!