Monthly Archives: March 2016

St. Patrick’s Day

With all the drinking and celebration going on, it is easy to forget the origins of St. Patrick’s Day. March 17th commemorates the day that St. Patrick’s died. A Roman boy enslaved by the Irish, Patrick, helped bring Christianity to Ireland peacefully in the fifth century. Legend has it that Patrick used the shamrock, with three petals on its stem, to explain the Holy Trinity while converting a pagan Irish King.

I was most excited about this day in particular, at the beginning of the program, given the opportunity to come up with cultural festivals to celebrate throughout the year. And I am glad (as someone who had not celebrated St. Patrick’s day before) that we have our own Irish champ in the class, giving us an even better excuse to go celebrate the day. On a day where our ethics class proposed that it is our responsibility to go green to protect the environment, we did exactly that. We had a challenge to see who could wear the most green on the night and there were many contenders for the winning spot. Camille looked elegant with her green dress and brown shoes. Mandeep showed up with the brightest green jacket that I have ever seen in my life. And Shamsheer showed dedication with a green shirt and a matching green turban.

12896231_985775321476370_1190687029_oWhile the folks were enjoying, the waitress happened to tell me a funny joke that I would like to share. She was waiting tables one time when an American stumped her with a drink order. She took the order and approached the bartender, “Have you ever heard of a drink called ‘Seven young blondes’? He admitted he had never heard of it and grabbed a guidebook to look it up. Unable to find the recipe, he asked her to tell the patron that she would be happy to get the drink made if he could list the ingredients for her. “Sir”, she said, “can you tell me what’s in the drink?” The American looked at her like she was nuts. “It’s wine,” he said, pronouncing his words carefully this time, “Sauvignon Blanc!”

– Anoop Banodkar

Balancing Passions: Music & Business

“For me it’s important to be in balance. To not let fear get in the way of things, to not worry so much about protecting yourself all the time.”
 – John Frusciante, Lead Guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Music is one those things that pulls you in and ties you down. There’s just something about it that has always called out to me, and I can’t think of any substitute for the beautiful feeling of writing songs. It is a process that requires deep introspection, large emotional investment, and a genuine need for expression. Most importantly, it takes time to write a song, and in the MM program time is a valuable commodity.

Since the start of our program I felt as though I was being pulled in two separate directions. One towards a passion for creative expression, and another towards my desire to succeed in the business world as an entrepreneur. Time was the only constraint, and I found myself in a constant state of strife between my two passions. The conflict was almost too real for me to handle, and there were many instances where I considered dropping one option for the other. You can only imagine my parents’ reactions when I had asked them what they would think if I decided to be a professional musician over winter break! Nevertheless I powered through, spending each night thinking about what I truly wanted to do with my life, and after one particularly busy weekend in January I had come to a realization that enlightened me on the path I wanted to take.

That week in January was a hellish one for me. All I really remember was having pile after pile of work from school and my father’s company, on top of upcoming gigs dropping on my shoulders like a bag of bricks. At the end of it I was exhausted, and had spent my entire Sunday in my room staring at the ceiling. It was then that the realization hit me. It was like one of those cheesy scenes in teen dramas where, the male protagonist who felt so conflicted about telling the leading lady how he feels, realizes how much he loved her, and rushes out to see her again.

I realized that I had survived.

It was a surreal feeling. I began asking questions to myself like “Am I sure there is nothing else I have to do?” or “How did I even have the time?” I slowly let it sink in, and came to realize that my success was a result of achieving a proper balance. You could say that balance was the bridge between my two passions. It enabled me to skirt between the two and see each for what they were. By successfully learning to manage my time, I eventually saw that nothing could take me away from what I truly wished to achieve.

This is not to say that balancing two strong passions is easy. There are times when one tries to overpower the other, and the temptation is so strong that it becomes impossible to resist the urge to excessively indulge. In my case, that comes in the form of song ideas that I just have to get in writing when the inspiration hits. To others it could be a potential client calling for a sale, a company calling for an interview, or even a child asking if they want to play a quick game of hide and seek. Regardless of the situation, we all find ways to balance it out in the long run: whether that means spending an extra hour in the MM lounge slaving away in front of a computer screen, or in my case, putting aside school work to do that last quality guitar recording.

Often you’ll feel like you have to choose one door over another. But, what you have to realize is that, finding balance can create a way for you to open both at the same time.

–  Angelino De Guzman

The Art of Networking

You arrive at your networking/info session event in your newly bought business outfit. The feeling of importance may or may not strike you. You look around, spotting the important things:

Food? Check.

That little miracle to inspire that fierce inner confidence called alcohol? Check.

If not, then it is just you and your nametag.

You find a seat. The presentation starts. One of two things may happen: you may zone out trying to think of questions you can ask to “stand out” during the question period, or try to think of conversation topics that would last more than a few seconds – attempting to think of methods you could use to seem calm and interesting. You sit through the presentation. A company seems kind of interesting. Now you realize the presentation is coming to an end – the dreaded networking is about to happen…

For those “social butterflies”, meeting new people can be exhilarating and rewarding. However, for others, the mere thought of meeting new people could elicit significant anxiety. Now, what may be the underlying cause of this discomfort, and how can we overcome such uneasiness to enable a more pleasant and an impactful experience?

Understanding the root causes of anxiety-related problems is an essential step in overcoming the challenge of the networking fear!

handshakeIt has to do with the mismatch between modern and ancestral environments. The characteristics humans possess today are a result of adaptations to a multitude of social and physical challenges our ancestors faced, which may not be well-adapted for life in our modern society. Unfortunately for us, social fear is the result of this mismatch.

Psychology says our brains have evolved to compete for “attractiveness” – to make good impressions on others because these are related
to obtaining important social resources and investments from others. Being ostracized carries many negative consequences. So, your brain activates “submissive defensives”, which trigger characteristics such as self-consciousness, eye-gaze avoidance, inferiority, or submission, leading to interference with our confident performance.

But, there is good news! Our brains can be tricked into maintaining our awesomeness when we need it most.

  1. Reappraise Those Body Sensations

What is the difference between a “social butterfly” and a person with social anxiety? Conscious or unconscious appraisal of the bodily sensations. More or less we experience the same amount of stimulation in social situations. New situations trigger the adrenaline rush that increases our heart rate and oxygen delivery to the brain allowing us to be quicker on our feet. The trick is to understand that the sensations of “nervousness” are actually positive signs from our body to use to our advantage rather than an evil mechanism that inhibits our thinking. This is in line with the well-known self-fulfilling prophecy.

  1. Increase Certainty

The uncertainty of meeting new people induces anxiety. Therefore, one way to trick your brain and reduce this anxiety is to create a sense of certainty around the situation. First, there is certainty in knowing that not everyone is going to like you, no matter what “show” you put on. So be yourself – it is much easier to be in your own skin than in someone else’s. Second, create more certainty around the topic you will talk about by preparing 2 – 3 questions (the trick here is not to be lazy about it!). Third, reminding yourself that nothing horrible will happen if you say something rather “awkward” and you can be certain no one will even notice because no one is thinking about you. Everyone is too busy thinking about themselves.

  1. “Meeting Friends” or “Game”

Language is a powerful tool. Language and words we use trigger emotions and our emotions propel us into particular actions. Therefore, calling “networking” something else may alleviate the many stresses you have around the notion of meeting new people. Try calling it “meeting friends”. It’s just talking to nice people with whom you get on well and talking about things that you’re interested in. Or call it a “game”, and actually create small games for yourself prior to attending an event. For example, “today I will talk to 4 people, and find one interesting fact about them”. It doesn’t have to only be the company representatives. Networking opportunities are everywhere.

Of course, the list is not exhaustive in terms of what you can do better your experience. Just remember: people are people, and even CEO’s of big companies are nervous about new, social situations, yet, it does get easier with practice.

And really… at the end of the day, ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen?MM NetworkingMM Networking Exchange 2016

–  Yanna Baiman

Alumni Guest Entry: Mel Gabanna

I was always envious of people who ‘just knew’ what they wanted to do for a living and had a clear post-MM career path to work towards. I had no idea what I wanted to pursue and struggled with feeling like I had no purpose or intention in my job search. It wasn’t until Steven Fitzgerald (our fearless leader at Habanero Consulting, an IT Consulting firm) came to speak to my MM class in 2011 that I started to realize, maybe it doesn’t really matter what I do. As Steven shared stories of Habanero and spoke about the culture and values that drive the company, I vividly remember thinking to myself ‘that’s the guy I need to work for, that’s where I need to be’ without really knowing what Habanero even did. It was a big “ah-ha!” moment for me and I started gaining a lot of clarity about what was important for me in a career and what I valued in a workplace. I shifted my perspective from trying to figure out ‘what’ to do and focused on finding the right people and leaders to surround myself with – the right ‘who‘.

Jim Collins (smart guy, read his books) explains his version of Who vs. What in this little video clip, check it out – (Your Personal Hedgehog – Who vs. What http://www.jimcollins.com/media_topics/all.html#audio=85)

“Far more important than what jobs you take early on is who you work for, and who your mentors are” – Jim Collins

I would have never predicted that I’d end up working in IT consulting, but the amazing quality of people I work with at Habanero and the feeling I get when I go to the office is exactly what I was looking for.  As it turns out, Habanero’s ‘what’ happens to be super interesting to me, so that’s a nice bonus.

My advice to the MMs, especially those feeling a little lost in the job search as May starts to approach, is not to worry too much about figuring out the ‘what’ right now. That will continue to change and evolve as we go through our careers for years to come. If you’re ‘what’ is flexible, start hunting for an amazing ‘who’. They are harder to spot and take more work to find so get out there and talk to people – network, network, network. And use the BCC as much as possible, don’t wait until graduation to realize how valuable those resources are!

– Mel Gabanna, MM ’12