Wednesday, November 28, 2007

figured it out

So I've often had a hard time focusing here. This MBA Stuff is actually pretty difficult. I'm learning Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, Communications, and Operations. All very different fields, and yet most the stuff I'm learning seems so applicable in so many areas, how do I choose?

The difficulty of a an MBA here at BYU is combined with the fact that I haven't really had respect for an MBA in general. I thought there was some value to it, but I just realized how much value that is. Before this, I'd heard lots of comments like, buy $1200 worth of books and you can know as much as an MBA. I guess that's still true, but the fact is you actually have to read those books!

So it is with an MBA. I've haven't been the most effective with this time at BYU. I've been learning, but real half-assed. When I think back I know quite a bit, but it is slowly slipping away because I'm not reviewing and look for applications.

I guess there is value in the credential of an MBA-- though that seems to be disputed a lot (especially by those who don't have one). But there is also a lot of knowledge that can be gained. To know gain as much as possible (and to know you have that knowledge) would truly be a waste of this 2 years (even more if you think an MBA is already a waste)

I don't know what its like at other schools, but my MBA at Brigham Young University is teaching me a lot.

don't waste it don't waste it don't waste it

Monday, November 19, 2007

So, marketing has a dull side

At BYU, the first semester students are required to take MBA 550 Marketing Management. This year, the marketing professors are making us do a huge project that students didn't have to do in the past.

It involves ZMET, Laddering, and Ideal Customer Profiling. Last Tuesday, we went to Good Earth Foods to talk to employees about the type of customer that purchases the Solaray Brand.

We got some interesting results: Baby Boomer M/F. 18-30 year old males who are either trying or are in shape. And newly lactating mothers. :) I decided we wouldn't attempt to interview the last category.

Then on Saturday we went back to the store to contact some customers in these categories and see if we could set up some interviews. However, the number of us who returned Good Earth plummeted from 5 to 2. (it was understandable why that happened, but still annoying)

So 2 of use walked around Good Earth for 2 solid hours talking to customers. For the most part it was kind of intimidating-- kind of reminded me of being on my LDS Mission again. Adam came up with a good idea in that we said we could interview them at Good Earth so they knew we had permission and weren't just trying to steal phone numbers.

In the end, I was glad to be done with it all, but we made some good contacts and have some great insight to give back to Solaray.

You don't have to do a Field Study with a company like we're doing. We decided to do it this way because some of us need to build or marketing resumes a little bit more. (of course throughout the rest of my MBA at Brigham Young, I don't think I'll be this agressive about getting extra experience)

Listening Notes -- #4 --> Last Ones!

Chapter #6 -- What we great listeners know as "Advanced Principles for total Listening" (I ad-libbed this a little)(trust me if you ever read this book, you'll need to do something to make sure you haven't died of the same insight over & over)
H Have a hearing checkup (I think this is the stupidest thing in this book, but apparently it is a problem and checkups are good.)
E Evaluate the Evidence
A Anticipate Key Points or Ideas
R Review Mentally

Evaluate the Evidence: Ask self questions like:
  • Am I getting definite example or generalities?
  • fact or opinion?
  • What the speakers point? What trying to prove?

  • Listen for what the facts add up to (not just the facts)
  • Also feedback and clarification is good to make sure you're getting the right message.
  • Also some people are liars, so ask for sources afterward. This is a good way to evaluate.

Anticipate Key Points
  • Try to figure out where speaker is going (you can do this cuz you think way faster then he/she speaks)
  • This also helps you focus way better on the message
  • Can make things a lot less boring.
  • Best way to take notes is just write down what's unknown to you. or a diff perspective.

Review Mentally
  • Mentally summarize what you hear.
  • What point is the speaker making? What are the key ideas? (do these steps repeat themselves?
  • Basically: identifying, organizing & recalling the key ideas.
  • Try to listen emphatically -- put self in others shoes.

Chapter #7 -- Listening between the lines
One body position could mean many things. You usually want 2 or 3 clustered visual cues before interpreting body language.

Chapter #8 -- Goals for Understanding
  • Do I listen to understand rather than spend the time preparing my next remakr?
  • before agreeing or disagreeing do I check to make sure I do understand what others mean?
  • do I try to summarize points of agreement or disagreement?
  • do try to ask questions that result in a more informative answer than yes/no?
  • try to eoncourage others to participate inthe discussion?
  • guard against assuming I know others eaning or feelings?
  • aware of others feelings when he/she expresses closeness/affecectoin?
  • when others feelings hurt respond with sensitivity?
the less the formal system of socialness is satisying to employees they are drawn to informal social channels and much less loyal to the organizzation.

Chapter #9 - Applying total listening techniques
For interviewing candidates, ask questions first before rambling on about selling them on joining the company. Make sure they fit.
for performance appraisal, remember people crave feedback and appreciation

type-A behaviors are more prone to heart-attaches. Here are some patterns (and as this MBA gets more stressful here at BYU, I know I'm falling into some of these)
  • always rushing & not listening
  • talking business while eating
  • talk too much and not listen to others (repeat)
  • being impatient w/others.
  • losing temper
  • showing hostility and always fighting.
  • hurrying others in their speaking
  • constantly interrupting

Well I've got to right the report with my study group now( they were smart and chose other books). I don't anticipate typing too much more out of this book.

Friday, November 16, 2007

get the employees trust

In MBA 548 - Strategic Human Capital, Dr. Bingham showed some studies he's done at NuSkin and they lay-offs they've been having.

Apparently the finding they've had is that "surviving" employees of a downsizing event have good perceptions of the company if they trust the company. If they do not trust it, then employees have horrible perceptions of their employer (can someone say resume shopping is about to begin?)

So the key is, if you need to retain people after getting rid of some, you better treat those folk you get rid or right. This will help the survivors to trust you and hopefully stick around.

Listening Notes -- #3

The book continues. Some of the suggestions are good, but this guy isn't a very good teacher.

  • Listening requires Energy, Concentration & Thinking (its hardwork)
  • Big secret to listening: Ask open ended questions that need detailed answers
  • Best way to understand people is to listen to them.
Chapter #3
Listening Pays
  • sales people who listen are more successful
  • listening to (getting to know) children is vital to good parenting.
  • trick to listening to presenters: Write it Down
  • Questioning, Taking Notes & Writing a report can help you remember 70% more from an oral presentation
  • So always be prepared to write something down (pen & paper by phone etc...)
  • good listners ask self questions like: what is the pattern or speaker's organization? Where is he going with this topic?
  • also outline what you're hearing. Diff ways to do this: chronological, analytical, order of importance, compare/contrast, problem/solution, numberical, alphabetical, & spatial.
Ch #4 - (63) Bad listening habits to avoid
  • daydreaming
  • facts-only listening - get speakers overall message not just minor tidbits
  • Poor Posture - make you not look engaged
  • Tuning out
  • emotionalism
  • faking attention :)
  • Obsessive not taking - you won't get it all, higlight the main points
  • Time Wasting - don't waste your listening time. You can listen faster than the speaker can speak so anticipate, evaluate & mentally summarize the speaker's points as you listen.
  • even keeping you desk clear can be a good way of elminating distrationc
  • do not play (fidget) with pens or other things when listening.
Chapter #5
L Look at the other person. (ie if not in eyes at least in hairline.
A Ask Questions - open ended is best (ask how someone feels people love to explain that)
D Don't Interrupt
D Don't change the subject
E Check your emotions (listen not judge) (also don't do the 1st 'd' and chime in with your emotions)
R Respond- nod, "uh huh", can ask questions to clarify what is said.

Sweet, I just got totally caught up. I think I'll finish the book this weekend. I look forward to being told about 20 more times how psychiatrists get paid so much money just to listen.

Sales man example (asking):
Faker: Sell me something in this room?
Seller: What would you like to buy?
Faker: Oh, I guess this ashtray
Seller: Why would you want to buy that ash tray?
Faker: Its new & shapely. Its colorful and also we're in a building and I don't want it to burn down so I want to accommodate my guests.
Seller: (instantly) How much would you pay for the ashtray?
Faker: Well its not and sturdy and attractive, I guess about 18 - $20.
Seller: I'll go ahead and let you have it for $18.
--- asking questions is a great way to sell.
closed ended questions: Who where & When, Did (I thought of this on my own)
open ended questions: What why & How
  • Reasons to ask questions: to get specific info or to learn opinions/feelings.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

did ya learn anything with your BYU MBA? or just a lot of philosophy

I have been very impressed with 'Kaizen' and 'JIT' and 'Lean' in our intro to operations class taught by Dr. Foster. I kind of make fun of the class and call it irrelevant, but really it is anything but.

The whole concept of inventory (all 3 types) being waste is very insightful. It took me a little while to come to terms with it. I also like the concept of how inventory has a way of masking problems.

I've been trying to think of ways that JIT and the Kanban approaches to production can apply to software development. If you write your code to be reusable, you only need to produce it once, so I don't think it really applies. However, if you system is passing messages to get different parts of the system to complete a task, it could apply there. It might even be better at balancing the load on your network if messages came in intervals instead of all at once followed by dead times. Bandwidth isn't hard to come by though, so maybe its not as big a deal. It is definitely easier to troubleshoot a problem for 10 messages as opposed to 1000 though so for maintenance purposes it could be better.

finally application of course materials and not my thoughts on how things are going.

BYU MBA Bloggers are diverse

Wow, I was just looking at some of the other BYU MBA Blogs out there-- there's quite a few... and they're probably better. But they are also such thin blogs. Look at how many posts you get with mine! :)

Oh well, I guess I'll have to begin taking some pictures (1,000 words right?)

It really just goes to show that BYU MBA Students are quality! I had countless disappointments when I found out others interviewing for an internship I wanted-- I knew how good a person each of these individuals were.

Oh well, If you can't beat 'em join 'em right? Guess I'll have to learn from these other students and hopefully become pretty capable myself.

they apologized

Well, I'm happy to report that what I wrote last time in has been taken care of. Dr. Whitlark said the students came up and apologized later and he said he really respected that-- courage like that is one of the reasons he likes BYU Students so much.

Dr. Whitlark has started a faculty fun-war between marketing and finance professors, so we here them tease each other a little bit. I think the students get in on that too much and make fun of our professor Dr. Grant McQueen too often. However, I'm not was worried about that because the professors shouldn't do it if the expectation is for us to not join in. I still don't very much, but if the faculty has a problem with it, I believe it in their power to stop it-- they got us into it in the first place.

Oh joy! BYU's MBA program is a lot of fun.

Monday, November 12, 2007

we've got to repect the professors

So in a presentation I just saw some students give, the final slide tried to compare the pictures of Dr. Whitlark (an awesome marketing professor) and Freddy Krueger.

I think this was done in bad taste. Dr. Whitlark is very funny and jokes around a lot and we are getting to know many of our professors very well... but we should still have more respect for them than that. We're not really colleagues with them and joining in on their jokes when they tease each other is maybe beginning to go too far. I hope the MBA program at BYU doesn't get too childish.

I've been involved on some of these jokes, but I think I'll set them aside. These professors have been working with each other for years and its kind of rude for us to come in and poach their jokes.... worse it is extremely disrespectful of the professors.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Listening Notes -- #2

  • Can you put yourself in the other person's shoes (8) <----- page number
  • Main objectives of communicating: 1 - Be deeply understanding of others 2 - be clearly understood 3 - be accepted by others 4 - to get action
  • Psychologists say fundamental human need = to be appreciated. Listening is 1 of highest forms of appreciation you can show another person. (10)
  • Listening is easier when you have a purpose. ie to: be an interested manager, obtain news/facts/other info., form an opinion, discover s.o.'s attitude, obtain feedback, be a friend.

Characteristics of poor listerners (do I have some of these?) (yes)
  • always interrupts
  • jumps to conclusions
  • finishes my sentences
  • inattentive; wandering eyse
  • changes subject
  • writes e.t. down.
  • not give responses
  • impatient
  • loses tempor
  • fidgets
good listerns:
  1. looks at me while I'm speaking
  2. questions to clarify what I said
  3. shows concerns through ?'s about my feelings
  4. repeats me
  5. not rush me
  6. poised & emotionally controlled
  7. reacts responsively (often w/ body language)
  8. pays close attention
  9. not interrupt me
  10. keep on the subject til i've finished my thoughts.
questions to evaluate yourself with:
  1. how do I see myself as a listener? be very specific
  2. How do others see me?
  3. Am I a willing listener? (not really)
  4. am I easy to talk to
  5. do I draw out opposite views to fully understand others' feelings?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Communicating Book

For the MBA 505 course, we have to read a book that we choose on communication. The library offered my Learning Made Easy. It does not get the best review on Amazon, but I liked what the chapter headings said; as for the rest, only reading will tell if was good. (I'll put a book review on Amazon though if I like it otherwise they've already got it covered)

Anyway, I really do want to gain better listening skills and since this is a library book that I have to return in 3 weeks I thought I would keep a lot of notes on this blog. So that's what's under the "communication" theme.

------------------ The Notes Begin ------------------
  • Bad Listening caused by bad habits: listening only for facts, day dreaming, disliking the speaker, private planning, too much emotion, mental detours, debating, tuning out too soon.
  • Distractions: laziness, self-consciousness, even something like a toothache.
  • Listening is a huge tool for managers, you have to understand so much about your subordinates.
  • Practically impossible for Leadership is can't listen. (at least if its not by force)
  • Listening mean trying to see something the way the speaker sees it. Any other thoughts are distractions.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Marriott School's National Advisory Council (NAC)

Thursday and Friday, the Marriott School hosted its National Advisory Council and all graduate students in the BYU Marriott School of Management's various programs got to participate.

I got to meet some pretty interesting people. Andrea Thomas who is high up at Wal-Mart and John Locke who is the CEO of Mrs. Fields cookies.

There was a keynote speaker at the dinner Thursday Night. I actually hate listening to speakers (and quite often professors), so for a while I just watched the clock. Finally it hit me that there were many respectable people in the room and if they were willing to be there and listen maybe I could glean some good insights as well. For the life of me, I cannot remember his name.

He spoke of how one learns new information:
  • Learn: What is it?
  • Understand: What does 'it' mean?
  • Believe: What does 'it' mean to me?
  • Application: With this new belief, understanding, and knowledge what am I going to do to bring it into my life?
Since Thursday, I have pondered these 4 steps/principals with special care to see if this would help me get more benefit from my MBA. I have decided that I have been looking for these steps for a very long time.

The fact is, I know a lot. Even more, I really try to understand why things are the way they are. From that point though, I let emotion take over: I don't want to listen to professors * I feel like other activities than studying * I want to be in shape but I don't feel like exercising. This list could get huge! And sadly, this list extends into spiritual feelings / beliefs and opposition trying to get me to ignore them. (ie: but I don't feel like going to church!)

So, I've got to take what I learned about Emotional Intelligence and and "short circuit" the emotions, make sure I can apply what I learn to my life (in this context career), and then make sure I'm doing that which I know benefits me and helps me to achieve my goals.

  • Step #1: Listen to the professors even if I'd rather be home sleeping.
  • Step #2: Analyze these case studies and pretend I'm really trying to make a business that is important to me great.
  • Step #3: Actually learn from the books and don't just do the busy work.

I feel like I'm learning a ton from the MBA Program. I'm also not getting good grades at all. Hopefully trying to build my own business on the principals I learn will help those marks increase; more importantly, hopefully those dreams I spoke of before will still be able to come true through applying the awesome business truths I'm learning as a BYU MBA student.