Recent adventures…

Almost at the end of my second month here, and I’ve had a few recent adventures…i promise a better blog update next post, but for now, here’s a quick recap:

My fellow brand associates (first year MBA class at work) and I joined the MBA interns for a wine tasting tour (who knew Missouri had wine?) in a rented stretch Hummer limo. Nothing says wine connosieur like a white, 18-passenger, monstrously long SUV limousine with neon upholstery, right? Turns out there are some lovely vineyards and views west of the city and – in the case of Chandler Hill – some really excellent bubbly.

Dinner & theater, again with my associate class, the interns, and the boss. We enjoyed a night at the Muny, St. Louis’ outdoor amphitheater (and “America’s Largest and Oldest Outdoor Musical Theater”). Mercifully the heat was only high 80s/low 90s…I remember when I thought 85 degrees was hot. Ha! We saw Bye Bye Birdie, which had really fun costumes and was a great show, despite all the singing and dancing. Bonus: I now know who Ed Sullivan is.

Busch Stadium see the St. Louis Cardinals play and celebrate the opening of the new Bowtie Bar on the 2nd level. I love the way this town loves baseball and Albert Pujols. If they don’t keep him here, i suspect there will be a state-wide gloom that doesn’t budge for months and months. There’s enough serious bad news in the world right now – don’t take Pujols away, too.

And this weekend was a lovely ladies’ dinner with a group of new friends – rooftop sunset dining at Vin de Set, one of my new favorite restaurants in town. I’m starting to build a list of fun to-dos here – City Museum, Rams game (hooray, NFL’s back!), Parties in the Park…

NYC, chiefs, and sunshine yellow

Dear Sierra: your presence is required in New York City the week of July 18th.

I didn’t really know what to expect of the city or my week there – after being in my new job for a month, the “Global MBA Induction” was slated for the Global Headquarters of the company, on glam-sounding Park Avenue. Added incentive: I planned to stay the weekend to visit Darden friends living in the city.

Your schedule will include visits from the Chiefs, a city-wide scavenger hunt, design thinking training, a happy hour, a beer & food pairing workshop/dinner, zythology (the science of beer), personality testing and a group-based innovation challenge.

I worried about not having enough time to work out, about being intimidated by the city itself (did you know cabs can refuse to take you where you want to go? The nerve!) and about the other MBAs from the US, Russia, Argentina and China. Would they be know it alls? Could I hang if they asked us to do math?

I finished the week nursing two gigantic blisters (gained from the 4 hour mad dash/scavenger hunt around the city – worth it, because my team won), infatuated with IDEO and all it stands for and still laughing over the hilarious and oddly spot-on results of my personality test (I’m a “Sunshine Yellow”, for the record, with a “Fiery Red” secondary dimension). Oh yeah – and I won an iPad too! Overall, I’m really surprised and impressed at the level of time and attention we received. Every speaker we had spent more than their allotted hour with us – including all of the Chiefs (CEO, CMO, CFO, etc.). They wanted conversations, welcomed our questions, and gave honest, reflective answers. And every single one layered their high expectations for us into the conversation. This is a no-fooling-around-we-expect-great-things-and-hold-you-accountable company. Kind of a high-investment, high-return model. Read: be brilliant and deliver great things. Ok? Ok. We’re counting on you, you know. Suddenly my last month of constant crises of confidence (OMG, am I good enough? Why did they hire me anyway? What if I totally fail?) seemed way more appropriate.

Something else happened, too. It wasn’t directly related to the work we did or the environment. [Sidenote: being stuck in the same conference room for 5 days trying to resist catering trays is unfairly challenging for someone who is trying to simultaneously embrace low-carb living and manage ADD. “Ooh, croissant! Oooh, cookie! Oooh, roast beef on sourdough! Ooh, another cookie over there!”]

It’s hard to explain. Dichotomy, dissonance, call it what you will: on one hand I am genuinely over-the-moon thrilled about being in my job, working for my company, and doing what I’m doing. I love those days when I realize at 3p that i didn’t even remember to think about eating lunch because the work is so enthralling. On the other hand, I’m a bit resentful. I resent my inability to run my own schedule, the way I can’t seem to shut my brain off about work stuff, the new requirement that I work at a certain level in order make a certain amount of money to service heaps of student loans for a certain amount of time (10+ years). And yes, I knew all of this when I signed up for it. And no, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Darden for the world.

All week I simmered on this (FYI: cookies do NOT make fretting easier – trust me, they just seem to) – knowing I’m the neurotic/workaholic , intense, all-or-nothing type. I’m scared of getting lost in my job, of losing all the possibility and nuance and perspective and color and fullness I found in life through Darden. Can I do a great job at my job without having it be all-consuming? Is it natural to have this type of rocky transition into working after business school? How in the world did I do this before school? Truly, what did I think would happen after school? Is there such thing as a low-pressure, high-paying job with a permissive, un-demanding schedule? Those jobs don’t exist, especially during a debt crisis/deep recession/unemployment spike/economic crisis. I’m damn lucky to have a job, any job, much less one I like. I’m grateful and humbled and glad to be working, period. Is this a princess problem, trying to balance a good job with striving to have a good life, too? Yes indeed. Does it scare me silly? Yes indeed. Am I worried too much? Probably. Does it get easier? I sure hope so….

Yum... NYC cookies...

Exhilarating, exhausting, and everywhere in between

It’s my third week here in St. Louis, so I can’t claim to be new to the Lou much longer… so far it’s been exhilarating, exhausting, and everywhere in between. A quick update:

I started three weeks ago at work (earlier than planned, for a special temporary assignment) and I love, love, love my new job and am 4000% sure i took the right position at the right company for me (phew!). On the other hand, i’ve been dreaming nightly about work – a warning sign of impending workaholism? Hope not. I’m part of a small marketing group that has a gigantic global scope. The work itself is insanely cool and demanding (can you tell I’m itching to spill what type of work it is, but I can’t?) and some days I say ok, I think I can do this – and others I’m in way, way over my head and want to hide under my desk. Somehow i think it would reflect poorly on Darden if i did that. My boss is a roguish marketing rockstar who has been, so far, the best manager of my entire working life. Not kidding – he’s supportive and challenging and available and inspiring and intimidating, all in the space of each conversation.  My coworkers are beer-industry veterans who lunch together almost every day in the company cafeteria and easily folded me into their routine. Yesterday’s lunchtime topic: are you friends with your exes on Facebook?

I live in a great apartment with a couple quirks. It’s a remodeled historic building, which means plaster walls (all art won’t be hung up), petite arched doorways (heirloom white couch doesn’t fit through, now slated for Goodwill – that’s a whole other identity crisis/story), laundry machines (swoon!) and… a keycard front door lock. Like a hotel. A keycard!?! It’s bright orange and doesn’t fit on my keychain. At least a hotel gives me two keycards and replaces them at no cost. Here, I get one only – and it’s $25 to replace. Highway robbery! The best I can come up with to prevent losing it is inspired by childhood visits to my grandmother in her senior citizen home. She and most of her neighbors would decorate outside their apartments, hallway flair like flowers or baskets or paint-by-the-numbers masterpieces. Well, now I’m considering some exceptionally hideous decorative item to put outside my door to hide the keycard under. Like a fierce gnome or a drowsy dragon or something. That way it’ll never, ever get lost. That’s not weird at all, right?

As for the rest of it here, I’m trying to re-learn how to commute, work 8 to-6ish every day and still have a social life, work out and keep up with Words With Friends. I’m pretty sure I did it for 7+ years prior to Darden, but it’s taking a while to come back. I miss my Darden friends like crazy –it’s amazing how many people have taken the time to call, text and email me to check in and make sure i have a pulse and am not in the midst of a nervous breakdown (apologies to everyone who I owe calls, texts and emails to – I promise I’m alive and not ignoring you!). My body yearns for CrossFit, and I’m going tomorrow for the first time here.

AND, of course I want to keep blogging – but I’m not sure about what, as yet. New title, theme, scheme, COMING SOON! (suggestions welcome)

Sweet peek-a-boo dragon...or crafty key-hider?

The Most Important Things I Did At Darden

Last night the outgoing and incoming Darden Student Association (DSA) teams had dinner with Dean Bruner. He thanked us, and we each received a framed copy of the photo below, which perfectly captures our playful spirit as a group (i’m the lady sitting on the left). It made me think – what’s the most important thing I’ve done at Darden? Looking back over the 65 (!!!) posts on this blog since beginning school, I seem to have learned a lot, including: how to successfully use massive levels of caffeine, play Words With Friends, function on 3 hours of sleep, what Vineyard Vines is, how to productively use the hours between 9pm-midnight, the miracles of Arch’s Frozen Yogurt Wow Cow, work through Princess Problems, read a 27-page Harvard cases in under 10 minutes, live half of my life/flirt via instant messages, enjoy cocktails often (and responsibly) and survive a cold call. When I really think about it, though, the top 5 most important things I did at Darden are:

5. Learned to use Excel (and became functional at finance in general): I’ve come a long way since Baby’s First If-Statement. Proof: I did a quick-and-dirty discounted cash flow in under 25 minutes last week – not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t catch that part of the assignment (oops!) and was scrambling to get it done before class. Who am i? – pre-Darden me could never have done that.

4. Landed a job I’m thrilled about: some people say this is what b-school is all about. It is a huge part of the equation, since i have to eat. I feel really lucky to be consistently over-the-moon-happy about my new job. I’m going to a great company in an awesome industry (beer), the function I wanted (marketing/brand management) all in an environment where they let me sparkle. It’s definitely worth the hours (months) I spent despairing about being unemployable, networking and interviewing.

3. Learned what I’m actually good at: if you’d asked me before Darden, I would have given you a very different list than I have now. Now I think I have a handle on my strengths and a clear eye on my weaknesses, all because Darden pushes hard and simultaneously doesn’t give you any room to fool yourself. Not to mention, I had to practice doing things I hate doing, like asking for help and saying “I don’t know” (both not so bad, once you get used to them).

2. Made some terrific close friends. I’m grateful to know amazing people at Darden, and my dear friends here are precious and wonderful. I am woeful at the thought of life without Miss MBA, Finn, SF and G within spitting distance and without my roommate to share living room floor picnics and daily dramas with.

1.The most important thing: served on the Darden Student Association as VP of Social. One year, 28 events (parties) and hundreds of hours of effort later, I feel like it’s been my honor and privilege to hold the role. Doing this job threw more challenges and triumphs my way than I could ever have imagined, and taught me more real-time leadership, communication and management skills than any class could or would have. Working with the 10 other people on the DSA was a complete treat, and I couldn’t imagine better colleagues to have. Not to mention getting to know my awesome Social Committee, tons more of my classmates, faculty, administration, staff and everyone who makes Darden run. I’m a better person and a better manager as a result.

To sum up: coming to Darden was the best personal and professional decision of my life. I did a bunch of hard stuff (gross understatement) and a bunch of fun stuff, and it’s been the best 2 years of my life so far. I’m pretty sure it keeps getting better and that I’ll keep blogging at this address, with perhaps a title change (Sierra After Darden?) and a few weeks off for travel.

Darden Student Association 2010-2011

Pageant chest, sandbags and prissy


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Prissy (adjective): finicky, dainty, particular, fussy, discriminating, persnickety.

Yep, I’m prissy. I begged my (horrified) mother to let me be a debutante (she refused and threatened to disown me), I don’ t like to get dirty unless it’s riding horses, and I always, always do the dishes before going to bed. My favorite word is “fabulous” and I like everything to be just so. And so you might be surprised that I’ve been regularly and voluntarily going to a dirty, smelly warehouse for almost 3 months now. Why? It’s the home of CrossFit Charlottesville. I heart CrossFit.

Lots of people have asked me lots of questions about it. Yes, it’s hard, requires commitment and lots of grit and is most definitely not for everyone. But if I can do it, anyone can. It’s actually one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. However, it can be pretty intimidating for a newbie, so, from my time as a potentially the prissiest person at CrossFit Charlottesville, here are some handy tips.

Posture. The way to think about this is having “pageant chest”.  If you were in a pageant, or a parade queen on a float, how would your posture be? That’s what they want. Now, when the trainer wants to remind me that my form is lacking, all he has to say is PAGEANT CHEST and I clue right in to what I’m supposed to be doing.

Grip. When you grip a barbell, you’re supposed to use the hook grip. Obviously I’d never remember that, so I call it the Captain Hook grip. Arrr, matey.  The absolute WORST thing you can do when barbelling is to display spirit fingers, as I’m prone to do. Captain Hook grip is the opposite of spirit fingers.

Circus Seal

Equipment.Sometimes we jump on and off 12”-24” boxes. These boxes are painted red and look like the type of box a circus seal would perform on. Hence, they’re circus boxes. I dare you not to make seal noises the first (or next) time you’re jumping on one.

What’s a nice girl like you doing with a sandbag like that? Warning: “sandbag cleans” (a fancy way of saying get the sandbag off the ground and onto your shoulder while having pageant chest) will give you naughty, naughty neck marks. Remember high school? That kind of neck marks. NEVER wear a tank top on sandbag clean days. And be prepared for people to roll your eyes when you say you got a naughty neck by throwing a sandbag around. Sure you did…

Attire. And, speaking of attire, be careful. You never know if you’ll be upside down, halfway sideways, hanging from a bar or crawling around on the floor. Running-type shorts with undies built in are a good thing since the danger of a flashing incident is reduced. Luckily, most people are concentrating too hard on their own workout to notice any potential wardrobe malfunctions anyway.

Yelling. Yes, there’s yelling. It’s 95% encouraging-you-can-do-it yelling, and most people forget that YOU CAN YELL BACK!  I’m not a yeller by any means, but one day I was doing lots of terrible things called burpees (throw yourself on the floor, do a pushup, jump up, repeat). The instructor, a nice man I call SuperDave, was next to me yelling at me in a very encouraging way. I finished my set, yelled right back at him, and went to cool down. I hadn’t planned it, but it definitely felt good.

Men. Yes, men tend to practice CrossFit. And what fine lads there are at a CrossFit establishment! It’s eye-candy-central. I’m so busy checking out the muscles on those manly menfolk that I don’t care if they’re watching me fall off a circus box or see me refuse to use anything but the pink kettlebells. Added bonus: it’s a rule that everyone has to know the name of everyone else in their class. What does this mean? Hot, muscley men are regularly introducing themselves to me as soon as I arrive. Hello, hotties.

Muscles. I want muscles, lots of ‘em. Don’t you? Yes, doing CrossFit gives you muscles – this is a good thing. Especially strapless dress muscles, which broadly means the group of muscles on show when you wear a strapless dress (back, chest, shoulders, arms). These muscles are especially attractive when they happen to be exercised routinely by CrossFit workouts. What woman doesn’t want gorgeous strapless dress muscles?

There’s been a recent mini-movement of Darden SYs to CrossFit Charlottesville, and if anything could be considered an MBA-type workout, this is it (friendly competition, timed exercises, defined goals and metrics, endlessly challenging, etc.). I still get nervous gym tummy before I go, but I’m always glad I went. I’m proud of my bruises (mostly from being naturally clumsy), love the post-workout feeling of accomplishment and even am coaxing my reluctant triceps to come out and show themselves. Oddly, I also want to eat better and run more so I’m better at CrossFit. It’s weird, but I’m going with it – and someone should call CrossFit St. Louis to warn them there’s a priss coming to town…

Grit, beets and Follies

I especially enjoy advice from successful entrepreneurs who come back to Darden to talk to us, and I’ve collected a heap of one-liners so far. Somewhat contradictory and amusing key learnings:

• Do what you’re good at/Be good at everything: um, ok… how am I supposed to get good at everything?

• Experiment often/fail quickly: aha! Get good at things by experimenting and failing (quickly).

• Know what you want/be open to opportunities you don’t think you want: does this mean being flexible enough to take experimental opportunities you may not want in order to fail quickly?

• Take venture capital, but not too much venture capital: apparently too much money in the coffers makes one sloppy.

• The best startup CEOs are those who have failed before/don’t hire a newbie CEO to fail on your business: apparently, you want to catch an entrepreneurial venture CEO at that perfect career point of post-failure. Trouble is when everyone wants a failure survivor and no one wants to be the survivable failure….

Most of our visitors are successful and also seem like semi-overconfident, tenacious people who just plain stuck to it. Another way to say it? They have grit. In fact, a study about grit including a scientific “Grit Scale” measurement, says that grit may be “as essential as talent to high accomplishment.” This same study also found that grit wasn’t linked to IQ. So you don’t have to be smart to have grit, and grit makes your likelihood of success much higher? Well, at least I’ve got grit going for me…although I think it’d be very interesting to have class speakers who are in any stage of entrepreneurial failure and hear their advice. It’s probably harder to recruit for that… “Excuse me, are you failing? Wow, great! Would you mind coming to talk about that to a bunch of students who will ask theoretical MBA-type questions? Super, see you Tuesday!”

In other news, I recently worked on a top-secret submission for Darden Follies, our annual hilarious compilation of videos/live-action comedy show at the end of the year. It’ll be hard to top last year’s “Darden Dancing”  but we may have a strong contender. (For reference – we’re not the only silly ones out there – lots of b-schools have Follies. See: Columbia Business School’s “MRS”, based on Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and NYU Stern’s “We Didn’t Start The Crisis” based on Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”). Darden’s Iron Chef competition is this week as well, with an awesome secret ingredient: beets! Since I’m now retired as VP Social, I get to actually participate in the competition! Winner gets a $100 gift certificate to local sustainably-sourced restaurant Brookville. I’m also looking forward to a sushi/karaoke party this weekend and Darden Days are here, which means 1st and 2nd-round accepted students are visiting Cville for the weekend. With the mentality that current students are the best way to see what it’s really like here, there are a slate of fun activities for the visiting prospectives. I’m on a student life Q&A panel on Friday and very much looking forward to the annual Darden Days outing: students, partners & prospectives are all taking a lovely get-to-know-you jaunt to King Family Vineyards for dinner. 40 days and counting (gasp!) till graduation….

What's not to love?

Fandom, NFLPA and digging it


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Today I had the terrific pleasure of listening to DeMaurice Smith, UVA Law graduate and the director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) speaking to us as part of Darden’s Leadership Speaker Series. He’s a brilliant speaker and easily seems charming, accessible, funny and compelling – in short, everything you want in a lawyer. I’d hate to face him in a courtroom or across a bargaining table. A self-proclaimed “whiteboard guy” who illustrated his points with big, bold numbers on a dry erase board, he excels at simplifying complex ideas and situations for bite-size consumption. And really, once you take the first bite, find it palatable and maybe even delicious, isn’t it easy to take the next one? His examples were peppered with great football names – Brady, Brees, Peterson, and he also skillfully called upon testimonials from the two ex-NFL players who are also current Darden students.

His concise take on a decidedly messy situation included the expiry of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the dissolution of the NFLPA as a labor union and a shaded but convincing summary of what the owners want vs. what the NFLPA wants. To sum it up? “We’d rather not be locked out.” And what about the fans? Simply, “our fans dig our players.” And the whole big mess? Well, America is in a recession, you know. How terrible is it to deprive football cities and the US economy of a $9 billion dollar industry?

I was impressed by him, the total package of charisma, smooth speech, intelligence and wit. I respected his style and his smarts – and two things made me decide I respect him as a person as well. One, he mentioned his wife is a breast cancer survivor and even his bad days are a walk in the park compared to what survivors have experienced. And two, his take on leadership: “Leadership is when you can inspire and pick talent so that your organization is better off with you and not worse off without you.”

My last job before Darden was in sports marketing. I loved it for a variety of reasons. Yes, for the glam factor but also for the power of sports to incite people and provoke passion, emotion and irrational behavior (body painting in 10 degree weather?). People care about sports on a basic level, for better or for worse, and I love that. You could say I’m a fan of sports, or a fan of being a fan. I hope the NFL players, past and current, get a fair shake when it comes to healthcare and controlling interests. And I’m begging everyone – the owners and league and players and lawyers and agents – to compromise and play nice in time for a 2011 NFL season that we can all dig.

List-less and Limitless (aka, highlights of Spring Break)

It’s the last night of Spring Break before SY Q4 starts, and if I were the counting type, I’d say it’s 56 short days until graduation. WOW! Since the Egypt trip was cancelled, I stayed stateside and really enjoyed the time off, visiting friends & family and generally relaxing. While i should be prepping for my 8am class (who takes an 8am class in SY Q4?), instead i’ll share highlights of Spring Break:

Waking up utterly distraught, then realizing why: I hadn’t made a list in 4 whole days. That’s 96 hours! For a confirmed, committed lifestyle-list-maker like me, that’s almost sacrilege. No wonder I felt so relaxed. (Don’t worry, I’m operating fully in list mode now. One can only get so loosey-goosey before things just fall apart…or so i hear).

Sporting around Scottsdale, AZ, enjoying the desert heat, West-Coast sensibilities, hanging out with my awsome brother and driving his zippy Volkswagen GTI 6-speed that’s peppy, turbo-quick and so fun to drive. Unexpected side effect of driving a car like that? The impulse to race almost everyone next to me whenever I’m at a stoplight. Just a bit of pretending like I’m at the wheel of a Mini Cooper in the Italian Job can’t hurt, right?

Seeing Limitless, a great movie about accessing all of your potential brainpower via a pill. Highly recommend – if indeed humans only use 20% of their brain, can you imagine the possibilities of fully engaged brains? Would you use your new superbrain for good, profit, evil, hedonism? And I couldn’t help thinking how the ethical situations presented in this movie would make an excellent Darden case. I liked it so much i’ll probably see it again before it leaves the theater.

Toddlermania! Playing with the adorable little people my coupled-off friends have produced. Parenting = tough stuff. I should call my mom & dad and say thank you….

Smackdown: potential vs. pragmatism. Discovering a complete infatuation with an unfinished studio space in St. Louis that I could design myself and have built to be the perfect, perfect apartment space. And then, thankfully, the injection of pragmatism from friends who reminded me it’s no fun to manage contractors and I’m on a budget and i’ll need to focus on my new job. Oh, right. Maybe a full-service rental apartment is the way to go…

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf iced blended drinks. Yum! Luckily there’s no equivalent in Cville, or i’d be in trouble…

Spring Training baseball – watching awesome players like Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners and enjoying the 11,000-seat mini-ballpark featuring lawn seating with picnics, $5 parking, and positively laid-back-looking MLB players showing off for the crowd.

Hiking Camelback Mountain and the unbelievable 360 degree view, and the sense of accomplishment as knock-kneed, bow-legged me managed to climb 1,200 feet in elevation in just 1.2 miles.

Mellow Mushroom trivia with my roommate & his dad. And my boy-band phase (circa 2003) finally paying off – since I knew where the band O-Town hails from.

Gorging on books – reading Little Bee, The Imperfectionists, The White Tiger and The Great Gatsby (all Business Ethics reading seminar assigned reads) cover-to-cover in great chunks of free time.

Camelback Mountain

Prezis, rhinos and cactus


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Spring Break! I’m mushy-brained after papers, papers and more papers and one lone exam, all turned in today. Even as an English major trained to write (see Miss MBA’s post about a recent WSJ article claiming MBAs can’t write), I think I prefer exams. Exams are a quick, finite, high-performing capsule of time – whereas agonizing over papers takes inordinate amounts of time (the actual writing part goes swiftly). As a delightful form of procrastination I’ve attacked my Words With Friends/iPhone Scrabble app with renewed vigor, and currently have 6 games going at once with friends all across the country. What, that’s not normal? Says who?

You have to try this.

I learned something new and fantastic this week from one of our Swedish exchange students:  Prezi! It’s only the coolest presentation software ever, and a welcome change from PowerPoint. Prezi gives you an artboard-type workspace, like a blank desk, and you add content and animate it into an almost-3D-like movie. Working on our Prezi for an in-class presentation made me rethink everything about how I approach presentations. Instead of slide-by-slide bullet points, Prezi forces visually cohesive, dynamic creation – sort of mind-mapping. I spent hours this weekend making mistakes and experimenting with it, and am already scheming about where else I can use Prezi.

Another cool project that I’m starting now for Q4: Project Black Rhino. A classmate and I are co-writing a new case to add to the Creative Capitalism/Ethics curriculum. The inspiration was an article in BusinessWeek we discussed in class – about a game ranch in South Africa that breeds the endangered Black Rhino and also sells permits to hunt and kill the Black Rhino. After a lively discussion (is it ethical? is it productive? is it conscious or creative capitalism?), the professor asked for volunteers to write a case about it (another awesome thing about Darden). We moan and groan over the dry cases we have to read, but not this one. This one will be a thrilling page-turner full of captivating characters and slippery questions that prompt provocative classroom conversations, a sure best-seller! ($10 says my alliterative tendencies will get vetoed by the editing committee…)

For Spring Break, I’m off to Phoenix to see my brother, and it just so happens that Major League Baseball Spring Training is in full swing! Hello, sluggers! Come here often? Can’t wait to see Cactus League games in the sunny 80-degree weather. I’m arriving with a suitcase full of books for my Q4 Reading Seminar, “Business Ethics through Literature” and of course my trusty Virginia t-shirt. After all, we alums are everywhere…

Black Rhino. Sassy-looking fellow, isn't he?

Cocktail napkins, anyone?

This past weekend three friends, folks who graduated last year as Darden 2010s, visited me and wanted to do all the fabulous fun things I do pretty regularly – nightlife at the Corner, lunch on the Downtown Mall, a visit to Darden Grounds, delicious frozen yogurt from Arch’s, etc. Their delight in coming back to visit along with the real-world post-MBA perspective was a bit unsettling. It was a good reminder that being here in the bubble is tremendously fantastic compared to the workaday life. I quizzed them carefully about life “out there” in the real world, what it’s like, how the student loan payments really are (crippling? manageable?) and how to make the best of the time off before work starts. Speaking of, my start date was announced as July 11, 2011 (so soon!) which prompted me to begin the interesting process of internet-apartment-hunting in St. Louis (any/all suggestions welcome!). I’m so excited for my new job and the next adventure – and simultaneously sad about leaving.

Next week Q3 exams are due, and my Creative Capitalism class requires a business plan in lieu of an final exam. I have two distinct ideas that I think are viable and have social benefit (one financial services, one horse-related), but beyond that I’m not sure how to proceed. Frustratingly, the professor stood in front of us and said the wrong time to write a business plan is up front, before you work on your idea, because the business plan will be very large – the size of the business plan is equal to the size of your ignorance. He said it should fit on a napkin. As tempted as I am to turn in a cocktail napkin (monogrammed, of course) as my final, I’m more tempted to explore enough to produce 2 solid business plans, one for each idea, and see what happens. I didn’t particularly come here thinking of myself as an entrepreneur, but I may leave here itching to be one.

In social news, I’m thrilled that we have a whopping 18 teams registered for the Chili/Curry Cook-Off this week! They’ll compete for Best Chili, Best Curry, Best Overall (includes décor, spirit, accessories) and the new Generic Antacid Honorable Mention (since I didn’t secure a name-brand sponsor like Pepto). Also, Darden Student Association elections are complete, which means I’m a lame duck VP of Social. My successor is a Double Hoo like me, and also a student blogger – Darden Poet – and all around rocks. She officially takes over on April 1st (happy April Fool’s Day!). It seems I really do have to leave the bubble…but thankfully, not quite yet.

Obviously, it's a business plan in the making.