B is for Big Bird

B is for Big Bird

1. Make assumptions. LOTS of assumptions. Forget that old “assume = ass out of u and me” adage. The case method is in a lot of ways a fill in the blanks exercise designed to mirror real-life business situations and operating without complete information. What’s so hard about that? Well, they happily wave from the dock as you sail away on the choppy seas of assumption – knowing that you’ll likely make the wrong assumption. This type of training is, of course, invaluable (or so they say as the class laughs at your analysis because it’s based on absurd assumptions. Hey – i’m a marketer. I’m down with creative assumptions…it just doesn’t go over so well in Accounting class.).

2. Accounting is NOT math. So Professor B tells me. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Tell that to my (incorrectly assumed) contribution margin calculation.

3. How to handle my first serious cold call. (Dardenspeak – cold call = when the professor asks a question in class, then randomly selects someone to answer). A moment i’ll never forget. Prof Wilcox, Marketing, first class ever. The case: Kodak Eastman. Did fine until he asked me for the profit margin. Doh! Mistakenly thought Marketing would be light on the quantitative. Wrong, wrong, wrongedy wrong.  Lesson: always, always, ALWAYS calculate all the numbers. All the numbers. Even the numbers you never thought in a million years you’d need or use or want to ever even knew existed. If you are given even one number, make up another number (back to assumptions) to multiply or divide it by, just so you have a number ready. There’s nothing worse than saying… “Oh… i didn’t calculate that” to a prof who’s staring at you.

4. Don’t make noise when you raise your hand. Darden’s case method is 90% classroom discussion based (after the aforementioned 2-3 hours of prep per case). It’s somewhat of a frenzy when it’s an easy question – hands everywhere, people doing the equivalent of “ooh ooh! me me me!” with body language. Kory, the supercool guy who sits next to me for 5 hours per day (for the forseeable future, poor thing), has barely put up with me sighing when i don’t get called on. Since he carries a water bottle that says “PRIMAL FITNESS” with 3 claw marks on it, and appears to have that hard core US military-i-could-disable-or-severely-injure-you-with-a-flick-of-my-wrist thing going on, i’ve been trying to be less, ahem, expressive when raising my hand.

5. Section B’s traditions. Think summer camp – there are five Sections (A-E) and they all have traditions and identities and songs. B? Well, it’s for Best. And Big Bird, who graces our blazing orange Section B shirts. The person that says the most inane thing in class every week, as voted on by the whole Section, is responsible for toting a well-loved (read: scruffy) mini stuffed Big Bird to class all week. Which other Sections are hell-bent upon stealing. Every Friday after the last class, we open the doors, pound on the desks and walls, and sing Section B’s awesome song as disruptively as possible.

6. New technical term, from Kory -swag (as in “Gosh, you’ve been cold-called and don’t know the answer? Hey, take a swag at it….”). Swag is an acronym for “Some Wild Ass Guess”. Who knew! He’s a recent Iraq vet, so i pretty much trust him when he says that’s a standard military term.

7. Never, ever do laundry at Ivy Gardens (apartment complex where i live). There is a panty-napper at large. See Stephanie’s post for details… http://missmba.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/beware-of-the-panty-thief/

8. I flunked polio. It’s true. Week 1, and i’m already flunking stuff. My registration was put on hold (a very bad thing) since it appears from my recent physical that i am no longer (gasp!) immune to polio. This is an issue, clearly,  because of all the things i COULD catch while meeting 642 new people (that’s 310 First Year MBA students, 333 Second Years), polio is the distinct front-runner. Not to mention the last recorded case of polio in the USA was in the 1950s? 1960s? Today i got round 1 of 3 vaccines to address this urgent health calamity. I’ll probably catch polio from the vaccine any minute now…

9. Charlottesville is indeed a dangerous, dangerous place to live. Between foxes at large and polio, i’ll be lucky if i survive the weekend.

—–Original Message—–
From: Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:15 PM
To: sec3h@virginia.edu
Subject: SAFETY NOTICE: Aggressive Fox Reported in University Area

Dear U.Va. student:

 Please be aware that we have received reports from the Charlottesville Police Department of a fox acting aggressively in the Lambeth Field, Rugby Road and University Circle areas.  Please avoid these areas if possible.  Police advise that if you see the fox do not approach the animal but call 911 and give the operator your exact location. Humane traps have been set up to catch the fox and allow for routine tests to check the health of the animal.

Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer  approved distribution of this message.