Tag Archives: MBA

Little Known Fact

This semester, I started a weekly speaker series at school called Little Known Fact.  Each week, a current MBA student at the Simmons School of Management gives a brief, informal presentation on some topic that she is passionate about — something that wouldn’t come up in everyday classroom conversation.

It’s a chance for us all to get together, blow off some steam, and learn more about what we do in the off-hours.  There is usually a strong component of audience participation to Little Known Fact, Powerpoint slides are strictly prohibited, and cookies, chips, and other snacks and treats are plentiful. That’s right, it’s that always magical combination: graduate students and free food!

This week, Little Known Fact featured my good friend Ashley Lucas, who played rugby in college, and who more recently played on a pretty darn successful women’s rugby team in the Boston area.  She managed to teach us a lot about the game in a short period of time, got us moving around (and wearing funny clothes), showed us how to do a “line-out” and a “scrum” — all of which I managed to capture on video for posterity.

So here you go… a little taste of what a little precious, rare downtime is like at the Simmons School of Management.

Many thanks to the Simmons School of Management for their generous support of Little Known Fact, to Tara Healey for providing the cookies and other refreshments each week, to all the other speakers this semester, and to Ashley Lucas, for a phenomenal introduction to rugby.  Music in the video is podsafe music; Sugar Rush by Beau Hall.

Little Known Fact happens every Wednesday afternoon from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm on the second floor of the Simmons School of Management building at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.  All are welcome, and attendance is free.


re-imagining museums

Photo by _Robert_C_

Photo by _Robert C_

Museums are changing.

That is, the smart ones are.

Museums are getting involved in social media, just as many corporations and brands are: some of them brilliantly, some less so, as we all stumble up the learning curve and discover that online communities are not just another place for an “e-blast,” an impersonal press release, or an automated newsfeed.

So yes, museums are using the tools of the internet to reach audiences old and new, to build their brands, to raise awareness of their programs, collections, and exhibitions. For a look at how museums are using microblogging tools like Twitter, take a look at Beth Kanter’s recent interview of Amy Fox, otherwise known as @museumtweets.

But a few of them are taking that extra step, and playing around with the implications of social media — exploring community-driven content, collective intelligence, crowd-sourcing, and more — and integrating it into what they do and why they do it.

Take a look at what Nina Simon is doing over at Museum 2.0.

And don’t miss Seb Chan’s work at Fresh + New(er) in Sydney, Australia.

And be sure to notice what Jake Barton is doing over at Local Projects.  You’ll recognize some of his projects, and, if you’re at all like me, wonder with barely concealed impatience and excitement as to what he’ll do next.  Wildly creative projects.

I’m starting to frame some research around this phenomenon, as part of my MBA program at the Simmons School of Management in Boston, so I’ll have quite a bit more to say on the subject over the months to come.

In the meantime, if you’re in the Boston area, and want to help get my research started, why not join me for an hour’s conversation about museums and Web 2.0?

I’m running two informal focus groups this coming Thursday and Saturday.  Details are below.  What do you think about museums, technology, community?  What can a museum be?  What should it be?

Thursday, October 23
6:30 – 7:30 pm
Room W-205
Main College Building
Simmons College
300 Fenway
Boston MA

Thursday Focus Group RSVP:

Saturday, October 25
1:00 ­ – 2:00 pm
Room W-205
Main College Building
Simmons College
300 Fenway
Boston MA

Saturday Focus Group RSVP:


Photo by Avolore

Photo by Avolore

Some of you, not a lot of you, but some of you know already that I’ve gone back to school full-time.  I’m now fully immersed in getting an MBA from the Simmons School of Management in Boston, and yes, that means I am commuting by bus, about an hour each way, from my home on Cape Cod.

I’m working as a graduate research assistant with one of the faculty at Simmons, Dr. Jill Avery, on some seriously engrossing research about branding, consumer-brand relationships, and web 2.0.  I’m also doing some projects on looking at effective new media marketing of cultural organizations, especially museums.

So the work I’m doing now is very much a logical extension of what I’ve been doing here on Small Dots, and I’m not going to stop doing it here, but I thought you’d like to know the direction I’m going in with my focus and my thinking, and the tools of analysis I’m getting down and dirty with these days.

If you’re like me and always wished there was more quantifiable stuff behind all this web 2.0 nonsense, more verifiable research, and more research we could be doing in the first place, then you’ll probably enjoy what I’ll be doing for the next little while.

Of course, the MBA program is pretty intensive, so my posting schedule is bound to change somewhat, as in fact it already has.  But I’m spending my days in a very exciting and energizing place these days, swapping ideas with some very interesting and clever people, and I’ll be bringing some of that home to you.

If you’re in Boston, and want to meet up for coffee, now that I’m there every day, drop me a line.  If you’re interested to see what happens next, as I am, stick around.

It’s going to be an interesting ride.

lingua franca

Flickr.com/jeremybrooksEver since I started writing this blog, I’ve thought about my role in social media in terms of some of my favorite metaphors, like Translator, Interpreter, and Ambassador.

As time has gone on, I have only become more convinced that this is what I’m really good at, that this is really what I have to offer.

I’m a translator, and, like most translators, I spend my time straddling two different worlds. Hopping from one sphere to another, listening for common themes and for different ways to tell each other’s stories.

Something Chris Brogan wrote in today’s newsletter clarified some of that for me, and extracted a lovely robin’s egg of clarity out of what had become a bit of a bird’s nest of twigs.

Chris wrote part of his newsletter this week on how to talk to the “senior team” about blogging and social media. This is a topic that I care about deeply.

YOU’VE come to accept that blogging and social media are cool. You believe that Facebook has business value, and that Twitter, used correctly, might be the greatest idea in the universe to build customer relationships. But how will you convince the powers that be of all this? Connect to their state of mind, their words, and to your existing practices. (Italics mine)

That’s the key, right there. Connect to their state of mind.

Why should any of us want to spend our precious time learning about accounting, and economics, and finance, and traditional marketing principles?  Isn’t all this new stuff much, much cooler?

So we can speak the language of the decision makers. Honestly. They don’t really have the time of day for us unless we do.

And it’s not enough to just toss around the occasional buzzword or acronym, like ROI or SCR or whatever else people are muttering this week. To get deep, heartfelt buy-in, you need to have a deep understanding of what makes businesses and large organizations RUN. And, perhaps more importantly, what sends them running the other way.

But wait, I work at a nonprofit, right? Things are so much softer and fuzzier in nonprofits, right?


Get this: instead of only having to convince one CEO of the value of social media, I have a team of — that’s right — THIRTY Board Members (most are VPs or CEOs in banking, insurance, education, finance, real estate, etc.) to win over, on every single newfangled idea of mine.

Thirty. Every single one of them operating from a business point of view. Every single one of them very good at what they do.

So, rather than spend my time and theirs trying to get them to see my side of the story, I’m going to invest some serious time trying to figure out theirs. Because it turns out that their way of seeing things is a lot more common, a lot more pervasive, and in fact holds a lot more water in this world, than mine.

As Chris points out,

Businesses WANT to be innovative, but that costs money, involves risk, and rarely pans out.

Businesses and business leaders aren’t deliberately setting out to be killjoys, after all. They would love to be a step ahead of the field, and to stand out in a positive way. But there’s always that real chance that they might stand out in a bad way as a result of your brilliant social media idea, and that tends to be really very off-putting. And can you blame them? Who really wants to be on the list?

What I love doing more than anything else is teaching. And by teaching I don’t mean that I get to stand up at the front of the room and tell you all what I think is true. It means doing tons of research, digesting it all, finding the patterns, and then talking to a community about it in a way that resonates with THEM.

If I don’t speak your language — and understand your culture in a deep, meaningful way — then I’ve got a pretty slim chance of success.

I already know how I think. It’s how YOU think that interests me.

why I am a strategist

I’m brushing up my quantitative skills in preparation for my first semester of MBA classes this fall, and it’s led me to one of the best and most encouraging AHA! moments I’ve had in a very long time.

Despite what my undergraduate degree says (I majored in Geology), I have never been as in love with the quantitative side of things as I have with the qualitative side. I’m really more of a languages-and-writing kind of person — when I fell in love with paleontology in an intro class I took to fulfill a requirement, I had most recently been contemplating majoring in Greek.

So when I went to take the GMATs last year, I had some serious review to do. I did it, and I learned (or remembered) a lot that I didn’t know (or had forgot), and I actually did rather well on the test.

Now I’m getting ready for the first-year “quant” courses by taking an online course in statistics, finance, economics, and accounting, called MBAmath, and I’m really enjoying it so far.

in fact, I’d even say I had a little breakthrough last night.

The first section of the class focuses on using Excel to get things done, and although I consider myself a pretty old hand with the whole spreadsheet-and-formula deal, I decided to take the “beginner” class demo, because you can always learn something new on things like Excel.

Not surprisingly, I learned one or two keystroke shortcuts that instantly made it worth my while, but I found most of demo to be reassuringly familiar.

But then we started using Excel to calculate complex formulas, and AHA! was the result.

Let’s call a spade a spade: I tend to avoid math. Despite my better-than-decent grades and test scores in the subject, I continue to have little confidence in my abilities to add large figures in my head, or figure percentages, or anything else that involves calculation without mechanical backup.

But I am excellent at spatial relations, geometry, algebra, problem solving — especially problem solving: I am fantastic at figuring out what needs to get done to answer a problem.

It’s the execution of the calculation that gives me the sweaty palms.


Excel rewards exactly my type of skill set.

Set up the problem right, design the formulas right, be patient and meticulous and thoughtful and logical and everything that gives me joy, and Excel will do the rest.

It’s one of the things that I truly love about technology — if it’s well designed, it can help you do those things you don’t want to do, don’t have time to do, or aren’t sure how to do, and it lets you concentrate on the things you ARE good at.

Me? I’m a strategist, an analyst, a synthesizer of ideas.

I’m also incredibly detail-obsessed, logical, and consistent.

Some of the best career advice I ever got was to play to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Which sounds simplistic, but many, MANY of us make more, THINK more, of our weaknesses than we do our strengths.

How do you play to your strengths? Do you really know what your strengths are?