Here it is, your weekly installment of free business learnin’. What I learned this week…
Sombreros make people smile. My section started a tradition this year of the birthday sombrero. If it’s your birthday, you wear the sombrero in class and to our daily coffee break with the entire school. The brave guy who kicked off this tradition proudly wore the hat all day and you know what? Everyone who looked at him smiled. You can’t help it. Guy in a sombrero? Smile!
Cost allocation is tricky. And very, very important. Before I came to business school, I never thought about how businesses handled their budgets. I figured a bunch of money went in (sales), they spent a lot of it (expenses) and products came out (begetting more sales). But it turns out the stuff that happens inside is crucial (duh) and cost allocation is one of those things. How crucial? If you’re making a product and that product isn’t ‘fessing up to all the costs associated with creating it, you can’t price it right. And if you can’t price it right, your competition will kill you. Sounds simple, but it’s not. It is, however, pretty fascinating. Yes, I am officially an accounting dork.
The best way to learn something is to do it over and over and over and over and … Turns out my piano teacher Ms. Wagner was right. Practice does make perfect. I learned that this week when I sat down to tackle a series of marketing quizzes designed to drill into us the basic formulas for marketing. These evil quizzes were set up in levels and you had to pass each level to get to the next one. But if you missed two questions – BAM! – back down a level for you. I hadn’t felt this way since I played Super Mario Bros. with my brother and kept dying in the cloud world. But now I know my marketing formulas.
I am in the box. No, not that box I’m supposed to be thinking outside of. There’s another box and we learned about it this week reading Leadership and Self-Deception. The Reader’s Digest version (though I suggest reading it for real): We are in the box when we see people as objects and don’t consider their needs and desires. Once we get in the box with a person, we vilify them, which makes it really, really hard to get along. Interesting stuff. Buy it for yourself and for the jerks in your life.
Happiness is balloons, crepe paper and Big Bird. Our section has a new professor this year, a young woman who’s teaching a very tricky class called Decision Analysis. One of my wise and caring colleagues suggested that we welcome her to our section by decorating her office in section colors – orange and yellow, for Big Bird, our mascot. We did (check out the photo above) and she loved it. It gave me the warm fuzzies too.