whattheydontteachyouatstanfordbusinessschool.com

10 Things They Don't Teach You in Business School

by Larry Chiang on December 13, 2009

Our guest blogger, Larry Chiang, is an instructive humorist. If you liked “9 VC’s You’re Gonna Want To Avoid“, you’ll like this submission on things that business school will never teach you.

Yes, Uncle Larry neglects his nephew and spoils the niece
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Before he’s done, business school will be boiled down into a power point presentation.

By Larry Chiang

-1- How to bend ears and get phone numbers.

People ask me how I get access into the halls of power (Hollywood, DC, Silicon Valley) even though I’m obviously of low IQ. I use my mentor’s technique called M.P.A.F., Multiple Party Agenda Fulfillment. It helps me add value by guessing at their agenda and filling it.

I hypothesize agendas by layering in open ended questions, reading every scrap they have ever written and networking with their associates in an open, transparent fashion. I get meetings with charm, but I get commitment using MPAF.

MPAF has you list out agendas and then you venn diagram together the agendas that overlap. The parties that have overlap you bring together and communicate (and confirm) the new alliance potential.

-2- Kissing alpha butt augments your rolodex. Alphas are always getting nibbled on by ‘betas’ and ‘gammas’. What I mean here by ‘alpha’ is top dog, ‘beta’ is second tier and gamma is a little lower down the totem pole.

Alphas (CEOs, Senators, and Deans) need to be charmed using a five step process

(a) acknowledge their tier one status and refer to book(s), position papers or blog posts they’ve written. This flatters even the most stand-off-ish.

(b) no name dropping to build your own brand

(c) clearly identify your focus and how you will add value. In the short term, you can add value by getting them a refreshment, wrangling them and making introductions to other fans (fetching a whatever-they-need helps too).

Long term, I let them know I blog and am writing a book that I’d like to talk to them about.

(d) allow your time of interaction to have a clear end by saying, “one more thing before I let you go”

(e) close by getting their cell phone number.

Accessing power by helping them first (while kissing butt) is a great manuver they don’t teach at b-school .

-3- Single tasking is the new multi-tasking. People who multi-task tend to do lower quality work. For example, people who read a webpage while multitasking have a rate of comprehension at a fraction of singular focus.

-4- Leverage double entendre. It is an art to say one thing well. It is humorously

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genius to say something and have it subtly hint at something fun while educating. For example, duck9 stands for deep underground credit knowledge. The acronym is cute but has the double entendre meaning of avoiding 9s on your credit report. Triple entendre would be some motif about the logo but I’m working on that third layer ;-)

-5- Use a 41 cent stamp to beat out the HBS/GSB alums. Leverage snail mail to rise over the clutter of email. Regular mail can be your stealth method of communication. In my experience, it is something that separates me from other more qualified candidates.

We’ve all met people who send email ‘thank-you’s. Those are ok but are often over looked and very quickly deleted. As follow-ups to meetings, emails are ok. As reciprocity for something more, I like sending something more significant… like ‘thank-you’ flowers for hosting an event.

My mentor, Mark McCormack, who wrote the book, “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School“. He recommends a ‘thank-you’ card sent via snail mail. I think a box of 25 thank you cards costs about $7 at the Office Depot. I’m not as good at calculating the ROI on the seven bucks as the U of Chicago GSB grad, but I do make more money.

-6- Get towed. If you’re not getting towed twice per year, you are NOT parking aggressively enough. I don’t know how this applies to b-school, but I think its about bending policies and procedures to your advantage.

-7- Tip bribe comp and tip like a community college valet parker. I said ‘tip’ twice because I like it most. Tipping is a secret lubricant that helps you get things done. When I “work a conference”, I tip really well right away. Magically I get upgraded to a big-boy suite. Coincidentally, I get my car a little faster and I sometimes even get greeted by name at breakfast.

-8- Be sweet and sour. Question, what makes Chinese food taste oh-so-good?! Sweet and sour sauce. Sweet = tipping, sour = micro-management. For example, after the bellhop grabs your bag, you tip two Abe Lincolns and utter, “Here buddy, two nickels for you… And don’t screw this up. I need my stuff up to my room ASAP”.

Having both sweet and sour makes you a better manager. Sour mixed in with sweet is tolerable and makes you a more flavored and memorable communicator.

-9- Exit strategy for your B-school girlfriend. B-school professors coach starting a company with an “exit strategy” in mind. Well, I am here, to say that relationships in b-school need to have an exit strategy too. A clean exit means a clear path out that will keep you both on at least speaking terms or better. Remember, never enter a relationship that you can’t leave a half a dozen ways.

Number 10 I will leave up to y’all.  Please leave your “tip you didn’t learn in b-school” in the comments.  Best tip (as voted on by ME) will get a fleece jacket. Winner will be picked after Thanksgiving break or first dozen comments, whichever comes later.

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Larry Chiang is the founder of duck9, which educates college student on how to establish and maintain a FICO score over 750. He has testified before Congress and World Bank on credit.

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He is a frequent contributor to GigaOm’s Found|Read. His earlier posts include: How to Work The Room; 8 Tips On How to Get Mentored ; and 9 VCs You’re Gonna Want To Avoid. You can read more equally funny, founder-focused-lessons on Larry’s Amazon blog.

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