Crashing the American MBA Party

by Larry Chiang on December 13, 2009

Larry Chiang offers a comedic window into how business really works. If you liked “The Art of Changing the Deal“, “10 Things They Don’t Teach You at Business School ” and “Working a Twitter Party, Take 2″, you’ll like his newest submission: “Crashing the American MBA Party”.


Larry’s book releases 09-09-09

Before he’s done, you’ll have a cell phone packed with contacts you can text message for superstar advice without having $30k/year in tuition debt.

By Larry Chiang

Palo Alto, CA — March 2nd — So you have passed your TOEFL / GMAT and have your degree from your country’s MIT and are ready to tackle the most American of institutions: the MBA

Your MBA will make you a hero back home so here is how to survive and thrive in the best-est country in the world: the U. S. of A.

-1- Ace Admit Weekend.

Your goal is to hit the ground running. My killer post about the “12 b-school students you don’t wanna meet” scouts the scene out. Nab 2nd year housemates that will introduce you around. Find and locate where you’ll work-out, where you hang-out and where you’ll catch much needed REM cycles after those 25 hour study weeks.

-2- Let Go of Brand Names.

This goes for both your wardrobe and your resume.  I know that your ex-girlfriend back in Hong Kong worried about how you were going to survive the Philly winter and proceeded to buy you matching Burberry coat, gloves, muffs, and scarf, but nothing shouts FOB (fresh off boat) like that signature plaid.

Similarly, unless you plan to go directly back to your continent of origin, don’t exclusively interview at all the brand name gigs (i.e. McKinsey, Goldman, the World Bank).  Yes, these are the safe, status conscious bets, but it is un-American to not go for a homerun.

-3- Drop the Indonesian Pride ASAP.

Don’t make the mistake of “selling” people on the fact that Singapore is THE
emerging bank capital of the world. 95% of Americans haven’t been outside of
the US. Aligning your brand with that consulting gig, I-banking stint or car
dealership would be wiser.

YOUR GOAL: Make other people make the mistake of PERCEPTION, “Hey dude, I
thought you were from TEXAS”.

-4- Start Dating Undergrads.

Going to prom is a right of American passage, but here in the U.S. there are
laws against that. Do the next-best-thing: date an undergrad.  Your holy
grail is the Kappa Alpha Theta spring formal.

Or be Larry Chiang and culminate your academic career being crowned Dee Gee
Anchor Splash Dude. Remember, if you’re not crashing and burning twice per
week, maybe you are not asking enough undergrads out.

-5- Study Abroad While You’re Studying Aborad.

Pick a country Americans wanna visit. France.
Remember to wave your OTHER passport when the anti-American sentiments
start to fly and start talking moo goo gai pan- I think that is Cantonese talk for dim-sum.

-6- Leave Your Shih Tzu.

You can bring your cliché pomeranian, pug, or shih tzu into your start-up in Palo Alto,
but not to b-school. You are legally Asian, not legally blonde.

-7- Get Movie Savvy.

Americans quote movies. American men quote movies all the time. Don’t watch

all 90 minutes, read the plot summaries and memorize fave movie quotes.

Here are three of movie quotes…

– “Life comes down to a few moments, this is one of them”. WALL STREET


– “I can’t quit youuuu-ouu,” Brokeback Mountain and,

– “Lets Hug It Out Bitch”. ENTOURAGE

-8- No Rockpiling With Your Country-mates.

Rockpiling is when you huddle up in a tight cirlcle. You will be tempted to
do hot pot on Sunday nights with your brothers and sisters from China.
Resist and go troll Schwab or jump on the Margaritte shuttle and roll into
Coupa café in downtown Palo Alto

-8b- How to Work the Rec Center

Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation is the nicest gym ever. It has free weights, full
courts, and a complete indoor rock climbing wall.

Take a class there and meet some people outside of b-school. Remember, this
is a 2 year vacation, so let’s look healthy at the end of it.

-9- “Study” in the Open.

For MBAs, I loosely use the phrase ‘study’. I really mean peruse your
laptop. Never ever mimic your engineering undergrad study habits by doing it alone. Pick the most social spot. At Stanford, it would be “The 750″ because it hosts comedians, doubles as a wine bar and has open mic night.

If you’re at HBS, it may worth your while to cross the Charles to visit Widener, where you can confirm for yourself the urban myth regarding undergrads who consumate in the stacks (see No. 4).  If Harvard undergrads seems too savvy, there’s also a shuttle delivers Wellesley girls directly to Harvard Square (or you can slum and getta BC girl.

-10- Sandbag Your Petro-Wealth Pedigree and Grovel for an Internship.

Getting an internship is a rite of MBA passage. Normally, you get worked to the bone. Here at Stanford GSB, you’ll get alum status almost immediately, so groveling to get in is the hardest you will have to work.

-11- Bribe a Family to Pseudo Adopt You.

Tip, bribe, comp and tip. Identify your target family preferably in an
adjoining field. I like law. Repeat after me; I love Professor Tom Campbell.
I love Larry Lessig.

Crash a party they are throwing and get into their good graces by reading,
reading, and reading all of their stuff.

-12- Go Native.

Pick roommates that will build your friendships for life (and your rolodex
for the better). Remember, your Korean manufacturing millionaire matriarch or billionaire petro-wealth dealing dad should not cheat you of the native experience of roomates.

There are Stanford GSB houses that actually have an interview process. Prep
your 2nd stage interviews by bringing cupcakes. Woo and wedge yourself into
a house filled with the next generation of business leaders.

-13- Be a Cowboy.

There is nothing more American than a cowboy. Cowboys are from Texas.

Bonus points if you make fun of Californians and call THEM foreign. This hides your ethnicity. Sure you’ve got almond shaped eyes, but after a Larry Chiang diatribe, I could get Davy Crockett and Colonel Custer’s progeny to think I’m more white than they.

-14- Talk Texan.

Testing better than an American on TOEFL doesn’t make you sound American, speaking American makes you sound American. If you don’t find a good voice coach, movies help. Books on tape help more. Download “My Life” by my how-to-work-a-party mentor, President Bill Clinton and replicate, imitate but do not fornicate or have “sexual reLAYshions”.

Imitate the American accent as good as Tom Chiang (a.k.a. Dad).  This is critical.

During class discussions, you do not want your voice to sound like nails on a chalkboard because of your Chinglish. Burn your fobbie movies (that are illegal anyway because they are fobbie. With a name like Larry Chiang, you have to sound Texan.

If you liked this, you will LOVE:



Larry’s book releases 09-09-09 and is on the waitlist to get onto the NY Times bestseller list.

This post was cranked out in about an hour so email me if you see a spelling or grammatical error(s)… larry@larrychiang com

Larry Chiang is the founder of Duck9, which educates college students on how to establish and maintain a FICO score over 750. He has testified before Congress and World Bank on credit.

He is a frequent contributor to Business Week’s blog on “What They Don’t Teach You at Business School“. For fun, Larry blogs, attends tech conferences and hoops it up at Arrillaga Family Center. Text or call him during office hours 11:11am or 11:11pm PST +/-11 minutes at 650-283-8008.

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