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June 3, 2009, 5:31 am

Survival Guide to a MBA Part3: Surviving WITH your family

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA

Doing a MBA is certainly a challenge in term of time management as you also have the rest of your life going around you. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop turning when you sign off your application to the program! From my own experience, your biggest challenge while doing a MBA is to take care of your wife and kids.

Make sure everybody knows what is coming for you

When you do a MBA with a family, you are not the only one doing a master in the household. Everybody does! Kids will have to understand that you are studying on Saturday morning while they are watching cartoons and want you to play with them.

Your spouse will probably be the person who will be the most affected by it. She will have to take care of the children by her own and occupy most of her weekend (I was in class a weekend every 3 weeks) by her own. This could create a distance between you and your spouse. As you might miss a few diners or other activities, this won’t help to get yourselves together.

I always said that my wife was doing 25% of my MBA by her own. She is not only taking care of the house and the children but she also brings me support and motivation. She is the one who tells me that I should keep working and studying when I don’t feel like it. This was a really big part during my MBA.

Make sure to create nice moments

You will need, once in a while to more present with your family and create special moments with them. Take them to activities; take your wife out for a nice dinner just the two of you. You will feel burnt sometimes, but the routine will kill much more than the energy that you will burn organizing a few things.

The important part is to keep doing stuff outside work and outside your MBA. And if you can travel in order to disconnect completely, this would probably the best thing you could ever do. I consider that you can probably spend more than usual as you will make more with a MBA 😉 hahaha! Seriously, I am not convinced about that so don’t take my word for it ;-).

If you start, don’t quit

I won’t lie, doing a MBA is really hard on a couple. You will be tempted to quit at one point or another. But if you do, you will have done all those efforts for nothing. Keep working and go through it. I am thinking of quitting this program for the past 6 months! Nonetheless, I keep doing it because I don’t want to have done all of this for nothing. Today, I am 1 class away (that is starting this weekend L ) to finish my MBA. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. No more reading, no more researches, no more teamwork…. No more weekends away from the one I love. The good news about the MBA is that it has an end 😉

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June 1, 2009, 5:00 am

Survival Guide to a MBA Part2: Surviving your job

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA

Last Friday, I wrote about surviving your MBA and gave a few tricks to get through the program without having to pulling out your hair, and 5 years or life expectancy. I have found the trick for the hair though; I didn’t have any when I started so I didn’t have to care about them! More seriously if you:

#1 Work efficiently

#2 Choose your team mates

#3 Ask what teachers expect

#4 Choose your battle

You will do the MBA program just well. However, while surviving your MBA is important, you have other part of your life that needs to follow the train as well. One of them that is really important is your day job. What is the point of doing a MBA if you can’t make it at your day job? So here’s a few trick how I survived it.

Get support from your employer

From my own experience, this is probably the most important part of your MBA in regards to your day job. People that didn’t have full support from their direct manager either quit or had a really hard time going through this experience.

Your manager should understand the level of work it will require and try to not put too much pressure on your back at work. If you actually finish your MBA and keep working at the same place, it is in his best interest that you evolve within the same company. It is not a matter of having a free ride but letting the employee takes his vacation or studying day whenever he wants will certainly give him a break and help him out.

Another way to get support from your employer is to get access to more “confidential information” and access to superior management level when you have paper to write. This was a great help I received from all my managers as they were are willing to help and provide me with information that is more specific to our department. Unfortunately, several employers or managers are reluctant to provide such information. This will obviously make your MBA harder.

Take vacation on a periodic basis

I must admit I didn’t travel too much for the past two weeks. However, I have taken a week of vacation during each session to make sure I don’t blow a gasket. It is a matter a calculating your vacation days and combining them with holidays to make sure you have enough vacation. Last summer, we also rented a vacation property for a week where I didn’t do any work. This is really important to disconnect from your MBA and work once in a while. Several employers will grant additional vacation days when you are studying. I was granted a day per course so it gave me the opportunity to take several breaks. I didn’t always study, in fact, sometimes playing golf is much better for mental health than getting your nose stuck in a book!

Choose the right timing

If you are currently fighting for a promotion, wait until you get it before applying for your MBA! I actually changed job and had to learn about a whole new world while doing my MBA and it was the best decision I made career wise, but I paid the price with my health and my life quality with my family big time! In my class, we had people who were 25 and were 40… there is no age to do a MBA, but there is certainly good and bad timing in your career path! Burning yourself down is not a good way to climb the ladder!

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May 29, 2009, 5:30 am

Survival Guide to a MBA Part1: Surviving the program

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA

I’m now down to my final class of my MBA program. After June, I won’t have classes anymore, just a filthy 100 pages to write with my colleagues for our final project ;-). This series is for those of you thinking about doing the same crazy project as I did 😉 I decided to write a survival guide to a MBA in 3 parts: Surviving the MBA itself, Surviving your Job and finally (the most important part), surviving with your family. A keller graduate school MBA program or any MBA program is worth the survival it takes to complete it.

Surviving your MBA

The very first thing to remember while doing your MBA is that 20% of your work will give you 80% of your mark. Whatever you do, make sure that you are being effective while doing it. If you want to read everything, get further information, work extra hours over night; you will probably learn more than me, but you will probably lose yourself along the way as well. A MBA could be fun but it could also become the only thing you do for 2 years. Make sure you don’t fall in the second category 😉


Choose your colleague and don’t hesitate to change

During our first session, we made everything clear among our team. Everybody expressed their feeling about the MBA and how they intend to go through it. This obviously didn’t solve all our problems but you can detect BS quite easily when you get to the end of the session. As a team, we knew what we wanted to accomplish and we told some people in our team that we would not continue to work this way. They would not be happy with us and we would not be happy with them. It’s not a matter of being mean or kicking people out. In the end, everybody finds its best interest.

There is no point of carrying people on your back in the hope of seeing them change their implication. People don’t change. So you might want to change them for other persons ;-). Carrying people will burn a lot of your time and energy and, most importantly, will feed frustration all along your MBA. Why would you become frustrated for 2 years of your life? Life is too short to be this way 😉

Identify what the teacher is looking for

The quality of your work is a perception of others. Most importantly, it is the teacher’s perception. Make sure you validate with him about what he expects and what he wants to read. I remember having a teacher requesting a “2 pages per topic” paper and when he received our work, he said he was expecting at the very least 10 pages (there were 2 topics in the paper we wrote). The problem with teachers is that it doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong, they are the teacher and they have “absolute power” in their class. Instead of fighting with them, find out what they want and it will be much easier this way.

Choose your battle

As I said with teachers, instead of fighting, go around it ;-). This is valid with your MBA colleagues too. I have a tendency of fighting at any occasion. I can now say that I have burnt a lot of my resources trying to win stupid battles. Sometimes when you win, you are the biggest looser!

Next week, I’ll keep writing about how to survive your job and with your family while doing the MBA. I’ll be back with financial ramblings tomorrow morning, I promise ;-D

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May 27, 2009, 5:30 am

What I Have Learned From My MBA Colleagues Part 4

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA

Since there are 35 people in my class, I will obviously not talk about everyone (on the other side, this would give me a hell of a series to write!). So today will be my final post about my MBA Colleagues along with a few “famous quotes”.


Mommy is actually the incarnation of nice. She is always thinking about the others, having great comments for everybody, she is Misses kindness. I have learned from her that being nice with people and really care about them requires a lot of time and effort but comes with great rewards as well. You easily gain the respect from others and they are also willing to help at any time. She is a wonderful person and I wish she will gain more confident through her MBA as she tends to underestimate herself. I guess this is typical from humble person… Maybe one day I will learn to be humble 😉 LOL!

I’m more important than you

When you get a bunch of managers and professionals together, you can be assured of one thing: there are a few pains that will come in the group. I have met a few people who think that their schedule is impossible, who think that they have so much to do that they arrange the schedule of everybody. They always have a good reason for being late, for giving work last minute or for forgetting their appointment. It is up to the others to readjust as they really can’t help it as “it’s not their fault”. In fact, it never is ;-). These people usually come as strong character and will try to establish their credibility through power and affirmation. In general… they don’t last long around me ;-). More seriously, these people will go through a lot of stuff but most people won’t really like them. So to all the “I’m more important than you”, I suggest you go back read about Mommy and try to act like her ;-).

No Worries

I guess this is the kind of people that piss me off the most: they don’t know what their doing, they don’t know what they are talking about, but they do it with such confidence and BS and they have the guts to tell you “don’t worry, I’m on it”. When you don’t know what you are talking about, please don’t pretend that you know! Once, we were at 24 hours to give our final paper that worth 50% of our marks. The girl sends the “final version” by email (in the middle of the afternoon) with the following comment: “here’s the final version, I’m going to print it in 30 minutes”. I was the only one who took a week of vacation before the exams so I was the first one to open the file. The girl copied twice my part inside the paper and accidentally erased 10 pages of the document (10 pages who were actually crucial to our paper). That was her meaning of a “final version”. When I emailed her back in a great hurry (remember, she was going to print everything within 30 minutes) telling her about her mistakes, she replied:

“Relax Mike, there are no worries”.

As we didn’t want any worries, we kicked her out after this “incident”. What I really hate about those people is that they always have something to say. There are always right, even when they are deadly wrong.

So to end this series, here are some famous quotes from our MBA:

– The good is the enemy of improvement.

– I’m on it – no worries (yeah, right! Now I start to worry!).

I couldn’t make it to the class this Sunday morning because of the snowstorm. I was stuck at my vacation property down the snow hill (this was from a teacher that couldn’t make it back to Montreal because she went skiing all day and didn’t feel like coming back to the city during the evening even though the snowstorm alert forecast was on for a few days already).

– The quintescence of the patente (this is not French, nor English, this is Frenglish!).

– You know what impresses me? A dog that can li… himself! (that is coming from Conspiracy Theory man).

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May 19, 2009, 5:00 am

What I Have Learned From My MBA Colleagues Part 3

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA

Miss “Y”

Just by the name of that person, I know that some people (Genius) will have a good laugh! The fun part about this series is there are actually some people in my MBA reading my blog 😉 Since it became a great part of my life, I decided to talk about it in a few conversations. People actually like it and I really don’t mind if people know that I am The Financial Blogger or not.

I didn’t think it would be possible, but I encountered my feminine alter ego in this class; young, fearful and ready to get what she wants. I rarely meet people that are direct and will speak their mind up without thinking if it could hurt people feelings or not. While I try to become more diplomatic over time, it is good to see that I am not alone in this situation 😉

Pareto principle

Miss “Y” is a perfectionist. She will always deliver very high quality work. She is smart and she is not afraid to work like a crazy animal. However, she was the perfect example of where I should draw the line of not. While she is having all the A+, she is working so hard and putting so many hours into it that I really wonder if it’s worth it. I prefer to use the Pareto Principle where 20% of my effort will give me 80% of my result. Therefore, I can use very few energy and get what I really want out of it. I used Miss “Y” to benchmark the work/reward trade off we both have. I realized that I was happy with A’s and didn’t need A+ to feel good. Anyway, MBA grades don’t really matter 😉 It is just nice when you give your marks to your VP so he can sign off and pay for your classes!

Synonym of excellence

We “recruited” Miss “Y” 2 sessions ago. I’m glad we did it because she brings expectation up in our team. We were already working hard and trying to deliver high quality material. However, with her on the team, I feel like I have to deliver something even better. Therefore, we learn more while doing our researches and writing our papers. We push a little bit more to understand key theories and apply them in our day-to-day work. Since I would not feel comfortable to send her “okay” work, I now push a little bit more. Don’t get me wrong, she would not say anything, but since I respect her implication, I feel like I should deliver something good as well.

She is not rough with people, she just want them to work

We get along pretty well because we have a strong point in common: we do not accept lazy people. Those people will always have a good excuse to not meet the deadlines to be late at class or at a meeting. They don’t work, but they believe that they do and that pisses me off. It is nice to see someone else being ticked off by the same kind of person. The point is not to be an ass when we talk to those “lazy people”. We don’t mean to be mean, we just want them to respect other teammates and respect their engagement 😉

So here are the 3 things I learned from this person:

– Use the Pareto principle and quit working hard for the extra 5%… this will require too much effort for nothing.

– When you need to deliver something, do it right the very first time. What you deliver is the picture of yourself!

– When people are lazy, this may be not the best way around, but you are aloud to tell them and smack their head (it’s only an image 😉 ).

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