The End of a Chapter

The End of a Chapter

It’s over. My last final is in the books. In just 6½ short days, I’ll be officially recognized as a Master of Business Administration by Baylor University.

It was only 22 months ago that I knew my life would have a chapter in Waco, Texas. I took on the challenge mostly to achieve some form of growth intellectually and spiritually and fiscally (though earning power wouldn’t happen until graduation), while maintaining my personal relationships and physical fitness requirements.

I got what I asked for and so much more.

I now have new relationships with cohorts that I respect, ones that will undoubtedly achieve great things in the near and distant future. This has the makings of a network of great accomplishment that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Baylor University.

Just two weeks ago, I received admission into Beta Gamma Sigma as recognition for my work in the classroom. While I’m ultimately honored and humbled by this acknowledgement, I know that it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of fantastic cohorts and faculty. For me, this is a drastic change from the kid who thought that he could handle everything by himself in high school. I’m sincerely thankful for that transformation.

I now have a career lined up that tells me where I’ll live, what I’ll be doing, and how much money I’ll be making for the foreseeable future. What seemed to happen in a week’s time really and truly took 14 months of growth, nurturing, maturity, and development.

I’ve only been a blogger for the past 4 months, so I haven’t gotten to build as large a readership base for the University as I would have liked. However, I’ve truly enjoyed the opportunity to use this venue as a means to provide insight into the mindset of a graduate student as he prepares for the turbulent business world that awaits. However, because I’ve been given the opportunity to build myself in the spiritual, intellectual, relational, physical, and fiscal arenas, I’m ready to advance to the next chapter that life has to offer.

Thank you to my loyal readers! I want to thank you for reading my posts. I’ll leave you with one closing thought that I’ve been pursuing for the duration of the semester: continue to achieve balance in your life. I truly believe that life will provide maximum benefit to yourself and others around you if you seek to be balanced in your commitments and your pursuit to consistent growth in the five aforementioned areas.

With that, I bid thee farewell, and as always….. SIC ‘EM BEARS~

The True Meaning of Finals

The True Meaning of Finals

As I study for finals one last time, I’ve taken a study break to think about what it is that I’m really here doing. I know that achieving an MBA is the ultimate goal, but I am still seeking out the deeper purpose for this “final exam cram” rigmarole that I routinely find myself in.

At face value, studying for finals is nothing more than the sprint that happens at the end of the marathon. It is not the work that is done at the end of the semester which makes the biggest percentage of a GPA, but the learning that is done over the course of the 15 weeks that lead up to the final. This is a likely reason why “cramming” is harder as my GPA matters less and less. I’ve been forced to get a better understanding for why I’m doing what I’m doing in order for studying to once again be effective.

In thinking back on past semesters, I can’t remember any facts or equations that I forced into my mind on the day before each of my finals. In fact, a transcript is often necessary to remember exactly what class was taken when.

It strikes me, however, when I look at my old textbooks, that I’ve rarely bothered to utilize a textbook that doesn’t relate to a semester exam. Plenty of useful information sits in books that are simply being unutilized on my bookshelves.

I’m not going to be effectively study again if I do so with the same mentality that I had as an undergraduate, or even as a first semester grad student. It is much more motivating, however, to view this exercise as a means of maximizing the information in this set of textbook materials that will either end up on my shelves or on eBay. Instead of finding one more fact that happens to be on the exam, I instead want to take with me one more life lesson from these materials that I’ll use in some capacity later on in life.

Christmas on 5th

Christmas on 5th

During my MBA pursuit, I’ve spent a good amount of time seeking advice from those who’ve been in the business world, both spoken and written. A common theme that has been discussed is regret. Many people talk extensively about a varying array of events of importance that they ignored because of work duties.

In consistency with their advice, I decided to take the evening after my Thursday morning final to check out Baylor’s annual “Christmas on 5th” celebration. I went last year and had a great time at the concert as well as the happenings around campus, such as the petting zoo, student-designed Christmas tree section, and the giant Christmas tree in the Student Union Building. While they were good to see last year, they weren’t the main reason I went this year. I went to enjoy the time with my cohorts, many of whom I won’t see again for a long time after graduation.

Sentimentality is an odd thing to describe. Many will confuse this emotion with regret, which is only half true. There is certainly regret that a situation is coming to an end, but if scenarios don’t change, then stagnation begins to creep in, and we as people begin to struggle once growth leaves the equation. So I become sentimental and remorseful not because of the situation that is no longer sustainable, but for the group of amazing people with whom I will never again (together) share a meal, never again attend a social, or never again share a curriculum.

There will always be obligations in this lifetime. It is certainly important to keep the important ones, but many times we overcommit and miss the little things that truly matter. Therefore, in spite of the mounting pressures of my last finals, I know that I made the right choice in a night of celebration with friends.

The Study Session for the Last Core Class

The Study Session for the Last Core Class

Yesterday evening, we had a study session for Quantitative Business Analytics, the statistics class that is a “core class” in Baylor’s MBA program. As a part of it, we get to know the way that businesses use probabilities to justify some of their decisions. This, however, is not the focal point of this post. Rather, it is the camaraderie and teamwork that has shown itself over the course of this year and a half.

In the beginning months of the program, our main focus was to catch up to the speed of information in the business school. For this statistics class, which came very early in the program, we mostly operated individually or in very small groups in order to maintain information. But as the semesters progressed, we began to operate more as a core in preparation for many classes, and this one in particular. In the second semester, we were able to organize an effective group study session around due assignments.

It wasn’t until this last study session, however, when our growth finally started to set in. Those who were leading the session were going the extra mile in not just setting up the time and place, but providing extra study material as well. Those who needed help catching up were pinpointing the exact questions far more quickly than before. It may have taken a year and a half, but we’ve gotten past the concept of a basic “study session”… and now we simply facilitate learning.

I’m becoming a bit sentimental because the conclusion of the journey feels more real than it felt even two weeks ago. At that time, I ran the Bear Trail and called it a “Victory Lap”, with a similar mindset. But seeing the people in the study session with whom I’ve grown has made the end feel exponentially more so. I can only be thankful that this is the place that I’ve spent the past year and a half. I can’t tangibly quantify the return on investment yet, as I have only just begun the journey of collecting on my newfound monetary earning power. However, I don’t need to earn a dime to know that this has been a worthwhile cause. Thank you, Baylor. Now, I’m going to study for finals.

Why I’m Thankful

Why I’m Thankful


Let’s be real: there is more being said about thankfulness written on the day before and the day of Thanksgiving than there is at any other time. So, since it’s the day AFTER Thanksgiving, I want to take the opportunity to practice being thankful year-round.

My undergraduate education was focused in accounting and finance, yet I had a hard time finding a job when the financial crisis hit and I was finished with my studies in 2009. I had no type of experience in marketing, yet I was given a job in that field at a time when I needed it. And I grew from that experience.

While the market-research job gave me the opportunity to grow some professionally, it had a limited number of hours available, so I still had some time to try and develop. And despite my lack of experience in practicing yoga, I was given the opportunity to participate in a 200 hour certification class, and ultimately work as a teacher. And while that opportunity was a short one and one that I do not intend to go back to, I have taken many of the lessons learned from that area of life with me.

Then the opportunity to Baylor came forward. MBA opportunities like this one are very difficult to come by, especially given the fact that I had only had about 2 years of work experience. Yet, the admittance staff saw enough in my to give me the opportunity to come here, and even gave me the opportunity to gain a part-time income  through blogging and through teacher assisting. I

Through the Baylor experience, thanks in huge part to the strong, service-oriented faculty here, I’ve gained the opportunity to re-enter the corporate level on a new career track, and one that looks to provide me with a literal world full of opportunities to grow, both as a person and as a professional. As the country continues into a questionable economic forecast, I will have the chance to find a sense of security through my new occupation.

And throughout this time, I’ve continued to have the support of a close-knit, wise family, as well as the encouragement from great friends, both old and new. These long-lasting bonds are something that not everyone has, so I’m incredibly thankful to have this type of support network in place as life continues to develop.

Thanksgiving comes and goes, but a true attitude of being thankful doesn’t have to stop once the holidays finish. I will continue to start my days with a thankful mindset for all that I’ve been blessed with. I can only hope that others will do the same.

Work-Life Balance: Sprinting and Recovery

Work-Life Balance: Sprinting and Recovery


When I played baseball, we used to have a sprint workout at the end of some of our practices. For the 30 and 40 yard sprints, the time spent running and the time spent recovering was nearly the same. But when the sprints stretched out to as much as 100 yards, the amount of recovery time was increased as well, where we spent nearly 3 times as much time resting as we did sprinting.

As I’ve mentioned before in the work-life balance posts, it’s important to stay on track in multiple areas of life. There are times, however, when one of those areas throws more at you than is normal. I’m facing such a scenario right now, where my school duties are requiring a greater amount of time than normal. Yet, other duties’ requirements of me have not changed during this time.

I’m able to draw a parallel from sports to my current class scenario because the concepts are the same. People are capable of working with twice as much intensity for a period of time, if required. However, studies have shown that extended periods of time spent in high-stress environments can be too much to handle.

Making deadlines and keeping one’s word are both extremely important. But deadlines for major projects can require extremely heavy time commitments. For me, this all has to be accounted for in the plan for the upcoming month. Workouts will become shorter and time spent with family will be brief in the following few days. But most importantly, I will need time away from studies and pursuing growth in other areas while my mind recovers from overdrive mode.

The article I’ve listed above shows just a few potential consequences of a person staying in overdrive mode for an extended period of time. But when those times come, make extra time for recovery and rest. Your body and your loved ones will thank you for it.

McKayla is Not Impressed

McKayla is Not Impressed…


The 2012 Olympics held many memorable moments in London this year. One of these moments sparked a cultural phenomenon that got revisited yesterday.

McKayla Maroney is a gymnast on the U.S. Olympic team that won the second ever United States gold medal at the games. Afterwards, at the individual competition, Maroney competed in the vault, at which she was a projected favorite to win another gold medal. She fell on her second vault, causing a low score, and she ended up getting a silver medal. In the minutes after the event, Maroney showed her displeasure with the resulting silver medal by making a face that is now known as the “McKayla is not Impressed.”

Yesterday, the US Olympic gymnastics team met with the President of the United States, who congratulated the team on their gold medal. Among the events of that meeting was a snapshot of President Obama recreating the face simultaneously with Maroney. In the months since the end of the Olympics, Maroney has showed grace in recreating what has to be an uncomfortable moment for her.

Ultimately, I’m concerned with the way that she has become famous. She is currently best known for what can be considered “spoiled antics” on the medal stand, rather than the hard work and talent that got her there. True, she’s very young, and she likely let her competitive nature run too far at that particular moment in time. But this moment embodies what we often see in our talented athletes: that talent will always outweigh misbehaviors.

I write this blog not to say that McKayla should never be forgiven for expressing her displeasure on the medal stand in London. However, I fear the precedent being set by moments like this. I sincerely hope that if Maroney finds herself winning the gold medal at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, whoever comes in second and/or third place doesn’t make the same face… for her sake.

Those Silly Tax Laws

Those Silly Tax Laws…

Wait, don’t run away!!! I won’t talk too much about the intricacies of tax in this blog. Rather, the discussion will be more about the reaction, likely an irrational one, by the public.

I learned through my international taxation class that Google paid about 2.4% on its corporate income in 2009. Given that the statutory corporate rate was 35% at that time, this represents a significant loss for the US government. (NOTE: the rule is that these profits will be taxed when the profits are returned from the foreign subsidiary to the U.S. parent company, so taxes on these profits are being deferred, not avoided.)

The fun part about MBA coursework is getting to apply lessons across classes. The very first lesson that we learned from finance class, among others, is that a firm’s purpose is to maximize the wealth of its shareholders, or those who own its stock. So in this regard, Google is doing its best to avoid unnecessary costs, or in this case, taxes that can be paid later.

Contrast that viewpoint to some of the rhetoric found in the above link, or that rhetoric which was seen in the last Presidential election regarding Mitt Romney’s work with Bain Capital, as well as his lower-than-normal personal tax rates. People are criticizing Google and Mitt Romney, among others, for not participating in their civic duty enough.

In deciding how to best navigate this conundrum, we turn to our organizational behavior class which, among others, taught us this lesson from business: incentives matter. So, when companies like Google or investors like Mitt Romney follow the laws put forth by the federal governments of the jurisdictions in which they operate in a way that causes them to pay lower taxes, there is a public backlash.

The backlash itself is not the irrational public behavior. Rather, the focal point of the behavior is that which I believe is misguided. Basic survival instinct says that a person will act in his or her best interest in order to gain an advantage. This is not any different for corporations. But the online rhetoric shows that many people get overly angry at the company or the person, when the heart of the issue is with the rules and regulations themselves. If the tax code is written and enforced in a way that allows companies to avoid taxes in some circumstances, then the tax code is the true cause of the problem. After all, if one company decides to do the “right thing” and not exploit these opportunities to cut costs, there will be another 3 or 4 ready to take said company’s place – and the accompanying customer base.

The More Things Change…

The More Things Change…

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” ~ Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The recent Presidential race literally embodies this quote. There has been more dialogue on this subject on social media than in any non-leap year, so I’ll give in to peer pressure and chime in.

I didn’t have a candidate of preference in this election.  Maybe this is just a moderate position, but both candidates had good things to say about their own platforms. However, instead of having attention be focused on how progress can be made, candidates often spent more time “proofreading” the opposing candidates’ plans and pointing out their flaws.

Additionally, much of the citizen-based rhetoric in the days leading up to and the days following the election has been focused on either who is to blame for the current state of the country or on how flawed the plans are of a non-desirable candidate. In fact, a bystander can usually tell which candidate that a citizen is voting for based on which candidate is being mentioned… and the citizen will invariably vote for the unmentioned candidate.

There are some positives to be mentioned, however, in regards to politics. First, the American citizen has the right to speak freely about her/his beliefs, and many exercise the right to do so. Second, the Presidential election provides an event where problem-solving skills can make their way to the forefront of the United States agenda.

One main issue still exists: citizens and politicians alike tend to err to the side of mudslinging, blame-shifting, and negativity rather than progress, problem-solving, and positivity.

Does the population reflect its politicians, where the American people engage in blame-game behaviors as a result of political dialogue? Or do politicians simply reflect the greater desires of the American public and simply supply what the American people demand? CNN once published a story depicting the political tactics, and subsequent negative focus, of the Presidential race between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The store can be read here, but suffice it to say that negative campaigning has been a part of American history for generations.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. And they will continue to stay the same in the political realm until the American people band together, put all egos aside, and seek to progress rather than denigrate. Only then will anything substantially change.


The Light at the End of the Tunnel Beckons…

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Beckons…

Recently, I wrote about the last November and December of the MBA program – and how much work is going into it. Every day begins with a laundry list of tasks to accomplish which can be pretty daunting to face. But backing down is not an option… not with graduation being less than 2 months away.

I also wrote about the plans for my CPA developing new hardships, and how more schooling will be necessary to be allowed to take the CPA tests. I had recently expanded my job search to include accounting functions after being involved in my International Taxation class, where competing in a Big 4 Accounting Firm’s Case Competition was an option. I enjoyed competing and felt that I’d found something that could lead to a career, but that path was now seemingly closed thanks to my issues with the accounting hours.

And then there was a phone call.

The Accounting Firm wanted to bring me to their campus for an office visit, even with my status, so long as I had a plan to collect the remaining hour requirements. (Side note: it took about 14 seconds to come up with a feasible plan.) The office visit was special, different from the other interviews I’d been on, for reasons which I can’t explain. Afterwards I returned to Waco to get back after my studies.

And then there was a phone call.

In that call, the company representative happily informed me that there would be an offer letter in my e-mail inbox the following day. In the span of a week, I went from being a distressed grad student with no certain plans for the future to… well… a still distressed grad student who knows what the next venue in life will be.

So I tell you, the reader, that there will be times when things don’t make sense, that you feel overwhelmed or even desperate. It may take every ounce of strength you can muster to stand up and move forward. I was there two weeks ago. The moral of the story is that you won’t know which door is the right one for you unless you’re there to knock on it. Woody Allen once said that “80% of success is showing up.” Where he got his statistics from is a mystery to me, but he’s right.

The journey from where you are to almost every possible end destination starts the same way: with a single step.