I’m not a part of the Baylor MBA in healthcare program. Frankly, I’m not particularly interested in the healthcare space and I most certainly don’t want to show up to work at a hospital everyday. However, I’ve shared several classes with many of these students. I’m constantly impressed by their desire to work hard and learn the concepts needed to revolutionize the way hospitals are operated, insuring they are profitable.

With the ACA most have become aware of the outrageous cost of healthcare in the United States relatives to other countries. Not only that, the drug and insurance industries have become bloated and overly large on top of that. With this reality in mind I began to think about what the real solution might be. Is it really that the government should make insurance available to everyone by law? Does government intervention at this magnitude have a track record of success?

I would argue the answer to both of those questions is a resounding no.

The broken healthcare system can be fixed by ethically minded, innovative thinkers coming out of places like the Baylor MBA in healthcare program. The program trains students to think through these problems and systems analytically with a keen eye to make incremental improvements. The ultimate goal of these improvements is to make hospitals more efficient and therefore reduce the cost passed on the customer/patient.

No, I’m not part of the program nor do I want to work in healthcare. I’m still smart enough to see a good thing and the real answer to the question when I see it.


I have this friend who used to work for EY. He’s sense quit and started working for Young Life in Dallas. Now, before you get too worked up because I’m about to bash the big boys or rain on someone’s career parade, let me be clear – that’s not my purpose. My point is to draw out the implications of my friend left, what he felt was missing.

We were sitting one evening sipping a new scotch we’d both wanted to try for quite some time. I knew he wanted to ministry before so I hadn’t really asked about his quitting EY before. I just assumed he was young and wanted to do it before he really needed to start career. This night I decided to ask.

His response?

Jerry, I needed people. I needed teammates.

One of the beautiful things about big organizations is that they have the ability to bring people together for a common goal. However, the downside to this is that oftentimes individuals mistake the goal of the organizations as their own be all, end all in life. The result is that life becomes subservient to work, and the paycheck and promotion is the measuring stick of happiness rather than the things that the paycheck and the promotion enable you to do.

In a world where these two things take precedent over everything else no one ever really experiences people, team, or community. My friend experienced this in a very real way and made a change, got behind something that offered neither of those things, forcing him to value people and teammates.

At the end of the day not everyone experiences this need the same way my friend did. However, I believe that each and every one of us is wired to respond to true friendship and true community. In fact, I think that many of us have forgotten what those things feel like due to our endless quest for the paycheck and promotion.

That being said, one of the things I’m trying to think very well about as I graduate and begin working is how to I keep first things first at work and how do I engender a group that values working together and values one another. The beauty of it all is that when the environment values these things, people respond with motivation, fervor, and passion.

Basil & Business

I started gardening not expecting to derive such a strong analogy for what I was doing in the classroom. Outside of my tiny 600 sq. ft. apartment I have a modest patio with enough room for a classic Weber grill and a couple of planters I built this last summer. I was home visiting my fiancé one weekend and taking a relaxing weekend from my otherwise hectic internship in Dallas. Though it was nearing 100 degrees that Saturday afternoon I decided to take on a project.

We’d been cooking dinner almost every night together as a couple. On top of that we’d been experimenting using various forms of fresh herbs to make sauces and marinades. Now, a pack of fresh basil from the grocery store will cost you a couple if bucks. A fresh basil plant that will supply a near endless amount of basil also costs a couple of bucks. So, I drew out I measurements, went to Home Depot picked up the wood, a drill, and went to work.

A few hours later I had built a four tiered planter complete with basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, mint, sage, chives, and rosemary. The garden grew and flourished all the way into the winter months before a couple of hard freezes killed everything. We just replanted for the year and added a couple of new planters for snap dragons, dusty miller, and purple hearts.

At the core of being human is the act of producing, participating in the creative act. Business is almost always I portrayed as a mechanism for creating wealth. However, I’d contend that wealth is a mere representation for the value and the gravity for what has been created or produced, the actual good. I’m often prone to thinking of business only in terms of wealth creation. But in the midst of building and planting my garden an epiphany of the true focus of business occurred. Now, with every snipped herb and every blossoming flower I get a bit of a reminder if the true focus of business.

Book Review: Dogfight

I read Vogelstein’s book “Dogfight” this past week. The book outlines the development of the iPhone and other smart devices, especially as the competition between Apple and Google. This competition has quite literally reshaped society, the way we consume information, and the expectations of what it means to be connected. Social mores and standards have been turned on their heads and redefined based on the communicative capabilities granted by something like an iPhone.

The book is an interesting case study, particularly as it relates to the disciplines of business strategy and organizational behavior. The book is phenomenally well researched and provides multiple interviews. The story telling of the book makes real and tangible the conflict and bad blood between the two companies. The author illumines the two very different thought processes and mentalities of Steve Jobs and the Google guys.

I’ve not read too many things that provide such an ideal case study for the practical application of the concepts studied in strategy and organizational behavior. Furthermore, the book is prescient in the sense it provides a thoughtful and insightful look at further development of the 21st century and the age of information.

I highly recommend it.

On Passion

“Yes, but what do you want to do?”

This question was posed to me today by a prominent Baylor alum, a successful Angel investor and business person in his own right.

At first I waxed eloquent on providing others the opportunities to do that which makes them feel satisfied and fulfilled. I followed up with saying whatever would get me fair, and high compensation . . . or something along those lines.

So which is it? Is the answer passion or is it practicality?


I sat an listened for a great deal of the talk, silent and caught up in my own thoughts. I don’t know the answer to the question. I’m also quite certain I’m not the only MBA student asking this kind of question.

The expectation seems to be a perpetual exuding of passion and fervor for the one industry the world cannot live without. I’m sorry – the world existed on the back of one industry for the first several thousand years of its existence – agriculture. The world doesn’t require iPads, or internet, or cloud computing, or airlines, or highrise condos, or coffee shops, or fashion, or electronics, or automobiles, or any of the other crap we call necessity. It just doesn’t.

How do you get out of bed in the morning for 40 plus years feeling any semblance of satisfaction? How do you exude fervor when at it’s core the thing you help provide is quite possible antithetical to the concept of necessity?

I don’t know.

I have a flash of some epic tale, the kind of story with heroes arriving in the nick of time and villains wearing the ever obvious black hat, oppression undeniable. I think these stories have a place in our lives for a reason – they strip away the wanton superfluity of the crap, and depict a world in which passion is not disappointed and the mission is always found to be worth “it.”

Instead, most of us sit, passively absorbing didactic lessons from instructors who have created institutions in their own image, exuding manufactured passion for that which we are expected to be passionate about. It’s as if we sit holding out for some hero to come and affirm all our hunches that we haven’t quite gotten it right, that we’ve ever so slightly missed the point.

That hero isn’t coming.

What do I want to do? I want to know that I’ve helped people get up in the morning and go to work, that there’s enough dignity in it, that there’s no need to make work a passion – there’s more than enough passion in the presence of a constant friend to last for a dozen lifetimes.

That Day

She takes a drink of her Pinot Noir. It’s a newer vintage but the burst of flavor is no less significant, complimented by the rich purple color. She looks away for a moment, opens her mouth as if to say something but she stops short. A few moments later, after the generally dull conversation of yet another dinner dies down, she manages a question.

“Yes, but what’s it all for.”

The inundation of formulas, best practices, and over applied, reductionist cases echo this question day after day, night after night, presentation after presentation, until finally the reverberations rest on her lips at the networking dinner, conveniently catered and planned by the powers that be.

A classmate, a colleague, a future business partner, or a future one night stand for that matter, opens his mouth, not in retort, but out of an unintended embarrassment.

“God. What are you talking about? What do mean what’s it all for?”

Statistics are posted daily: average salary, signing bonuses, and title. Oh God, the titles. That’s the worst part of it all, at least that’s what she thought. To her, they were nothing more than a flashing sign of presumed prominence, and artificial significance. And frankly, the world she was about to enter valued those things so far as they could maintain the weightiness of the word “value.”

She didn’t respond to him. What was the point? He’d only talked about something other than the desire to “make bank” on two occasions. At this point, her glass was looking desperately short on conversation starter and she suddenly felt the pain of regret of even saying anything at all. It’s seemed so much easier to assume she was alone in these kind of thoughts of insignificance rather than hope a few others might have entertained them. Perhaps she was the only one who experienced annoyance that anyone cared about whether or not India or China was a better target market.

She had hoped that someone would have chimed in with an almost rehearsed sounding answer about stoking the economic fires, enabling the reduction of poverty and the revolution of communities. She had hoped someone might have asserted the importance and dignity of work as it relates to human identity and value.

She had fished for these kinds of conversations, these kinds of comments before, hoping for signs of life, signs of a future, signs of a real purpose in it all; for, these were the things she held most dearly, dwelt upon most often, and reflected on most deeply. Each day brought with it a flicker of possibility that today would be the day in which the conversation was sparked.

She took another drink, cursed herself for only being able to think in terms of scarcity, and searched for the waiter to give her a check so she could wash her hands of the whole thing. But of course, it was covered. She was at the beck and call of their esteemed guests.

They operated under a particular definition of what it meant to be alive, of what it meant to be human. For them it was for everything. “It” was above question and consideration and would be until 20 years down the line when the malaise of monotony had lulled them into a dazzlingly unexpected mediocrity.

“Nothing. I’m not talking about anything at all.”

For today was not that day.


I’ve decided some individuals experience a cathartic satisfaction in flat telling another person, “no.” I’ve known some very skilled at the art of rejection. I’ve, especially in the last few months, come across those sloppy and outright offensive when it comes to rejection. They aren’t artists; they’re mean.

I had a classmate talk to me yesterday. He brought applying to jobs and casually threw out, as is his personality, “doesn’t it just make you feel like POS.” Another student looked on in wonder, only muttering, “But you’re so smart. You’ll be fine.” I keep being told over and over again to not take it personally, that HR reps and hiring managers are not rejecting you per se but rather your, um, skills?

I’m still left at the place of curious wonder as to how I can be perceived so well by some and seen as completely bland by others. This kind of social bifurcation in the employment and career process advertises precisely what so many despise about the world of business and economic empires.

An attempted form of training casts every rejection as a mere opportunity to learn and grow, to develop and get fired up about the opportunities. These rejections are seen as a golden chance to utter the name of the one rejecting, spit, and declare, “THEIR LOSS!”

That’s a hard declaration to make.

Every “no” is personal; it’s a declaration of inadequacy and lack. With each one of those declarations makes it more and more difficult to make the declaration of “their loss.”

This constant reminder of progress yet to be made, of skills yet to be learned, stripes yet to be earned, causes me to walk the line between hope of something better coming and utter dejection. Frankly, I never want to look for a job again.

The point of all of this is nothing more than a simple, “I’m there too” to any of my classmates that secretly think they’ve been utterly forsaken and rejected. It’s tough time and regardless of how thick your skin is, being told, “No” is hard.

Working for a Start Up

It’s hiring season. I’ve never experienced this level of residual, constant stress before in my entire life. The pressure to not only find and secure a job, but to find and secure a job that pays well, that is something I love, and that provides a clear career path is a lot. I spend just as much time looking at companies, researching positions, and networking as I do working on homework assignments and studying for exams.

Part of the pressure comes by way of not wanting to “disappoint” the Baylor program. Convention dictates that working for a Fortune 500 company is the best way to improve the image of your university as well as satisfy all of the requirements for a job that I previously mentioned. The big boys are able to pay well, provide development programs, as well as grant a level of weightiness to your resume for later applications. Generally speaking most everyone is interested in going to work for The Man.

Truth be told, I’d like that too.

However, what if there was alternative route to the elusive thing called success and career stability? What if it came in the form of a small start up company in say, Austin, TX?

In my best moments I’m able to fully embrace that there is nothing moral or immoral about uncertainty and instability. I’m able to embrace fully the reality of taking the road less travelled and the path less known. While there are paths that many feet have tread the great truth of the American dream is that there were men and women willing to charge forth into the frightful unknown world of what might be.

On my best days, I’m willing to admit that what is most exciting for me, even though it deeply contradicts “the plan,” the expectations, and convention, is to go work for a start up that offers nothing of what is expected by an MBA. On my best days, I get off the career websites and start emailing the guys that barely have a functional website and no formal job listings.

Good Energy from the Lady at the Gym

I was working the other day at the Student Life Center here at Baylor. The guy I was training had just finished up a set of pull-ups and an older lady approached us to offer some words of wisdom:

“I just wanted to encourage you two boys. What you’re doing is so important. It’s just as spiritual as it is physical. I’ll be sending good energy to you two during my meditation time today.”

Obviously, my initial reaction was to just sort of chuckle and move on. However, I’ve spent some good time thinking about what she had to say. Despite my laughter, I completely agree with her. We’re all, whether we realize it or not, interested in figuring how it is that we live a good life, how we feel alive. Work, unfortunately, has become the law of the land in terms of finding something that is worthwhile and makes you feel alive. It seems very lopsided when that’s all we focus on; when that’s the only place we hang our hat.

Jim Wilkinson, the EVP of Communications at PepsiCo, told our class that to be successful he’s got to win at work and at home. His rules for day to day are to 1) get a good night’s sleep 2) eat 3 good meals a day and 3) get a workout in everyday. Again, someone espousing a different definition of what it means to have a good day to experience life.

It seems that life is inextricably tied to the way we treat our bodies, the things that happen outside of just our work life. The state of our body affects everything we do. It affects the way we walk into worship, it affects the way we walk into work, how we sit at meetings, how we talk to our friends, coworkers, family members, and strangers.

I’ve spent a great deal of my time in the MBA program lamenting the fact that I don’t have time to workout or train for marathons like I once did. I, obviously, can’t go back and redo the last three semesters. However, looking forward it kind of dawned on me after talking with the lady at the SLC that exercise is important, our bodies are important; they affect everything. We are wise to diligently and consistently care for our bodies while we go about working, playing, living, and experiencing all the world has to offer.

The Care of Professors

I’m 24. I’m engaged. I’m ADD when it comes to career interests. I’m easily bored. I’m obsessive. I’m high energy. I’m cynical. I’m an eternal optimist. I’m constantly thinking of the travesties of business as well as the ways in which business can change the world.

As you can imagine, a personality like mine needs frequent venting and conversation in order to remain sane.

I’ve already mentioned Dr. Bill Petty in another post but he’s yet again this week proven to be much more than a professor. In sorting through job offers, career options, and relational dynamics that make the decision even more difficult, I had approached Dr. Petty with a desire to both get some things off of my chest as well as seek some humble advice on how to respond to offers I was receiving. We had an email exchange that went like this.

“Dr. Petty, would you be willing to be a reference for me for a development program.?”

“Absolutely. I’d be honored.”

“Thanks I appreciate it.”

“You doing okay? –b”

Now, most would stop at a simple, “Yes, I’d love to help.” Call it perception. Call it inside information. Call it intuition. I don’t care what it is. The point is Dr. Petty took a step towards me knowing that a request for a reference, at least for me, was much more than a request for a reference.

I won’t sit back and assert that things like this don’t happen at other universities. They might. I also won’t sit back and assume that they do happen. My experience grants me zero insight into either of those assumptions. However, my experience does tell me that Baylor is the kind of place where the Dr. Pettys of the world come and plant themselves, actively seeking out students who need much more than a set of homework problems and an exam.

This blog series, I think, is meant to serve as a window into the life of an MBA student at Baylor both for recruiting purposes but also for alumni and other Baylor affiliated individuals. If you could walk away with any tidbit from this post, know that any teacher can instruct on finance or accounting. Hell, a book and a stack of scratch paper could teach finance. But, it takes a place committed to faith, committed to community, committed to students that creates an environment for people like Dr. Petty to thrive and exist. It takes this kind of place for students like myself who have used their time at college to ask far harder questions than what the pre-money valuation is of a tech start up.

I thank God for Baylor. For Waco. For cinnamon rolls and coffee with retired professors. For warm smiles, bear claws, cottonwood trees and the Brazos. Today, I especially thank God for Dr. Petty.