Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category


March 1, 2008

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

King James Bible – Peter; Chapter 5, Verse 8

I write from a cheap but good looking desk in an expensive but cheaply furnished hotel in a faceless town tucked into a crease in the hinterlands of a soulless country, wondering why I’m posting again, and why there’s no ice in this place for my whiskey, and what on earth the deal is with non-smoking rooms. I think the latter answers the former, and really goes a long way towards invalidating the quote-of-the-day, but hey, what’s a drink or six between friends?

I have seen the devil, and however out of character my reaction may be, I’m not sure I like him much.

I’ve always subscribed to the belief that there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. I’ve always been convinced that commerce, in its basest form of buying and selling (and any derivative thereof), is fundamentally good. I’ve always been partial to the hustle and bustle of humanity and the untempered flow of raw energy. I’ve always thought I was better off flying solo, until my time came to bid this mortal coil adieu.

All of the above has been slightly flipped on its head in the recent past. In the process, I may have actually learned (or acknowledged) something quite disconcerting about myself. Now don’t get me wrong; I still believe in commerce, and can still probably spend a good few hours walking around Carrefour, eyes agog at the cornucopia of plenty. I still like people, albeit in controlled doses, and energy still carries an indescribable high. The Amelia Earhart bit, though, I’m not so sure about anymore.

Maybe it’s time. Maybe that’s what I’m feeling. Maybe it’s time settle. Maybe it’s time to move back to DTLF-Land and work some semi-menial job that pays semi-well until I hit middle-management and become eligible for the 14 karat gold-plated paperweight, while financing the corrugated cardboard shack, beige Tata Nano and 2.27 kids along the way. If I’ve lost the game, as much as anyone not playing may say I haven’t, then I might as well hurl myself off this low-slung balcony right now. Or settle down and be semi-content for the rest of my life. Ah, the ashes of mediocrity. How I yearn to smear you on my forehead and forsake the taste of possibility for Lent.

But that’s not what INSEADers do, right? INSEAD participants cross the threshold into the “real world”, shoulders squared, heads held high, armed with the wisdom of kings, ready to ride the winds of change, to spin the wheel of fortune, to find their Personal Legends.

So P4 is around the corner…here we go again. Four more months until we step into the maw of the abyss. Smile!



December 16, 2007

In light of the looming Corporate Financial Policy exam tomorrow morning, I should really be concerning myself with the do’s and don’ts on how to create a replicating portfolio and how to derive the Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model with my right pinky while standing on my left foot. Instead, I’m replicating a Nutella & banana crepe, only without the delicious, fluffy crepe bit, and using two slices of taste-neutral toast instead.  OK, that was a stretch.  Give me a break; I’m busy plumbing the depths of my lungs for expectorant and probing the depths of my soul for another “Ah ha.”

I’ve already written off the Leading Organizations and Marketing exams, so effectively, in my head, there’s only one test left.  By that logic, I should be studying my heart out for finance, but I can’t seem to peel myself away from the television and the continuous loop of quasi-depressing news that gives CNN its flair.  If nothing else, it provides a pleasant British-accented (why do they only seem to have British accented anchors in Europe?) backdrop for the counterfactual history games that I’m playing in my head.

What if, instead of being typically taciturn, I had whispered a little louder?  What if, instead of expecting to be expected to be a mind reader, I had really listened?  What if I had taken a page from the playbook of a particular group mate of mine and learned to never know when to shut up?

What if my father had swallowed his pride and taken the money?  What if the Tet Offensive hadn’t succeeded in changing American policy towards the war?  What if my mother had just called it quits?

Well, then I probably wouldn’t be worrying about betas, deltas, and binomial trees.

“Better hit the saddle, ranger.  We’ll be late for lunch.”

-Gene Autry


June 18, 2007

I had a chat late last night with a man in an interesting line of work that I once thought I wanted to get in to, but is, according to him, over-glamorized and misperceived by the public.

I hadn’t really thought about that field in a while, except during those occasional bouts of “Is there a purpose to all of this?” but after our talk, the wheels are turning again. Apparently, a MBA may actually help me get in to this field, albeit tangentially.

Amongst the (printable) things that stood out from our conversation is the following edited tidbit.

“There is a price for everything… No one will ever marry an <insert profession here>. You’ll be the three year fling they have before they go and find someone stable to settle down with.”

Would that be so bad?

EDIT:  A reader asked if I could be more cryptic with this post.  Yes, yes I could.  “The Blue Wolf howls towards the chartreuse moon at midnight.”

Saltos y Trigo

June 16, 2007

Your brown ale is delicious; I’d buy it too. Throwin’ much dap to The Fifth Ape.


June 6, 2007

I ran across this article when doing my due diligence, almost a year ago now. It’s worth a read, for all you admits (and potential admits), Alpha or otherwise. What a difference 12 months make. Let’s see how heavy hitting the next 12 are.


I am clever, I am clever, I am clever <recited whilst clicking ruby footwear together>

Edit: It only took 4 tries, but the above link now works.


June 5, 2007

As I hurtle towards an exciting, uncharted future full of opportunities, I find myself becoming more and more preoccupied with The Past. There’s a part of me, and I daresay a part of everyone, that yearns for the Good Ol’ Days, whatever those may be. It’s like the city folk who are saving all their nickels and centimes for the day when they say “F-it all, I’m moving to the country,” the country folk who watch the city slickers move in and wonder why they’d ever leave the city, where the shiny lights of opportunity beckon, and the historically apt amongst us who look pityingly at both and shake their heads at the Sisyphean idiots, pushing clods of manure to the other side of the fence, hoping that greener grass will grow.

I’d like to pretend that I see the latter perspective more so than I live the former two, but it’s hard to escape the following anecdotal example. One of my first real jobs out of college was for a cool company that bucked conventional wisdom and reinvented the wheel, bringing a new sense of cachet and buzz to a flagging industry. On my first day on the job, I was given an office next to the president, and told to relax and settle in. As I was expecting nothing more than a cardboard box, or a cubicle at best, I was immediately thrown off balance. Given my vague directive and penchant for being an anti-social introvert (Oooh, yeah, I’ll fit right in at a MBA program), I sat in my office fiddling with the shiny color laser printer that was next to my desk. As sitcom script writers would have it, the boss walked in as I marveled at my first color toner cartridge.

“Don’t worry, DTLF, you’ll be up to your ass in alligators, soon” he said, as I fumbled furiously to put the ink where it should have been, and look like I was doing something productive.

And I was. Working with and working for that man was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had in this lifetime. As time passed, and his story slowly emerged, I was amazed. He grew up in a rough part of town in the ’60s, finishing high school and headed straight for work. Hired as manual labor at a manufacturing concern, he grew with the company and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming SVP of Operations (with MBAs working for him) of what was now a multinational corporation, within 15 years. Unsatisfied with the way the company was headed, he rustled up some private funding and bought out a small competitor. Within a handful of years, the new company became one of the most widely-recognized brands in the industry segment, and very profitable.  With nothing but a high school degree.

If a Bachelor’s is the new high school diploma, then what’s a high school diploma worth these days? Does that make a MBA the new Bachelor’s? Can a high school graduate, albeit a very hungry, driven, intelligent graduate, compete and excel in today’s world? Hell, can a MBA, when we’re a dime-a-dozen? Can I tease out a better return investing $150K USD instead of blowing it on a 10-month meat-and-greet with a dash of academics thrown in?

¿Que Quieres Llegar A Ser?

June 4, 2007

Every generation harbors the notion that they are at the forefront of change, riding in the vanguard of revolution, that this time, it will all be different. The ’60s had sex, drugs, and rock & roll. The ’70s had love and peace. The ’80s had, well, leg warmers, Reagan, and the beginning of the end of the Cold War (wow, this is an awkward, bulky sentence). The ’90s brought rock & roll back, under a new guise, followed up closely by the dot com boom and its fiery end in the ’00s.

What does the end of the first decade of the Second Millennium hold? Do we truly live in different times, or is this generation plagued by more of the same, the S-Squared, D-Squared Syndrome? Can this generation, my generation, even lay a claim to sameness? We have had no Great War, no Defining Moment, and no Overarching Movement to bring us together, barring the exponential pace at which life seemingly accelerates. Is there a Moore’s Law for the rat race?

Sitting here, staring at a high-gloss TFT screen, punching numbers into cells, my thoughts can’t help but wander. Memories of a carefree past flit through my peripheral mind vision. Weekends at the public pool where my favorite uncle taught me to swim; two eggs and one thin slice of ham, suspended on half a brick of instant noodles, at that roadside stand with the blue tarp-on-a-stick that acted as the roof; asking my grade school crush what <gender neutral pronoun> wanted to be when <gnp> grew up.

That pool is thousands of miles away, the stand was razed years ago to make way for luxury apartments, and my crush, last I heard, became a hairdresser. But the question I posed still remains. What do I want to be when I grow up?

¿Donde esta, Willy Nilly?

May 14, 2007

As you can tell, my Espanol could use a little improvement. So could my html, as I can’t figure out how to tilda my en-yay.

After pouring my heart and soul into my INSEAD essays, and my wallet into the application fee, I told myself that it would probably be a good time to start figuring out what I was getting myself in to. As a child of the digital age, weaned on Nintendo – or Famicom, for you fellow nerds out there – the first resource I turned to was, of course, our Wonderful World Wide Web. You’ll notice, as this blog progresses, that I love alliteration. A bit too much, really.

Typing “INSEAD” in to a Google search yields something in the neighborhood of 2,230,000 results. Amongst these, you’ll find outdated interviews with adcoms, ads for extortionately priced Singaporean apartments owned by INSEAD alums, useful tidbits like what INSEAD stands for anyway (Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires in case you were wondering), and blogs. It is the latter that I wish to address during my working hours today. And if my boss happens to be reading this, yes; I am blogging on the clock. What are you going to do, fire me? I need a vacation anyway. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

One of the first blogs I ran across was Willy Nilly’s, much to the detriment of other MBA web logs. If you have a few hours to spare, or if you’re a speed reader, jump over and have a go at it. Caveat emptor, you’ll probably find yourself drafting an application to INSEAD afterward. Suffice to say, Nilly’s blog was an inspiration and confirmation of what I envisioned the upcoming year to be: life-altering, mind-bending, body-testing madness. I laughed. I cried. But most of all, I wanted to reach through my LCD and dance with her. I cannot even begin to hope to match her level of prose, but I’ll sure as hell try. First order of business: get rid of all the “I’s” in the last paragraph. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.

If anyone knows how to get a hold of Willy Nilly, shoot me an email at dtlf08 at gmail dot com. The address listed on her blog is long dead, and I’d like to let this incredible woman know what kind of impact she had on my decision to go with INSEAD.