We’re now two weeks into the second year at Harvard Business School. This wouldn’t be a business school blog without a cliché up front so here we go: the past summer came and went in a flash.
I worked on my real estate startup out of San Francisco and New York, suffered what was likely mild carbon monoxide poisoning (I am now well acquainted with the ER of a NYC hospital), and went to one of my best friend’s weddings back in England. It was quite a three months. Come September it was hurricane season in the US and this meant it must be time to return to business school.
Whereas our first year was filled with mandatory core classes, the second year is comprised of your electives. The work is still intense, but you are taking options that you yourself chose and I think that adds an extra 20 per cent to your experience. My elective classes this semester are: negotiation, financial real estate, entrepreneurial finance, leadership and an independent project on the startup I have founded in which I will research and decide upon what pricing model to adopt.
My negotiation class has stood out as a fantastic ‘non-generic’ HBS option. Although there are still cases, 50 per cent of the time ‘in class’ is actually spent outside the classroom negotiating hypothetical deals with classmates, with scores and outcomes ranked on a curve against your peers.
The professor then leads a class discussion around the theories and strategies pertinent to that particular negotiation. This class affects the way you think about everyday life, not just negotiations in the business environment. For instance, to take a completely random example, if you’re renewing your cell contract, it’s probably not a bad idea to call up your cell company, make an incredibly low-ball offer regarding what you expect next year’s tariff to be for you to remain a loyal customer and then fall back to agree to a more moderate – but still cheaper – pricing plan. This notion of ‘anchoring’ to one end of a scale by making the first offer is often not rocket science, but it can take an academic class and a great professor to really articulate the subtle tactics that you can employ every day in the real world.
On the social side, the parties are back in full sway. A few more of us returned from summer with newly found relationships inside and outside America. Others are back to hitting the same Boston nightspots. HBS life is reassuringly the same, but somehow different at the same time.
Given the intermittent nature of my blog, you can also follow me on Twitter @anthemos, especially if you want to hear about business school life in 140 characters at a time. I will also be blogging about the joys of juggling an MBA and a new-born startup, as this continues to be a delicate balancing act.
More on that to come, but all ok so far. Well, it’s ‘ok’ if you are comfortable on five hours sleep and an unsteady income after two years of accumulating debt. Still trying to avoid thinking about that one too much.
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