The Heat is On...

I can’t believe we are already about to start the third week of block 3. Time has passed so quickly and deadlines that once seemed out of reach are now well within view. Assignments are at a critical stage right about now and next week will decide whether or not we triumph as a group or crash in a ball of flames.

I could go on about how success in these instances is best achieved through effective teamwork, communication and the desire to excel, but I won’t. What’s the point? We all know it’s true and I don’t intend for this blog to be a diatribe on what makes a perfect MBA student because there is no such thing. Everyone brings something different to the MBA and takes away an experience unique to them . Ok, this blog is getting way too cheesy, I need to stop this faux empowering crap, I’m not sure I believe it anyway despite being an idealist. So, let’s start again vile scum of the Earth... Different subject... Next time.

First Week Back (will it be Two Thousand and Great?!)

I guess I was looking forward to a couple of weeks off. Lots of food (turkey sandwiches for at least three days post Christmas Day) and general mental stagnation. I haven’t had the chance to switch off mentally for as long as I remember, so when the exams finished and the Christmas holidays stretched before me I was giddy with excitement. However, one thing I’ve realised is that for as long as I can remember I don’t think I’ve ever switched off. Those of you who have seen me dosing in 9am lectures are forgiven for thinking this is not the case but the fact is that I’m awake half the night with my mind racing. Perhaps I should buy one of those hypnosis CDs, Paul McKenna’a dulcet tones easing me into the land of nod, maybe sounds of the jungle or the sound of a stream flowing through a dewy meadow. It all sounds very relaxing, though the latter is likely to induce urination.

Anyway, as a result of the messed up sleeping patterns I nurtured during Christmas and New Years, in addition to my usual sleeplessness , I’ve struggled all of this week to get back into the flow of things, but I don’t seem to be alone. Others (who I shan’t mention by name) have expressed a similar inability to get into the rhythm this term. Hopefully things will begin to right themselves this coming week.

For most of us 2008 means job hunting, (ugh the heavy burden of reality) and personally it is something I am very worried about. My choice to change career as opposed to furthering my current one may prove problematic, even with an MBA under my belt its effectiveness of is yet to be tested in the big bad world. I should be having a one on one careers session in the next couple of weeks that should clear things up a little. Overall this block should be very interesting and hopefully less intense than the ones last term as I find that being too pressed for time usually prohibits my absorbsion of the material to a degree.

As part of Organisational Behaviour this week the whole intake filled out Myles-Briggs personality test and a questionnaire that aims to uncover our different learning styles. Apparently my learning style is "activist-theorist" and after doing a little digging I found this description on the web:

“Activist-Theorists, on the other hand, although they still have lots of questions, generally do not have the time or inclination to sort or process all the information thus obtained. They excel at brainstorming, insofar as they generate new ideas; each new idea acting as a catalyst for the spontaneous eruption of further progeny. Unfortunately they rarely stop to consider the implications of their ideas – preferring to rely on friendly passing Reflectors to take on that role. The Activist-Theorist is technically known as a “SCATTERBRAIN”.”

Ahem!!!! Me, a scatterbrain? Well I guess that is partially true, I have been known to forget things on occasion. Just ask an ex-girlfriend!

Cass group on Second Life

I have created a group on Second Life for Cass Business School students, staff and alumni. If you log on to SL please search for the keyword Cass and it should come up. A couple of people have already signed up.

I have meanwhile, been researching the kind of presence other business schools have in SL, including IESE and INSEAD. If you are interested in talking about topics such as these please message me - 'Pranay Munro' in Second life.

American TV is better: Or why British TV sucks...

There's nothing like Christmas television to remind us that all is not well in this country when it comes to our programming. Perhaps it's just one "Only Fools and Horses" Christmas special too many or another Dickens novel massacred by B-list British actors, either way the target audience for this crap is diminishing year by year. The image of a family stuffed with turkey huddled around the box watching a turkey of their very own no longer exists in mass.

Of course some of the major soaps do well every year (ratings-wise at least). Plot arcs climax (conveniently) during the festive season, believability and good taste are pushed to their absolute limits in the hopes of stealing viewers from other channels and we are left with a bitter taste in our mouths. Again we succumb, in spite of our better judgement, to over-hyped exploitative television.

The British aren't alone here, I've never experienced US Christmas TV but I'm sure it's more or less the same because the motivations are for all intents and purposes the same. Ratings.

I'm afriad ladies and gentlemen that the death of originality may finally be upon us and as much as I long to believe that the writers strike in America will make the major networks wake up and realise what they have lost, for the moment this seems far off. They have fallen back on repeats and reality television that essentially costs next to nothing to make. As long as the American public remain content to suck on Simon Cowell's American Idol teat then I'm not sure we'll see a return to TV as we know it. It won't be long until all the prewritten episodes of our favourite quality shows are all aired and all that is left to fill the empty air is exploitative crap.

I guess it sounds like I've contradicted myself, I've listed a lot of reasons why American TV is heading down the drain but up until now there has been some class A programming. On the major networks shows like Lost & Prison Break have captured the imaginations of British viewers. Invariably the bigger audiences in the States mean bigger budgets and in turn the ability to get away with bigger risks. At the end of the day there is just more TV to make and greater variability of content within the frame of television. Cable channels like HBO can actually turn a profit making what is essentially cult television (though I guess it’s difficult to call something like The Sopranos cult.)

What Britain has always done best is 1) Documentaries - the BBC's budget for which is diminishing significantly in 2008 (no doubt the focus will be on Strictly Come Planting, a show where celebrities pair up with professional landscapers to create the best garden) & 2) Comedies - the export market for which is resting almost entirely on Ricky Gervais' back along with repeats of Fawlty Towers. We are in trouble guys, the time has come to take a risk and stop relying on reality TV (Channel 4- your reputation for being a thinking person's channel disappeared with 'Wife Swap').

Who knows what the future holds. One thing is for sure, it's looked better...

So I volunteered...

So when Pranay approached me to contribute to this blog I was somewhat hesitant, I had blogged before and usually I ended up stopping as things around me got too hectic. And hectic is most certainly one way to describe the Cass MBA. It's a one year course and it is very intense and understandably some things get left by the wayside when the work and the day to day crap piles up. Saying that, I will make a concerted effort- this time.

The title says this blog is about what makes us special but to be honest I think the last person to call me special was either my mother (cut to: heart-warming mother to son landmark childhood talk) or one of my friends. In one or both cases sarcasm was involved.

This blog won't be about what makes me special, in fact it is more likely to cement the idea that I am in fact, ordinary.

The first thing I said to Pranay when I agreed to do this is that it wouldn't be about the MBA or business in general unless I find it particularly noteworthy. What you will get here is my opinion on a plethora of subjects, you may agree with some or all of them or you may vehemently disagree. Argument and debate are cool. Full stop (or "period" for you Americans, unfortunately I am reminded of menstruation when that term is used so it won't be used here).

It's now officially 2008, the year of the rat according to the Chinese, a year of hard work, activity and renewal. I think this bodes well for the MBA graduating class of 2008, a lot of us are here to start a new career and 'renewal' is what this course is all about for us (and I’m still not talking about menstruation- let’s hope this doesn't become a running theme!)

That's all from me for now, tune in next time boys and girls (there will be one I promise).