Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Most

I've just finished my day with the 20, 30, and 40 year Alumni. Pretty interesting.
First on me, I think either my head is swelling like crazy, or I'm on illicit substances, or I've improved so much, because presenting in front of 80 alumns, in Amphi A, with a mike, caused me no stress or problem whatsoever. Actually my presentation was very well received, with plenty of people congratulating on the humourous touch, or at least the heart-felt tone. I'm so pumped up. Folks, that is 4 presentations in a row that went out perfectly. The point is: we'll leave INSEAD confident about our abilities, and with a brandname that gives respect. We'll have our First Hundred Days too, to fulfill expectations put on us...

Interesting points about the Alumni Reunion:
- Some of them were worried that Singapore and 900 people intake meant dilution and lesser selection. I beg to differ. First, ratio of applicant to acceptances is irrelevant, because of the self-selection to INSEAD (1 year programme, very differentiated, and 700+ GMAT). Second, in 30 or 40 years, the MBA market has grown to places untapped for before -Latin America, India, East Europe...
- Alumni were very impressed by the develoment of the School over years.
- They are so attached to School that many came with their children and groom them for INSEAD. I met an Israeli 40Y Alumn whose son (or grandson I can't recall) graduated in 2000 and other son is applying this year!
- In 30 years INSEAD has gone from less than 30 nationalities to more than 70. And has over 100 alumns in more 25 countries (against 12 for Harvard and co.)

On the train back to Paris, I met someone from the Student Council. While he did not want to reveal the recipients' names of Best Awards, he hinted at the finalists. Whoever wins will deserve it.

That made me wonder of all these great professors met during the programme.
Most passionate: Tim Van Zandt
Most funny: Enrico Diecidue
Most humour noir funny: Theo Vermaelen
Most sensitive: Michael Brimm
Most subtly un-PC (but I like that!): Thomas D'Aunno
Most cool: Igor Vaysman
Most weird-funny: Nils Rudi
Most edgy: Igor Vaysman
Most sharp: Pascal Maenhout
Most impressive: Phil Anderson
Most Hollywood: Horacio Falcao
Most nice and dedicated: Ilian Mihov
Most connected: Randel Carlock
Most obviously un-PC (but I like that!): Fernando Bartholomei
Most underrated: Deigan Morris
Most shrewd: Tim Bovard
Most challenging: Kevin Kaiser
Most insightful: Karen Cool
Most make-it-easy-and-fun: Jake Cohen
Most useful-for-survival: Jose Luis Alvarez
Most brilliant: all of the above -well, you know which ones I preferred for each period...

They made an impact on me, I will never forget them. And I did not attend most of the Finance track, which has lots of Stars...

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Giving back

I can't believe School is really, really ending on Thursday next week. As you know, I've skipped the Grad Trip, although on second thoughts they are probably having loads of fun to die for. But, too much for me, too much travel, too much party, too much booze, too much not enough time, at once. I needed a break. Well, not that I'll be idle though. Tomorrow I'm meeting 20, 30, and 40 years Alumns on campus, for a short presentation on life at INSEAD now, and a visit of the campus (with a strong emphasis on Salamander Awards Wall -the Donors Wall). Instead of the Adriatic Sea, this will be my Blue Ocean.
Kidding, I'm really happy to do that just for the School.

By the way, did you know that the Bronze Salamander Award started at only €15.000? That's barely the price of a small no-thrills car...



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Business Idea

It would be cool if someone came up with a something against hangover; a fast hangover recoverer...
That'd be a smash at School these days.
OK we are not drinking to get drunk. And mostly we are not really drunk. But the morning after, we are all a bit wasted.
Ooops. Maybe I am sick of something else then...

Yesterday, I had a presentation using 5 forces etc etc and other MBA stuff, mixing strategic necessities and operational alignment. People in the audience were captivated.
I feel strong, I feel good!
I loooooove INSEAD.


Monday, June 25, 2007

The Endgame 2: did you know?

Did you know that Endgame is very close to French term "Endogame" which means marriage in a same class category...

Well I don't know what to expect in 4 hours, but I've prepared for the worst case scenario: have done some Abs and Biceps for dummies this morning, and put on clean underwear and non-holed socks ;-)
You never know...

PS: Dear INSEAD applicants, please read only the August 2006 to May 2007 posts. You'll be misrepresented of the seriousness of the School in my last posts :-)


Lessons of Power and Politics 7: There's more in Life than just P&P

Well, I'm not sure Prof. Alvarez would sum up one of his star sessions as such. The case was about the political rivalry between Pete Peterson and Lewis Glucksman, in which the apparent winner of the power struggle ended up as the loser.

In a nutshell, key takeaways were:
- power base evolves with time or environment, if you don't adjust someone else will push you out; people are more rigid than environments
- political hunger is dependent on your alternatives (ie. outside options); be a Fox and a Lion
- when you go up, you have to work on your power base/network again, and expand beyond your traditional camp -Free yourself from previous patterns
- don't mess with people's money -they care more about their pockets than their families (well, at least in IB)...
- and you might win a power struggle and push someone out, but if your life solely is built around your work and your Company, what is the point?

I've enjoyed this class immensely. It really gets you ready to confront the tough corporate world. To me, it also revealed that networking (hence power base etc.) is a systematic approach that needs much rigour. Keeping track of people you've met, you need to meet, things said, things to do...

P&P and CRFD were my favourite classes of P5. In CRFD, it seems it's getting quite technical and tough, people spending much time in group negotiations. I suppose it is about negotiating distress...

Ok, I've officially finished all my courses, and handed in all my projects. L'Ecole est Finie

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Endgame...

So here's the recap of the graduation process: the Cabaret, the Endgame, the Graduation trip (Hvar in Croatia this year), the Official Ceremony, and the Grad Party.
The goal, of course, is to forge very strong bonds before leaving School.

The concept of the Endgame is very interesting. It's on Monday night, and surrounded by secrecy. What happens there stays there.

Basically, girls invite anonymously guys. Considering there are 1 girl for every 3 guys, lots of them are left over.

I'd define the Endgame as the Wild Adult Carnival. Because it's anonymous, because it's among adults, and because rumour has it it's wild. The original concept was that, before returning to our normal lives outside School, this is the last chance to have fun, any kind of which.

I believe now it's been watered down. I suppose there are 2 sorts of male guests: the real wild ones, and the inoffensive ones...

Guess what, I've been invited. I kind of suspect I've fallen in the wrong category though... But you'll never know, because whatever happens there stays there!



Friday, June 22, 2007

Cabaret 2007 uncensored!

What a night it has been! Unforgettable.
It's really cool to see the hidden talents of people, and how diverse in personalities they can be.

Cabaret is part of the Graduation process; it's the students performing for others, on memories -like songs written on purpose or comical sketches, or on pure fun -like dance performances or live music.

My big, big favourites were the 4 girls in black, performing the INSEAD version of the Vagina Monologues... Incredibly insightful and funny. The one on, "My Vagina has learnt from Ilian Mihov (Macro Star), when you increase Money Supply, you get more Liquidity...", got everyone roaring in respect of the boldness! I have movies on these Vagina Monologues, but have decided, for the sake of these gorgeous babes careers ;-) not to put them online.

We also had a nice Ding comic sketch, and nice renditions of crooner music (the ever sophisticated Montmelian crowd)...
In the end, we did have our own House impromptu Cabaret, when Spaniards and French joined forces to sing while drinking until 4.30 or 5 (again)... My Lord I am going to miss this crowd!

Special thanks to Annie and husband who performed a wonderful song, and got the crowd starting a fun partisan war. E3 rules indeed, no doubt about it...


Thursday, June 21, 2007

A quick wrap-up of P5

P5 is coming to an end. It's the period during which (most) people chilled out after intensive job search experiences.

In P5 I took many classes. I skipped quite a few, for sure, but then went to many for which I was not registered too.

I liked B2B marketing, an Industraat Simulation for those who know. Group work in simulation against other teams is lots of fun. And Prof. Savary was really good in his case studies as well.

I loved Corporate Financial Reporting and Analysis (it's Jake, after all). Some sessions about CFO's role were on the boring side, but overall insights are great for IB wannabes or even CEOs. We had our group presentation, and everything went out perfectly considering we finished 5 minutes before class and that one person had joined the day before and one had vanished on the same day...

I could have enjoyed more Business Plan Workshop. This is a typical course out of which you get what you put in; its depth could range anywhere from the Maldives sea to the Mariana trench. I guess it also is the sort of course whose value comes from that of the participants. Steve did his best to facilitate the process of idea generation, and business models challenge from us. It is like a forum where people explain their ideas and audience responds with their experiences from all over the World. Where else could you see that but at INSEAD?

On Power and Politics, and Corporate Restructuring, I have commented already about how great they were.

Well, that is it.

Five periods, all thoroughly reported. More than 25 credits, mostly around the Entrepreneurship Track... And some other classes are just as good -Finance for instance. I'll comment on the tracks later.

On the fun side, the Paris group has met. It'll be hard to compete against London, but I'm sure we'll have just as much fun...


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turning the page

I don't know what is wrong with me these days. Zilch motivation, it's terrible. First time that ever happens to me at INSEAD...
Actually, I know what's going on.
First, having secured my post-INSEAD position, I have too much free time in hand.
Second, I have fulfilled my knowledge objectives at INSEAD. Courses I wanted to take beforehand are over. Now it's just finetuning. I honestly don't know how people can bear a 2 year MBA. I just want to move on. Sure I will miss all the atmosphere and the people, and the excellence, but then there is also so much to do in the real world now...
Third, and this is personal, I have moved on in my head already. Some people are good at constant efforts. Some are good at closings. This is just not me. One former groupmate called me a pelotari (basque pelota player), presumably because I liked to distribute the tasks in a previous life. In brief, I am rather impatient, and 10 months is my limit... It's as if at 75% completion my efficiency rate dropped dramatically.
Finally, it is a question of priority. Now that everything is safe and secure, it is more important to take care of people than classes. Enjoy last dinners, parties -though I have skipped some as well...
Ok some more energy for the last 10 days, better regrets than remorse!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Lessons of Power and Politics 6: The Bilingual Manager

Life goes on. It's pretty hard to get back to usual stuff. On top of that I'm getting less and less thrilled by assignments, and the ones that are still on are real drags. Big mistake, I know. Especially since, having missed some classes of one of my favourite INSEAD Prof. (Accounting super God Jake Cohen), I'm now regretting that. You know that feeling: "Wow it's just so insightful I wish I could master the trick better". On the other hand, since Jake's course is all about Managers playing dirty accounting tricks, it's just as well, since I will be a manager right after School, not to know/understand about all these things. I must say the accounting bad practices can have particular appealing names for who is into that: Cookie Jar, Massaging (numbers), and with a little bit of imagination, Channel Stuffing...

But, I'm digressing again. Back to P&P. Oh, on this, before I forget. A Wharton groupmate of mine is so elated by her INSEAD experience. She is finding Electives soooo good, much better than at Wharton (so she said), at least in Finance and OB...

So last classes of Power and Politics were very insightful and practical as usual. Of interest, is the concept of the Bilingual Manager: having a language for Top Management, and another language for Employees and Peers. Pressure absorption, rhetoric on the one hand, and distant influence, on the other hand.
The analysis was taken from best seller "The Soul of a New Machine", which was really insightful in terms of organisational structure (how to use it as a Pull influence strategy). Really cool.

Prof. Alvarez's takeaways for us in our current situations were clear.
1. Don't be easy, Be difficult. That motivates peers and subordinates to work hard for you to get attention.
2. Beware of the "You are free" trick when proposed a tough assignment. Top Management has a sales pitch for you, don't feel pressured to step in what could be a big mess.
3. Don't be blinded by self-esteem. We tend to link pain (reality) to satisfaction (promise of a good thing). Lots of time you'll get the real pain, but not the promised satisfaction...

Tomorrow is the Summer Montmelian Ball. It'll be awkward. Show must go on...

Quotes of the Day:
"He is trying very hard to hide his superiority complex. But when you dig a little bit, you find out he thinks we're all monkeys..." P5 student confessing about his P1 Core group experience.

"There are 2 sorts of non emerged countries. The emerging, and the non-emerging. The non-emerging suck, and they are going to stay there.", clearcut Kevin on why Risk free rate is high in Zimbabwe (well, something like that).

"Are risk free rates different across countries?" Kevin to Student
"Hum, it depends on what you mean by risk free rate..." Student to Kevin
"It depends on what you mean by different too!" Kevin to Student. I like Kaiser, he's uber cool.

"I represented our section at the E4 reunion last Sunday, and would like to report back that our reunion was, as I am sure you would expect, a far classier and fun occasion." Cool Brit on defending our Section values!


For your Summer holidays reading:

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Day of Drama

Today was a sad day at School. We were welcome by sad faces and figured out that a P3 had passed away in a dramatic accident.
As always, it's a time to pay homage to the too young bright Sam from Africa, and for others to reflect on life.
Prof. Alvarez showed us the video of Steve Jobs in Stanford. The message for those who stay, at 10.00 min onwards, is humbling.
School organised an Ardent Chapel, and I think Sam's intake may fund a scholarship for his country. That'd be a great way to remember him.
I'm sad. RIP.

The late night Drinking Sessions

Wow. This morning I'm a bit wasted. Slept at 4.15.
Overnight I had one of the mythical Late Night Drinking with my Housemates. Don't get me wrong, the purpose is not to get drunk -none of us really effectively genuinely was, although technically we could have qualified as such- the purpose is to enjoy our time together and discuss about anything of interest.

Yesterday's topics:
- the Endgame, for or against (I'll try to post something soft on this very wild tradition)
- the Graduation Speaker vote, we appreciate them all, we value their commitment, but who did we pick up?
- last days in School, how are you living it?
- Housemates reunion planned beginning of next year!
- and lots of other stuff that could be discussed over a Slovak wine and some whisky.

Late night Drinking sessions rock! My Drink buddies rock!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

July07 Promotion breaking record books... Vote please!

It's been leaked by insider information (Finance/Others God Kevin Kaiser): the current promotion has broken records in terms of pre-graduation employment! As Kevin would himself say, that's "cool".
Apparently, before cross-checking, through a survey to Students, School is confirming that lots of us have gotten jobs already. I can only concur, based on my (biased) experience. Most of people I know have already gotten a job, and better than that, jobs they are really happy about. Take my housemates. One was sponsored. I was too -sort of. One got Private Equity in Eastern Europe -a dilemma between London and over there. One got Google in Western Europe -exactly what he wanted but for the fact that he may have considered more dramatic career change. One got a job in Consulting in London. One in Investment Banking in London. And the last one is still interviewing with relative confidence, for a marketing position in Western Europe, in the Temple of Marketing...

That is sooo cool.

Be aware, though I might sound cheesy as ending is approaching, I still have my head on. I am not falling in some of nostalgic mood where everything is nice and beautiful. Granted, I love INSEAD, and INSEAD students. Still, I'm keeping cold blood...

I probably cannot talk freely of Graduation Speech (a bidding process). But let me share some of the candidates' pitches.

Pitch 1: "I want to talk about my perceptions of the school and everyone here when I first arrived, and how those perceptions changed as we gradually discovered more and more about each other. " Though I must say, buddy Pitcher 1, your pitch is way too personalised to make the cut (private comment: I hope it won't turn into a popularity contest). The Graduation Speech is for ALL the Students, not for X or Y you liked more...

Pitch 2: "Although my “lifelong friendship passport” has been freshly stamped dozens and dozens of times, and the magic carpet ride has officially come to an end, I would like to think that this, nevertheless, is just the beginning." Nice...

Pitch 3: "We have concentrated many years of experiences into 10 incredible months but we have all lived the year in very different ways. Some partied at KM8 and slept in red London buses (and in classes) while others worked on business plans and grew their families. It has been an intense, rich year and the lessons we have learned will live with us for years to come. The graduation speech should trigger happy memories and make you laugh. It should provoke your own thoughts on what the year has meant to you and others and it should help you look forward to the future and think of ways to change the world for the better. As Enrico would say, “sounds good?” " - Sounds perfect...

Pitch 4: "So let’s get back to basics: we have made wonderful friendships with unique people and we are now being unleashed, with world-renowned qualifications, to go make a difference in the world. Awesome. No doubt: making things simple, and certainly adding the meaningful, will present the biggest challenge to come." - I agree...

Pitch 5: "What matters now is how we act going forward and how we represent the INSEAD name as we move on with our lives. What matters now is the reputation we build as responsible business leaders all around the world. What matters now is how we maintain the friendships we’ve created over the past 10 months. What matters now is how we carry the same excitement we’ve felt here through to everything that we do in the future. We are each CEOs of our own lives, so let’s get out there and start acting like it." - Buddy Pitcher 5, I had the pleasure to work with you, you are just awesome. I like you very much indeed!

Pitch 6: "Each of us for our own individual reasons decided to fill out an application, attend an INSEAD information session, and take the chance for our careers, our families, and ourselves that by coming to this school in the middle of the forest in Fontainebleau we would be better for it." - Pretty cool.

Pitch 7: "I’m not the most experienced public speaker…but I promise a speech that:
Is short, simple & sincere
Thanks family, friends, faculty for their support and patience
Urges further work on diversity at INSEAD
Hopefully makes us all think a little bit beyond just making loadza money
Makes you laugh a little (maybe even cry!)" -
Given that you' re a journalist, Pitcher 7, I believe you!

I have made my choice. One that represents the School as a whole, not particular cliques. One that speaks about the future, as much as the past. One that captures the essence of the INSEAD spirit best. I don't know which my fellow INSEADers will prefer, I just hope they choose one that represents ALL of us: Indians, Asians, Europeans, Nerds, Geeks, Cools, Attitudes, Stars, Loners, Social Beasts, Blacks, Whites, Mixes, Rich, Poor... Start being a leader, and choose the best for the Speech job, not your favourite buddy...

Now, who would you vote for???

That's your chance, let's see where your values are... Comments please!


Saturday, June 09, 2007

The REP secret (partially) uncovered

REP is at last over. It was becoming a drag, although it was a nice class. The format of REP diverges somehow from other classical INSEAD methodology: usually, there's a big mystery awaiting for us, that is being uncovered bit by bit over the course, as a compelling framework. REP is very practical. It's the LBO side of entrepreneurship. You find a company and assess its potential and present it to real PE guys. The fun of this class is to make it as real as possible. We created a Website and a PE bogus fund. Then we approached our targets.
Ours presented the full monty of small and medium sized businesses issues: 3rd generation curse, poor management unable to react to competitive changing dynamics, but very strong expertise and local clout. In a way, we experienced in 3 months all of the frustrations of LBO entrepreneurship: ducks, entrepreurial heat syndrome (getting too excited), entrepreneurs valuations way over the rational valuation...

In the end, we did not win the competition, nor are we likely to pursue the deal for real -just remembering that none of the past class groups going for real have ever succeeded. Because, let's be frank: for INSEAD that we may be, the lack of credibility in this business (through connections, experience etc.) makes it natural that we should come across firms that nobody else wants.

Takeaways: LBO business is good, lots of businesses to be bought; junk companies can be really attractive too, Management in LBO is tough and requires lots of experience and pressure handling, and this is as successful as and potentially less risky than New Venture entrepreneurship.

This class will be entirely reengineered next year, fyi.



Thursday, June 07, 2007

What makes a good Section?

I can't believe we're nearing the end. On the one hand, and all credit to the 1 year programme, I think we all want to go back to the real world and conquer it and prosper, but on the other hand, the sight of losing track of such wonderful people is scary. I guess London people don't feel the loss as acutely, because, as they say, London is going to be their P6. But for all the others we'll need to turn the page with conviction. To me, it just seems that some people I will meet again and again, some I will do business with, some I will help or will help me. In brief, some I will keep in touch as long as can be. At 30 years old odd, one must be able to discriminate people, and know in absolute terms which are worth and which are flimsy, or good-to-remember. I can...

So which one was the best Section of Fonty July 07? I'd be tempted to say mine, because it is a really great one.
Facts are:
- Best section tshirt was E4, then E2, E3, and E1 getting the prize for making history of not having a Section Tshirt (E3 getting the one of the ugliest of the year, and worse, with 10 Student names missing on it).
- Most active sections were E4, then E3...
- Most Dean's List productive Sections were E4, then the pack... E3 and the rest.

So E4 the best? It's funny because whenever I attended it I felt not home (some bias well known by statisticians and OB theorists). The point is, whatever your values, E4 made it glued more than others.

You readers and future intakes, here are some invaluable insights. Make sure you take care of your sections like that:
1. Probability is, sections have equal chances of gluing. INSEADs do share similar values whatever section they belong to. Sections become the Nerd section (E1) or the crazy section (E4) not because of some different profiles, but because they've been turned into that.

2. Section Social Rep, who are elected by the class, are key. Ideally you'd like to elect someone who does not care too much about grades (like a sponsored Consultant or a super bright individual), but also does not care too much about himself. Dedication is key, for at least P1 and P2. E4 actually got 3 Social Reps when the elected one graciously decided to share his burden. The result is, Win-Win situation, as the Section enjoyed more fun for less pressure on the Reps.

3. Ideally, a house that could accomodate the Section parties would help.

4. Section parties must start soon enough. Two in P1, 2 or 3 in P2, would be a good number. It's like Change Management, there is a definite "tipping point", or "critical mass" of parties that will make the Section glue together. E3, was a perfect Section, but did not have enough parties/gatherings, and in that sense never really passed that all-important tipping point.

5. Create a Section Tshirt early enough to foster some team spirit and belonging feeling. That sounds cheesy, but it works. And there is a balance between democracy and leadership. E3 struggled for weeks on its slogan (E3 got to be? E3 wannabe?) and its design, to, in the end, come up with the lowest denominator, several mistakes on it, and delivered the last night of P2 when 50% of people already had flown home for Christmas.

6. Individuals do matter. Strong values can balance loose section bonds. In my section, people have always been very cooperative, helpful, great networkers, and with such a great heart and mind.

With these tips, you'll have no excuse not to make it the most fun sections.
Again, fun to me is not partying "à gogo". Just non-work environments to know fellow participants more, in less formal settings, and without masks...

My section may be second best in objective terms, but to me it's still my favourite!


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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lessons of Power and Politics 4: Thrive with Low Profile

I'm being summarized the key learnings from last sessions of Power and Politics because for some obscure reasons I have missed them...
It's very interesting to ask for the key learnings to different trusted, diligent, and intelligent people, because they would apply it to their situations and you could see the impact of the class.

The last 2 sessions were related to each other: How do you deal with success?
As INSEAD MBAs, with all due modesty, we are likely to succeed in our careers. Very soon, two common situations may arise: quitting job for something better (being poached or leaving voluntarily), or attracting jealousy. Heaven and Hell (the subject of Roger van der Weyden's tryptich in Hospices de Beaune).

How do you deal with Heaven? Well, with no looking back. People will try any tricks to make you feel guilty or indebted, whilst in most situations they would have done the same choice.

How do you deal with Hell? Think Clinton after Monica's episode. But most importantly, you anticipate that success will bring jealousy. So keep low profile, don't boast, don't show off, don't be arrogant. That will prevent your sore enemies to trespass the line of attack vs. plain jealousy.

In my regular late night drinking sessions with house mates, we today discussed the paths of some people we care about. What the Entrepreneurial people are doing next. After all they are the one having the pressure now. I guess the best approach is: give it a try for some months after School to explore the options. After all, INSEAD being one year, you in theory have the luxury of 6 months and 40.000 euros compared to Harvard, say. Alternatively, some other people are returning to their previous ventures and getting ready to act on opportunities.

Tonight is my Section Party. I shall write a post on the dynamics of Sections and how the best Section this year became the best section...

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Life is too short...

... to miss on the good things. One of them being, good wine. There's lot of magic in wine: how to turn grapes into delight, soil into gold, and people into buddies.

This week-end I went to Burgundy with INSEAD friends to enjoy a nice weather and bond before we part. We had so much wine and good food, but so much fun as well. The thing I like with some INSEAD people is, they are very curious about Hows, and relate pleasantly experience to learning.

Example: we visited Romanée-Conti domain. This must be the most expensive wine in the world (see pic). From this 1.8 hectares of land come out 5.000 bottles a year at 6.000 euros each... How is it possible? Soil into gold (sustainable competitive advantage), grapes into delight (savoir-faire), and people into buddies (pleasure and marketing). Magic uncovered... And perfect discrimination when the Company produces wine from the land inches away from Romanée Conti at different prices: La Tâche at 1.200 euros apiece, Echézeaux at 400 euros... A whole summary of Prices and Market and ICA on the field...

I'm exaggerating slightly. But we shared some business and personal problems, and then you realise you could really count on these great guys. And get great insights on things.

Example: Burgundy is very different from Bordeaux. Bordeaux is sophisticated (blend of grapes) and noble. Burgundy is simple (mono grape, Pinot noir) and rustic. Wine producers are just the same... A Domain is basically a house, and inside most people treat you like bloody aliens. Frustrating experience. When we were kicked out, we analysed customer orientation, impact on sales etc. And we went to enjoy a very, every good Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru to remind ourselved that, thank God, life is much cooler with a smile enjoying good company and good things.
I'm not going to share the personal issues, but the bottom line is, it was an awesome trip to know one another even better. We even pictured us doing some regular Wine and Food and Culture trips for our 1 and 5 year Reunions (at least)...
Other topics debated: Are you Theory X or Y? Are there still ugly people today? Is it an undertone of Wood or Game in this wine?
The must-drink:
The trilogy of White Wines (the best in the World) - Chassagne Montrachet, Puligny Montrachet, Meursault...
We had cool Morey St-Denis, Nuits St-Georges in red...
The must-see: Vosnes Romanée, to pay hommage to Romanée Conti.
The must-NOT see: Domaine Guillemard-Clerc, unless you haven't experienced the rude, arrogant, drunk French people yet...


Friday, June 01, 2007

The last push before the end

I have 2 goals in P5: to enjoy the last moments, and to mount a serious Business Plan with a team mate, at least for the sake of the Business Plan Competition.

It's becoming difficult when you mix the two together. Up to now, my team mate and I have met regularly in a Fonty Bar as our meeting point. Big, big mistake. Well, is it? It's definitely great for team morale, but it seems that our business model evolves with the number of glasses of champ that we take... I've now taken the serious commitment, with the help of course Business Plan Workshop (BPW) to cristalyse our model and have fun at the BP Competition!

Yesterday, an INSEAD friend had his girlfriend's photo exhibit Vernissage party. Lots of INSEAD showed up, some after a day trip to Disneyland, some after a dinner in Paris. I love that sort of events. I think people are loosening up incredibly. No more Dean's list pressure, no more job pressure. Some people that were kind of tense and uptight are now very cool. If that continues, by the end of the MBA we'll all love everyone...

On the other hand, as I was discussing with my flatmates, we're heading for a shock, and thanks God Prof Alvarez is preparing us for big time in Power and Politics.
The last case was about a high flying MBA grad -a situation you could easily relate to- crashing his first assignment because of the wrong tactics at the wrong time.
While he was used to consensus building, participative management, OB soft techniques with his MBA peers, he did not realise he had to apply tough leadership, strong drive and control, bossy style in an entrepreneurial company (think IT, or new market development...) You could see many of us doing the same mistake, as some persons suggested "outdoor team building events, or social events" to boost "team morale" when the project was days within launch after 18 months of MBA style management... You kind of get worried when you know that person is going to Top Consulting.

So love is good, but again, outside is a different world. I feel like I'm turning into a tough b**tard...

PS: BTW to all my Chinese friends, Dragon Week amphi storming was ok. Dances were not that bad (you should actually make a joke of it, it'd be hugely popular, see video). And the Dragon Week seriously rocked! Thank you.

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