Friday, September 24, 2010

The Apprentice as Business School-Sales Tactics

"The Apprentice: The Recession Era"

In the second episode of season 10, the task was to sell ice cream. Seems simple enough, children could do it (granted, they are very cute). However, neither team seemed particularly effective.

Tactics utilized:

By the men's team "Octane"
-Barber shop vests and hats
-Whatever price they could get someone to agree to
-Attempt to spread out

By the women's team "Fortitude"
-Tight tank tops
-Moving their cart around from spot to spot
-Giving out free ice cream at the last minute near the men to deter sales

When examining sales tactics (and watching this show) it is always important to think how you would have done it better. These people all have an education, often times powerhouse MBA educations, and yet they are running around like an unorganized mass, with little to no strategy ever discussed fully. Leadership was chaos management at best. There were some attempts to delegate but the follow-through efforts were minimal.

Some ideas that would have increased sales:
-Sales rules--tell your sales team what the expectations are and set goals. If they are not meeting those goals, check-in and re-strategize
-Group sales- it goes without saying that if you can sell 20 to one person in 5 minutes, do it. Picking one or two people to go to nearby businesses and focus on group sales strategies, and creating new pricing structures for bulk sales, would have benefited both teams. The girls had 2 bulk sales that were shown during the episode...not nearly enough, and those happened to be lucky, not thought out.
-Market research-ask people what they are willing to spend and tailor the price points to reflect the market, when the day gets warmer, maybe you raise the price because people are willing to spend more, but everyone on the team needs to be on the same page. Both teams on the show just picked prices out of the air, hoping they could get it. The girls were selling consistently at $5, however, one woman actually told them "They should be ashamed of themselves" for charging people so much for a small ice cream sandwich.

These are just some of the strategies that could have been implemented by either team to really focus the task and drive up the revenue. It has always fascinated me to watch "The Apprentice" and figure out what I would do differently. Motivating this is a desire to succeed and the only way to do that is to recognize where people have failed and improve.

I will be watching the show and highlighting certain business analysis throughout the season. Keep checking back!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Apprentice Season 10--The recession era

Donald Trump, you might actually be doing something right for once. This recession has largely been about good, solid workers losing their jobs. Not just good workers, but sometimes, burgeoning success stories that never had a chance to blossom. Donald Trump has returned "The Apprentice" back into a show worth watching...or so I hope. His recession era theme is examining the brilliant minds that in any other economy would be successes. All the contestants have either been laid off or barely gotten off the ground for one reason or another. I am excited to watch this season. During my undergrad, I wrote a paper about season 1 of the Apprentice and how people studying business should watch this show. It has an amazing observational impact on how you should, and more often, should NOT do business. With Celebrity Apprentice, it definitely lost its business application somewhat, but now I believe it might be worth watching again.

In addition, it puts things in perspective. A recent conversation I had with a 2nd-year told me that our incoming class has far more real world, and extremely applicable, experiences than her class. Our knowledge base is brimming with talent that hasn't been fully realized. The recession played its part but using these resources, accepting that being in school does not mean we weren't on our road to success. I believe watching this season of the Apprentice might be a good lesson in sharpening our minds to what our competition is and what everyone is going through right now.

Is "crazy" a trait you might want to have?

Hypomania- a mild form a mania, primarily characterized by an abnormal state of extreme excitement, great optimism, overactivity and reckless spending of money.

This condition has recently been linked quite extensively with success, specifically in entrepreneurs. Sparked by a recent New York Times article, I think it's important to examine this quality in ourselves, in myself, going forward. How can I capitalize on my crazy? As Graziadio increases the focus on the entrepreneur concentration, it is only natural to examine what would make our class of entrepreneurs more successful. And, it's possible, that it may be something you can barely examine on a b-school application. Largely influenced by psychiatrist and author John D. Gartner's work and book "The Hypomanic Edge," ongoing studies and articles could help you to examine if you have what it takes to be a successful other words, are you crazy enough?

New York Times Article: "Just Manic Enough" Article: "The Hypomanic Entrepreneur"

John D. Gartner's 2005-2006 Blog: " The Hypomanic Edge"

James Koch & James L. Fischer's Book & an article about it: "Born not Made: The Entrepreneurial Personality"

Tim Ferriss' Blog: "Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression"

Entrepreneur Magazine: "Turn up the Crazy"

Entrepreneur Magazine: "New Blueprint for Successful VC Funding"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Advice for Businesswomen who Live healthfully

A woman who I have worked with who is a Registered Dietician recently posted on a topic I specifically asked for. As a woman who worked in a network heavy industry, I was always struggling with my weight, both due to the "required" alcohol intake and food. Business school is far from a break, like I had hoped it would be. Networking is just as important now as it was before. Check out her blog for some useful advice! (Good for men or women...but obviously it's more difficult to hide chubby tummies in a cocktail dress then a suit!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Business school is one of the few places where the overachiever is no longer the teacher's pet. We become the "popular kids." This seems very high school in its simplicity but it's true. The second year students who are most noticeable and have a positive reputation are those who are mentors, club leaders and have attained exceptional internships. There are already whispers of who completes their work and who doesn't. It greatly effects group dynamic and truly impresses, IF the rumors are good.

This leads me to one very clear dilemma. In addition to being instantly appreciated for a quality that may have earned you the term "OCD" or "overachiever" or "the girl who asks too many questions", you are also slammed with a million decisions on how to spread out your time equally between clubs, socializing, homework, and networking for internships/jobs.

I have decided to join 5 clubs actively. I am a part of the National Association for Women MBAs, Consulting Club, Entrepreneurship Club, Challenge4Charity, and Values-Centered Leadership Lab. While I hope to attend other events sponsored by other clubs, this involvement is more then enough. It took a great deal of soul searching to narrow this down and figure out what I was truly willing to designate time toward. It's important to realize it's not just about interests but existing leadership. I definitely applied for leadership roles within the clubs where I knew I could collaborate with the leaders on a regular basis. In addition, I followed my passion. I did not expect to be as excited about Challenge4Charity as I am, but somehow, through persuasive existing leadership and a genuine part of me that loves philanthropic endeavors, I found my passion. "Overachieving"can only be successful and prevent burnout when you know how to manage your time properly. Part of that management has to be the motivation to keep up. I so badly want to be a part of all these clubs that I will find a way to manage my time.

I already know that NAWMBA will be a club lower on my priority list if only because it doesn't ignite my enthusiasm the way some of the others do. Also, while entertainment is an interest (and previous job) of mine, I realized that the club goals did not necessarily gel with my current career focus. I still intend to check out some of the events but it didn't end up being something that I can throw myself into.

It is very overwhelming but also a little awesome. I feel appreciated for my eccentricities and my natural leadership response seems to fit into business school just perfectly. It's a matter of balance, and I hope I can achieve it throughout school. I think it's also important to be open to the possibility that my passions, expectations and interests might change a thousand times before I settle into a rhythm that makes sense for me and for success.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mac vs "Knowledge"

Macs are arguably the "smarter" computer when compared to the consumer diverse PCs. They are more uniform both as a company (seeing as how PC manufacturers are many) and in the user functionality. Despite this, however, there is a down side. They do not always integrate well with PC based software/hardware. For example, my blackberry (of which I LOVE) is windows based, and therefore, PC-compatible. While there is PocketMac for syncing capabilities, it is glitchy and does not allow for internal updates to the blackberry software. My Mac and I have had a tough road to go down.

I was a reluctant converter to Macs. I am still not a proponent of the iPhone (did I say glitchy before?). My iPod is fun but not a purse must-have. And I just bought a Kindle over the iPad. That being said, I worked in the film industry where it is very much the standard. When my PC laptop died and my desktop Dell proved not so portable, I invested in a MacBook. I am a pretty happy girl and relatively Mac-savvy now.

Then school started. For my Data Analysis class, there is an add-in software called "StatTools" that makes Excel more user friendly for calculating out those difficult quant problems. Super big bonus! Anything to make my math illiterate self have to do less physical calculating is awesome. HOWEVER, my Mac is not compatible with StatTools. Being that Macs are so self-sufficient, it makes it very difficult for third-party programmers to design for both PC & Mac equally. So, PC almost always wins when they are determining their demographics. While Macs are catching up in popularity, they still are not as practical for a smaller programmer with less R&D money to invest in making Mac compatible software.

Oh, dear Mac! I feel like you are testing my loyalty! You have a work around, yes. Boot Camp. You can actually boot your Mac as a virtual PC but utilizing a free program on your harddrive. However, you need to invest in both Windows and Microsoft Office for PC. This process was extremely frustrating. Probably the most difficult part of my first week of b-school was this disaster. After much misinformation, I was able to figure it out. My advice for those reading this is that they speak to someone who has done it before. Also, buying a student version of the update software can be installed on Parallels or Boot Camp but using a work around. ASK FOR HELP. *rant over*

My point is this. While I still do not regret my decision to buy a MacBook, I do wish there was more market continuity in products. As Macs rise in popularity, I'm sure some of this will be remedied. For now, I will just sit here, head spinning and wishing the world of computers could live in harmony.