Back Together Again

To the class of 2009, and all faculty and staff, welcome back. To the class of 2010, welcome to our community; we look forward to meeting you all. Many of us already know that this is the start of yet another phenomenal experience. In our Palo Alto microclimate, days are longer and fuller (and not just because we sleep less!).

Acknowledging that this summer has presented us all with a mixed bag of events and experiences, we want to appreciate all that these times have to teach us. Summer internship experiences have ranged from fantastic to dreadful. Extended offers are fewer than in the recent past. Some of us have figured out precisely what career path we will seek this recruiting season; others of us have no clue. Most of us enjoyed quality time with family and old friends. There were engagements and also funerals. The weight of the recent terrorist attacks is still heavy. Many of us are still glowing (and tan) from safe and joyous travels. This summer has been every bit as challenging as it has been liberating.

And with all of this, the demands of school persist. This coming year will be quite unlike those most of us have experienced before. At a time when uncertainty abounds, we are faced with making important decisions about our futures. We all have full plates, psychologically and emotionally. Given this, how do we proceed? We hope to share a few lessons learned from the summer’s events, from our first year at the GSB and from each other.

We first want to emphasize the importance of optimism. In light of the mixed feelings of the past few weeks, it might be tempting to let positivism fall the way of consumer confidence. This summer, we have seen the economy slow down and the markets take a nosedive. Given the fast pace and constant change of our program, we may fall prey to panic about recruiting or cynicism about the administration. Pessimism caused by dwelling on losses and mistakes can corrode our conviction and self-assurance. Optimism, on the other hand, creates possibilities for ourselves and for those around us. As potential leaders, especially, we’re challenged to ally our competence with a sterling attitude.

Heroic acts need not be limited to crisis situations. We honor our heroes for their exemplary values, for brave actions in adverse conditions and for overcoming vices. In our daily lives, we have the chance to do the same. This close-knit culture needs people who are willing to look out for one another and be engaged in the lives of others. Business school environments present their own set of vices such as competition, social insecurity, and fear of failure. Yet our collective talents, dedication and wealth of experience equip us to meet any challenge and be of service to this community.

In difficult times, groups either splinter or cohere. The GSB community is no exception. Recognizing our common values and fate brings us resilience under pressure and disappointment. We can manifest this awareness by protecting the interests of people other than ourselves. Socially this can mean extending beyond our comfort zones, interrupting the feedback loop of first impressions. As we move through the year, we’d be remiss to not realize that the community we build here will outlast this year’s hardships, and will carry us through future failures and triumphs.

Now, more than ever, is the time to be authentic. September 11th has only reminded us of what we already knew – life is short and extremely unpredictable and we must live fully in the time that we have. Finding our life passions means we have to be real with ourselves and with others. In the coming months many opportunities are going to be scarce. This is both a curse and a godsend. With fewer carrots and sticks dangling before us, we will have to rely on internal motivators when we choose our direction. This year will enable us to think about what we want for individual reasons, and less so for external ones. In the same way, we urge first years not to waste too much time “testing the waters” and guarding your identities. Understandably you want to present your most polished self: the future CEO -- accomplished, on top of everything, prepared, infallible. Many of us second years did the same. However, we can tell you the sooner you get past that barricade, the sooner the real GSB experience will begin. Just let loose.

As we strive to be our authentic selves, we also need to recognize the gaps that our divergent capabilities create. As ambitious and hard-driving individuals, we tend to try to do it all. But we usually find that he demands of this environment require us to share responsibility. When we do rely on others, we’re quick to judge other people’s abilities -- especially when we feel intimidated. Yet the level of intelligence and good intention here far surpasses what we’ll find elsewhere. Endowed with very different strengths and weaknesses, we need to remember to supplant intellectual muscle with wisdom, and trust others when we can. Through mutual support, we strengthen our self-reliance and our ability to lead this community.

We wish everyone a great year. Don’t forget to have fun, try something new, and (of course) continue to pursue personal improvement!

Author: By Sabrina Moyle and La Vonda Williams

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To the class of 2009, and all faculty and staff, welcome back. To the class of 2010, welcome to our community; we look forward to meeting you all. Many of us already know that this is the start of yet another phenomenal experience. In our Palo Alto microclimate, days are longer and fuller (and not just because we sleep less!).

After a year-and-a-half hiatus, The Reporter has once again opened its cyberdoors for business. We encourage you to step right in and have a seat – we would like to welcome you to The Virtual Reporter. Our address is www.virtualreporter.org.

To the Class of 2010:

We wanted to extend to you a heart-felt welcome to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. You are among an extraordinary group of people who have achieved incredible feats in their professional and personal lives. You have demonstrated that you could balance assertiveness with compassion and that you would not allow professional ambition to overshadow social responsiveness. Check also Help for students tuition fee and Building Career.

Ten years ago, Peter Dumanian, MBA ’92, and a few of his GSB classmates envisioned the East Palo Alto Chapter of the “I Have a Dream” (IHAD) program, modeled after a famous program founded a decade earlier in East Harlem. Within a year and a half, a core group of 20 GSB students raised $450,000 from classmates, alumni, and corporate donors, and adopted a class of 58 3rd and 4th grade “Dreamers” from Flood elementary school. The program was a phenomenal success, as class after class of GSB students tutored and mentored the Dreamers through high school.

OK. For those of you who decided to leave the Bay Area for your lofty summer jobs in New York and abroad, you have truly missed a fun time. That’s right. We have taken Summer FOAM to a whole new level. Alternating every other week between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, we have covered major ground and discovered some of the city’s best-kept secrets. Let me give you a taste of our travels.

“One time…in Math Camp!” Of course, we couldn’t help steal from American Pie to share our experiences in the Stanford GSB QPEP (Quantitative Pre-Enrollment Program, lovingly called Math Camp). Math Camp was a surprisingly memorable week that took place 4 days before most other first-year GSBers even arrived to campus.

Jen: The email arrived on a Saturday in early August. It contained the syllabus and reading list for my pre-term seminar with Dean Joss, “Issues on Leadership.” Summer wasn’t even over yet... a reading list?! What did I get myself into?

Fortunately, the books weren’t too academic. In fact, they were almost enjoyable. Shackleton’s Way taught leadership lessons as shown by an Antarctic explorer who was stranded on an iceberg in 1912 and kept his 28 men alive for 2 years. Leadership Pipeline examined different styles of leadership and the skills and values needed for each.

When 120 GSB students departed from Schwab to participate in their Outdoor Adventure Whitewater Rafting trip, many of them envisioned scenes from the movie The River Wild. However, due to a variety of circumstances, the search for whitewater rapids in Northern California was much more like Mission Impossible.

As the first-year students pile onto campus full of verve and optimism, trying to find their ways between S182 and S171, courageously ordering complex sandwiches and burritos in Arbuckle, the second-years ooze back to the GSB like an unsuccessfully eradicated slime mold, grimly noting the enthusiasm with which their junior colleagues snap up copies of Teamwork: A Guide for Suckers.

On September 10th, tomorrow seemed like just another day in the life of a first year GSB student. My biggest concerns about that Tuesday were standard orientation fare: Will I have a good hair day for that dreaded facebook picture? Who's going to help me configure my computer to the Schwab network? How on earth am I going to wake up for the way-too-early Excel review without an alarm clock?

My research suggests that when a system is threatened, proponents of that system tend to respond defensively, almost instinctively, to bolster support for the central tenets of the system. In part, this is what has happened in the case of last week’s terrorist attacks: some Islamic fundamentalists are fighting a holy war against the U.S. allegedly to defend the existence and purity of their system against what they perceive to be our military, economic, and cultural imperialism. Of course, this does not justify the attacks (nothing could), though it may help to explain it.

Tata Consultancy Services – eat your heart out. We’re on a GMIX at BaliCamp! While this is plenty of information to set the stage for second years, the first years will undoubtedly benefit from some additional background. GMIX, which stands for Global Management Immersion eXperience, is a four-week internship that SBS students can elect to take during the summer between their first and second years (see http://www-gsb.stanford.edu/gmp/opportunities/gmix.htm for more information). For additional info on Tata, you’ll have to wait and see…