Dear Achilles, Madonna, and Alexander Hamilton-Mongold,
By now you already know how smart, charming, and confident your mother is - but it wasn’t always that way. Tough to believe, I know, but during my first few weeks at Darden in 2012, it was quite a different story.
Despite my best intentions, I haven’t yet won an academic scholarship or been voted Most Likely To Succeed and Give an Acceptance Speech that Begins with a Thomas Jefferson Quote. In fact, all I’ve managed to do is come up with a decent list of things to do or say if I get cold-called in class. These include: Singing the Section B song in an attempt to distract the class and hoping that the professor forgets she called on me, faking narcolepsy and passing out on my binder, and crying. Those are all great ideas until one considers that I’ve got a very large fear of poking my eyeball out with an open binder ring, and that my section decided to outlaw crying during our Section Norms discussion (apparently classes at Darden are a lot like baseball*). If those fail and I actually have to answer a question, my plan B involves a response that includes one of these words/phrases: holistic, nuanced, globalization, big data, or synergy. The commonly misused “leverage” is so passé. Bonus points if you can turn the professor’s question into a larger question of “the cultural framework that even makes us ask it that way.”
Similarly, I’d like to be able to tell you that I’ve at least been able to put myself together for class. Coming from an R&D environment where wearing jeans was normal and a button-down shirt meant you were dressed up, starting at Darden has been quite a fashion shock. The 2,391,840 cardigans that I own and told myself I’d be able to use in school no longer seem classy. I suddenly feel like pre-Jim Pam from The Office next to the much cooler Karen Filipelli (hop onto Netflix or iTunes or whatever the heck online TV-watching websites people use in the future and check out “The Office”). Normally this would mean I needed to go shopping, but because I now have neither the money nor the time, I will make do with what I have. See Exhibit 1 for a diagram of what I look like on a daily basis.
Anyway it’s getting late and I need to go work on an infographic for class. I should probably do spreadsheets instead, but as you saw in Exhibit 1, my art skills know no bounds and can’t be contained. The moral of this email is to remember that you don’t have to always know what to say in class or look super-polished to end up being ridiculously powerful, successful, and on the speed-dial of Kanye and Kim Jong-Un**.
Remember – don’t do drugs and be nice to adults.
* You may not have heard of him but Tom Hanks was a genius. Go watch “A League of Their Own” and don’t expect to be able to eat dinner until you can tell me why the Rockford Peaches are better than the whiny Racine Belles.
** If, for some awful reason in the future, I am NOT on the speed dials of Kanye and Kim Jong-Un, you may rightfully mock me as a failure.***
*** I don’t actually like Kim Jong-Un, or any dictator. I do, however, give him props for his use of Disney characters to make North Koreans feel like they live in a happy place. Maybe he won’t need any b-school consulting, after all.