3 – Lessons I Learned in Business School

Rachel accomplished her MBA a few years back, but still many of the Lessons I Learned in Business School have stuck in her head and she continues to use it in her business and in her life. Here are some of the lessons I have learned in attending business school:

Assets – Liabilities = Equity

The basic A – L = E formula (Assets less Liabilities is Equity). While this point was really an inside joke between us, the simple learning of what goes into the balance sheet has been important for myself and how you can work on your net worth.

Stupid as it is, but I was just an art teacher, I thought HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals. By the way, you will learn that MBAs LOVE their acronyms) or billionaires all have billions in cash. Later did I realize that a lot of it is really locked up on shares of stock or other more illiquid assets.

Importance of Leverage

I used to think all debt is bad and the fastest lane towards poverty. However, you realize that it’s not that bad and leverage is a quick way to scale business and reach profits. Of course, it is worthy to note that not all debt is created equal and terms and conditions vary. There are loan sharks that are meant to enslave people, preying on the poor and the unbanked.

The Art of Negotiations

I urge all MBA students to take this elective, and non-MBAs to take this course when you have the chance. I learned many valuable things here. I used to think the art of negotiations is all about ‘winning’. Rather than being self-focused, you have to be other-focused, and create a situation that is win-win for all parties.

To be able to negotiate right, you have to do your research and understand the other party. Know what is cheap and what is expensive for them. Most of all, identify their BATNA (Best Alternative to the Negotiating Agreement). Make the first offer to create the anchor, especially when dealing with a purchase or making a price offer.

Behavioral Economics

Economics taught me how economies work, and behavioral economics taught me why people do what they do. These concepts become especially useful in marketing. Choice architecture enables you to nudge consumers towards the choice you want them to make, from the website layout to survey questions.

Organizing my Thought

In Asian Institute of Management, all our classes are taught using the case method, where a huge part of our grades is determined through CP (class participation). As there are 74 of us in a 60-minute class, we need to be able to have some air time to have a good grade. Our business school professors are not particularly the most patient, and you could lose your chance at CP if you waste their time.

Because of this type, we need to make quality air time by saying our point in as concise a way as possible.

Value of Networking

It’s not about knowing a lot of people, it’s about knowing the right people. In business school, especially in my US experience, you have so much free time. It is up to you how you make the most of your time, by applying for jobs, indulging in extracurricular activities, sports and hobbies, or going to networking events. By choosing a unique set of activities, you are able to enrich and individuate your MBA journey.

I have had the amazing opportunity of having my educational experience in both Asia and  the US, it gave me a glimpse of the differences of East and West thinking, of Asia-centric and US-centric, collectivist and individualistic way of thinking. The thought processes, mindset, world view are different, which we will discuss in a separate episode (East vs. West Thinking)

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