I had an interesting conversation with a 2008 HBS graduate this past Friday. This particular individual, let’s call him Jake, and I were talking about how to make management consulting work with a family. He gave me what turned out to be some great advice which got me thinking more broadly about work life balance.

Like me, Jake is married with two children. Unlike me, he never served in the military. Instead, he went and worked in the oil and gas industry for a few years after college and before deciding that a formal business education was the best next step in his career. We met during recruiting last summer and have been pretty close since then.

Jake is also a project team leader at the consulting firm for which we both work and has been a ‘top block’ guy from a performance standpoint since he started with the firm. What I like most about Jake isn’t that he’s been successful from a company point of view (though he’s achieved a level of success that I too would like to achieve), but that he’s been just as successful on the home front as well (our wives are also friends). And if you talk to Jake, he’d tell you that his priorities fall out in the exact opposite order in which I just listed them.

Although I’ve been back at the firm full-time for over a month now, we hadn’t had the opportunity to catch up in person until this past Friday. He asked me how things were going, and I explained to him that I had been immediately staffed on a project which has me going primarily to Chicago, but also to Houston on occasion. (That means that I’m taking the 7:25am flight out every Monday morning to either Chicago or Houston, and arriving back at home around 9 or 10pm every Thursday night. Friday, of course, is also a work day, though I spend it in the local office). Overall, I tell him, I’m working hard but that things are going well. We start talking about our families, and I explain to him that I haven’t quite settled into a routine yet in terms of balancing work demands with those of an engaged husband and father. I wasn’t looking for any sympathy, or advice for that matter, and fully expected Jake to say something to the effect of, “…yeah, it just takes time.” So I was a bit surprised when he actually offered some guidance. “Turn off your (work issued) cell phone and don’t look at it until Sunday night.” I commented that I’d have to give it a try, but more or less filed it away alongside all of the other John Maxwell-esque type guidance I’ve come across in my day.

On my drive home that day, however, I started thinking more about Jake’s advice. Having been on my current team for four weeks now, I can count on one hand (maybe two) the number of emails that have been sent out on a Saturday or Sunday. So my immediate thought was that maybe Jake’s advice was more relevant for people who were on “burner projects” that required round-the-clock work hours. Not to mention, it struck me as a fairly irresponsible thing for an early tenured consultant to do. I learned very early on in my plebe year at West Point that the key to success when you’re just starting out is to swim with, not against, the current. If something came up that required my attention, I should make sure that I was prepared to react, not get to it when I decided to get to it.

As I pulled up to my house, I saw my son and his friend playing basketball in our driveway. I grabbed my work cell phone from its location in my car’s cup holder, checked my email one last time, and pressed the power button until it powered off. I thought to myself, what the hell. I would give it a try this weekend and see how it goes.

So here we are on Sunday night. The world is still standing and I still have a job. More importantly, unplugging enabled me to focus 100% on being present with my family. I’m pretty sure that it also contributed to my decreased stress levels. Not surprisingly, we had a great weekend. And although I’m flying out yet again tomorrow morning, I feel less guilty about it.

My phone is now powered on and while there are a few emails in my work account, none of them are critical. Oddly, it was a subtle reminder that while my responsibility set as a consultant is still very real, it is nowhere near as vital as the one I had as an Army officer. Maybe it was that realization that I had hitherto failed to make. Or perhaps it was that work-life balance is simply a series of tradeoffs. Nevertheless, plugging back in on Sunday night, as opposed to every 10-15 minutes throughout the weekend when I would normally check my phone, feels like a much better and more sustainable way to do things. I’m pretty sure my wife and kids would agree.

- Rob C., guest blogger

MBA Military Applicant Guidebooks

I'm pleased to announce a series of guidebooks specifically geared for military MBA applicants. After collecting successful applications from military applicants at the top business schools (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Dartmouth, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg, UVA, and Duke), I hand picked best-in-class essays which effectively communicated the wide range of experience that military applicants typically struggle with in their application process. For each essay, I included a one page analysis highlighting why that essay was selected, what its strengths were, and what areas could be improved to make an even more perfect essay. The "Ultimate" guide has over 100 pages of essays, resumes, analysis, and advice.

The essay topics are broken down by category, such as leadership, accomplishments, setbacks, and community engagements. Military stories range from picking up one's first platoon, to passing a navy performance test, to commanding an aircraft, to life at a service academy, to going above and beyond on collateral duties typically assigned to a young officer. There are also many essays that are not directly military related, ranging from playing sports in college or organizing high school events. It's important to recognize the value of these essays as well, as it is sometimes difficult for military applicants to know where to balance military and personal stories. Reading through these essays will bring a tremendous amount of clarity to all these questions.

Additionally, I created a resume book of successful pre-MBA resumes, to give new applicants an idea of the kind of language that successful applicants used in their resumes to effectively communicate accomplishments and job descriptions. The resume book covers applicants who went to USMA, USNA, and USAFA, as well as private and public universities.

Overall, I believe these guides will serve tremendously to level the playing field for military applicants versus traditional (banking, consulting, etc) applicants, who can more easily gain access to successful examples of applications for people of their backgrounds.

The guidebooks are a great companion for somebody in the process of applications, as well as for anyone several years out who wants to get a glimpse into the kinds of activities, engagements, and valuable lessons that applicants were able to tap into as part of a successful application.

For more information on the guidebooks, click here.

9/11: Looking Back

On September 11, 2001, I found myself outside of the Pentagon, on assignment. A few months ago, the Smithsonian asked if I would donate those images to the museum's collection, and I was honored to make the donation. As it turns out, they were doing a special on 9/11 for the Smithsonian Channel, and asked if I would sit down to discuss some of those images.

Their special begins showing this coming week, with previews online now. A segment and some of the images that were donated appears in the section on the show's main page, under "Donating the Pieces", which can be seen by clicking here.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Teaching listening

More suggestions on practical exercises to teach listening skills are in a nice blog post from Teacher's Tonic.

I am in the process of investigating the best way to set up a web resource for educators to share with each ideas, experiences and suggestions so that we can establish a body of evidence and some best practice guidelines. At the moment we're thinking a Google Group. I am trying to capture email addresses for all the educators who are contacting me through my blog, email, Google+, Facebook, Twitter... quite a task but it will be well worth it! Email me at julian.treasure@thesoundagency.com if you'd like to be involved.

Import Export Business Questions And Answers

The following was a comment made to a post I made back in June 2010 and rather than having the answers to the commenter's questions buried in the comments I decided to make my answers and reply a new post.

As a reminder - the links to 5 1/2 years of archived posts in this blog are located in the lower right of the sidebar area (you will have to scroll down to see them) - These are IMPORTANT posts with IMPORTANT information you need to know - after reading this post/page, go check them out, bookmark the blog so you may easily return as we update when valuable and important events occur - real world information and REAL experience.

Commenter's Post and Questions:

This is a very informative blog you have written and I do agree that you should motivate yourself and make your own decisions to determine your own success. I am very impressed at your honesty in a business where many will bend the truth to make an easy progress. However, I have two questions:

1. Are you saying that great mentors are hard to find in this business?

2. Why shouldnt you be in this business for the money? Of course i am interested in travel and succesful business building, but are you saying that I should still have a motivation to participate in international trade even if i am without a comfortable profit?

3. Is this a business that can be done part time until you have fulfilled your obligation of your current full time job? (Im on a contract)

Please forgive me if I have taken anything into misconception. I am a hard worker with a mind of an aggresive leader, however I believe that money is the ultimate reward for such an attitude.

Thanks alot sir for an honest blog and great knowledge.

My Reply with Answers to the questions above:

First, I must emphasize that you should read ALL the posts within this blog - the archived posts are available by Month and Year and are listed in the lower right side of each page of the blog (or should be) - many of these types of questions have been answered since I began the blog in February 2006.

OK, in answer to your questions:

1. Are you saying that great mentors are hard to find in this business?

In reality finding "great" or "real" mentors are hard to find in any business based on my definition of a mentor which is where you and I may part ways.

A mentor (in my view) is someone that you actually (physically) work with in an office environment and those types of situations are virtually unheard of today. So onto the online type of mentor.

At the http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentor
website you will find the following as some examples for the use of the word mentor:

After college, her professor became her close friend and mentor.

He needed a mentor to teach him about the world of politics.

We volunteer as mentors to disadvantaged children.

Young boys in need of mentors.

So again, in my interpretation of the above, a mentor is someone who is "physically" present or available to answer your specific questions.

There are some high priced courses offered some I have seen for as high as $8K to $30K which offered to provide you with a 'mentor'....unfortunately, most of these do not live up to what the customer believes they are paying for when commiting this unecessaryily high amount of money to learn this business.

In most instances people get nothing more than someone who has earned a very nice commission off of you who is reading from the same materials that they have already sent you.

I addressed the need for someone to have someone to discuss their options with about a particular deal several times over in the blog, primarily under the subject heading of "making decisions".

A mentor is not there to make your decisions but should have provided you with the knowledge so that you can make an informed decision based on your own research and abilities....it is NOT their business, it is yours after all.

In regards to the course of instruction we offer - I consider it to be your 'mentor'. It is an 18 year work in progress that includes most, if not all, the questions that both we and the publisher have received over those years that may not have been covered at the time....with updates to the 'mentor' course, those questions and answers to them are now included.

The step-by-step instruction of a mentor is provided by the course....the decision making is provided by you!

2. Why shouldnt you be in this business for the money? Of course i am interested in travel and succesful business building, but are you saying that I should still have a motivation to participate in international trade even if i am without a comfortable profit?

I think there may be some misunderstanding of what I was trying to say about "being in the business for the money".

The problem that I see with MOST people who look at the import export business is they are "opportunity" seekers who when faced with having to operate a "real" business will never succeed and ultimately base their failure on the course because "it did not work for me". They are ultimately searching for the magic button (or book or course) that after they read it, everything will go exactly right for them and they will be rich and famous within months.

They jump from one business opportunity to another, usually the more hyped it is, the more people fall for it because they are looking for the easy.

The Import Export business is that - a business! Our course is your mentor, it provides you with the step by step instructions that are needed to succeed in the business.

Back to your question, yes, MONEY is the absolute motivation, otherwise why bother, but again, don't look at this business like a magic carpet or genie in a bottle.

3. Is this a business that can be done part time until you have fulfilled your obligation of your current full time job? (Im on a contract)

Most people start the business on a part time basis and that is what both the publisher and I recommend....whether you can evolve it into a full time income by the time your contract is up? I cannot assure you of that, nor can anyone else and this is something that I also addressed elsewhere in the blog....please read the entire blog, the entire course page and linked to pages in the course page, then make the most informed decision possible, it will be your first major decision in this business.

Putting aside the legal reasons why I cannot answer this question, there IS no guarantee you will earn any money at all in importing or exporting. Just like there's no guarantee a new restaurant will make money, or a guarantee that you'll get a job in your major after graduating from college. There's also no guarantee you won't die 5 minutes after ordering the course.

I hope the above will better clarify what was stated in previous posts within this blog?

Ron Coble

Import Export Business Help Center

A Call-Out to Photography School Professors and Deans

If you are a professor at a photography school, or a dean of a department at a photography school, and are either now using, or would like to use, Best Business Practices for Photographers, in your curriculum, please send me an email.


(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Wedding Photographer Convicted On Breach of Contract

Greenville SC photographer Gerald Randolph Byrd was convicted of failing to deliver images to a wedding client - even though he had been paid - and recieved a sentence of 8 years in jail, suspended to two years of house arrest, according to WYFF television, as reported here.

Byrd charged $2,450 to a wedding couple, and was paid. Because his breach of contract included fraudulent intent, his sentence was so severe, it seems.

A word to the wise - when your client signs a contract, YOU have to live up to the terms of the contract too, and that includes delivering on what you promised you would.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

MBA Joint Degrees - Are Two Degrees Better Than One?

Grad school is an investment – you spend time and money early in your career with the expectation that it will lead to better opportunities and higher salaries down the road. But would two stellar degrees set you up for even greater success and earning potential? Maybe, but maybe not.
Completion of a joint degree program entails a significant additional investment of resources, and you should closely analyze the opportunity costs in order to figure out whether a joint degree program is right for you. For many prospective students the chance to earn two degrees at a top tier university will be an opportunity too good to pass up. For many others though a joint degree may not make sense. Here is a framework for thinking through this difficult decision, based both on things I considered prior to matriculating to Harvard for a J.D./MBA and things I didn’t think about but probably should have.
The analysis below considers whether to obtain a second (joint) degree, assuming that you are already committed to getting one degree at a top school. Although I will attempt to present a general breakdown, I will use numbers and thoughts specific to a Harvard J.D./MBA on occasion, simply because this is the joint program with which I am most familiar.

Is a joint degree worth it financially?
Most joint degrees allow you to save a year versus completing the two degrees sequentially. However, the additional costs are still significant. From a purely financial perspective the question is whether over the course of your career you will be able to recoup the extra year(s) of tuition and the opportunity costs of not working while completing your additional degree. I think the best way to analyze the purely financial aspect of this decision is through a discounted cash flow analysis. In other words, the outcome will hinge on how much more you think you can earn over your career with the additional degree.
Because this is primarily a b-school oriented blog, I assume you, as a prospective student, are already committed to going to Harvard b-school and are trying to decide whether to also pursue a law degree (two extra years) or an Masters in Public Policy (one additional year). I used the following assumptions:
- Career remaining right now: 35 years
- Additional cost of J.D. – two years at Harvard Law School, including tuition and cost of living
- Additional cost of MPP – one year at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, including tuition and cost of living
- Average starting salary for MBA only = 2010 average starting salary for HBS grads
- Average annual raise = 3.6% (this is quite variable based on industry, personal performance, etc., but I based this number on a Wall Street Journal article from 2006 – before the current recession)
- Cost of Capital = risk free investment rate of 30-year T-bonds (4.12%)
Using these assumptions, your starting salary would need to be 9.2% higher with an MBA/MPP or 19.5% higher with a J.D./MBA in order to make up for the additional investment. If you expect to receive higher than average (3.6%) raises over your career, the amount of additional starting salary needed to catch up over 35 years increases.
From a financial perspective then, one way to look at the question is to ask whether the additional degree will enable you to coax 9%-20% more from your post grad school employer or to get into an industry that pays 9%-20% more on average.

Will a second degree open up additional job opportunities?
The obvious answer is yes – BUT… this is most true in fields for which the second degree is a requirement (e.g., law), or where you have a very clear idea of what you want to do after grad school and how both degrees support that direction. Although a second degree is unlikely to be a serious detriment to your future ability to get a job, it is not true that “it can’t hurt.” All else equal, employers would prefer to hire b-school graduates who are likely to remain with the company for a significant time. A second degree in an unrelated field opens applicants up to additional (although not insurmountable) scrutiny regarding commitment and career direction.

Is there anything else I should consider?
The one factor that I wish I had put more thought into prior to going back to school for four years is the importance of doing something productive and meaningful with one’s life. After having spent time in the workforce (as most MBA students have), going back to school can feel somewhat unproductive after awhile. Reading cases and going to class just isn’t doing a whole lot to make the world a better place. Hopefully grad school sets you up to make bigger differences in the future, but you will not be doing a whole lot to make anyone’s life better while you are at school. For me personally, a two year “break” to go back to school felt about right – during my final two years I was very ready to be doing something more productive than going to class.
Another factor that will play into many people’s decision making is prestige. Here, having two degrees is certainly superior to one. This point is likely to serve as the X-factor for many prospective students. After thinking through the financial and job opportunities that may arise from an additional degree, you may find that a second degree does not objectively make sense – but you still want to do it. That decision is not irrational or wrong as long as the prestige value of having two degrees outweighs the additional financial and time investments you will be making.
Whether or not to pursue a second graduate degree is a tough decision that will play out differently for every person. This article provides a framework for analyzing the financial and non-financial implications of that decision in an attempt to help you make the choice that is best for you.
- Kurt W., Guest Blogger, HLS/HBS 2011 (Bio)

Listening games

Listening Games.pdf Download this file

Jazz musician and teacher Huw Lloyd has sent me this set of fun listening games taken from the world of improv theatre. He uses them to help musicians listen better, but we can probably all use them! I think some of these would nicely leaven the rather more serious listening exercises I have already posted here.

Keep 'em coming!

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

FCC Moves to Give Viewers Choice and Provide More Competition on Cable Systems

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has adopted rules designed to halt cable system operators from retaliating against independent channels when there are business disputes or discriminating against them in favor of ones in which they ownership stakes.

The rules are intended to ensure that the monopoly power of cable operators is not used to deny viewer choice or harm competition channel providers.

One rule is designed to prohibit systems from dropping channels when there are business disputes with systems that have been taken to the commission for resolution.

Another rule is designed to create a more level playing field for independent channels by making it possible for them to reach more viewers. Comcast Corp., for example, has been accused in recent years of forcing competitors’ sports channels into premium packages that fewer viewers select.

Given that price rises for cable services have far outstripped inflation rates in recent years, that service providers create bundles of channels that primarily serve their benefits rather customers, and that consumers continually express dissatisfaction with choices, prices, and customer service provided, it is not surprising that the commission decided to act to slightly limit the power of the major players.

The big cable players are livid about the rules, of course, and can be expected to be highly active in the next regulatory stage seeking comments on how to implement the rules.

At this point they and they supporters are complaining that keeping channels on the air while dispute resolution is underway is somehow unfair to them. The system operators, of course, refuse to recognize how it is particularly unfair to customers who have no way to influence the decision.

Business Skills For the Wedding Photographer

Absent from most workshop programs that teach photographers how to take better pictures, is how to earn a living once you are proficient with a camera. I submit that photographers that are mediocre in their talents and excellent in their business skills will succeed far and away better than the most talented photographer who hides under a rock when presented with the opportunity to learn more about being in business.
As such, I have been asked by the good folks at Momenta Workshops to talk about the business aspect of being a wedding photographer.


About the Program
The wedding industry is readily expanding as photographers look for new markets and revenue streams. The photographers and studios that will last are the ones who build sustainable business practices into their growth models. Momenta believes in supporting photographers with professional training at all levels. We believe a stronger photographic community means success for everyone. Therefore, we are offering this one day, intensive business skills workshop to help you take your profitability and business practices to the next level.

Our panelists, speakers and lecturers will cover topics that will help each division of your services. From marketing to finance to client relations and products, we will discuss the many ways you can build your business to be more profitable and successful.

Along with the handout materials and lectures, we are providing all pre-registered participants with a copy of John Harrington's Best Business Practices for Photographers. John Harrington is a national asset to photographers who offers professional, tested advice on how to make the best financial decisions to grow your business successfully. His book has been considered the "Bible of Freelance Photography" for many photojournalists and studios since it's first publication.

Hit the jump for the program, or go HERE to register and learn more!

(Continued after the Jump)

Here's the program:

9:15 a.m. | Keynote Speaker Address. Maryland based Amy Deputy will discuss finding your bliss in your career. Amy will share her story of growth from a wedding freelancer into one of American PHOTO’s Top 10 Wedding Photographers. Her discussion, punctuated with her award winning portfolio images, will focus on the successes, mistakes and major learning lessons of her career. Amy will guide attending photographers through her very unique journey to finding the right price point for her services and how she found the right clients for personal vision. Following her presentation, Amy will open the floor up for Q&A.

1 p.m. | John Harrington’s Best Business Practices for Photographers. Grab a seat and get ready for four of the most fascinating hours of your career. John’s usual one-hour lectures just scratch the surface of his vast level of expertise in growing a business. Having and reading John’s book is just the beginning for understanding the best way to become a professional and make your more business profitable. Seeing John in action ties it all together!

Throughout the afternoon, John will be walking you through the many steps you will need to succeed in today’s economy using all the tools available to you. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a brand new start up, we are confident you will learn an enormous amount from John’s workshop. Through interactive presentations, actual client phone call recording and practical examples, John will cover the following topics and more in his afternoon address: pricing your services for sustainable income; how to create a portfolio worthy of client presentation; finding clients in a bad economy; how to get clients who won’t fight your pricing; client negotiations and tactics for success; planning for taxes and accounting practices to save you time and money; professional gear for professional people; how to use your leadership skills, social networking, marketing and peer groups for your business’ future growth.

....and we wrap up at 5.

Register HERE!

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Teaching listening in schools

Following my TED talk on conscious listening and why it should be taught in schools, I've had enquiries from educators about how this can be done. Here are some practical suggestions. There are many more ideas and I would love to hear what people all over the world come up with. I plan to start a new web resource for listing in schools, probably a blog where people can post their experiences and ideas.

Help them to experience this possibly for the first time in their lives. Teach about it (take a look at my blog on silence for some ideas) and then work up from short shared silences - maybe one minute to start with - to longer ones. This will be very precious for them, but also very challenging. Ask them to write or share their experience of these silences, and what silence means in their lives.

Take them to rich aural environments (start inside the school) and have them pair and log all the sound sources they hear. If you have the resources, let them experiment with multichannel sound.

Give them a multi-day project to notice sounds and bring their three favourites in to class to share. If you have the resources (eg own a Zoom H2 digital recorder or similar) do this one small group at a time and have them record the sounds to play to all. You could do the same with sounds they dislike.

Listening positions
The most powerful of all. Pair them up and have A say what they had for breakfast while B listens from different positions (for example 1 I'm bored; 2 I want to be friends with this person; 3 I'm in a hurry; 4 what can I learn from this - please make up your own also). Have the As share their experiences at the end, then the Bs. Swap and repeat. If they get the principle that you can change reality by listening from a different place, that will be a great gift.

RASA (receive, appreciate, summarise, ask)
Practice each element by pairing up again and have listeners turn each element off and on while listening and then both people share their experience. Have them share about their general experience of being listened to at home, in school and elsewhere (especially by adults), and how it affects their own listening to others. 

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous