Impressions of a First Year

This is your brain. This is your brain on a running average of three hours of sleep per night. Any questions? Life has become a blur. When people outside of HBS ask me how I like school, I reflexively tell them that I can’t remember, then narcoleptically collapse. I get by these days by raising my name placard in the beginning of class, clapping at the end, and mumbling to myself in between.

Time has dilated. I literally have no fair grasp of the units of time any longer. I know time in reference to my study group write ups and career team days. I think I still have a family. I’m not sure because I haven’t checked in a while. I’m not sure about having a pulse either – all I know is now Massachusetts has a governor whose parents named him Mitt.

I walked up to a friend of mine to tell him a story of how wild and crazy my study group was. We now dedicate our write ups to people from Taran Swan to unrequited loves. Prematurely he stopped me to inform me of how he and I were in the same study group. I immediately went home to nap. The autopilot switch was officially on.

I have also become my HBS education.

I’m given up on my critique of any form of the word incent, including incentivize, or any form of incentology. I now clap for everything including the end of every TV show including Dr. Phil. When I send greeting cards, I draw a 2X2 matrix and rate the affection have for the recipient on the scale of family & potential mate vs. like & love.

I got in a fist fight with the security guard at Logan because I thought the cycle times of getting through security were unacceptable. I got a t-account debiting cash tattooed on my arm. I can’t tell you where my profitability decision tree tattoo is.

I’ve got two strikes. I’m on autopilot and I’ve been indoctrinated. Given these circumstances, I’ve written a quick manual to survive at HBS with not being mentally here at all. I don’t recommend using the recipe:

Before you say anything, regardless of what was said before – say “Just to build off of X’s statement,” X being any name you can think of:

Often in class students lead their comment with a “just to build” and then proceed into an alternate universe. This is fully acceptable and even respected in certain circles. I’ve now integrated “Just to build” into my daily conversation, and it’s doing great with my target audience of females 20-26.

Make up terms and use clich‚s to the level of abuse:
Cross the Chasm, be visionary, spark synergy, exploit the cold channel, and maximize maximization. If you can remember literally anything from a previous class, exploit that like Beech Nut does developing countries. It doesn’t matter if you talk about Jan Carlzon in FRC, you can make it work.

Stay Awake:
This isn’t an obvious one. There are some second years that will die by the opinion that you can be unconscious and get a two. I don’t agree, but who am I? In actuality, this is advice to myself. Moreover, I’ve seen some interesting solutions to this problem including someone holding their own head up by their hair. You get extra points for creativity.

Clap all of the time:
Act like you are in Carnegie Hall; you’ll fit right in. Act like you are watching Elvis on Ed Sullivan. Act like you are watching pre-surgery Michael Jackson. Act like every appliance in your home is connected to The Clapper. This is a cheap way to pay for club membership.

I’m actually advanced to the point that I pride myself in being a clap catalyst; AKA the guy that forces everyone else to clap. I can spark the class into more meaningless applause sessions than at the end of Three’s Company episodes. It’s my tacit version of a price war.
Never reference your study group unless you want to deny blame:

The whole point of most study groups is to leverage work that isn’t yours. This description of a study group of course doesn’t include mine, in which we enjoy rigorous discussion on every case, every night, religiously. For all of you other lowlifes, claim that point proudly, but tacitly. I find that people agree with me for the most part as they only acknowledge the existence of the group when something has gone terribly wrong or when there is doubt in the air. For example, you can blame a bad decision tree answer on the study group, but when talking about how Giuliani was a great leader, you better go out on your own.

Allen Narcisse, the author, loves keeping everyone happy and good article ideas. Feel free to contact him as he is eager to get feedback on his rants. Go Blue.