The below text was not born as a blog post for broader audiences originally, but as something I wrote for the class yearbook a month ago. Given that my final exam just slipped into a lockbox without looking back, the class is about to gather for getting their yearbooks in beautiful printed form and to properly conclude the quarterly summaries tradition (see Summer, Autumn, Winter here) – I’m posting it anyway.
Not sure if and when I’ll have the energy to attempt a more comprehensive synthesis of this entire year, or should I even attempt, after the 57 blog posts…
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 10 (40), Spring quarter
Our last two days of five classes were almost all about presentations with a few wise final words from each professor. Pictured above is the last of my last moments, with Professor Charles Holloway, co-founder of Stanford’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and a driving force behind many startup-focused academic initiatives in this school over the decades. My last class co-incidentally was the very last Formation of New Ventures Chuck taught for 16 years together with John Morgridge of Cisco fame.
I am sad this is over, not counting one remaining exam. And glad I made it here in time to be part of so many defining classes like this over the past year. I guess it is up to us now to walk out of this campus in the footsteps of many whom these teachers have personally sent off to change the world over the years.
John’s closing words included “don’t try to do it all by 35”. Relieved to know, having crossed that milestone at Stanford.
Covered in this issue:
- very brief summary remarks from professors concluding their quarter
- Last Lecture by JetBlue Chairman Joel Peterson
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 9 (39), Spring quarter
The Memorial Day week was the only one compressed to four long days this quarter, with the main theme on finalizing group projects. We submitted an operations case on optimizing pre-season parka ordering from China by a ski-wear fashion brand. And are relatively ready to present in the coming short and very last class week: a lightly market-tested business idea for a social network analytics product, a convincing churn and package upgrade/downgrade prediction model for an APAC telco and a sales organization audit for a Silicon Valley semiconductor manufacturer.
I still need to finish ~170 pages of a book on Shackelton’s Antarctic voyage in 1915 and write an essay on entrepreneurship learnings by Tuesday morning. It is a refreshingly different read of the startup era before smartphones and app stores, but got somewhat derailed yesterday with a classic “oh-so-Stanford” Saturday: an Indian Breakfast, Brazilian churrascaria lunch, meat-sweating run in the +35C weather and Singaporean dinner party well beyond sunset. Priorities, priorities…
As my friend Osamu put it last week: we have more parties than classes left until graduation. Just five of the latter on my calendar this coming Monday-Tuesday…
Covered in this issue:
- Stepping up the network analysis tooling: R
- Causal effects and regression discontinuity
- Sales org building war stories from a startup and a VP panel
- Building a bakery to Starbucks exit
- Guests from: TrunkClub, Salesforce, Quantum, LinkedIn, La Boulange/Starbucks, SunRun
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 8 (38), Spring quarter
This week kicked off with Maker Faire, the ultimate geek fest of robots, drones, noisy machines, 3D printers, lasers and eco-conscious handicraft. I could picture tiny versions of this kind of events as a science faire in many technical universities around the world, but it is quite something to experience the scale of the creativity and crazyness unleashed once the event covers acres and attracts tens of thousands of tinkerers as it does in Silicon Valley. Just as one illustration, I’ll leave you with the Sashimi Choir someone has spent months of their life building for fun:
As a slightly more professional follow-up, we had a study trip to Flextronics this week to hear their story of how to design, develop and produce $30B worth of electronics a year with 200,000 people, and especially how to stay sane with $25B in materials and components travelling in just in time to make the supply chain miracle happen. We did see a solar panel manufacturing line in action, but were carefully kept away from stealth prototyping labs they run for many of their top name Valley clients.
Back on campus we got some face time with Professor Condoleezza Rice. She is more known for her stint as the Secretary of State, of course, but has had a respectable academic career at Stanford since getting her PhD at the age of 26 – and has many intriguing viewpoints on international politics, change management and diversity to share. See the notes below.
Covered in this issue:
- Social networks in international settings
- Display & search advertising optimization
- Climate change
- More on sales force incentives
- Colorful range of startup cases: from batteries to microbreweries to lifestyle watches for surfers
- Entrepreneur’s compass
- Guests from: Gordon Biersch, Nixon, Carnegie Insitution, Envia
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 7 (37), Spring quarter
This week was completely overrun with two homework projects that refused to surrender even when groups of Sloans & MBAs spent hours sitting in the room and cranking through logistic regressions and ROI analysis for marketing channels of a pharma company, or trying to calculate the optimal inventory cost of the supply chain of HP injet printer factory. Also, a real dataset of 90,000 users of mobile phone users came in, which will be a basis for one of our final projects on understanding churn – once we chew ourselves through it.
And in the Town Hall with Madhav Rajan, Associate Dean of Academics we learned that the incoming MSx 2014 class will have quite a few improvements to their class schedule, with even more room for electives in Winter & Spring – congrats! Make sure you’ll fill those slots with quant analysis under the California sun this time next year.
Covered in this issue:
- Milgram’s Small world problem and its modern developments
- Recency/Frequency/Monetary Value & Churn analysis
- Measuring sales force performance and forecasting tricks (and a video sampler for a litmus test for if you should be in sales)
- Organizational blueprints for startups
- Guests from: Google, VMWare, Progreso, Ariat
I recently shared some thoughts on how surprisingly hard it has been to adjust to how mundane and bureaucratic everyday activities still can be in otherwise tech-advanced Silicon Valley, compared to back home in Estonia. The video from Stanford GSB YouTube channel:
This is probably the longest-prepared short speech I’ve ever delivered, as a finale of a whole-winter-quarter-long LOWKeynotes program at Stanford GSB in 2013. A text version is below the fold, and if you got anything out of watching this, I’m sure you would enjoy all of the videos from my peers in the program. All of the outcomes were worthy of the effort put in, but if you need help from where to start, try the videos from Lukasz Strozek (on digital hoarding) and Evan Moore (on not believing in God) first.
Already weeks into the final stretch I was comfortably settling on the fact that I’ve rushed past the opportunity of writing a reflective summary of Winter quarter (as I did with Summer and Autumn before). Where you lack internal pressure, the will be external one – and as our fabulous Yearbook committee has been recycling those texts in the past they convinced me to not drop the habit this late in the game. So here you go: