Hail to the bus driver man!

What do you want to do when you grow up?

THIS is a tribute to those people whose actions make our lives possible.

Think of an ordinary day of your typical city dwelling person.  A school student, university student, office worker or senior citizen. It is very likely that they may need to go somewhere, and that they may decide to catch a bus in order to get there.

Who will drive that bus?

If you are a member of the ambitious middle class, and there is a good chance you are (i.e. you’re not starving poor and you don’t have the time and money to do exactly as you please), then you probably toyed with the idea of driving that bus.  You may have also toyed with the idea of sliding down a fireman’s pole, building houses, delivering milk, or inventing new technology to teleport you onto the Starship Enterprise.

You were young, and you dreamed of doing things …

… and then you turned 11 and your parents suggested kindly and lovingly that you be a little more realistic. Driving a bus is a cute idea! But have you considered being an accountant, lawyer, doctor or dentist.  Respectable jobs with good pay.  You can live in a nice house like daddy and mummy.

That’s all very well.  These are all valid jobs and lawyers are people too (right?), but the important and subtle shift that went unnoticed by us as children was that our innate childish wisdom of wanting to do things was carefully replaced by our parents’ well intentioned but misguided advice to be something.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This is the wrong question to ask a child. More to the point, this is the wrong question to ask anybody. Life is not about your job title, but about your actions to improve the lives of others. Life is made possible only by doing, by providing value to others, by giving and receiving in return.

We are each on a journey of trying, failing, adapting, improving, laughing, and growing into the people that we might become.

A better question to ask might have been: What do you want to do when you grow up?  How would you like to help people by using your unique set of talents?  A wise and thoughtful child might respond: “I would like help people on their journey.”

Hail to the bus driver man!

The Value of Top Business Schools

THERE MAY be a business school bubble for other people, but not for you.

Whether you are buying into a bubble depends on whether the cost of what you are buying significantly exceeds its intrinsic value. For most assets, you can find the intrinsic value by looking at the expected return – the more money the asset puts in your pocket, the more valuable it is. This works well for stocks and bonds but not quite as well for education, and rather poorly when that education is from a top business school which offers some very attractive non-monetary benefits:

  1. Personal branding derived from the brand name of your MBA school will stand by you for life. “Oh, you’re a Harvard graduate, good man, let me open some doors for you!”
  2. Social status derived from the prestige of your school may be a particular boon if you are a man. A first year psychology student once told me that women look for just two things in men (1) status and (2) resources.  (Given the cost of attending a top business school you had better work that social status to your advantage.)
  3. Networking with smart, well-connected, ambitious and successful business school students will help you discover new ideas and unforeseen opportunities.
  4. Positive emotions are contagious and by associating with the happy and fortunate people whom you find at business school you may be able to achieve more than you ever thought possible.