Saturday, January 20, 2007

Gaining confidence.

The other night, we went to visit one of Sarah's friends from law school (Amanda), her husband Dan who just got his MBA from UT, and his friend Rafi (who is also a McCombs MBA) and his wife. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both of these guys because they are both brilliant and both McCombs MBAs, so if there is anyone I should be talking to regarding my MBA plans, these two would be the ideal candidates. I was very much interested in sharing my plans with them and getting some feedback (and perhaps some constructive criticism if necessary). I had been talking with them incrementally about the MBA process every time we got together, but this was before I had taken the GMAT (the business school admissions test) and before I had come up with any of these plans for the next year and half.

The entire group (Dan, Rafi, and their wives) were very receptive -- to the point of declaring jealousy and asking to come along. At one point, the entire table was bursting into laughter at every turn, as I piled on more and more (...and then I'm climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro...). The whole thing was a tremendous boost to my confidence. These two had spent the last two years in a first-tier, full-time MBA program, so their opinions were very important. I bluntly asked if they thought any part of this would be a waste of time or money, and I received an emphatic "no" on both accounts.

The fact that they were so into everything I was talking about, even to the point of wishing they could come along, really made me feel great about everything. Every once in awhile, I think about everything I think I'm going to do, and wonder if I'm a little crazy. It is nice to get an affirmation every now and again that I am on the right track.

Dan and Rafi were largely responsible (unwittingly at first) for my decision to go for my MBA in the first place. I had been considering the MBA for awhile and even had a GMAT book sitting on my shelf, but I never actually got around to reading it. Around a year ago, we went to a party also hosted by Dan and Amanda while Dan was still in the business program. A number of his business school friends were also there, including Rafi.

I remember one guy had brought his laptop and was showing pictures of the recent McCombs trip to China. I met Rafi, and I don't even remember how the conversation started, but we ended up talking about business for over an hour...maybe two. It was the first time I had ever talked about investing or business in any serious way with someone my own age. Not only that, but he actually knew who Warren Buffett was, and had gone to meet him with his MBA class, and had a picture of it, and was younger than 65. It was pretty much at that moment that I decided the MBA was for me, and started getting serious about the testing and the application process. I even brought it up, almost under my breath, and I remember Rafi telling me I could easily fit in with a business program. Not that I was listening though... nearly all I remember from that conversation is the agonizing jealousy I felt about the Buffett meeting. I once tried to setup something similar for my undergrad class, but of course the entire thing fell on deaf ears. This was also before I had received my press credentials for the 2006 Berkshire Hathaway meeting, so while I had shaken the hand of Warren Buffett in passing, I never really got to chat with him (or get that picture).

It is curious how one can look back at the confluence of events in their life as just a chain of random occurrences which are seemingly unrelated yet can dramatically shape your entire future. I remember not even wanting to go to that first party because I wasn't in a particularly social mood that night. In truth, the only reason I went was because Sarah told me there would be some MBA kids there, so I figured at least I might be able to talk a little business with someone. Boy, was that ever true.

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