`I' Spelled Backwards

When James (of Section K), Rob (of H), Sanjay (of J) and I (of I) first joined the celebrated Harbus team, we were warned to keep in mind that this is a family paper and that we should write accordingly. One way to interpret this is that we should steer clear of vulgarity. I, however, have chosen to interpret it to mean that we should cloak our vulgarity in paper-thin veils. Frankly, if you want to get to know the real Section I, I have no other choice.

In last week’s article, I introduced certain members of the section in their own words. My goal this week is to introduce a new group by sharing anecdotes from LEAD. Some of the statements you’ll read below won Skydeck awards. Others didn’t, but should have. A select few should have been nominated for Oscars, but alas, were ignored by the Academy.
SSIP and THIS-Her name is Antoinette Pelaez. We call her `Toni.’ You may see the need to choose a different name for her once you know her a little better. Here goes. The topic of discussion was Jack Thomas. Jack is a person who you either love or you hate-at least if you’re in Section I. Mike McGaugh thinks that Jack embodies every negative HBS stereotype. Now, Mike is a brave guy. He baits former management consultants. He casts aside MRP systems and Activity-Based Costing as unfit for the real world-in front of the distinguished professors who created them. Heck, he even brings his mother-in-law to class-and tries to pass off her ideas as his own. But, with all due respect, he pales in comparison to Toni. She chose to summarize the Jack Thomas discussion by setting up a new paradigm, one illustrated by a very special two-by-two box: “On the x-axis, you’ve got his ability to get TIHS done; on the y-axis, you’ve got his tendency to SSIP people off.” At this point, Professor Perlow, who had drawn the axes and was awaiting Toni’s labels, stepped slowly away from the board. Lest you think that this was Toni’s only flirtation with the edge, consider the name she suggested a few weeks later for a new Big Bertha golf club targeted at women golfers: “Long John.”

FRAB-Eric Sipe, my garden deck neighbor, is the kind of guy who speaks relatively infrequently, but who makes very hard-hitting comments when he does speak. So we were all listening extra attentively when Eric raised his hand to explain how People Express managed to be profitable while charging $19 to United’s $123. His answer? “They reuse their FRAB bags. They hose `em down, wipe `em off, and put `em back.” That was his first of two points.

TTUB-DEKAN-How does one describe Mugo Fields? Irreverent? If Mugo is irreverent, then Strom Thurmond is slightly older than the average US Senator. Mugo is as charming as Jan Carlzon, as action-oriented as Lee Iacocca, and as community-minded as Jacques Zwahlen. (I think I may have pulled something reaching back so far on that last one.) When Mugo speaks in class, he combines all these qualities in comments that are truly out of the ordinary. Case in point: Mugo’s description of Donn Burr’s cluelessness. “He thought the rest of the people at People Express understood his vision and were committed to it. He was kind of like the emperor who thought he was dressed in beautiful new clothes-but was really TTUB-DEKAN.”
GNIKCUF-Rob Parsons is a controversial guy. Just ask Jake Capp. I think most would agree that Jake was robbed when he was excluded from this year’s list of Oscar nominees in the Best Actor category. His portrayal of Parsons made Tom Hanks’ portrayal of a castaway look like summer stock. But I digress. My point was that Parsons is controversial enough for Jeff Wald, reacting to his sectionmates’ critical appraisals, to argue that he was right to yell at the Morgan Stanley associate who failed to assemble a complete report for the client, that “She deserved to be yelled at. She deserved to be GNIKCUF fired.” This was particularly noteworthy given how calm a guy Jeff usually is. So calm, in fact, that he often appears to be PEELSA in class.

If anyone has a problem with Section I’s little addiction to profanity, they should speak to Mark Partin. Be warned: he’ll likely respond by giving you his famous one-finger analysis.
On another note, I’d like to recognize Courtney Newman for having won Section I’s first weekly trivia contest. The newly named Courtney Newman Trivia Award will be bestowed upon each week’s contest winner. Courtney correctly identified the six flags that have flown over Texas and the 10 provinces that make up Canada, along with their capitals. Can you?

March 26, 2001
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