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Dear Gaurav

“Dear Gaurav,

The RC hasn’t quite worked out for me, I am still single and my contacts book isn’t as big as I had hoped. What advice can you give me for bettering myself over the summer in preparation for the EC?

Signed,
Ernest ‘N Shy”

That’s the saddest one sentence I have ever read. Sorry to hear you are a bit of a loser, not because you think RC hasn’t worked out for you, but because of the reasons – single and not enough contacts?!?!?! What about the important stuff in life, like always being the first to get your case packets, or never embarrassingly running out of Crimson Cash when in line at Spangler, or even getting over a professor crush? These are true signs of HBS success.

However, if this is what you are aiming for, there are definitely some things you can do over the long summer to get in shape

1. Learn new conversation techniques. At least 80% of the chats I have at HBS revolve around either asking a question looking back or one looking forward. Jobs – What did you do before HBS? Or what are you doing next over the summer? Holidays – What did you do over Christmas break? Or what are you doing next over spring break? Bizarre, you take it in turns to spout off monologues, with neither of you listening to the other. Come up with some new engaging topics and be ready to wow people with different conversation (and talking about top 5 guys/girls/facial hair formations etc. doesn’t count, that’s the other 20% of my conversations here).

2. Become comfortable living out of routine or with uncertainty, this is a very rare HBS trait and one that will make you stand out and ‘interesting’. For example, over the summer, practice syncing your Palm Pilot every other day. When at your computer, learn how not to go into palpitations when you’re not directly within a 5 metre radius of a T30 power cord, let your battery run all the way down and be fine with it. These are both big steps, but you can handle it, the world isn’t going to end (and besides, you haven’t got any new contacts to sync anyway).

3. Similar to #2 above, be comfortable with not forward planning so much, be spontaneous. Having to book my jazz fest tickets almost before I had even got to school made me wretch. If someone tries to sell you tickets to the 10yr Section X reunion under the guise that it will sell out within 2 minutes of going on sale, don’t believe them (particularly if you’re in section H or I). You always have ample time to do stuff later. And besides, there will always be people sending out school-wide e-mails selling their tickets last minute, especially if they are in the Wine & Cuisine society. This being a little more spontaneous will make you stand out, and maybe will make you more attractive.

4. Finally, be more open, particularly about relationships or your desires and don’t be scared of gossips. I’d like to say ignore gossips, but that’s like asking a WSA rep to be quiet in the Raja Condoms case. Not possible. People are super paranoid and overly secretive. They go on about hiding relationships because of the ‘fishbowl’ – don’t fish have a memory of 3 seconds? People stop thinking about you once you leave the room, honest. So don’t be scared of opening up or being honest, it will work in your favour much more than keeping it all depressingly close to your chest.

The fall back plan, and the real guarantee to contacts here is to befriend a rich aristocrat over the summer, convince them to be your partner and get them to put up all the cash to buy a company. Now, offer employment opportunities like its going out of fashion, the new EC will love you forever.

Here’s to hoping you are a new person in 4 months (for our sake as much as yours),
Gaurav

April 22, 2003
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