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Random Observations

Random observation #107
Why the heck did I get that silly “STOP” I.D. tag on my computer last year? I lined up for thirty minutes, paid ten bucks, and then listened to a series of claims about its defense properties. “Your laptop is traceable now…It takes 800 pounds of pressure to break the tag off,” etc. I ate it all up.

I was feeling pretty secure until a friend of mine had his laptop stolen last year – I.D. tag and all. I was shocked: wasn’t this supposed to be the ultimate prevention device? What about the 800 pound thing? I’m sure the police officers taking the report chuckled at that one.

The fact is, the tag probably doesn’t do a damn thing to stop theft. And by the way, if you want to remove the tag, you don’t need “special tools” as promised by STOP’s website. Today, I sawed off my tag with my name-card. Honest. Someone at STOP happily spent my ten bucks, and I’m left feeling like a sucker. Sadly, that’s been happening a lot recently.

I felt like a sucker during FRC, when I learned that extended warranties are money-machines because people don’t do basic math (I now hate my TV). I felt like a sucker over lunch the other day, when someone explained why it’s actually better if you end up owing tax on April 15 (you get free interest on the IRS’s money until you cut the check). And I felt like a sucker when I anchored and adjusted in negotiations class.

While I hate feeling like a sucker, I’m beginning to think that it’s part of our HBS experience. At the root of feeling like a sucker is a realization that there is a better, more rational way to think about something. While we sit in class all day, we’re forcing ourselves to question our assumptions, to stress-test our logic, to take into account other perspectives – in short, to think harder and more logically about everything. And if the price of that is feeling like a sucker, it’s a price I’m willing to bear.

Random Observation #108
In Entrepreneurial Finance last week, a fellow student asked a question, “how does this apply in industries without technology?”) Professor Sahlman: “Name me an industry which isn’t affected by technology.” Student: “Ranching.” Sahlman, “Not true – which part of ranching is driven by technology.” Pause. Pause. “Uh, selling cattle online?”

Response in 2003: laughter. Response in 1999: class diversion regarding structure of business model, and someone writes a business plan. Honestly, how did anyone learn at HBS during the internet boom?

Random Observation #109
This year, it’s impossible to get a Wall Street Journal after 9 a.m. – where are they all going? I’ve started picking it up more often, even though I’m reading it less – just in case I need it. Two sectionmates mentioned that they do the same thing. Lest I worry that this will be an ongoing issue, I’ve been reminded that people will stop worrying about the outside world in another month or so. Hell, that’s one of the things that makes this place so great. So until June – toss the Journal aside and have some fun.

October 27, 2003
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