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The "Aha" Moments at HBS-What Are You Doing to Scrape on a 24 Hour Day?

When your classmates reveal that they analyze cases during cab rides to the Latin Lust party (and stuff the LEAD case in their back pocket) and during a church wedding (while the minister married their best friend), you experience an “Aha” moment. You wonder, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?”

Marilyn Monroe famously said “I’ve been on a calendar but I have never been on time.” Monroe may have effortlessly gotten away with unpunctuality, but we mortal HBS RCs invite “the look” from professors when we walk into class 2 micro-seconds late, or get to be the proud dwellers of the lackluster carpet floor of Spangler auditorium because the seats invariably get filled up.

Isn’t HBS a circus of shocks? The mechanical genius of the synchronized human blackboard wipers in Aldrich stupefies us. Discovering that 400 students can squeeze in the third floor hallway in SFP for a weekend RC party is better than learning that Tony Blair is finally stepping down as PM of Britain next year. Watching the manicured squirrels scuttle conscientiously across Spangler lawns is more fascinating than watching Pluto being dissed as a planet in the solar system.

The junior school drill is spellbinding as well-we go downtown to attend the SA party in school buses; we raise our hand to answer a question; we start clapping for no apparent reason; we queue up for freebies in the career fairs; and, most importantly, we cannot skip our daily homework!

When they said HBS was about making choices, who would have anticipated fundamental life-impacting lunch break choices on a three case day-catching a power nap in your dorm room vs. doing your monthly laundry vs. dissecting the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Some of us grapple with Polyphasic sleep (sleeping pattern that claims to reduce sleep to 2 to 5 hours a day) and others combine “brain-dead activities” (e.g. talking on the phone, walking to Aldrich and consuming your breakfast cereal simultaneously). Others even vouch for Eye Q (software application used to increase case-reading speed).

The ingenuity and variety displayed by RCs in terms of case reading locations and styles deserves a mention. When your classmates reveal that they analyze cases during cab rides to the Latin Lust party (and stuff the LEAD case in their back pocket), while soaking themselves in the SHAD jacuzzi, during a church wedding (while the minister married their best friend) and while waiting for food/checks in restaurants, you experience an “Aha” moment. You wonder, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?” That’s what HBS does to you. You maximize every second at Om/Mantra and minimize every second spent in Baker Library.

When your mates read cases on greyhound buses to NY, and prepare FRC balance sheets while listening to their SOs lament over the lack of time they devote to them, you say, “Now, that’s smart! I can see why the admissions committee picked you in the first place.” My section mate from ND beats us all-he finished reading his cases while waiting to get his broken foot mended at the hospital. Is that dedication, is that desperation or is that disaster management?

The knowledgeable “been there, done that” ECs magnanimously share their pearls of wisdom about multi-tasking. They recommend we shrink email responses to one liners, make calls to gfs/bfs while waiting in the stir fry queue at Spangler and buy groceries from CVS at 12:30 a.m. after returning from a night out.

Whatever your unique and crazy case-cracking schedule, Harbus concludes that surviving a 24-hour day in HBS is a necessity, a decree, a craft, a science and an accomplishment. The RC time management schedules can make a TOM case study in itself. Taking my GQ (geek quotient) to a whole new dimension, I actually calculated my labor utilization and cycle time last night. Clearly, Professor Shapiro is having a profound impact on me!

But just when you are ready to incorporate these behemoth alterations in your lifestyle, your daily average HBS cashflow undergoes a sudden transformation:

Black Bean Chicken Stir Fry at Spangler – $5.50
Three Vodka Shots at John Harvard – $24
Priscilla Ball Ticket – $110
Finding out that you don’t have an early morning lecture on Wednesday – Priceless!!!

October 3, 2006
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