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Idle Thoughts from the AmeriCanadian: HBS Skills Better Left In Aldrich

At HBS we learn all kinds of new skills: Speaking confidently in front of 90 people, doing the super quick meet and greet at social events, asking questions to big name guest speakers. But, this week the AmeriCanadian asks: Are there any HBS skills you DON’T want to continue after you leave this place? (Yes. One day you will need to leave. We are sorry to let you know that.)

1. SCENE – The Bedroom

(soft music playing in background, a candle flickers shadows on the wall)Spouse: Mmmm, honey, that was a great massage. Thank you. You: (kissing neck) I love you.Spouse: Mmmm, get under the covers with me…
You: Technical question! Technical question! Should I get some birth control?
Spouse: (puzzled look)You: (waving namecard frantically)
Spouse: (sitting up suddenly) I…sorry? Where’d you get that namecard?
You: Before we move forward, I want to make sure I know what you’re asking for. We need to be clear about objectives.
Spouse: (wrapping self in blanket, flicking light on, leaving)
Door: (slams)

2. SCENE – Office Hallway

Boss: Oh, Vice President Lee! I’d like you to meet our newest recruit. She’s from Harvard Business School and she’s going to be working on the strategy team!
VP Lee: Hi! (extending hand) Welcome to ProWorld. Great to have you. I know our strategy team is looking forward to having you help them. Please come by my office if you have any questions.
You: (shaking hand) Oh, thank you. I’m excited to join the team.
VP Lee: Great! Thank you, then. I’ll see you later.
You: (loud, prolonged applause)
VP Lee: (puzzled look) (walks away)
Boss: Um, what are you doing?
You: (applause turns into banging on nearby desk) Woo! Woo-ooo!

3. SCENE – Local Bar

You: Hi, how are you? What do you have on tap?
Bartender: Just about everything. You name it, we got it.
You: I guess I’ll have a Pabst Blue Ribbon please.
Bartender: (pours beer, hands it to you) That’ll be 4 dollars.
You: (hands Harvard ID to bartender) Here you go.
Bartender: (looks at ID, then you) Um, yeah. Congratulations. You went to Harvard. I need actual money for the beer.
You: Just swipe it.
Bartender: Swipe what?
You: My card. Crimson cash, yo.
Bartender: (stares at you with raised eyebrows, pursed mouth) Yo?
You: (making suggestive card swiping motion with hand) Come on, swipey swipe. I should have enough on there still. I don’t have any cash on me.
Bartender: (without unlocking eyes, quietly wipes hands on bar towel, takes off wedding ring)
You: Swipey swipe?

4. SCENE – Local Mexican Take Out Joint

Cashier: Hello, may I take your order?
You: Yeah, hi. Um, let’s see. I’ll get the… bean burrito with extra cheese and a side of guacamole and chips. Cashier: (punching numbers) That’ll be $6.67, please.
You: Oh! Oh, okay. Here you go, here’s ten bucks.
Cashier: Thank you. (patiently waits for your food to slide down the chute while other customers wait impatiently in line for service)
Clock: (a minute passes)
You: You know, you could lower your MLT if you help other customers while my food is getting ready. Right now you have one WIP or work-in-process, and it has a very large cycle time. To increase your throughput, you could serve the next customer and stagger the delivery output.
Cashier: …Que?

5. SCENE – Kitchen at Home

(You enter the kitchen to find your spouse with head halfway into the refrigerator)
You: Hi, honey. What’s going on?
Spouse: Not much, just making some lunch. Do you want some?
You: Sure. (rubbing hands together) I guess I’ll go with a spider roll, spicy tuna roll, hamachi maki, miso soup and an eel nigiri. Oh, and not too much ginger, okay? I won’t eat it anyway. Thanks.
Spouse: Wait.(comes out of the refrigerator) What?
You: Oh, right! No sauce on the eel nigiri either. Thanks, good catch! (starts to rub belly) Mmmm.
Spouse: (getting annoyed) What did you just say?
You: Look, no reason to get upset. I’ve been waiting in line for like 15 minutes. You know what, forget it. Just make me some penne with Alfredo sauce, roasted red peppers and mushrooms. Extra mozzarella. Oh, and an M&M cookie for dessert, ok? (eyebrows raised) Mmm?
Spouse: Get out of the kitchen.
You: Mmm?
Spouse: Get out of the kitchen. Now.

6. SCENE – Buying a House

(Outside a home with a ‘For Sale’ sign on lawn with a realtor)
Realtor: So, I honestly think you can’t beat this neighborhood. And look at that lawn! For the price folks, well, it’s a steal. What do you think?
You: What’s the seller’s BATNA?
Realtor: I don’t know…um.
You: (more direct now) In order to understand our ZOPA, I need to know a bit more about their BATNA.
Realtor: (a tad scared) Um, I don’t think you can talk to me like that.
You: (exasperated, yelling ensues) Okay, fine! I get it! POCD. We’ll move right to the D. I’m sure you want to see my WV, don’t you.
Realtor: (about to cry) Please. Stop.

7. SCENE – Doctor’s Office

Doctor: I’m looking at your tests and nothing seems abnormal. Do you feel fine?
You: Well, that depends.
Doctor: What depends?
You: It could go either way. I mean, on one hand, it could be yes. But then again, on the other hand, it could be no.
Doctor: (bewildered) I don’t get it.
You: (begins to look around the room) Come on, I know you read the case last night. Don’t be shy.
Doctor: (now also looking around the room) Who are you talking to? There’s no one else here.
You: (stands up, hands on hips) I am not afraid to cold call somebody. I know who filled out the poll last night!!
Doctor: (feeling your head; contemplative) Maybe I missed something.

8. SCENE – End of the Day at Work

You: Okay guys. I’m going to call it a night.
Tim: Cool, good night then. See you tomorrow.
You: Yup. Hey wait – anything going on tonight?
Tim: No, no. Just some emails. Wife and I are working through Season 2 of Everybody Love’s Raymond.
You: Oh, right. Jackie?
Jackie: Hmm? Oh, no, not me. We have Little League tonight. Samantha’s first night with her new glove!
You: Oh. That’s neat. Hey, Kimberly. You interested in doing anything later?
Kimberly: Like what?
You: I don’t know. Late night culture-group costume dance party? Visiting executive speech and Q&A session? Inter-school global warming debate contest? Ski trip to Mount Tremblant Info-Session? Free screening of Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room?
Kimberly: .
You: (faces reddens and scrunches up like a newborn about to explode into tears)
Kimberly: Are you…okay?
You: (hot tears streaming down your face) I’m fine. What?! (goes nuts) I miss business school!!!!
Kimberly: There, there. (look at others with raised eyebrows as to suggest that you’re nuts)

Join the AmeriCanadian #6 next week as Neil and Anthony continue to explore the far reaches of your insecurities, tendencies and social settings and then turn them around so that everyone laughs at you and those around you. It should be sick.

April 23, 2007
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