An Interview With Pamela Meyer (HBS’86)

HBS has a rich and diverse base of alumni. In this column, we speak with the alumni who have been out in the real world and bring their experiences and perspectives to our readers.

We’re starting this column with a very interesting person – She was at HBS some 25 years back – the era of junk bonds (as the wiser (aka ECs) amongst us would recall from Fin2) and while the rest of her classmates headed to the Drexels and Lehmans and the JP Morgans, she chose the road less travelled. Pamela Meyer (class of ’86 section B) started her career in Media and joined an independent movie making firm that made hits like “Dirty Dancing”. She has travelled around the world making movies, has worked with various networks including National Geographic, was the first female producer hired by the videogame giant Electronic Arts, has successfully run a number of internet based start ups and recently wrote the bestselling book ‘Liespotting’, which brings deception detection techniques previously taught only in the intelligence and law enforcement worlds to the business arena.

We spoke with Pamela about her experiences at HBS:

What did the HBS class look like 25 years back?
Very different – computers were not popular back then! They were so heavy we all needed help getting them into our dorm rooms and since we were the first class in the history of HBS to have computers, the spreadsheets were incredibly buggy.

What motivated you to come to HBS?
I was very interested in media, and had started a non-profit public broadcast network in California. I knew I needed to better understand business in order to scale the network and do something substantial with it, yet I had never seen a balance sheet when I arrived at HBS so it was a real wake up call for me,. I was interested in socially responsible enterprises but in that era there was no dialogue about doing good while making a profit, and no dialogue about corporate “mission” and corporate “values statements”. It was a different era.

Any cherished/funny memories you recall?
I was very excited to get into HBS and prepared my cases well for the first day. There was no internet in those days and ‘word of mouth’ was how information travelled. I thought if I arrived five minutes early to that first class that I was being “prepared” only to find that somehow everyone else knew to get there much earlier and claim their seat. I arrived to a full house! And spent my first year sadly on the worm deck. Thankfully we have internet now. (We told Pamela that HBS got rid of this system by introducing fixed seats for the RCs).

There were only a handful of women in the class back then and I remember our finance professor, who was a woman, used to call on us every single class.She always made sure if there was a CEO in the case, to ask a woman to “be” the CEO. We complained vehemently about it but in retrospect she did us a favor.

I also remember being struck by how conservative politically my section was in 1984 when we started. While many students today were probably enthusiastic Obama supporters, back then we took a poll and the majority were Reagan supporters. I remember one day one of my more liberal classmates, just for fun, put up a poster of Che Guavara on the wall for everyone to see when they walked in, in the morning. He thought having a poster of a famous radical would be a controversial conversation starter but instead no one knew who it was.

What are some of things you feel HBS taught you and has helped you throughout replica breitling bentley 6.75?
It might sound a little hokey, but HBS teaches you the importance of being well prepared. Every case study that you do at HBS requires significant preparation. When you are smart enough to get into HBS you already know you can wing it, stay out late, bluff your way through a tough day-but you learn quickly that this is not sustainable and that you lose the respect of those around you-especially your study group mates if you don’t pull your own weight. People who are well prepared attract a higher calibre people around them, and they get more out of their work experience..learn faster and grow faster when they do prepare and that lesson gets learned early into your first year at HBS. The other lesson you learn at HBS is not to speak unless you have something defendable to say.

What advice would you have for current students replica breitling Aeromarine ?
Maintain health first and resist the desire to take on every opportunity that you come across. Just because you can GET that big job, doesn’t mean you should take it—HBS grads get opportunities thrown at them all the time-they come from so many directions-the challenge is to decide what you really care about and stay focused on it-and not to get enamored with power, titles or beating someone else out of a job you really didn’t want in the first place.

How do you manage the balance between professional and personal life?
I have a really great husband who is incredibly supportive of my career. I exercise a lot. And I make sure that every single day of my life I have fun and remind myself what I am grateful for . There is clearly no rule. One has to be flexible enough to change rules and has to constantly juggle.

We’ve been hearing a lot about your book on LieSpotting. What is it about and how did you come across this idea?
When I was at the HBS reunion in 2006 I listened to a Harvard professor give a talk on his research on what people do when they are being deceptive, what they do with their backpacks, their posture, their breathing rate, their blink rate. It was fascinating and I looked around the room and 250 of my classmates..20 years out of HBS and all very accomplished and busy, were paying attention, riveted, no one was tapping on their blackberries, no one was running into the hallway to get onto that conference call. I realized how valuable this information was to business people and how hidden it was from the business world. So I spent three years training in facial micro-expression reading, behaviour elicitation and advanced interrogation and interviewing, and then conducted a survey of all of the research on deception detection that had been conducted within academic circles. I wrote the book ‘Liespotting’ as a way to bring these techniques, previously taught only in the intelligence and law enforcement worlds, to business people and everyday people who want to get closer to the truth. And that’s no lie!!

Pamela Meyer is founder and CEO of Simpatico Networks, a leading private label social networking company that owns and operates online social networks. She holds an MBA from Harvard, an MA in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate School, and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. She has extensive training in advanced interviewing and interrogation techniques, facial micro-expression reading, body language interpretation, statement analysis, and behavior elicitation techniques. For the book Liespotting (// she worked with a team of researchers over several years and completed a comprehensive survey of all of the published research on deception detection. The most interesting highlights from the research survey are included in the book, while additional new findings are regularly featured on her blog,

Author’s Biography
Jyoti is a member of the Harbus Board of Directors and a proud member of section OB. She believes that the gym and sleep are the most important things in her life.

September 27, 2010
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