First Snow

December 8th, 2008

Yes, I’ve been bad. Here’s what I’ve been up to recently:

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Greg Brenneman

May 2nd, 2008

This week I went to hear Greg Brenneman, HBS Class of ’86, who came to speak at HBS. Since I took digital notes anyway, I thought I’d just post them (so it’s not that I’m sitting here writing posts a day before my finance final exam…).

Some background – Mr. Brenneman is currently CEO of TurnWorks, a private equity firm specialized in turning around troubled firms, and president and CEO of Quiznos Sub (sister – this one’s for you :)). He’s also on the board of Home Depot. You could say he specializes in turning around distressed companies – he was the CEO of PwC Consulting, CEO of Burger King and President & COO of Continental Airlines and helped “reviving” them.
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April 9th, 2008

<warning: looooooong!>

I’ve disappeared for a while, maybe it was Hibernation (“Shnat Horef” :)). I think it was also because of the job search process, which was frankly quite stressful and depressing at times.

Job Search

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Answer: They both came to Harvard to talk about Micro Finance.

Last weekend Muhammad Yunus came to speak at Harvard KSG (Kennedy School of Government). I was lucky to get a ticket to this packed Saturday morning talk, which was quite inspirational. Yunus is a very impressive person: a Bangladeshi professor of economics who founded the non-profit Grameen Bank (“village bank”), a bank based on the concept of Micro Credit: giving small loans to people too poor to qualify for traditional loans or even traditional banking services. Since its inception in 1976, Grameen Bank has issued US$ 6.38 billion to 7.4 million borrowers. More than 95% of the loans have gone to women, who are disproportionally poorer than men. These women have used the money to start their own small business or pay debts. Today, when the bank is already managed and run by some of its ex-loaners, Yunus is busy developing similar non-profit projects in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world. His dream is to abolish world poverty in the next 30 years, and Grameen Bank has been expanding globally quite quickly. If you’d like to read more about this vision and his way of achieving it, I recommend his bestselling book, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty.

His talk was short but very interesting; he told us about himself and how he came to think about the idea of Grameen Bank and Micro-Credit: it was after his studied in the US, visited a poor village in Bangladesh and realized that with a collective loan of 27 USD, he could help 42 women repay their debts and start their own business.

Another point in his speech that made me think (it sounds simple, yet you seldom think about it that way):

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This talk took place on September 25th, 2007. It discussed Staples’ successful marketing campaign, “That Was Easy”.

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I’m starting a series of notes from lectures I attend at HBS. We’re fortunate to have frequent talks given by senior executives from various industries – the only thing we lack is time to go to all of these amazing events, but I’m trying my best.

The first one I attended was a talk with Mr. Bob McDonald, COO of P&G (Procter & Gamble), about “Values Based Leadership”. Mr. McDonald drew upon his experience as an army commander and a manager and developed a set of beliefs about management and leadership.

Personal note – usually I don’t like this sort of fluffy / hug the trees kind of talks, but I was really impressed by this one. Mr. McDonald is very open, charismatic, and truly believes in what he says.

So here’s a summary of his talk:
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