Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back to school at Wharton

Last month, I had a great time with the next generation of business stars at the Wharton School in Philadelphia. It’s a fantastic school with the latest facilities and stellar faculty. Being accepted by Wharton means the students have already made it into contention. Now it’s up to them to decide how far they can go. I can tell you these kids were switched on, and savvy.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I was asked to leave school when I was 17, so I didn’t get do an MBA at a school like Wharton. From my first job at Mary Quant, I learnt how to sell and make stuff to sell. I then went to Procter & Gamble for about eight years. I realized quickly that although I was faster, tougher and more aggressive, my peers were smarter. I set out to do something about that. I must have learned 30 things a day and just about everything that I now know about marketing I can trace back to those days.

Don’t get me wrong, you can’t beat a good education – but it’s nothing without a dream.

That’s why at Wharton I asked the students to ask themselves these three questions:

• What’s my five year dream?
• When am I at my best?
• What will I never do?

The result was electric. Immediately I could hear the tapping of laptops, people shifting forward in their seats, thinking about themselves, their futures and the kinds of knowledge they’d need.

We had a discussion at the end of the session and some great thinking came out of these fresh challenging minds. One French student even had the courage to ask me how I felt about the All Blacks being knocked out of the World Cup by the French. I told him I felt great! I love a challenge.

If you haven’t already got it in your bookmarks, check out Knowledge@Wharton, a must-see site that gets picked up all around the world. This is what university is all about – thought leadership, time to explore the big issues that will impact us all, and fostering strong and successful connections for life. Living the dream.