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.


Jim Donovan said...

It's not just the students and the facilities. The faculty is truly outstanding. I regard my executive education at Wharton as the best short course I've ever done, alongside that delivered by the Darden BS faculty (in conjunction with Ernst & Young NZ)

Iconic said...

.....and what will you never do Kevin?


Hi Kevin, when I was young (say 14) a senior old friend of mine often repeated me in french that: “l' Université' de la Rue se la meilleur.” This is a French saying that translates like “The University of the Street (smart) is the best.” When I grew up i had to go to this unusual University.
Many tests there were unexpected. no notice. It often happened that I had to do a test suddenly when I was off guard, when i was not prepared.
I had many of these wake up tests in my life( my mum says that I was looking for these tests and i still do) and today a bit shocked by some cold showers that I had I remember them as more formative than the 2 degrees that I have.

I understand now that I have only passed the tests where I showed that I was ready to pay the due price in advance, being humble and brave. No wonder that I failed in all the remainder.
Disappointed? No. Excited as I feel I am learning as I am growing (I am 29 now) and I am working hard to be in charge of my life and dreams.
And you Kevin, Did you fail any tests at the Université' de la Rue?

Piotr Jakubowski said...

When are you at your best?

What will you never do?

The school at Wharton is nothing but the best. I'd have to agree with Gianpaolo, however, that some of the best education comes from the street. Not that education isn't important, but last time I checked Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg hadn't finished college.