10 things I learnt at Business SchoolThe lessons behind an MBA

wooden dice with the letters MBA on a blue table

I recently completed Business School and as I enter a new chapter in my life, I’ve jotted down the main learnings during the best year of my life.

1. Be comfortable with who you’re

Business Schools love classifying people as Poets and Quants — Poets driven by emotions and Quants by hard logic. When asked to classify oneself as Poet or Quant, I answered both — I have good analytical skills with an obsessive interest in culture and literature.

With time, I realised that I like back everything with rationale and logic. Also, though I love reading, I never really enjoyed poetry — one could say that I don’t have the rhythm in my soul.

When I realised this ‘shortcoming’, I suddenly felt better about myself. I felt surer about who I am and in greater control.

Be comfortable with who you’re.

2. Humans are essentially the same

My class itself had 46 nationalities speaking 49 languages. I also met people from others classes of various age-groups — from 20 year old upstarts to 50 year olds with decades of experience. Ostensibly, they came across differently, often confirming existing stereotypes. For example, I was lucky to have Germans in my study group — their work ethic is jaw-dropping.

Over time I realised that regardless of age, culture, gender; we’re all driven by the same emotional needs — Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust (Pixar’s Inside Out). We just have different ways to communicate them.

Our differences also arise because of the aforementioned reasons. Let’s adore and endure each other.

Humans are essentially the same.

3. Communicate!!

As a shy introvert, I was always super lazy regarding communication. I avoided talking to people, believing it to be a drain on my mental and emotional energies. I was happier trying to create value, rather than communicating.

Well, it’s impossible to create value in vacuum. Since we live in a society, by default, you derive value from others and vice-versa. Think about the support system you have, just by virtue of being born in our society.

And since you creating value for the society, you need to communicate to understand what the society values and how you can deliver it.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on my empathy skills. Empathy is finally receiving the attention it deserves as the most important skill to be successful (from the societal framework).


4. Be the Best You

In today’s attention-driven world (why this post is a listicle), we simply don’t have enough time to always understand other person’s point of view.

Hence, it’s your prerogative to ensure other people find it easier to understand you. The obligation to communicate is yours.

One way to achieve the above is to be the best you — always. Whatever you might be doing, be it taking a photo for a stranger, or making a ppt deck for a friend; do your best.

Be the Best You.

5. Fake it, till you make it

The truth is, nobody has any frigging idea what and why we’re doing. The average monkey has outperformed Dow Jones by an average of 1.7 percent every year since 1964!

We don’t even understand the universe. Every new experiment seems to support Quantum Mechanics — a branch of physics that basically says that we have no clue what happens in the microscopic universe. Particles become waves, waves become particles. Particles can seemingly go back in time. They can interact instantly, much much faster than the speed of light. Probability is king.

No wonder Business Schools are always brimming with buzz words. The truth is, nobody knows what is right and wrong. The best we can do is study the past, understand what worked before, and hope that it will work in the future too.

The key is to keep trying. ‘Faking’ it — refusing to believe that it can’t be done. If plan A doesn’t work, try plan B. Reach for greek alphabets should Plan Z not work.

Fake it, till you make it.

6. Happiness is an attitude

I’ve seen people loaded with money cribbing all the time. I’ve seen people with little money crib all the time.

I’ve seen people loaded with money, happy and joyous. I’ve seen people with little money, also happy and joyous.

I guess there’s no correlation between money and happiness.

Probably we’re all supposed to climb Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Money enables us to climb them. We’re happy when we perceive progress, regardless of the magnitude. To attain that sense of progress, you need to have the right attitude.

Happiness is an attitude.

7. Let work do the talking

Everyone has an opinion on everything. We tend to thrive on negative criticism, it’s fun to read and write. Haters gonna hate — Shake it off!

It’s equally dangerous to listen to compliments and flattery. It distracts from your tasks and lulls into a false sense of security. As a human, you’re meant to work towards creating value for the society. Do your karma.

Create value through actions and others will recognise your worth. Similarly, recognise others by their actions.

Let work do the talking.

8. Compound Interest is the holy grail

Consider the investment behaviour of two friends, A and B.

  • A starts investing X amount every year from the age of 25 and stops at the age of 35, and does not withdraw
  • B starts investing the same X amount every year at the age of 35 and continues till he’s 65 years old

Who do you think will have more money when they are both 65? As crazy as it may sound, A will have 2.5 times the amount B has, even though B invested for 20 years more. That’s the power of compound interest. Check out the math here.

Start investing in yourself. Daily. Take risks now! Develop skills, build network, save money. Be better, everyday. Little by little, one travels far.

Compound Interest is the holy grail.

9. Choose uncertainty over unhappiness

Humans by definition, are risk averse. We find it easier to settle for certainty. We often settle for less, when we could have had more, only if we tried.

They say a bird in hand is better than two in the bush. And they’re right. But in reality we often settle for a grumpy life, choosing to groan and complain rather than taking risks to reach things seemingly out of grasp.

You’ll often fail, fall down, mocked at and be pitied. But it isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.

Choose uncertainty over unhappiness.

10. Don’t let others decide what you’re worth

The universe is random. In the grand scheme of things, we’re nothing but a tiny ephemeral ‘things’ on a pale blue dot.

The society somehow manages to create meaning out of this randomness. And as humans, we seek to add value to this meaning. In this context we’re special, capable of performing great feats, affecting the universe in ways no other known species has ever done.

And yet, the same society limits our soaring ambitions. We’re subject to countless cues since birth, stealthily guiding our lives.

But if you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to others, it’s your fault. It’s your responsibility to identify what you love, create value out of it and communicate it for a better society.

Don’t let others decide what you’re worth.

This article was originally published on Medium and has been republished here with the author’s permission.

Did you find this helpful? Subscribe to our newsletter

Rishabh Goel is an MBA graduate focused on business development and marketing. You can follow Rishabh via Medium or Twitter