Friday, April 29, 2016

Reflections on Concordia University College of Business in River Forest Illinois

So, I've just about graduated with my MBA. The hoops are jumped through, and I will walk next weekend and graduate for the first time in 12 years. Someone starting first grade when I graduated from WVU will have their own ceremony this year. I had a good experience overall. The professors were of high quality, I learned a lot, and my peers pushed and challenged me. Though I am still a bit mad that I didn't get voted an academic honor (why do they vote on those - I had all A's (and one minus, which they weigh, so my GPA was a 3.97 - boo)), I'll most likely reflect positively on the experience as that one bit fades. Below is a response to a couple of prompts sent to me by the university for a promotional video that I'm not sure I'l ever film since I sent some angry emails regarding the above situation.

What do you value most about the business education that you cultivated, earned and received at Concordia University Chicago’s College of Business?

 I came to Concordia for many reasons, and there are as many reasons for pursuing business education as there are students, if not even more than that. 
There is a great breadth the classes you get to take, but what I really liked was the specialization classes. I have worked in a nonprofit agency for five years now, but the classes I took as part of the concentration in nonprofit management allowed me to gain greater perspective on both my own agency and to think of possible moves for my own career. 
The classes, the professors, and my peers were of such a high quality that Concordia has to be the best value in terms of business schools for local professionals bar none. However, what I also really enjoyed was being able to work with peers from a diverse background. I was in work groups more than once with a foreign-born student and though it wasn’t always easy, I think that those situations are some of the ones where I had to think about myself and my own communication strategies and how we were going to work together with people from different backgrounds.
There’s so much more. I could go on and on about what drew me to the program and how it exceeded my expectations at every turn.

 Describe a situation/story in which your business education helped you advance toward a goal you had set for yourself.  This could be a new position, a project at work, a new role within your position an internship opportunity, etc.

 One of the reasons I came to Concordia was that I needed more education to move up in my company. After undergraduate study in creative writing, I went to graduate school for English. Neither of those gave me the exact qualifications I needed in the face of the recession after 2008. 
I was unemployed and subsequently went back to school and got certified for medical coding and billing. That led me to the organization I am now with. Nevertheless, without more education I would be stuck. Therefore, I mapped out a plan where I just kept going to school. I took basic business classes at Triton, and that helped me in my job, I was still at the same position I was when I started. 
In talking to my boss, it became clear that I would not be able to move up until I gained more subject-area knowledge. 
In the course of the last two years, I have learned so many things that have helped me be a more conscientious worker and better at my job and prepared to step into leadership roles. In fact, the interplay between what I have learned at Concordia and my own position has been so successful that I have been promoted twice in the last two years, ahead of the mental schedule I had set for myself. I’ve been in my current position for almost a year, and it is the one that I was hoping that I would be 
considered for with the MBA finalized. I owe much of that success to the MBA program at Concordia.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ted Rall’s “Bernie”

Of all the major party candidates in my lifetime, there has been none who have come as close to my politics as he has. I voted for him in my state’s primary. But I’m not passionate for him. I guess it’s the thing of having to be pragmatic and running in the two-party system that makes me mad. The electoral system is so rotten that even a sitting senator has to run within the party system to get media coverage and that weird circular legitimacy. Where you’re not important if you don’t have coverage and you can’t get coverage if you’re not important.

And I like Ted Rall’s work, so this book is right up my alley. Most of it is a biography of Bernard, but it starts out with a long gloss on the history of politics for the last 40 years or so. Rall’s trying to make the case towards someone like me, who is sympathetic but has doubts. Like I said, I voted for Bernie, but I haven’t volunteered or give him any money. Maybe I’m just being too cynical.  Maybe this will start a movement, or maybe the Republicans will win with Ted in the fall and the Democratic insiders will make the argument that the party needs more pre-surrenders on policy positons preferred by the far left.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

On John Kay's "Other People's Money"

Kay’s book has one of the most honest parentheticals in the history of finance books. After a sentence on synthetic CDOs, he has an aside where he says quote: “(You really don’t want to know)” (p 60). 

 So you get a sense of the tone and intended audience of this book here. I liked about the first two thirds of the book, but he ends up after looking at all the problems with the finance industry that the issue with the industry is “too much government involvement in the financial sector, not too little” (p 203). 

And with me being a statist and an interventionist, I reluctantly followed him down the path for the last third where he approving cited Austrian school thinkers and even worse – he mentions Nassim Taleb approvingly (which is an impeachable offense in my Republic). So it is interesting to look at a thinker who can identify many of the same problems that you do but who has a vastly different prescription than you do, but the enjoyment level dropped from when I was reading as a compatriot to when I was forced to read as a critoc. Not everyone will follow that path and Kay is smart and a clear writer, so this is a book that I would mostly recommend.

The Only Thing That Will Save Capitalism from Itself is Socialism: A Haiku Review of Ford’s “The Rise of the Robots”

What if we look
into the mirror and see,
the robot is we?

When is a Campaign Book not a Campaign Book?: Thomas Frank's "Listen Liberal"

The cover is still blurbing Frank for “What’s the matter with Kansas,” as if he hasn’t written other books since then, but I bet that is the one that keeps funding his lavish liberal lifestyle – wait, not liberal but something more than that. Lefter than that.


This was interesting for me to read since it is basically an anti-Hillary book, but it doesn’t mention the guy she’s running against for her party’s nomination. I just looked, and that guy (whatever his name is) isn’t even listed in the index. I’m not sure how conscious of a choice that was, but if she doesn’t win, this thing will be dated by mid-November of 2016. I have also been reading the complete works of the cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, and when I was reading this, I was reading his primary sources on the Clinton years. Which seems to be the springboard for her national exposure –as odd as that is. Seriously, New York elected her Senator when she’s owned a house there for six months. That’s democracy in action. Glad this meritocracy works. But the Tom Tomorrow cartoons really reminded me of the deficiencies of the Clinton years from a liberal perspective. I was in high school. I kept up on the news, but it was local papers, Time, and Newsweek, so there wasn’t much lefter-than-thou criticism that I was able to see. That’s rural boyhood for you.

I think the book does make the case against her, but for me I wasn’t ever really for her to begin with, more indifferent. I guess if the state is close and she’s the nominee I’ll vote for her, but it doesn’t excite me. I just hope someone captures the enthusiasm that has been generated by the campaign of the other guy (and makes all sorts of electoral reforms so we’re not hoping the Democratic Party will be the authors of our salvation.