“Common sense refined” is Brian Josling’s tag line, and the moment Brian started speaking it was clear that he has a large amount of “street” experience for our hopeful MBA’s to learn from. Brian did a speaking tour here at Segal; he began by speaking to the Management of Technology MBA’s, and moved on to the Full Time MBA class. The average age of this class is about 26, and most everyone has fewer than five years of work experience. The program only takes a year, which in Brian’s words “will seem like it was 3 weeks long”. His talk was one in a series of seminars organized by the SFU Graduate Business program’s Career Management Centre (CMC). The CMC’s main goal is to prepare the graduate business students at Segal for the world after the MBA. Brian’s talk was about as congruent with this goal as it comes, for a brief summary click here:
Brian’s talk lasted a total of 40 minutes, and I estimate that during that time he gave the class nearly 60 tidbits of timeless, yet immediately actionable advice. These were pieces of information that he has learned over his nearly 40 years of business experience, ranging from the music industry as an executive with Sony and EMI, to the early days of Rogers Wireless here in Vancouver. His motto throughout all this time has been “if it’s new, it’s good”. As a man that was involved in the early stages of fuel cells in Canada, this pioneering attitude is certainly backed up by experience.
In an effort to stay true to one of Brian’s strongest pieces of advise, something he calls “white space”, I won’t tell you everything he said. Instead, I’ve surveyed the graduate business class for the top five most valuable tidbits. Brian artistically organizes this advice into a series of quirky taglines (hence the image above), which he then expands on.
The first as I alluded to earlier is White Space, not just in emails, but in all communication. The concept is that if it can’t be said in a couple sentences, you’re saying too much. In a world where the average person receives too many emails to read, and the next distraction is just round the corner, Brian thinks we need to “just get to the point”… next.
The second piece of knowledge the MBA’s voted on was egg salad sandwiches… at your funeral. As morbid as this sounds at first, the idea behind it is quite purely based on “egolessness” and giving credit to others. Along with this idea of placing others ahead of you came the importance of forgiving others, and helping them to forgive you. As a “Type A”, hurt is most always inevitable. This hurt must always be dealt with sincerely and in person. If you follow these rules of forgiveness, sincerity, and “egolessness”, you’ll have lots of people at your funeral, and therefore need more egg salad sandwiches.
The third graduate business favorite involves picking up your socks off the floor. This tagline has a double meaning, one that stresses the importance of neatness, and another that involves responsibility. Neatness in business and life is very important; it gives us a semblance of organization in our highly disorganized environment. The responsibility aspect is that in any partnership, you must be prepared to give 60%. If each partner contributes more than his fair share a product containing 120% effort will emerge, which is the minimum necessary to compete in today’s marketplace.
Drink scotch… Leave it to a group of MBA students to highlight the one point that involves alcohol, but graciously scotch can be replaced by any beverage. While you’re experiencing the final moments before bed, Brian suggests that you take the time to record and reflect on the day’s activities. He believes a half hour per day of private thought reflecting on what happened and what needs to be done tomorrow will significantly increase ones chances of success. His tip is to use yellow sticky notes that can then be transferred to your bathroom mirror in the morning – sometimes the best thinking can be done in the shower.
“I have seen the enemy and he is me”. In my experience as a graduate business student as SFU, no advice is more personally true than this. As the Platonic adage states, “that which is most personal is also most general”, and in this case I believe we are all plagued by our own personal enemy. The good news is that with this knowledge comes the ability to recognize the absolute control we have over our own life path. For a group of MBA students in Vancouver, this control comes in the form of dedicating the next year to graduate business studies. After talks like this it becomes clear this one year program isn’t simply about an education in business, it’s about an education in life.