Earlier today (Sunday) I flew back into Los Angeles from R1 Welcome Weekend at Chicago Booth. Over the past two weekends, I’ve gotten little sleep, increased my alcohol tolerance by a third and met several hundred of the most interesting and exceptional people that I’ve met all in one place in quite some time. If this is in any way a preview to what b-school will be like, sign me up–just with more sleep. A brother needs his rest.
Before I get into my admit weekend recap, I must take a moment to comment about the city of Chicago in general. There are many, many things to love about Chicago and I was lucky enough to get to experience some of them this past weekend. First, there is the award-winning architecture.
After over a decade in California, I’d say that I generally have a hard time considering any city “beautiful” without both water AND mountains. Chicago has made me rethink that standard. Its sprawling skyline peppered with one futuristic, architectural masterpiece after the other is more than breathtaking from the right angle. In fact, while driving through downtown LA today through traffic for the Grammy’s I thought to myself “this whole scene would have so much more swag in downtown Chicago”. I also love how navigable and “walkable” much of the city is.
The U of Chicago’s campus is no slouch either. Its Gothic veneer reminds me a lot of Duke’s campus in the research triangle in North Carolina; but definitely not a replica. The place has a character and charm all its own.
It was snowing for the first half of my stay, and I didn’t mind it at all. The past two weekends in Philly and Chicago have definitely solidified that I’ll be able to hack a couple of years in a snowy region; though I heard that Boston had quite the blizzard this past weekend. It’s a good thing MIT has those underground tunnels (which I’ve mentioned before. I think its cool).
A Well-Produced Welcome By a Fantastic Faculty and Staff
So the weekend kicked off with an entertaining and rousing welcome by Dean Kurt Alm, a guy who I discovered new found respect and admiration for over the weekend. There were actually two nice young ladies (the committee chairs) who spoke before him. For selling purposes, though, I would have liked to see him speak first.
Nevertheless, the leadership and organizational abilities of the co-chairs really shone threw in every detail of this event. In fact, I’d say that Booth in general is extremely fine tuned and well choreographed in its communication with and treatment of admits. As an ops guy, I’ve seen a lot of things that I’ve liked in how the Booth admissions team handles business and it has impressed me time and time again. It is evident that there are a LOT of clear and efficient processes that are written out and being executed behind the scenes.
Dean Alm really killed it. He was bright, personable, witty and got more than a few laughs from the crowd.I was also really impressed by the fact that he walked around quite a bit during the first day, speaking with admits one-on-one. I was fortunate enough to get to chop it up with him for a moment.
I also got to meet Eddie Pulliam, one of the admissions directors who was my first and main point of contact at Booth. Eddie has always been exceptionally nice to me, and was even more warm and welcoming in person; in fact, the entire admissions staff at Booth is that way. I had met few of them here and there between the LA info session and the LA admit cocktail hour that the school hosted about a month ago near Beverly Hills/West Hollywood.
One of the highlights of my weekend was sitting in on an entrepreneurial sales class with professor Craig Wortmann, one of several faculty superstars at Booth who is a successful business owner and exerts major influence within the Chicago venture scene to boot. While I was familiar with many of the concepts in his demo class (based on my sales background and previous business ventures and failures lol), I was on the edge of my seat during every moment. I also got a feel that I would have a lot of great things to learn in progressive sessions of that course if I were to attend Booth.
Some Booth Myths Dispelled
Prior to visiting Booth, there were a couple of myths that I had heard floating around the MBA blogosphere. I won’t even bother to give life to some of them, as much of the more polar comments in this space come from people who don’t attend (and probably won’t be attending) any of the schools that they criticize with so much authority. But alas, I’ll go ahead and dive in here just a bit for the benefit of the thousands of “lurkers” who might read some of these baseless comments in the future lest they be influenced by this tripe.