Not only did a Harvard Business School MBA candidate figure out an entertaining, time-saving new-media method for updating friends and family about his educational experience, he leveraged it.
Philip Blackett had a problem. It wasn’t unique to him. It wasn’t unique to Harvard Business School. New students at any institution face the same social and familial challenge Blackett ran into when starting at HBS a couple of weeks ago: virtually everyone they’re connected to wants to know about it.
But at a top school such as HBS, that situation poses a particularly thorny challenge – there’s a vast amount of schoolwork and networking to do, and time spent answering questions from friends, loved ones and former colleagues means that much less for studying, socializing, or sleeping.
“I’m kind of answering the same kind of questions,” says Blackett, 29. “A lot of people are interested which is great. And I like to talk. Twenty or 30 minutes later, I’m still going back and forth.”
HOW TO AVOID ANSWERING THE SAME QUESTIONS OVER AND OVER
Then there were Facebook messages, and emails, asking how things were going, how he was doing, what HBS was like. Even if he limited his updating sessions to weekends, he’d be taking time away from school work, club activities, and parties. He began to understand why, before he enrolled at Harvard, he wouldn’t hear for weeks at a time from friends already in business school.
Blackett had received a BA in political science and economics in 2007 from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He’d then parlayed a summer analyst job with Goldman Sachs into a two-year gig, and followed that with a series of shorter-term jobs before ending up at FedEx for three years, first as a program adviser and then as a senior communications specialist.
As befits a former communications professional, Blackett came up with the time-saving, efficiency-gaining solution to his HBS time-crunch conundrum: podcasts.
“Life in the MBA” was born.
Every Sunday, Blackett sits down at his laptop with a microphone and spends a little under a half hour narrating the previous week’s events. His weekly shows sound more like a casual conversation with a guy on the next bar stool than a frenetic radio show from a highly entertaining Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam! But this is as close as anyone can get to Good Morning, Harvard Business School!
“This week was very pivotal, very important, very instrumental,” he says in Episode 2, about the first week of classes. He goes on to explain the benefits of the divide-and-educate approach at HBS, where his class of 940 students is split up into sections of about 90 students who take the same classes for the first year.