The Integrated Leadership Perspective and PAIN!

March 26, 2007

Well today was the first day of the new Integrated Leadership Perspective, a three-hour class that seeks to bring together all that we have learned in our perspectives classes. I was kinda skeptical going into the class on how it would run, but if the first class is any indication, I think it's gonna be a great 7 weeks. The class is lead by Dr. Sharon Oster, who in my opinion is one of the best professors at SOM. She keeps the class engaged throughout, whether it is an 80- or 180-minute class. Even though my concentration here at SOM is in finance I am definitely looking next year to take electives that Dr. Oster teaches. We discussed a nonprofit company, EcoLogic, that seeks to provide loans to coffee producers in Latin America. They are looking to expand their loan portfolio into East African countries. In this one class we had 4 separate lecturers: Dr. Oster (who focused on the economics and the competitiveness of the coffee industry and the nonprofit industry that EcoLogic operates in); Dr. Stan Garstka (who focused on the accounting treatment that a nonprofit like EcoLogic uses); Dr. Doug Rae (who focused on the political and social environments of the countries that EcoLogic operates and is looking to operate in); and Dr. Garry Brewer (who focused on the environmental issues dealing with coffee production and answered the question, "What is coffee?"). You would think that the "What is coffee?" question is quite trivial, but in this case it wasn't. I was very interested with what he had to say because I was a little lost in reading EcoLogic's business plan because of some of the definitions they used in describing what they supported (stuff like Free Trade coffee, etc.). The class gave an interesting insight into the nonprofit industry, something I would have never focused on myself. The rest of the class looks to have a "murderer's row" of great SOM professors from Dr. Nick Barberis (who taught our core "Investor" class) to Dr. Barry Nalebuff (who taught bits and pieces of many of our classes and whose company, Honest Tea, will be featured in one of our class discussions) to Dr. James Baron (who co-taught our "Employee" class with Dean Podolny, he's a hoot too) and Dr. Bob Shiller (the "father" of behavioral finance); even Dean Joel Podolny will be teaching a few classes. And these are just the professors that we have had a lot of contact with throughout the core. There are many other top SOM professors who will be teaching throughout this class. They have also managed to keep the course material quite relevant as we will be discussing the just completed Blackstone/Equity Office Properties LBO (the largest in history). Let me tell you how stoked I am for that class! The pain comes from the fact that it is a gorgeous early spring day here in New Haven and I decided to run the 1/2-mile down to the gym to work out. That was a huge mistake as I have been very inactive since I got to school, partly because of all the work and partly because I tore my ACL 2 years ago playing football and have yet to have it repaired. That precludes me from a lot of athletic activities because my knee is less than stable. The gym didn't go too well either--this was my 3rd time lifting weights since I quit my job in August so suffice it to say, atrophy had set in. It is something I used to do 3-4 times a week when I was working so I have a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooong way to go to get back to where I was. I can tell this is NOT gonna be much fun.

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Brian Sarcopski