Testing 'STAR' Methodology on Campus

December 11, 2013

I was lucky enough to participate in the annual Cookie Monster competition, a prestigious gluttonous gastronomic sprint for SOM students. I knew at a young age that I was destined for Milano greatness. My prodigious appetite has always been a unique differentiator for me growing up. In fact, instead of toting a portfolio for my Yale SOM interview, I brought a 12 pack of hot dogs and proceeded to give a more interactive answer to the behavioral question of ‘Tell me a time you had to overcome an insurmountable challenge’. My augmented ‘STAR’ methodology involved Situation: Lots of food, Task: Eat as fast as possible, Action: This needs no further explanation, Result: Indigestion.

However, once the dust settled on the Cookie Monster competition, I was only able to eke out a second place finish. It was at this point I realized the elite caliber of my fellow over-achieving and eating classmates. All three of my fellow competitors managed to devour 20 Milanos within 2 minutes. We saw a few different frameworks utilized involving crushing up the cookies, maximizing mouth intake, and the strategic use of water. Here are a few excerpts of competitive strategies:

Tommy ‘the only place is first place’ Day:

The first time I saw the video of last year’s Cookie Monster competition, I knew it was my calling. Many years of racing my 4 siblings to get second helpings at dinner was finally going to lead me to glory rather than indigestion. My plan was to get a few practice runs in the night before, but half priced wine night at Ordinary got in the way. Instead, I spent a few minutes before falling asleep developing my strategy and visualizing cookies. Here’s my strategy:

1) Double stack all of the milanos - two at a time seemed like a good “maximum manageable bite”
2) Dunk a stack in water for a second to get them soft
3) Stuff in mouth
4) Chew 2x max - then start swallowing with the help of a little sip of water
5) While finishing a swallow, dunk the next stack and repeat

Mark ‘next challenge is a gallon of milk’ Cowett:

My performance is a grim reminder of the dangers of falling into the ‘Paralysis of Analysis’. Time is one of the most crucial aspects of competitive strategy. Getting hooked onto the proverbial horns of a dilemma and then altering one’s plan mid-stream is a dangerous game to play. I’m only glad this wasn’t Coney Island on July 4th

Augustyo ‘how many Milanos can I fit in my mouth’ Nath:

Given the ‘serious’ nature of the competition, I knew that I needed to practice in order to avoid an ensuing choking fiasco captured on video. I first watched the video of the competition from last year to have a benchmark (so business school). What a performance by everybody though! All participants ate 20 cookies faster than the last year’s winner: the class of 2015 rocks!! When all was said and done, I essentially had a dinner of Milanos the night before and then a lunch of Milanos on the day of the competition, which is really a win-win scenario. My only regret from the competition was starting slow off the block and not shoving 5 cookies at a time into my mouth rather than 3.

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Dugan Winkie