Today, it was a (not so) good day...

September 29, 2008

I'm waxing Ice Cube tonight. In case you aren't familiar, and without going too deeply into the details, one of Ice Cube's greatest hits in his post NWA days was a song called "It Was A Good Day." Ice Cube recorded this track while living in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots; it details a day and night he has in the South Central neighborhood, where from the beginning, "today seems kinda odd-" but in a good way. Everything that could go well does go well for him, be it the safety and livelihood of his loved ones, a fun afternoon playing good basketball and dice with his friends, a successful date with a girl he has a crush on, and hey- the Lakers even beat the SuperSonics (mind you, this is the early 90s.) In the end all he can say to his surprise is: "I gotta say it was a good day." Today was pretty much the opposite of that. No one can ignore the elephant in the room- the Dow Jones experienced its biggest single point drop in United States history. The price of an oil barrel dropped over $10 today, and closed at $96.36. Maybe the most optimistic of us once hoped that the day this would come would be the day that alternative energy nosed ahead; unfortunately, today it seems to be the result of a feared decrease in global demand for energy. The Hall of Mirrors was saturated with awe-struck students gaping at the televisions in the post 2:20 p.m. classroom exodus. "500?" "600?" "...700?!?!" Indubitably, this has been an extraordinarily difficult month for many SOM-ers. Merrill Lynch and Lehman. AIG. Wachovia. And the less immediately apparent- the gas crisis in the Southeast. The volatility of the current presidential race. And oh, the other thing I forgot to mention- we're all in the perpetual propulsion vacuum right now, to be shot back into the workplace in whatever state it is; a mere eight months for the older-wiser second years, and an extra year to breathe for my 2010 peers and myself. I was walking along Hillhouse today with two fellow students, one a first-year, one a second-year, and I listened to them discuss the trends in corporate presentations these days. Apparently the consulting forums are drawing heavy crowds- there may be a few students hedging their bets against the volatility of the finance sector and getting their feel for the alternative career paths. Uncertainty is pervasive, and we've learned enough about risk and framing to know how valuable a back-up plan can be. It seems more and more that even our most powerful national leaders are biting their tongues at saying "It'll all be ok," or "things will get fixed." It is a scary time to be an MBA looking to re-enter a faltering economy. Everyone keeps on keeping on with homeworks and casing, debate tryouts and corporate recruiting, but by and large you'd be hard pressed to find a student who isn't thinking about these historical events very very hard. Personally, I feel a bit sheepish even blogging about this; as interested a spectator as I am, I'm not in the fight right now. In a past life I had an internship at some bank at 47th and Broadway, but crafting my Microsoft keyboard shortcut abilities for 3 months in a college off-term gives me approximately 0 credibility in feigning any sort of familiarity with today's banking environment. However, the reason why I am choosing to write what I've written is because the people that have that familiarity and that interest are my classmates. And in a place as comfortably intimate as this place I share with the other 192 first years and the 190 second years, we're all hoping for the best for each other, whatever our interests are. In the wake of today, I humbly offer only this, and please take it with a pound of salt- there are always good days. There's no program quite like one that can prepare you so wholly and completely not only for some specific direction or focus, but for anything. Call me hokey, but I believe in leadership and management, and I believe that anyone who runs the gamut successfully of this curriculum not only has the hard skills to succeed however they will, but that they also have the confidence to do so. And however this crazy maelstrom ends, I can't help but think that things will be ok as long as we stay focused and maintain our development. If Ice Cube can have a good day in the heat of the post-acquittal Rodney King riots, there is no reason to lose track of that for ourselves, whatever volatility and negativity might be hitting the fan in downtown New Haven and far, far beyond. Believe in y'all. Believe in this school, and all of us unequivocally taking these skills forward into a long future of success and legacy. So today wasn't that great. It's ok. Tomorrow'll be a good day. g-mo

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Guillermo Olivos