Tyra Banks Reflects On Time At Harvard Business Schoool

On February 17, former model-cum-entrepreneur Tyra Banks became a graduate of Harvard Business School. What did Banks learn during her time there and, more importantly, what wisdom is she now equipped to impart on the current and future business leaders of the world? Glad you asked.

1. You’re running an army here– don’t be afraid to get ruthless with your sergeants and your corporals, your captains and your privates, your colones and your majors. Flip over a table in the mess hall. Put people on potato-peeling duty.

After my first term at Harvard, I came back and killed a whole bunch of businesses we were going to go into. We have to say no more often than we say yes, no matter how much money people put on that goddamned table. Harvard is all about innovation and being first to market. It’s something I’m constantly bringing back to my team, whether it’s my soldiers or my generals. I give them challenges and homework and brainstorming sessions to bring the culture that I’m learning at school into my own business. I’m supposed to see a business plan on Thursday and I learned that the differentiation wasn’t in there yet, and I said, “You guys know that needs to be in there before I see it.”

2. Take it all in. Look yourself in the mirror. Reflect. Drink it up. Gargle. Wait for the tingling sensation. Spit it out. Wipe your mouth. Smile.

In second term we talked about a tactic that’s highly risky—you take such a leap forward in one direction that you burn the bridge to go backward. I thought, “Oh my gosh, is that what I did when I retired from modeling and walked off the Victoria’s Secret runway and told the entire world ‘I am retired!’ before I even had my talk show renewed?” I knew with my gut that I was making myself accountable to the entire world so I couldn’t go backward. But I didn’t understand that these were tactics and strengths I had.

3. Let down your guard. Strip naked. Invite people to watch you silently weep. Smoke peyote. Form a human totem pole. Stand motionless until the next harvest moon.

Our leadership professor, Robert Steven Kaplan, was the vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs before he left to become a professor at Harvard. The difference in income he now gets is staggering. He is constantly trying to teach us to not chase the dollar but to make a difference. I thought we’d be taught “profit, profit, profit, win, win, win, go, go, go.” Instead, we were hearing about the importance of exposing vulnerability to your team. It’s soft stuff, talk-show stuff.

4. Zorro masks. Nun’s habits. Meat frocks. Teacups. Think about it.

I also look at what Lady Gaga is doing and think it’s near-genius. Had I not gone to Harvard, I’m not sure I would have seen it as a marketing play. I would have just said, “Oh, she’s popular.” Now I see how smart she is. It’s a true, clear, executed plan.

Tyra Banks Talks About Attending Harvard Business School [BusinessWeek]

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64 Responses to “Tyra Banks Reflects On Time At Harvard Business Schoool”

  1. guest says:

    Bess: I thought I covered the business school beat?

    -Dealbreaker Business School Bureau Chief

  2. Guest says:

    She could get ruthless with my privates anytime.

  3. guest says:

    "Spit it out"…I bet pmco would not listen to this advice.
    -guy whoo notices it moves after pmcos coomments

  4. FKApmco says:

    And if I had been a GS partner from 1990 to 2005, I'd quite happily say money isn't important.

  5. Maury Povich says:

    Tune in tomorrow when five hundred harvard students take the test to see who's tyra's baby daddy!

  6. The commentariat says:

    Who gives a fuck.

  7. shnaps says:

    Smack it up, flip it, rub it down, oh nooooo!

  8. HungryIntern says:

    I am wondering what type of things Ja Rule will learn/talk about once he has a chance to go to Allston.

  9. The Truth says:

    T&A > CFA > MBA

  10. Zuck says:

    She was wearing my Harvard hoodie. Can you believe it? My Harvard hoodie. Like oh, sure she went to Harvard

  11. Guest says:

    I expect to see HBS applications fall significantly. I would never run the risk of possibly not getting into a school that Tyra graduated from. The only step forward after that bridge is a gun in the mouth.

  12. guest says:

    real boobies are the NKI

  13. Danker_Banker says:

    Lights on, skydeck full, my name card resting on her back, Niall Ferguson analyzing my technique with a laser pointer

  14. Guest says:

    Where did she do her summer internship?

  15. Kate U says:

    Tyra who?

  16. wahoo says:

    Robert Steven Kaplan: Really, teaching here is only a side-bar for my true passion.
    Bess: Oh yeah, whats that?
    Robert: I work with Retards
    Bess: Isn't that a little politically incorrect?
    Robert: Yeah, maybe, but hell, no one's gonna tell me who I can and can't work with.
    Bess: No, I mean…
    Robert: We got this one girl here at Harvard, Tyra….. has a forehead like a drive-in movie theater, but she's a good shit, so we didn't bust her chops too much. So one day, Tyra gets out of her cage…
    Bess: They keep her in a cage?
    Robert: Well it's just an enclosure, really
    Bess: No, but they keep her confined??
    Robert: Yea
    Bess: That's bullshit!
    Robert: Well that's what I said!! So I, I went out and got her, a, uh, a leash.
    Bess: A leash??
    Robert: Yeah, one of those ones you can hook on the clothesline, and she can run back and forth and, uh, there's plenty of room for her to ah, dig, and um, play. That kid has really, uh, she's really blossomed.

  17. The Guest Around says:

    Good thing the hyphens were there or I'd have thought she was a 'cum entrepreneur'
    UBS English Quant

  18. Wotton says:

    People who start believing their own bullshit are all over the place in MBAs. They're the worst…

  19. Guesterson says:

    Did she take the oath?

  20. Kathryn C says:

    Who is lady gaga?

  21. yeah I said it says:

    This is what affirmative action gets you

  22. Just as I thought! Tyra is smart!

  23. Clymidia says:

    HBS is the new rehab.I mix Whitney and Tyra up equally brilliant and compelling interviews! Nice sweatshirt very impressive.

  24. Carville says:

    She should run for president now! Then put her image up on Mt Rushmore then put up a 2 billion dollar library filled with magazines.

  25. Cut Me says:

    Shit! I forgot to attach my headshot with my application.

  26. VonSloneker says:

    Well…that's good enough for me. Anyone have a CFA study materials recommendation? I've got some catching up to do if I'm to make that level 1 exam.

    – Guy taking the sheepskin off the office wall

  27. davidrusso says:

    Exec ed. Meh. 35K and a pulse gets you in.

    Might as well be a Trump U degree.

    No respect until you master basic algebra/reading-comp and ace the GMAT.

    My essay rocked the hizzouse y'all.

  28. Tom says:

    She was not enrolled in the Harvard MBA program. It was the Owner/Presidential Management Program that took place 3 weeks a year for 3 years. No college degree necessary (she did not go), no GMAT, etc. Main requirement is that you're a CEO of a $5 million revenues per year.

  29. O Winfrey says:

    I'm priceless yo – can I still go?

  30. I Need A Cig says:

    Get the fuck out.

  31. ThatGuyP says:

    This article is disappointingly misleading. Tyra Banks would never be smart enough to get into any top tier graduate school. She finished an Executive Education program at HBS. That is far different than "getting accepted to Harvard". No testing, just need to be an established executive who is willing to drop an absurd amount of money on a worthless "certificate" that does little beyond boosting your own ego.

  32. Gandhi G says:

    This is just a co-branding exercise here.

    Harvard gets high profile, riskless (already successful businesspeople) students.

    Tyra (and her >$5B ilk) get to milk the H-Bomb brand equity for a measly $35K. Easily cost-justified as a marketing expense given Bess's coverage, and tyra's twitter followers.

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  35. Jessie Patton says:

    Tyra Banks will always be one of the reasons why I was motivated to go on one of those model agencies sydney. Ever since America's Next Top Model started, I was determine to follow her advices, and yes, eventually be like her too.