- 27 Nov 2012 at 10:53 AM
Harvard Business School Alum Has A 4-Point Plan For Fixing The Election Process In The United StatesBy Bess Levin
On November 6, 2012, as the results of the presidential election rolled in, a member of the Harvard Business School Class of 2010 considered ending it all. “The thought crossed my mind to jump off my penthouse apartment balcony,” he wrote his fellow classmates yesterday. Sure, he had a lot to live for: friends, family, the earthly delights afforded to him by living in Southern California (“surfing, mountains, 78 degree sunshine, and hot babes everywhere”), as well as a new company and all that came with it (relationships with celebrities that straddle the line between “friend and service provider,” as well as invites to “the VMAs and private concerts in Vegas”). But he also had a lot of reasons to be good and angry at the world, including but not limited to: the state of California being “filled with so many hippie liberals” he just might snap and in doing so “choke out a street bum,” people who “sit around with their hand out and expect to be fed,” and, most vexingly, the reelection of Barack Obama.
And while he did not in fact end up leaping from his penthouse balcony apartment that night, make no mistake, he was and is exceedingly pissed about the direction this country is going, which is due south on the Pacific Coast Highway right straight to hell. So instead, he went to bed, got up, sat down at his computer and channeled his anger into something productive: a list of suggestions for how we can get America back on track and in four years, wrest it from the hands of the people holding it hostage, like forcing candidates to use bullet points and telling the commies who don’t believe in capitalism to pack their shit because in 20 minutes they’re going to be blindfolded and stuffed into the back of a Ford Econoline van with all the other non-contributing zeroes who don’t understand how much of a privilege it is to live in the greatest country in the world and shipped off to a place where their views will be tolerated, only then finding out what it’s really like to suffer and perhaps finally understand how they’ve destroyed the United States of America with their leftist, hippie, commie/socialist/teat sucking agendas.
First, though, some life updates, because it really has been too long.
From: reacted at mba2010.hbs.edu
Date: Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Subject: MBA Class of 2010 Section A: I know you missed me
It has been a while since I have connected with many of you, figured it was time to reach out. Big picture, life has been an incredible roller coaster since leaving HBS. I moved to LA, worked in PE, quit, then started a company with a good buddy from high school. Needless to say there has not been a dull moment since Aug 2010, so I will break this down into 4 streams of consciousness: LA, PE, [redacted's company], and conclude with a good old fashioned [redacted] rant (I know all of you have missed them).
Perhaps the greatest and worst place on Earth (besides Vegas). It is magical in so many ways, yet terrible in others. On the plus side, the weather is unreal, the access to stuff to do is phenomenal, and overall quality of life really cannot be beat. I know all the folks in NYC will disagree, but seriously, you do not know what you are missing. Visiting is one thing, living here is another. The only way I am leaving SoCal is if I get dragged out kicking and screaming. Surfing, mountains, 78 degree sunshine, and hot babes everywhere, it is amazing. On the other side of that coin, this place is filled with so many hippie liberals, I think I might snap. The blood runs blue here and I cannot tell you how frustrating it is that people sit around with their hand out and expect to be fed. I hope this is more of a California problem, but it is like living in a small socialist sect within a capitalistic country. Drives me nuts. One day on the news, you may hear a headline to the tune of, “Harvard MBA chokes out a street bum asking for weed; sentenced to 4 yrs imprisonment”.
Technically mezz investing, but close enough for this discussion. On the surface, it was great to study a ton of businesses immediately after HBS. Was similar to doing cases again, except the amount of work that was required increased 10x. [redacted's first post-HBS employer] is a great firm, I really enjoyed working with them. We made 7 investments while I was there, and lucky for me, I got one to close too. Gained a new appreciation for lawyers and legal help, what it takes to fully commit large sums of money, and actually learned how to model. I did not think I would ever need it again, but once [redacted's partner] and I decided to expand [redacted's company], it certainly added credibility as we talk with investors (more on this later). Ultimately, working 80 to 100hr weeks at my current comp level no longer seemed appealing to me and I decided to trade pay for lifestyle (or so I thought).
In a fairly random chain of events, a good buddy of mine from high school happened to move to LA about the same time I was getting frustrated with mezz. We were always car guys growing up, so the only thing that made sense to us was to start a company involving cars. It turned into becoming a private dealer and broker for the entertainment industry. Essentially, we buy, sell, import, export, customize, supply cars for movies/videos, etc. for up and coming celebs as well as some real celebs. Lots of fun, but geez, way more work than we ever anticipated. Never again will I question the difficulty of being an entrepreneur or starting a company from scratch. You end up living, working, and breathing the company; during both the good and bad times. Our business is a little different because interacting with some of these celebs forces us to walk a fine line between friend and service provider, but overall a cool thing to do. Salary became a funny term for us: (1) we do not get paid unless we earn a new client, but (2) getting invited to the VMAs or a private concert in Vegas seems to be an acceptable trade for services and value. Really makes us hustle and be flexible when considering payment for services rendered. I suppose I owe [some of redacted's inspirations] a shoutout here, I remember them saying something to the effect of it being lonely starting your own company. That could not be more true. The countless hours late at night figuring stuff out, sifting through docs, evaluating your financial position, determining the best course for the next day (let alone the next week or month), making decisions (basically alone) without clear data one way or the other, wow, it consumes your life. I laugh when I write this, but every problem is your problem. And the only way it gets solved is if you do it yourself. Yes, that sounds simplistic and intuitive, but actually doing it is entirely different. It is like a neverending To Do list that prevents you from doing productive work, like earning customers and getting paid. Speaking of getting paid, I am proud to report that after our first 6 mos, we had our first two consecutive months in the black. Hopefully we will not dip back into the red.
And this is hilarious (my job in a nutshell): Badger car salesman.
We are fundraising to expand the company at the moment. We want to change the retail experience for buying a car (as well as other luxury goods) and think we have a pretty good concept that could be franchise-able. If any of you want to know more, let me know and I will forward our pitch deck and investment memorandum. And those of you rock stars that have already fundraised since HBS, would appreciate any insight or guidance you have. [Redacted's partner] and I have never done it, thus your help is greatly
[Redacted] and his $0.02:
All of you know my love affair for maps so I took the liberty of selecting a relevant one (link here) and ranting about it. This is where the email will come to a screeching halt as I will undoubted offend the bulk of you with my following words:
WTF happened???!!! How did we, as a country, elect Barack Obama again??
The thought crossed my mind to jump off my penthouse apartment balcony as the election results were filtering in. I continually stared at the electoral map and could not shake the notion that every high income / high standard of education / high cost of living locale went blue (except Texas). Has the voting population lost their mind? Has every tax payer lost their mind? Are there less educated people in the country versus 4 years ago? Have we turned into the United States of California? Was it the minority vote or the womens issues? Really? Was it the messenger (Romney)? Was it voter fraud? Will Republicans ever out vote the entitlement state? How does it make logical or rational sense to foster a system of handouts? Do Americans not observe what is happening across the Atlantic Ocean or listen to the most basic world economic news?
In complete disgust, I went to bed. The next morning, I woke up and started writing down ways to improve the situation. I suggest the following:
1) Main Stream Media: Implement a code of ethics or accountability for political journalists, news outlets, and mass distributors of media. The garbage flowing out of both sides needs to stop as well as a focus on the truth needs to come to the forefront. Apparently, the average American believes what subsidized media outlets are spewing forth. That has to stop (the subsidization of media outlets and biased news delivery).
2) Voting Restrictions: If you do not pay taxes, you should NOT be allowed to vote. It blows my mind that an individual can influence the outcome of national policy, yet not be on the hook for the results.
3) Candidate Transparency Requirements: Candidates must distill their platform into 4 to 6 bullet points and then post their voting/legislative record with it. Have it published at every major media outlet. We can cut the crap on interpretations and let an entity fact check the bullet points.
4) Let Capitalism work: The brainpower of those involved will ultimately find its way back to society if a business fails. And if you do not believe in Capitalism, then choose a different place to live. There are several failing nation states around the world, just pick one. This country is not for everybody. I believe it is a privilege to be here.
Anyway, I miss all of you and hope your lives post-HBS are everything you hoped they would be. If they are not, it is never too late to make a change. My door is always open, drop by or give me
a call anytime.
This e-mail reflects the views of the sender and not those of Harvard Business School or its affiliates. It was sent to MBA2010 alumni using the Harvard Business School “E-mail Your Classmates Web Application.” (http://apps.alumni.hbs.edu/emailer/alumni/criteria.do). [MBA2010@hbs.edu] is not a listserv e-mail account. To send mail to your classmates you must use the aforementioned web page. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Alumni Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Bess Levin
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